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Friendship breakups are often more painful than romantic relationship breakups, yet we seldom talk about them. Have you ever wondered what to do when a friendship breaks up? Have you ever wondered what caused a friendship breakup? Or how to keep it from happening again? Read more for what to do when a friendship breaks up.
There’s a Book Giveaway so be sure to read to the end!
Scripture says, He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harms. (Proverbs 13:20) So it’s important for us to be wise in our relationships.
I recently interviewed my friend, author Mary DeMuth, on my radio program, “Your Hope-Filled Perspective with Dr. Michelle Bengtson” – Hope for those who have toxic friends, about toxic friendships and what to do when a friendship breaks up. There are many books on the market for what to do after a divorce, or after becoming a widow, but precious little that discusses the common experience of a friendship break up. After our discussion, I decided this was something we needed to spend a bit more time discussing, in order to help people know what to do after a friendship breaks up.
In her book, 7 Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy, Mary referred to the deadly friendship types as “Narcissist Nolan,” “Unreliable Uma,” “Predator Paige,” “Conman Connor,” “Tempter Trevor,” “Faker Fiona,” and “Dramatic Drake.” If you want to know if any of those toxic type relationships have existed in your friendship circle, Mary has offered her free quiz (The Deadly Friendship Quiz.) Mary also shared seven life-giving practices to help our relationships.
I remember my own experience after a friendship broke up:
“What did I do wrong? Did I do something to hurt you?” I messaged a friend, longing to know what happened to cool our friendship.
She replied icily, “I don’t have time to talk about it.”
She didn’t have time? I was her friend. Something was amiss but I was clueless regarding what happened or what to do about it.
Most of us are familiar with the song “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” It’s true. Relationship breakups are painful and often crushing. Yet what do we do when a friendship breaks up? Ending a friendship is often harder than ending a romantic relationship.
Why ending a friendship is more painful than ending a romantic relationship:
- Nobody prepares you for losing a friend! We anticipate romantic relationships may end on the way to following that right companion BUT we’re socialized to think friendships will last forever (Michael W Smith)
- We often have more years of memories with friends.
- You lost your best confidant: We often share our deepest secrets with friends; they fill the emotional gaps in our lives (including the struggles we have in romantic relationships)
- We’re used to doing daily life with them (mundaneexciting)
- After a breakup, those ex-friends still know all the bad things about us. We can’t take that back. They could use it against you.
- Unlike romantic relationships where we talk about why we’re breaking up (conversations forewarn of a breakup & give a sense of closure), we often don’t have such discussions as friendships are endingconfusion
- Romantic relationships have fairly well understood boundaries & expectations; yet friendship expectations are less well-defined.
- When you previously did everything together, you’re likely to run into them repeatedly in real life
- Maintaining mutual friendships can be a constant reminder of what you lost
- We feel ashamed when we couldn’t make it work
- We expect grief after a romantic breakup or the death of a loved one but there is less discussion about grief after a friendship breakup
Relationships fulfill a need we each have. We were not created to live in isolation. God said in Genesis, that it was not good for Adam to be alone.
There are 4 basic truths about adult friendships:
- Friendships become increasingly important as we age.
- Friendships are better predictors of our well-being than family relationships as we age.
- The more friends you have, the less your risk of premature death.
- Most friendships change, and they rarely last forever.
Before we can answer what to do when a friendship breaks up, we must understand the general reasons why friendships break up.
The Most Common Reasons for Friendship Breakups:
- We gradually grow apart (i.e. the slow drift)
- Physical distance and separation
- The communication gap
- Different stages of life/ Differences in lifestyle
(i.e. the life change)
- The irreparable wrong
What to Do When A Friendship Breaks Up
- Give yourself permission to grieve
- Don’t put your grief on a time-limit (the closer you were, the more painful)
- Acknowledge the feelings (rejection, abandonment, disappointment, fear)
- Focus on the other aspects of your life that are positive
- Take care of yourself: adequate sleep, healthy diet (high fiber, protein & nutrients to boost mood & energy; avoid high fat, sugar & salt which produce high cortisol), regular exercise [increase endorphins]
- Stick to your usual routine
- Make time for things you love
- Avoid social media
- Say a private goodbye: Write a letter to your ex-friend (not to mail) explaining your hurts and owning your part
- Do not disavow the good times you had (a break-up doesn’t negate the good before)
- Try to stay neutral and not expect mutual friends to take sides
- Develop a script for when you do see or talk to them.
- Develop an “Obsession Diet” (i.e. think about it 5 minutes/hr)
- Help other people
Scripture reminds us, As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17) So let’s work on investing in healthy relationships, and trying to be a better friend to others.
If you’d like to hear my discussion with Mary about her experiences and the hope-filled perspective she shared with our listeners regarding friendships, listen here. Hope for those who have toxic friends.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview on Hope for those who have toxic friends, Mary DeMuth is giving away a free copy of her book, 7 Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy. If you’ve ever struggled with the pain of friendship relationships that steal your joy, specifically, toxic friends, you’ll want to enter this book giveaway.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one new thing you learned from this post about friendship and friendship breakups that you can apply to a situation and you will be entered into a drawing to win one copy of Mary’s book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing. The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, July 29, 2019, here on this post. Continental United States only.
Other helpful articles about friendship:
10 Traits of Grace Based Friends Mary DeMuth
Ask Dr. B: Surviving a Friend’s Betrayal
Dr. Michelle, your interview with Mary DeMuth and this blog have been so helpful and encouraging concerning friendships. I have lost friendships over the years but mostly those friendships just faded away due to changes in location and communication. I have had a few toxic ones that I did not realize were toxic but now I see them in a totally different light and I am thankful that the Lord led me out of them so I could find some healthy friendships. Thank you and Mary so much for sharing from your life experiences and giving me and others a Hope-Filled Perspective on friendships. Love and appreciate you so much!
This was such a timely podcast and post! I just had a toxic friendship end. The thing I learned is to avoid social media where that person is concerned, and leave it be. There has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders that I honestly hadn’t realized was there!
I love this so much, Michelle! I’ve had to give up a very close, friendship that through Christian counseling I realized was toxic. Of course I was the one who had to draw back and try to cut strings with grace and love. I still love this friend from a distance and pray for her, but due to much different lifestyles and beliefs I can’t spend the time with her that I once did. It was so hard at first and I missed her, but she was draining me and causing much strife in my life. I would love to read Mary’s book and pass it on to some of my family members who I know are dealing with this issue right now. I am going to share this blog post on Facebook as well as privately through email. Thank you again, Michelle and Mary!
Shared on Facebook and Twitter!
Having five sisters, I never really felt a need to have a lot of “friends”. I’ve done a lot and gone many places with my sisters and my mom, who also was like a best friend. I did usually have at least one good friend outside of my family, whether it was a co-worker or someone else that I “clicked” with. We might see a movie or go out to lunch. We shared some things but nothing too personal. Those friendships always eventually ended because of many of the reasons you’ve listed. Interestingly, I never felt, in the beginning, that those friends would be long-term friends.I recognized there was something missing in those relationships. I have a very dear friend right now that I know will be that one long-term friend. She has a different kind of heart–one that touches mine. I wish we had met many years ago.
I can’t recall an adult friendship that necessarily broke up as much as distance and interests allowed us to drift apart. That pain has eluded me, however, starting over with making new friends in new places has grown increasingly more difficult. Thank you for the insights about the importance of friends as we age.
The end of friendships (or even a change in status) can be so painful. Thank you for writing on this subject. laurensparks.net
Friendship is tricky! I wrote about that this week too because it isn’t talked about enough. I’m learning that friendships have different seasons and reasons in our lives. And that is ok!
oh yes, this has happened many times in my life. I think the thing that is always hardest for me is that they seem so willing to tell anyone but me what has gone wrong. Yet I’m the only one who could apologize if I have hurt them somehow. I wish that more believers would go to their Christian family with hurts and deal with it in a Christ-like way.
I lost my best friend of 20 years shortly after I lost 115 pounds. She has been a toxic friend and I got tired of wearing armor. I constantly shrugged off her mean comments in conversation and replayed them over and over in my head for days. We have history, but that doesn’t mean we have to have a future.
I always love Mary DeMuth’s perspective (and yours Michelle!) on interpersonal relationships. I had never thought about developing a script in my head for any future encounters, but it makes perfect sense for keeping your cool and not flying off the handle no matter what they may throw at you (emotion-wise).
Thanks Michelle! Great, needed topic! And it’s true, we don’t talk about it, but we need to.
Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!
Hi Dr Michelle, I’ve seen more toxic friendships with my young daughter than with myself recently. I’d love to read a similar article specifically aimed at kids!
Thank you for this! I’ve drifted apart from all of my friends (through no one’s fault – just people changing) and now find myself in limbo land. I must let down my guard and learn to let people in.
I have a friendship that was deep, but sort of suddenly it fizzled. I didn’t get it, but now I do. I believe my #4 led to a combination of #1-3.
There may be more to it, but…
This is a wonderful post because the hurt is so real yet no one talks about losing friends as an adult. The hurt and the void left behind is real and now I don’t feel so childish for feeling it. Thank you!
I have been having questions about this and have been thinking about these concepts, and then I heard your podcast and I thought ok this is real. I am not crazy. So this was helpful to me.
I just lost a friend who was also a business partner; very difficult. I did the Quiz and was shocked and amazed as to what this person came out as. I think the biggest thing I learned is the part of allowing grieving time, for as what was stated, we only usually think of that to do with romantic breakups. I am so thankful for all which I read and learned. I sure hope to win one of the books!
Sheryl Ann, I’m so very sorry you had to endure such pain. It’s so hard, and we don’t talk about it much, but it does deserve our grief, and then God’s healing.
Going through this right now and it is indeed very painful! Thank you for your insights and tips.