Friendships are beautiful connections. The ability to confide in and get along with someone who was once a stranger is nothing short of heart-warming and fulfilling.
Undoubtedly, sharing life’s experiences with a friend and watching them become family creates a bond sweeter than Winnie the Pooh’s jar of honey.
But warm and sweet as they may be, friendships are not immune to turning cold and sour. Unfortunately, even the strongest of friendships can experience a level of damage that is beyond repair.
According to relationship and holistic life coach Fezy Thwala, a number of reasons may lead to friendship breakups. Contributing factors include change, lack of frequent interaction, selfishness and betrayal.
“As human beings, we change and evolve. Sometimes a change in circumstances can result in a friendship ending.
Other times a friendship may feel one-sided and in other situations, there are clear and even dramatic reasons why a friendship ends. Someone may feel betrayed when a friend dates their ex, for example”.
Although reasons may differ from one friendship to the next, the hurt which comes with the ending of any friendship remains true and cannot be denied.
In some instances, the end of a friendship may even cut deeper than breaking up with a lover.
“It becomes challenging because a close friend is someone you rely on for emotional support, continuity, socialization, and processing.
We also don’t really anticipate the end of friendships, we don’t prepare for it like we do for romantic relationships,” she added.
In the absence of healthy and non-toxic mechanisms, friendship breakups can negatively affect the mental health and overall wellness of the parties involved. Here are five tips from Coach Fezy to help you navigate friendship breakups better.
1. Avoid suppressing your emotions
Acknowledging and expressing your emotions is your first step to recovery. The grieving process comes with its ups and downs – you could experience sadness one moment, anger the next and sometimes even relief. It is important to not act as if all these emotions are not real.
2. Talk through what you go through
Being able to talk helps release pressure and may give you perspective on the situation. You can speak to someone you trust such as a family member or even get professional support from a therapist. This will help you work through your emotions as you journey towards healing.
3. Stay grateful
Take a moment to think about the good which the friend brought into your life. As hard as it may be in the midst of emotions, consider the various ways in which they made your life better and think of the good memories you had together. Despite the breakup and what may have led to it, recognizing that the person brought good into your life can help you to move on and bring you peace.
4. Forgive yourself
Amazingly, the gift of forgiveness has the power to protect one’s health even during high stress levels. Accept the friendship breakup for what it is and refrain from drowning in the sea of self-blame.
Forgive yourself for the part you played in the situation as this will help you to move forward and heal.
5. There’s no need for gossip or awkwardness
If you are in the same social circle or have the added concern of what you will say to everyone who thinks you’re still friends, it’s best to refrain from sharing all the details with everyone. Simply saying “we no longer really spend much time together” with a basic, pleasant face can go a long way.
If you happen to bump into a friend, giving a civil acknowledgement and being polite can help with the awkwardness.