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19 Things Everyone Should Do After A Friend Breakup

Because the end of a friendship can be heartbreaking too.

1. Decide if the friendship is worth fighting for.

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If you've just fallen out with a friend, or are on the verge of a permanent parting of ways, be absolutely sure you want things to end – are your problems unfixable, did they do something truly unforgivable, or are they a toxic person who's not going to change?

If you still want them as a friend, consider being the bigger person and apologising, or reaching out. There are worse things than being the one to bend first. And if they still don't want to work it out, at least you know you did everything you could.

2. Make a list of the reasons the friendship is over.

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Friendships are forever, right? Wrong. Maybe your friend ghosted you. Maybe they did something abjectly terrible. Maybe it was a slow drip feed of realising they continually made you feel shit about yourself. Or maybe you just became different people and slowly drifted apart.

Just like romantic relationships, friendships can be toxic – and we can end up staying in them far longer than we should. But if you do start to feel like maybe you should have stuck around longer or tried harder, make a list of the reasons the friendship ended, and ask yourself if that's someone you still want in your life.

If your reasons don't seem that big now, you can try getting back in touch. But if they slept with your boyfriend, tore you down, or ignored you for months, know that they are still fully capable of doing that again.

3. Give yourself time to grieve.

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A lot more weight is given to romantic breakups than friend breakups, but I've always thought that a breakup with a friend is at least as difficult to go through, if not harder. You've lost a part of the support system that's usually there when you go through a trauma, and a breakup with a friend can make you feel equally as alone and vulnerable.

Give your friend breakup the respect it deserves. You need time to grieve and to come to terms with your loss. Crack out the ice cream, let yourself wallow and don't just brush it off.

4. Be like Sweden.

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i.e Neutral. i.e. DO NOT chat shit about your ex-friend to your mutual friends. I know, it's tempting. You want them to choose you. You want them to agree that your ex-friend is a total crazy person and completely wrong. You want them to be on YOUR SIDE. But trash talking them won't achieve any of that – it'll just make you look negative and petty.

A good friend doesn't put friends in an uncomfortable position by demanding they choose between their former friend and them. And no matter what your ex-friend may think of you, you are fully capable of taking the high ground. With maybe one or two drunken slip ups along the way.

5. Be honest.

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Talking to your friends about how your ex-partner cheated on you is very different to talking to them about how your ex-friend hates you because you stayed at their house and didn't offer to wash up. It feels a lot more vulnerable – what if they think the same thing?

But talking to your friends will make you feel so much better (as long as they're not mutual friends. See point 4).

Be upfront about what happened. Maybe they were a dick, but maybe you were a bit of a dick too. Resist the urge to retell the story purely from your perspective. Talking candidly with a good friend can be a great way to get perspective on the situation.

6. Don't freak out.

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In the same vein, the instinct after a losing a friend is often to pull your remaining friends closer, scared they'll leave too. Take a deep breath, and try not to panic. Talk to your friends about it. You don't have to go into detail, but letting them know you're going through a rough patch will prepare them for any unusual behaviour.

If they're good friends, they'll be there for you, but it's also up to you to try and keep your fears and anxieties in check (this is a mantra I have to repeat to myself daily).

7. Talk to your family.

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Blood is thicker than water. For a lot of people, this may not be true, but I'm lucky in that I have a family who's always there for me no matter what. If you're feeling vulnerable about your friends, try turning to your family for support – if anyone's going to love you unconditionally, it's them.

8. Detox your social media.

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So, it turns out social media stalking is just as bad for you post-friend breakup as it is post-relationship breakup. If you don't want to block your former friend, at least hide them from your Facebook feed and resist the urge to watch their Snapchat story. If you honestly know that you're never going to be friends again (and have no mutual friends that would make this awkward) unfriend and block away.

Maybe it comes across as petty, but why keep someone on your social media who doesn't have any part in your life anymore? Detox them, and move on.

9. Cry.

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Because bottling your feelings up is never good. Like a pressure cooker, it will come out in other ways. Case in point: after a terrible friend breakup, I tried to act like it was ok far quicker than I should have. A few months later and an offhand comment from a friend had me bursting into inexplicable tears, much to her surprise. Remember, it's ok to be upset, and it's definitely ok to cry.

10. Know when to back away.

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Closure can be great, but it's not the be all and end all. If an argument with a friend becomes destructively nasty, turns into a character assassination or slides into a game of one-up-man-ship, WALK AWAY. If they're not taking anything you're saying on board, there's no point staying in the conversation, and getting the last word isn't worth sticking around while someone uses you as an emotional punching bag.

A good way to avoid this situation is to only criticise them if it's really something they need to hear – are you truly trying to help them, or are you just trying to get one last dig in? If it's the latter, keep it to yourself.

Plus, not telling them they're a massive douchecanoe might pay off later, or at least save you some awkwardness.

11. Write out your feelings.

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Please, learn from my mistakes: if a friend ghosts you, just leave it be. My gung-ho attempt to not take being ghosted lying down went horribly wrong – all it brought was a bitter argument that was not even close to worth it.

Someone who has dropped you as a friend without attempting to resolve things first does not value your friendship. If they wanted to be friends with you, they'd have tried to fix it instead of cutting you out. They're not worth the emotional effort it'll take futilely trying to hash it out.

Instead, write how you feel down in a message, and DON'T send it. You can express your feelings, but without it sparking a pointlessly draining fight.

12. Work out what you'd do if you ran into them.

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This may not go to plan. There's every chance you'll still get flustered, or even turn tail and run when it comes to crunch time. But working out in your head a rough script of what you'll say and how you'll act if you bump into your former friend will mean there's at least a good chance of you not turning bright red and mumbling something incoherent.

13. Learn to love your own company.

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I spend a lot of time worrying about how many friends I have. Should I have more? Am I unlikeable? Will I die alone and unloved and eaten by Alsatians? If like me, you're worrying about how many friends you have left after a break up, trust me, you need to try and stop, for that way lies madness.

Learning to do things alone has been a huge part of letting that worry go. If you are comfortable in your own company, not just privately but also publicly, you don't need a huge group of friends. You just need the people you actually want to be friends with, and it doesn't matter if that number is two or two hundred.

14. Reflect on what you could have done better.

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No one's perfect. While your friendship may be over for perfectly good reasons, you should always take the opportunity to be a little introspective. Your flaws are part of what make you unique, and you'll never fully iron all of them out (nor should you want to)... but no harm ever came from being a little more self-aware.

And to my fellow deeply-flawed humans: Take heart in the knowledge that people who are intolerant of flaws in others don't have many friends either.

15. Write down what qualities you look for in a friend.

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Why didn't this friendship work out? What was it about them that made you clash? Maybe they were too extroverted, and you need someone more introverted. Maybe they were a neat freak and you're helplessly messy. If you think about what went wrong, you can work out what qualities to look for in the future.

More importantly, it's worth looking at your incompatibilities to see if you notice a pattern. If they were toxic, why did you choose them in the first place? If you're continually making friends with a certain type of person, now's the time to break the habit.

16. Do activities where you'll meet new people.

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Making friends as an adult is hard. No one ever told me how hard it was. If they had I'd maybe have spent less time watching anime in my room at uni and more time outside (but also probably not). So losing a friend as an adult is even scarier, as there's the added worry that you won't be able to replace them.

Signing up for activities, classes and workshops that involve your interests is an easy way to meet like-minded people. Remember to take risks as well; even if for you a risk is just saying "hello" to someone new.

17. Hide anything that will remind you of them.

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But don't destroy them. If you don't want to see that card they gave you for your birthday, fair enough, hide it somewhere out the way. But destroying things is very final. You never know how you might feel later.

I've found that when time passes, you often want to look back nostalgically – not because you still want to be friends, but because you miss who you were back then, and that time in your life. The hurt you feel now will fade; one day you might want to reminisce about the good times you had together, and the person you were when you were friends.

18. Try not to hold a grudge.

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Be mad. Curse them and shake your fist at the sky. Then move on. Maybe they were a complete and total asshat to you, but all you can do is remove them from your life, learn from it and try to forget them. People are asshats to each other ALL THE TIME. They're not the first to be an asshat, and they definitely won't be the last.

If you need an outlet for your rage, take up kickboxing, or consider seeing a therapist to talk about it in a safe space. Or send them a glitter bomb. But don't let your anger at them fester – the only person it will hurt is you.

19. Know that you're not alone.

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I don't know if it's just me, but I've always felt a lot more embarrassed talking about failed friendships than failed relationships. A romantic breakup can happen for a number of reasons that don't have anything to do with you. But if someone doesn't want to be your friend, they just plain don't like you, which is a much more brutal rejection IMO.

The thing is though, I know hardly anyone who hasn't gone through a friend breakup. For proof please read this, and this and this. Friendships come and go. You grow, you change, you fall out, you maybe make up. It's all part of life.

What I'm trying to say is: you're not alone. This year, I've made new friends, but I've also had some of my worst friend breakups to date. It was shit. But I'm ok. Every day, I get more OK. And believe me, you will be OK too.

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