You know what can be 11,000 times worse than breaking up with a significant other? Breaking up with a friend. When you’re dating someone, there’s a tacit understanding that, while Going Somewhere would be nice, breaking up is a very real possibility — maybe even a likelihood. Not so with a pal — and it sucks extra, because you can’t even call her (or him) to cry about it like you did after your last relationship imploded. It’s hard when thick-and-thin runs thin, but you’ll get through it with these six survival tips. (And, OK, these are pretty applicable to romantic breakups, too.)
1. Don’t burn any bridges, just in case…
Remember that time you told your ex to take their [bleep bleep bleep] and [bleep] it where [BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP], and then threw a cactus at their head? Try not to do that to your friend-no-more if you can help it, even if she really, really deserves it. Reconciliation might sound impossible right now, but you don’t know how you’ll be feeling in a few months or a year. Out of respect for what you shared, and an understanding that you might want to mend the rift one day, try not to say or do anything that crosses any more lines.
2. …But know when to move on
If you’ve left 30 voicemails, called her partner, called her mom, drunk-texted prolifically, and still haven’t heard from her, it might be time to call it a day. Regardless of who was at fault, it’s either painful for her to talk to you (and you don’t want to be in the business of causing pain) or she's giving you the cold shoulder with a vengeance (and you don’t want to be manipulated). The loss of a friend is incredibly difficult to accept, but once you do, you can start the healing process. (I know, “Yippee,” but you can do it, promise.)
3. Out of sight, out of mind
Remember all of those apps we talked about for deleting all evidence of your ex's very existence? Yup, those tools work on ex-friends, too. If her online presence is too painful, clean your digital feed and your contacts list. While you’re at it, take down photos, put presents in boxes, ship back belongings left at your apartment, and do whatever else you have to do to cut back on painful triggers.
4. Distract, distract, distract
Yes, sorry, this is a particularly annoying thing to hear when you’re working your way through boxes of Kleenex, but you need to get your mind off the breakup. Like, even though you have constructed a really kick-ass fort out of blankets, pillows, and moping, you unfortunately need to leave it to do hot yoga or marathon TV show watching (yes, leave the fort for that) or take cooking classes or bird-watch, because distracting yourself works. Time really does heal, and it flies a hell of a lot faster when you’re keeping busy. Bonus points if it’s something super cathartic — golf, kickboxing, tennis, paintballing, archery, or pretty much anything that entails a satisfying THWACK sound.
5. Schedule some friend dates
It’s time to start putting yourself back out there, and unappealing though that is, at least you don’t need to create an OKCupid profile to do it (though Tinder is now in the business of helping people make new friends). Reach out to your other friends and acquaintances and get some dinners on the calendar. Find out what kind of group activities they’re doing, and even if it’s something horrendous like kickball, at least consider giving it a go. It won’t be quite the same, but it will put you in touch with people who, hey, might be strong in the very areas where your ex-friend was deficient. Anything that helps you meet new people right now is good, so make like a job-hunting postgrad and shake some hands.
6. Find the lesson
I know, go ahead, get it out: uuuuggggggghhh. But there is a lesson to be found, even if the lesson is to stop hanging out with backstabbing, narcissistic, disrespectful, insincere, buttfaced miscreants. Just because you’ve lost a shoulder to lean on doesn’t mean that the entire relationship was unproductive and meaningless. Friends support us, but they also help us to grow. No doubt losing a friend will change you, but you have the power to make sure it’s a change for the better — don’t let that opportunity to go waste.