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How to Get Over a Friendship Breakup


It’s never easy when friendships end.

You might have been the one to decide to end it, or maybe your former friend decided to break it off. The friendship might have been overtly toxic or codependent, or it may have seemed totally normal. It might have ended out of the blue, or you might have just gradually drifted apart.

Either way, knowing how to get over a friendship breakup takes patience.

Though friendship breakups are not discussed as often as romantic breakups, they happen to everyone. And they can hurt just as badly – or even worse – than a breakup with a romantic partner.

Ashley Mateo, writing in Oprah Magazine, has this sage insight about friendship and friendship breakups:

“Our brain doesn’t know the difference between a romantic or platonic relationship.”

And oftentimes, neither does our heart.

Whichever way it ended, it’s now over. And you’re suffering. You’re probably wondering how to deal with a friendship breakup, so we put our heads together and came up with some things you can do for yourself to move forward, through and past the pain of a lost friendship.

Friendship Breakup

Tips for How to Get Over A Friendship Breakup

  1. Acknowledge your pain. First, know that your grief is normal. The pain from a breakup of a deep friendship is as real and valid as any other. You and your friend probably shared almost everything and spent practically all your time together. You talked on the phone for hours on end, and shared endless texts and messages. And now it’s all gone. That loss of intimacy and connection is real. It’s valid. And it hurts: please don’t try to tell yourself it’s nothing, because it really is something.
  2. Practice self-care. Though it seems far easier to mope in bed all day, make sure you get out and take care of yourself. Don’t neglect personal hygiene, and participate in your regular daily/weekly activities – even if they’re the last thing you want to do. Just going about your regular routine will help you recover from the pain of the breakup. It helps to take part in activities that bring you satisfaction or joy. For you, this could be reading, playing music, creating art, socializing, chilling on the beach, getting a massage, getting your nails done, or something else. If it’s a healthy outlet, and it makes you feel better, it’s self-care.
  3. Avoid rumination. Okay, that’s a fancy psychology word for going over old thoughts to the point where they interrupt your present happiness. In the case of the modern teen – you – we mean you should avoid browsing through your old texts and pictures all day if they bring you more sadness. That’s not a helpful strategy for how to get over a friendship breakup. If you think it will help you move forward, delete them – but remember, erasing their memory is not what you’re after. You want to process the emotion, not pretend the relationship never happened.
  4. Exercise. Join a new gym. Practice Pilates, yoga, or strength training. Run around the block. Or pick up something brand new. Physical fitness has wondrous benefits on mental health and overall wellbeing. It can help prevent the onset of depression and anxiety, and it can reduce already existing depressive symptoms in teens.
  5. Talk to someone. This could be a parent, caregiver, school counselor, or even another friend. If your ex-friend is in the same school as you, try seeking support from a peer in another friend group, like a camp friend, a friend who lives in a different city, or maybe a cousin or neighborhood kid who goes to a different school. Additionally, realizing you have other good friends – even if they don’t live close to you – can make you feel better about the breakup.
  6. Read about others in your situation. You might think you’re the only one grieving a lost friendship. Think again. Google “friendship breakup” and see what happens: it brings up a long list of helpful articles and advice about how to handle exactly what you’re going through. Reading about others in your situation can help make you feel better about your own situation.
  7. Try a new friend group. Your former friend might have been in the same friend group as you, which could make things are awkward. If this happens, consider branching out to other peers at school, or try becoming closer with new individuals. Prepare yourself in advance – both literally and mentally – for how to go about this. Be ready for the anxiety you might feel when you walk to another cafeteria table during lunch instead of your usual one. Here are some tips and skills for making new friends that work: we’ve seen it happen many times.
  8. Examine what went wrong in the friendship. Oftentimes, friendships turn sour when one friend behaves insensitively toward the other. Or sometimes the toxicity is mutual. The root of the toxic behavior can often be tied to mental health issues or an underdeveloped sense of or awareness of boundaries. If you feel issues you need to work on played any part in the end of the friendship, then consider outpatient therapy – especially if this is not the first time an important relationship has suffered, or if you’ve realized that this is a recurring pattern in your life and/or friendships.
  9. Check your emotional health. Platonic breakups can induce an incredible amount of grief. If you feel like life isn’t worth living anymore or have thoughts of suicide, seek mental health assistance immediately. Feeling an extreme amount of sadness after a traumatic breakup can eventually lead to clinical depression – if you don’t work proactively to process your grief, loss, and sadness. If you develop clinical depression, you might need outpatient therapy. If depression escalates, you may need to spend time at a mental health treatment center.
Helping Teens Through a Friendship Breakup

Helping Teens Through a Friendship Breakup

Getting over a friend breakup is challenging for a teen. Teens place a high value on their peer relationships, and learning how to get over a friendship breakup can be difficult. A teenager who’s learning how to deal with losing a friend may be emotional, angry, or sad. 

A friend breakup allows parents the opportunity to offer support and strengthen their relationship with their teenager. Parents can help by taking the time to learn how to revive relationships with teenagers, especially if you’ve grown apart. 

What Is the Most Common Reason for Broken Friendships?

Broken friendships happen for many reasons, including: 

  • Arguments
  • Misunderstandings
  • Perceived “betrayal”
  • Dating 
  • Different extracurriculars
  • New friendships
  • Drug or alcohol use

When you lose a friendship, sometimes there’s a distinct reason, like an argument. However, teens often drift apart as they develop different values, interests, and friend groups. 

How Long Should a “Break” Last in a Friendship?

There’s no set period for how long a break lasts. It can be painful to hear that a friend wants to take a break, but it’s a sign that the relationship isn’t working. During a break, focus on learning tips for how to deal with friend breakups and recognize that a temporary break may turn into a permanent one. 

What Are Some Key Indicators to End a Friendship?

Some of the signs that it’s time to learn how to move on from a friendship breakup include:

  • You’re anxious about certain friends and what they think of you
  • You’re the only one to make plans or put in effort
  • Spending time together feels draining
  • You disagree about core values
  • They regularly cancel plans
  • You no longer connect like you used to

If your friend is engaging in behavior you know is wrong or dangerous, it’s another sign that you should back away. There is help for teens available, but you shouldn’t put yourself in danger for the sake of your friendship. 

Toxic Friendship

How Do I Know When I’m in a Toxic Friendship?

You may be in a toxic friendship if they: 

  • Don’t keep your secrets
  • Talk about you behind your back
  • Get mad when you set boundaries
  • Embarrass or make fun of you
  • Lie to you 
  • Make you feel bad about yourself

Learning how to get over a friendship breakup can be a challenge, but making better friends can lead to happier, long-lasting peer relationships.

How to Accept That a Friendship Is Over

It can be hard to know how to accept that a friendship is over, but it’s essential in the process of healing. First, allow yourself to grieve the loss. Acknowledge your feelings and give yourself time to heal. Reflect on why the friendship ended and accept that some things are beyond your control. Focus on self-care and surround yourself with supportive people. Redirect your energy toward new hobbies or interests. Lastly, forgive both yourself and your former friend, acknowledging any resentment you have and letting go of it to the best of your ability. Remember: endings pave the way for new beginnings, and accepting closure is a vital step toward moving forward.

Helping Teens Through a Friendship Breakup

The Lesson: Embrace Change

When you’re in a close friendship, you might think you two will always stay this close. But friendships don’t always last forever, despite your expectations. Friends come and go throughout your life. Think about it: the friends you had in middle school are not always the same ones you have in high school. And – though you’re not there yet – your high school friends probably won’t follow you to college, and things change when you join the workforce. In each new environment you face, you’ll develop a new set of work-friends/colleagues, completely different from friends you had in the past. 

Let this bring you comfort. Although this friendship may be over, know that as you move on in life, you’ll keep making friends – and they’ll keep enriching your life, just as you’ll enrich theirs.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Get Over a Friendship Breakup 

What is a friendship breakup?

A friendship breakup is when two friends mutually decide to end their friendship or when one friend ends the relationship on their own.

Why do friendship breakups happen?

Friendship breakups can happen for various reasons, including growing apart, conflicts, betrayals, jealousy, changes in interests, or simply drifting away.

Is it normal to feel sad after a friendship breakup?

Yes, it’s completely normal to feel sad, confused, or even angry after a friendship breakup. Friends are an important part of our lives, and losing that connection can be tough.

What advice is there for how to get over losing a friend?

Coping with a friendship breakup involves expressing your feelings, talking to someone you trust about what happened, finding new hobbies or activities to distract yourself, and giving yourself time to heal.

Should I try to salvage the friendship after a breakup?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes, it’s possible to work things out and rebuild the friendship. Other times, it might be healthier to let go and move on.

How do I know if it’s time to end a friendship?

If the friendship is causing you more stress or sadness than happiness, if there’s constant conflict or lack of trust, or if your values and interests have changed significantly, it might be time to consider ending the friendship.

What if my friend wants to end the friendship but I don’t?

It’s important to respect your friend’s decision, even if it’s difficult for you. Trying to force someone to stay friends with you rarely works out well in the long run. Focus on taking care of yourself and finding support from other friends or family members.

Will I ever find new friends after a breakup?

Yes, absolutely! It can be hard to stop obsessing over a lost friendship, and healing may take time, but there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people and form new friendships. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and explore different activities or join clubs where you can meet like-minded individuals.

How do I deal with seeing my ex-friend at school or in social situations?

It’s normal to feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but try to be civil and polite if you do cross paths. You don’t have to force a conversation if you’re not ready, but try to focus on your own activities and friends rather than dwelling on the past. Seeing an ex-friend at school can be very painful, so be sure to take extra care of yourself on days when you’re feeling sad about the breakup.

Will I ever stop feeling hurt about the friendship breakup?

With time and self-care, the pain will lessen. You may always have fond memories of your friendship, but eventually, you’ll be able to move forward and focus on new experiences and relationships.

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