(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
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: