What to Do When a Friendship Ends
Aside from the family we’re born into, our friends are our first connections to the outside world. We begin with making friends on the playground with chalk and games of kickball and we transition to teenage and adult friendships. If you’re lucky, you can keep your friendships from childhood and those friends grow with you as you grow up. Most adults know how hard it is to maintain friendships when you’re juggling school, work, and life in general. Despite how difficult it may be, we value those friendships more as we get older. We strive to keep that connection even if we don’t see our friends as regularly as we want.
So, what do we do when one of those friendships ends?
There are a few ways a friendship can end. Sometimes it happens naturally as you get older and there are no hard feelings involved. The text messages became less frequent, or your schedules never lined up to hang out. There are no harsh words or screaming matches - just a fizzle and a lot of good memories. However, some friendships end more dramatically. Some friendships take the route of screaming matches and harsh words as their end. One person, or both of you, decide that the friendship is not able to be repaired and you end it. Regardless of if you’re the person who ended the friendship or you’re the one that got told the friendship was over, it can be hard to reconcile the loss.
When a friendship ends, it’s important to mourn the loss. You had some really good times with this friend and there was a reason you wanted to stay friends with them. Whether you relied on them for comfort or a good laugh, that loss can feel like a hole in your life. It can be easy to focus on anger in these times. Anger is an easy emotion to feel because it masks hurt. When we’re angry, we don’t have to think about how the loss of this friendship is hurting us or how we’re going to miss them in the future.
Almost everyone has been through a death in their family whether it’s a family member or a beloved pet. We have felt the shock of the loss and have dealt with the stages of grief. There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When we talk about or hear about the stages of grief, it’s usually in regards to death. However, the stages of grief can be applied to a loss of a friendship as well. That loss, while it’s not the same as death, needs to be mourned and processed.
The stages of grief are not linear and we may bounce from one stage to another without much thought about it. One day it may feel like you’re angry at your friend for the loss of the relationship, and the next you might cry and wonder how the friendship would have lasted if you had stuck it out. All of these thoughts and feelings are completely normal. You have to mourn this friendship in order to move on and not wonder what could have been.
If you are struggling with the loss of a friendship or relationship, the therapists at Mindsight are here to help!
Shelby Case is a new therapist at Mindsight Louisville! Shelby's favorite things include spending time with her animals and her spouse, watching television (currently they are watching Big Brother), and taking road trips. When she isn't providing therapy to clients, she can be found playing video games (her favorite is The Sims 4) or spending too much money at a thrift store. Shelby's favorite color is green and her guilty pleasure is reality TV shows.
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