Survival Guide 101: Friendship Breakups

by Karabo Mashaba

The trauma of a romantic relationship ending is a topic that is widely spoken about and even serves as a common topic of conversation amongst friends. While breaking up with the alleged ‘love of your life’ may be painful, at least you’ve still got your confidante or group of friends to help you through it. But people generally don’t speak about the ways of navigating a platonic separation. The end of a romantic relationship is usually signalled by an official breakup conversation, making it clear for both parties to understand that the union is no more. However, the same is not normalized at the end of a friendship which can bring about confusion and a lack of closure.

I’m sure we can all agree that making friends as children is so simple – even socially awkward Karabo can confirm this. Children have a natural ability to connect just by virtue of their shared status of being kids or being in the same environment. The most dramatic friendship breakup would probably be because she didn’t want to share her crayons with you in art class. However, the dynamics of the relationship change as you get older.

There is an incredible level of trust and intimacy involved in friendships that you may not even share with a family member. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disregarding the depth of childhood relationships. Being an adult simply means you have a higher level of emotional intelligence and therefore, feel the depth of your emotions even more. In this regard, ending a friendship with someone can be a very disappointing experience. More often than not, a future with that friend was envisioned. So it’s definitely normal to go through an entire spectrum of emotions.

Establishing deep and meaningful friendships as an adult is no walk in the park. When all that hard work starts crumbling down, it may feel as though all your time and effort was wasted. It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 4 steps to help overcome the trauma of a friendship breakup:

  1. Acknowledge the loss and start the healing process

After the breakup with your beloved bestie, going through a mourning period is completely okay. Even though it may not be easy, it is important to allow yourself to go through the emotions. After all, you are mourning the end of a relationship you had envisioned blossoming even further. It is a good idea to talk to someone you trust with your vulnerability. If you feel completely alone, starting a journal as a form of self-expression may become helpful.

  1. Give yourself some time off

The last things you need to be seeing are snaps of your ex bestie living her best life, especially if it’s with someone new. Tailor your social media if necessary. Unfollow, block and delete contact numbers. In this way, it will become easier to heal from the ordeal. Dedicate time to improve yourself. Whether this is physically or mentally through meditation, putting yourself in a better mind frame will help you look at this unfortunate event as an opportunity for growth.

  1. Try to meet new people, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Have you been wanting to join a yoga class or just something in general that appealed to you but haven’t yet implemented? Now is the time to put yourself out there. The mutual hobby or interest that you and the people in that environment share may become the beginning of something incredible.

  1. A breakup may be an opportunity to grow

Reflecting on why the relationship ended is a good way of achieving personal growth. You can observe the patterns in your own behaviour and reflect on the types of people you attract based on your own traits or actions. This will help you develop the strength of your future friendships (and even your romantic relationship).

When all is said and done, you need to remember that people enter your life either for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Learn to see the brighter side of things and use these experiences as an opportunity to grow as a person.

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