From a young age, we’re encouraged to nurture friendships, because romantic relationships may come and go, but friends are the only constant in our lives.
Walter Winchell once said “A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” So what happens the day they walk out as well?
Best friends are supposed to be our ride-or-die homies, the one that holds us down when things go wrong. It’s only natural that when that friendship ends, it feels like a dagger through the heart.
“While we often have huge expectations from romantic partners. We tend to love and accept our friends more unconditionally,” said relationship and life coach Kas Naidoo. “This is why it would seem like a void that cannot be filled. We all yearn to be accepted exactly as we are.”
And like any breakup, it takes time for the emotional scars to heal. “All emotional healing starts with self-love and being kind to yourself. The next phase is forgiving yourself and your friend,” added Durban-based Naidoo. “Try to understand the purpose that the relationship served for you. Take the lessons and be grateful that you had the friendship for the time you did.”
If a friend walks away from a friendship with you without any explanation, it may be useful to reach out and request a mature meeting to clear the air, recommends Jogini Packery, Head of Student Services at SACAP & Counselling Psychologist.
“If the situation is very toxic and already all up in the air, and what you are being confronted with upsets you, then perhaps you should reflect on yourself for a moment,” she suggested.
Packery uses the example of self-care exercises that can help you assess whether certain friendships are worth keeping around.
The most important thing to remember is not to take it personally. It may be hard to do at first, but it’s easy to think that if your friend broke up with you, that it’s your fault, according to Chicago-based coach, consultant and mentor Dr Benjamin Ritter.
“If you mistreated them, you really need to reflect on your actions and self, but the majority of the time in friendship breakups, it’s just that your friend is on a different path than you. It’s not personal and has little to do with who you are,” he told NBCNews.com.
Unlike cutting the cord with an ex, there’s not exactly a rule book when breaking up with a friend. Do you stay in contact? What about unfriending on Facebook? It’s a grey area, admitted Naidoo.
“If the differences are irreconcilable, it’s best to stop all communication and give each other the space to heal. In time, with greater wisdom, that could change and you could come together again, on a different level of understanding,” she believes.