Have you ever had to break up with a friend? This happens, and it happens all the time. Whether it’s because you two grew apart, or things turned toxic for one reason or another, sometimes friendships have to end. But don’t be mistaken: This is not an easy or emotionally comfortable thing to endure. Giving yourself time to find little ways to get over a friendship breakup is really important for your mind and overall well-being.
And listen y’all, the loss of a friend is real and often painful, even if it’s for the best. Sometimes you feel these breakups even deeper than the end of a romantic relationship. As Meg Josephson, a licensed clinical social worker based in New York City, tells Elite Daily, "Some people are somewhat dismissive of the physical and emotional distress this kind of loss creates for people."
But the truth is, denying yourself the space, time, and recognition to fully experience your pain and work through it will only prevent healing, says Josephson. While sometimes it sure does feel easier to just hide it all away and keep on truckin’, the truth of the matter is, you have to take care of yourself through this potentially vulnerable time. Below, experts have some great tips on simple things you can do to make the break a little softer.
Simply acknowledge to yourself that it’s a loss
Friends come and go all the time in life, but according to Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Texas, it’s important that you really acknowledge a breakup with a friend as a loss, and that you give yourself the time and space to grieve that loss, if that’s what you feel you need.
Whether that means spending a little extra time on your own, or talking about it with a trusted friend, loved one, or therapist, it’s all about creating "a safe place to process your thoughts and feelings," McBain tells Elite Daily.
Write about it
Open Google docs and just start typing, or whip out a journal and a pen to get in touch with your feelings. According to Josephson, taking time to really work out what happened between you and the other person is a must. It doesn’t mean you have to dwell on the issue, or even the person, but it does mean it’s best to mindfully process what exactly happened, and how you’re truly feeling about it.
"Take an honest look at yourself and ask what role you played in the dissolution of the relationship," Josephson suggests. "Painful experiences are only useful insofar as we are able to learn more about ourselves and improve for our future relationships." The ending of something, she adds, regardless of how painful or upsetting it is, can prove to be valuable for how you approach future relationships, as well as how you cope with these types of breakups.
Spend time with friends who get you
Counselor and relationship expert David Bennett says that one way to cope with losing a friend is to reach out to other friends and acquaintances you trust, even if you feel like you’re not quite as close with them. "This will allow some of your emotional and social needs to [be] met that your ex-friend may have provided," he explains, "and you also may discover that these other people would make great close friends."
Additionally, Bennett suggests spending time with the people in your life who seem to really "get" you the most, and/or those who make you feel safe and happy. Again, even if you aren’t that close right now, reaching out for a coffee date might be the simplest way to develop a closer bond, not to mention process what you’re going through regarding your ex-friend.
Try to avoid talking negatively about this person
I know, I know, this one might seem like a real challenge. But, according to Josephson, talking negatively about this person will probably just leave you stuck in a larger, ongoing loop of negativity, and it likely won’t help you move forward from the breakup.
"Try to avoid talking badly about them excessively," she suggests. "While it’s OK to need to vent to another close friend about the breakup, persevering over it and saying nasty things will make you feel worse." Plus, your other friends probably don’t want to hear you throw so much shade, you know?
Don’t keep track of them on social media
"It may be tempting to see what your friend is up to," Bennett says, "but that will just reignite the emotions associated with the friend breakup."
You don’t need to full-on block the person, unless you feel that’s necessary for some reason, but simply unfollowing them on social media, muting their posts, and/or making it a point to not actively check their feed on a constant basis, will help you mentally move on from the breakup, says Bennett.
Remember, you needed to be apart from each other for a reason, so do yourself a favor and make it as clean a break as you possibly can.
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