Breaking up With a Friend You Love: How to Cope With the Aftermath

You and your friend were once so close you considered yourselves BFFs. However, recently, things don’t seem the same. Every interaction you have leaves you feeling hollow. Is it time to wave goodbye?

Relationships, including the nonsexual variety, end for multiple reasons. If you’re considering breaking up with a friend you love, you need to first come to peace with that decision. Only then can you effectively cope with the aftermath and move on. 

Does the Friendship Have to End? 

How do you know if the relationship has to end? Here are signs that may indicate it’s time to end things with a friend despite your history. 

  • You dread their negativity: Does every phone call feel more like a chore than a chat? If every interaction makes you feel negative, ask yourself why. Everyone needs someone to unload on, but if every conversation is a tale of woe, you’ll eventually grow melancholy. 
  • The friendship is one-sided: You haven’t heard from them in weeks — they never even returned your call when your grandmother was in the hospital. Now they’re short on rent money, and they text you every day until they guilt-trip you into loaning the extra before disappearing again. 
  • They bring the drama: They have a new crush every week, which wouldn’t annoy you if it were Ryan Gosling or Jason Momoa. However, they remain convinced every late-night bar encounter means they met “the one,” and they have no trouble calling you in hysterics at 3 a.m. when things go south. 
  • They betrayed your trust: You only told one person that you coveted the supervisory role up for grabs. When it went to someone else, everyone in the office started offering their condolences to you. Who spilled the beans? 

8 Ways to Cope With Breaking up With a Friend You Love

You’ve decided it’s best to break up with a friend you love, even though you still care. Maybe instead of making a dramatic declaration, you quietly go your separate way by answering calls with brief text messages and declining invitations. Perhaps you meet, outline your boundaries and draw the line when the other person crosses them. 

Either way, you still have to deal with the psychological hurt. Here’s how to nurture your heart as you heal. 

1. Give Yourself Time

As when a romantic relationship ends, your first instinct after breaking up with a friend you love may be to find a suitable replacement. However, it’s every bit as vital to spend time alone to rediscover who you are before declaring a new BFF. 

You need to evaluate what went wrong and your role in the last friendship ending. Spend some time in honest reflection — did you demand too much of your former best friend? Did you flake on them once too often without a suitable explanation? You can’t change the past, but you can alter your behavior to make your future brighter. 

2. Indulge Yourself Healthfully 

Resist the urge to pull on your comfy pants and binge the newest Netflix series with a bottle of moscato in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other. Self-destructing in the wake of a friendship breakup will only reinforce your foolish idea that you deserve to feel lonely. 

You should treat yourself — but do so healthfully. Sign up for that mud race your former BFF always shunned or take a relaxing bubble bath after practicing yoga. 

3. Join a Support Group

Sometimes, you don’t initiate the breakup with the friend you love. People with chronic illnesses often lose friendships when their limitations make it challenging to hang out as often as they like.

In such instances, you need a network of those who understand your circumstances. Search for online support groups for your conditions or chronic pain in general. While you shouldn’t do so with the expectation of meeting a new BFF, you might. 

4. Sign up for a Networking Opportunity 

Given the pandemic, you can find a host of online networking events, many free and low-cost. You could meet new contacts and possibly advance your career. 

5. Investigate New Fitness Fun 

Have you always wanted to try balancing in tree pose atop a paddleboard? Some group fitness instructors are getting highly creative to keep classes going while maintaining social distancing. Try one of the exciting outdoor offerings and keep an open mind. 

6. Look Into Clubs

Do you love to read? Why not join an online book club to discuss the juicy novel you can’t put down with others? If you adore the “game of kings,” you can find virtual chess clubs where you can meet new friends while honing your skills. 

7. Expand Your Knowledge 

Remember how college friendships formed as painlessly as sharing a single kvetching session after class? Why not improve your knowledge base while putting yourself in a position to meet others the same way again? If nothing else, you’ll add to your resume. 

8. Invite a Colleague to Coffee

It’s understandable if you keep a low profile at the office. However, you don’t want to cultivate a reputation as someone standoffish. Invite that new hire or colleague you haven’t chatted with in a while to coffee or lunch. 

Breaking up With a Friend You Love Can Be Painful but Necessary 

Like the song goes, breaking up is hard to do. However, by thinking things through rationally and giving yourself time to heal, you can make the best choice for your psychological health.