You can take the nail salon, but I get custody of the gym. When you break up with a boyfriend, it’s usually grounds for staying in bed for an entire weekend, eating ice cream, and watching movies starring any of these women: Kate Hudson, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
People understand the pain that comes along with breaking up with a boyfriend. Most people have been through it at least once. But the pain caused when a friendship ends can be just as bad, if not worse, than breaking up with your boyfriend.
It doesn’t matter why your friendship ended (you grew apart, you had a fight, you found different groups of friends, etc.) it can seem impossible to move on, especially if the friend played a significant role in your life. Luckily for you (and unfortunately for me) I’ve been through a traumatic friend break-up. I’ve figured out some ways to get through it and come out the other side. And unlike Carrie Underwood’s instructions for a boyfriend break-up, I won’t tell you to dig your key into the side of her pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive. Carving your name into her leather seats is not allowed either. Come on now, you’re better than that.
I had been friends with “Sarah” since I was 13 or 14. We quickly became best friends, bordering on sisterhood status (we were both only children). Due to a series of complicated events and details which I won’t bore you with (the bottom line is we had a blowout fight), the friendship ended. Afterward, Sarah made it clear she wanted nothing to do with me. I was devastated and not sure what to do next.
After a few months of cool-down time, I wanted to repair the relationship. When our friendship ended, she de-friended me on Facebook (the ultimate sin) and told me not to call her. But after some time to think, I figured maybe Sarah and I had moved past our differences enough to talk things out. I worked up the nerve to call her and find out. The phone rang a few times, and then immediately went to voice mail.
“Did she really just ignore my call?” I thought to myself. I didn’t believe that she would actually do that, so I tried again. This time the phone rang once and went to voice mail. She was definitely ignoring my call. I was so flustered that I didn’t leave a voicemail. I tried back one more time, knowing that she would ignore the call, but wanting to leave a voice mail. This time her phone was off. I left a rambling, awkward message and hung up.
Months and months went by and I still hadn’t heard anything from Sarah. I knew I was being creepy, but I couldn’t stand having someone who was such a big part of my life just disappear. It was as if she had suddenly died and I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was frustrated because I wanted to mend things, but there was nothing I could do on my own. I needed her help and cooperation.
I decided I would try one last thing, and then I was moving on. I logged on to Facebook, found Sarah’s account, and sent her a message. I spent a solid chunk of time drafting this thing. I worded it so it was upbeat and friendly, yet not as if nothing had happened between us. I basically said that I knew we were both upset, but I didn’t want to lose her friendship and all of the memories we shared. I told her about a few of the major things that were going on in my life and asked her what was going on in her life.
I reread the message over and over, making sure the tone was warm enough but not creepy. I never heard back. I was incredibly hurt but not surprised by this. I hoped that our shared history would cancel out our recent problems, but it was just not happening.
After several days spent moping around, much like after a boyfriend break-up, I realized that this was not going to work anymore. I could not keep putting out energy and feelings for someone who was emotionally unavailable. If a guy was treating me this way, my friends would tell me to move on and find someone better. That day, I decided I was getting over Sarah.
Our break-up happened five years ago and, like any ex, I still think about Sarah sometimes. I wonder how she’s doing and hope things are going well for her. It took a while, but I don’t have the same bitter hatred or terrible hurt that I used to feel when I thought about her. If she contacted me today I would definitely respond, but I never check my e-mail or my Facebook hoping that there will be a message from her.
Now of course, had Sarah been open to rebuilding our friendship, our situation would have ended differently. Sometimes after enough time has passed, you and your friend can both agree to move past the problem and come together over what bonded you in the first place— shared interests, goals, personality traits, etc. In the event that reconciliation is out of the question, here are some tips for moving on and feeling good again.
1. Delete all the pictures of you two from your computer. Get them out of your room/anywhere you might see them. When you first “break-up,” seeing these pictures will just remind you of the great times you had when you were still friends. It will not help you move on. After you and a friend part ways, it’s important to focus on the future, not the past. It’s the same principle you would use when getting over a guy.
2. Block the person on Facebook, at least temporarily. Otherwise you may be tempted to try to message her, which will just cause you more frustration. If she wants to contact you, she will find a way.
3. If you have any of the former friend’s possessions, donate them or find a way to return them. Sarah and I borrowed each other’s clothes a lot when we went out on the weekends, and I still had a lot of her things. I knew I had no way to get them back to her, so I donated them to a charity.
4. Work on strengthening other friendships. If this person was your best friend, now is a good time to develop better relationships with other friends. If you’ve lost mutual friends in the split, this is even more important. It may feel overwhelming to have to start again, but much like dating, you will get back on your feet and create new friendships.
5. Don’t rehash the situation. It’s sad and may have been surprising, but going over the details again and again with another friend or family member isn’t going to make you feel any better. It will just inhibit your ability to focus on other areas of your life.
6. Stop blaming yourself. It’s productive to think about what you could have done differently, so you can learn from the situation (and hopefully handle a similar situation better down the road). It’s unhealthy to obsess about the way things could have turned out. It’s even worse to beat yourself up about why you didn’t do things a certain way in the first place.
So there you have it, my loves. A few simple yet effective ways to move on after a friend break-up. No bodily harm or rumor-mongering necessary. Doesn’t maturity feel grand?
♥AUTHOR: LAUREN LEVINE of “Life with Lauren” on LoveTwenty.com