Dealing with Friendship Breakups

There are three important questions to ask yourself in any relationship who am I? where am I going? and, who is coming with me?

Person reflecting

Who am I?

Is a big question, and one that is both not stagnant, and answered by a series of other questions such as “what do I like/dislike?”

Where am I going?

This also changes over time. You might have once thought you wanted to be an astronaut, police officer or, fire fighter (just to name a few) and now – as an adult – you may still want to be, or be doing those things, or you may be doing something totally different (either of which is totally fine). What interests do I want to develop and, where am I going to live etc.

Who is coming with me?

With this question it’s worth bearing in mind that we often decide this before discovering the answers to the first two questions. Yes, it’s also true that who comes with us can determine the results of the first two questions as those who we surround ourselves with rub off on us and vice versa.

two women upset

So, what happens when a relationship, particularly a friendship, falls apart?

Relationships are built on trust, respect, and enjoyable time spent together. They are then sustained by this trust and respect and further enjoyment of each other’s company. Whether that be through mutual adventures, or weekly cups of coffee.

How a friendship falls apart, and the feelings of each party involved will be individual to the situations. However, the feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, relief, and possibly also jealousy are quite common ones. Note, that they may also be conflicting  at times, for example you can feel relief and anger at the same time.

Be kind to yourself, give yourself space to experience the range of feelings that come your way. Then, reflect. Is what has happened forgivable? Have I decided I no longer want this friendship? Have I apologised? Can I put this difference aside? or do I want to talk about what has happened further?

Examine the situation from a variety of perspectives, give your best shot at ‘standing in that person’s shoes’. Standing in someone else’s shoes is not about excusing their behaviour it’s about understanding it. You can still like someone whilst disliking certain behaviours, and you can choose not to be around someone because of their behaviours.

Female crying

Choose your course of action, and implement, remembering that you can only control your response. How the other party involved responds is up to them.

One way to communicate without blame (if you choose that path) that you may find helpful is using the following format:

When you do ….

I feel ….

What I would prefer/need

Is if we/you did …

Reflect on your relationships today and explore your answers to the above questions.

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