How to deal with a friendship breakup; expert offers tips
- There are occasions when a friend "ghosts" you or severs ties with you without any explanation. Here's how to deal with a friendship breakup.
The end of a friendship can be as painful as that of a romantic relationship. Getting "dumped" by a dear friend can at times be tougher to deal with emotionally than breaking ties with a person you dated perhaps briefly.
While there are times when a friendship naturally wears off and you know all the reasons why you don't connect with a best friend anymore, sometimes ties are broken all of a sudden catching one of the two friends completely off guard. There are occasions when a friend "ghosts" you or severs ties with you without any explanation.
"Can I call you later," this was the fourth time Tina was ignoring Romi's call with a message. At first Romi couldn't understand why her best friend was avoiding her calls or speaking to her so coldly, but when Tina finally called her to say that she did not think she found emotional support in Romi anymore and did not want to remain friends with her, she was unprepared and flabbergasted. Considering Romi knew Tina from her childhood, she lost a strong pillar of support and later even got diagnosed with depression.
"In our society, we believe that once we are friends with someone that we should be friends with them forever. The ending of a friendship means we've failed, or something "bad" happened between two people," says psychologist Dr Nicole LePera.
There can be many reasons why your friend might want to ‘break up' with you. Having different expectations from you, not sharing your values and even having an entirely different situation from your current life can be some of the factors.
"You might notice you share different values, or you find yourelf feeling exhausted and depleted after spending time with them. Or, you might feel like you're disconnected and drifting apart. Ultimately, throughout our lives friendships will end and change as we do. Just as in romantic parnterships, what we are looking for from our friendships will evolve," says Dr LePera.
When a friend ghosts you
"My best friend all of a sudden stopped being in touch with me after she got married. She had moved to a different country and never shared what's happening with her," says Parineeta Berry, a software engineer.
Sometimes, a friend might leave your life without any explanation. This ghosting can be painful, confusing or heartbreaking. This can bring a lot of shame because we might feel like we've done something wrong and may not even get an explanation, says the expert.
"Many years later, I came to know that she was in an abusive relationship, but by the time, she reconnected, the bond was not the same," says Berry.
Dr LePera says the truth is that it's natural for frienships to end throughout our lives. There may not be concrete reason like a fight or something we've done wrong.
Getting over a lost friendship
"It's important to grieve: to let ourselves feel the sadness of the loss of a friend. It's normal to want closure, or to feel badfor ending a friendship even if there was no longer a connection," says the psychologist.
It is important to talk about friendship breakups as much as the romantic ones as they are painful too, especially, if we thought we would always have this person in our lives.
"With time and healing, we can have more clarity on why that friendship didn't work out. We can also create new space for relationships that leave us feeling: energized, inspired, connected, and authentic to ourselves," says Dr LePera.
Questions to reflect on after a friendship ends.
As per Dr LePera, reflecting on the causes of why a certain friendship went kaput can help one heal and move forward in life. These are the questions one should ask after end of a friendship.
1. Did I feel authentically connected to this person? Was I able to fully be myself + feel seen + heard?
2. Did I feel judged or accepted in this relationship? Did this relationship feel nourishing, emotionally?
3. Was our time spent doing things that served who I wanted to be or did I find that our time together was not serving me (drinking, overspending, listening to rants/venting only)
4. Was our main source of connection gossip? How did we speak about other people?
5. Do we share similar ‘overall' values? Ex: kindness, respect, etc. Note: it’s normal and positive to have friends with different mindsets or belief systems. No one agrees on everything.
6. Do I check in to make sure that my friends are in a space emotionally to hear me talk about my issues? Do they?
7. Are there boundaries in my friendships? Do I hold my boundaries and respect the boundaries of others?
8. How do I feel after spending time with them?
9. Do we learn new things together, explore new ideas, does this relationship facilitate evolution/growth?