If you were in a friendship that recently ended, you might find yourself feeling like you failed. This is a common response for women when because of how deeply the integrate these relationships into their lives, and how much they invest in these kinds of partnerships. But internalizing the dissolution of a friendship as a personal failure can be dangerous.
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Here are three things to keep in mind as you process this transition:
1. Do not internalize your friendship breakup.
Sometimes we wonder, What's wrong with me? What does this reflect about my character? What will people think about me?
We think that it has some reflection on who we are as a person that a friendship ended. The research tells us that we tend to replace half of our friends every seven years. So at some point there's going to be a natural pruning that happens with the friendships you've cultivated in your life. To be clear, we're not talking about a person who's always cutting people off and ghosting people. That's something totally different. But if naturally you have a friendship that faded out or you didn't see eye to eye or it kind of ended tensely, it's not necessarily indicative of your ability to maintain relationships.
Sometimes it's a reflection of differing values, differing objectives and goals.
2. Don't cling to expired friendships out of fear.
Some of us are holding on to friendships because we fear what it would say about us if we let it fall by the wayside. We are scared of having a friendship end if we think that it will make us look bad or if it will say something about our abilities. And so some of us remain in friendships where we're enduring mistreatment. We remain in friendships that feel like a depletion of our energy. But while we might not admit it, for some of us, the motivation to maintain the relationship is a fear of what it would say about us if we let it go.
Be very careful of compensating for failed friendships by remaining in those that not only don't serve you, but maybe eventually become actively harmful for you.
3. Don't write-off future friendships.
Be very careful of when you find yourself feeling like a failure after a friendship breakup is to not give up.
Sometimes we think, This is like the third friendship fallout I've had. Like, maybe I'm not cut out for this, or maybe I just do it wrong. Or to avoid feeling the pain I feel right now, I'm just going to avoid relationships altogether. But being in a relationship with any person is no guarantee of safety and long term comfort. That's not possible. So to cut yourself off from the possibility of pain in a relationship is also to remove yourself from all the good stuff that it affords you as well.
So if you find yourself mentally beginning to go to that place of saying that you'll just bypass heartache and disappointment by opting out of friendships altogether, try to stay aware of slipping down the road of cynicism, as it often leads to loneliness.
Consider this: What, to you, makes a successful friendship? Is it a friendship that lasts for a long time?
Because there are some people who have been in friendships that are unhealthy, but there's codependence there or they don't know how to make new friends, so they stick with what they know even though they've outgrown it.
So we can't measure our short term friendships against people who have been together longer and think, well, they're somehow more successful because it's been ten years.
Yes, it hurts when the friendship is over.
It could be because we're bringing so much to the table, we have so many grand expectations. We do get so intimately involved. And because of that, there might be more at stake. So if you're in a friendship that ain't that deep in the first place, then maybe you're probably not having fallouts because it wasn't that serious. But we have to be careful about associating longevity with relational success. My hope is that kind of having you think on that a little bit, you start to realize that while long-standing friendships are beautiful and sustaining, it doesn't make the ones that ended any less meaningful to our lives.
If you're looking for more tangible ways to reject feelings of personal failure during a friendship breakup, watch the video below or listen to our podcast, Friend Forward.
We're here to talk it through. You can learn email@example.com or hit us up on Instagram anytime at @friendforward.