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Here's What It's Like To End A Friendship

You'll be okay, promise

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1. Even the best of friends can grow apart.

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As we get older, things change. It's a fact of life, and what once worked for you might not work anymore, like those Uggs you rocked in the early 00s. But fashion trends come and go – what's really scary when you find yourself growing apart from friends you were once close to, especially when you're the one doing the breaking up.

It happened to me in my early twenties. I moved away from the town I grew up in, found a job in the media and started to meet lots of different types of people. I was always a bit of an outsider in some ways; I'd never quite wanted the same things as my core group of pals. But as we got older, our interests, hopes and dreams diverged even further. I found myself growing closer to a friend who shared my outlook, and finding new friends, like minds with the same dreams and ambitions as me. I felt like I'd found my tribe. I was still in the same city, but I may as well have been on another planet.

2. It's okay to want to let some relationships go.

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I didn't know it was an option to amicably "leave" a group of friends; I thought the people you grow up with are an unshakable part of your identity, for better or worse, and you were sort of stuck together. I grew up in a world where friendship is worshipped and, according to the Spice Girls, never ends. But sadly, that's not always the case.

Even if you're close throughout your childhood and teens, you might find that as adults, you suddenly have different desires, different lifestyles and different ideas of what's right and wrong – and that's okay. It's not anyone's fault; you might find your friends are just as reluctant to bend to fit your new world as you are to stay in theirs.

3. It’s normal to feel left out even if it’s you that’s moving on.

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While I was off doing my thing, my friends were only getting closer to each other. It wasn't surprising; proximity, similar goals and a shared mindset meant that was natural. But when you have little in common with your gang anymore, it can make you feel like an alien.

I was frightened, and that fear turned into resentment and bitterness – I didn't like being the odd one out. I was afraid of what would happen if they weren't in my life anymore, and equally afraid of the alternative.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation now is to just be honest. It might feel impossible, but it's for the best in the long run. We don't all have TV producers to force us into on-camera confrontations like on reality television, which is actually a pity!

4. Change isn’t bad – it’s just scary.

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My first reaction when a friends told me I'd changed was hurt. It felt like an insult: "You've changed" translated to "you've changed for the worse." That might have been the opinion of some – often people don't like it when you rock the boat – but it wasn't true. I was different, but not in a bad way. I was happier, more confident, and living my dream.

Change is to be embraced. It doesn't always mean you'll find yourself on a different path than the people you've loved, but if you do, it's for a reason. If I was different, it was because I wanted to be. And perhaps I wasn't different at all, just the person I was always meant to be. With so many new experiences, it would have been impossible to stay the same.

5. It doesn’t have to end in a big fight.

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The end of a friendship can actually be quite civilised. You might have a gradual realisation that you're not as close as you once were, or even a conversation in which you acknowledge things aren't like they used to be. I wish I'd known that I could have admitted how I was feeling and talked it out in a mature fashion.

But I kept schtum about how I was feeling and it came to a dramatic head. We argued, I said some things that I did mean, but with a malicious edge that I didn't. I felt ganged up on, backed in to a corner and frustrated, and then ashamed of how it all went down. But I can't say I wasn't relieved in a way too.

6. Guilt is a natural part of any breakup.

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Just like when a romantic relationship goes sour, feeling guilty is part and parcel of a friend breakup. You wish you could go back to how things used to be, that you could be happy as things were. Nobody wants to cause hurt and pain, or a big scene. But humans are complicated creatures, and it's rare we escape emotionally unscathed from any important union.

But in the end, guilt is a pretty useless emotion. It's okay to feel remorseful about things that have happened in the past; I sure did. But you can't carry the baggage around with you. If things ended badly, reach out and apologise. It doesn't mean you have to be BFF, but there won't be bad blood and the guilt won't eat you up.

7. It can be painful, even though it’s for the best.

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Love hurts, whether it's romantic or not. You can be devastated after ending a relationship with a lover even though you knew it wasn't good for you. The same goes for a toxic friendship.

However, I'd argue that ending a friendship is actually more complicated; nobody really expects you to stay pals with an ex that broke your heart, but friends? They're meant to be forever – at least according to the greeting card industry. Wanting out of a friendship can make you feel like a terrible person, but it's important to remember that remaining friends for appearance's sake is far worse than walking away.

8. Learn from the past, but don't hold on to it.

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Friendship is vastly complicated, but also very simple. You don't have to stay best friends with someone you met when you were three years old, nor do you have to remain tied to someone for all eternity because you spent your formative years together. Best friends can turn in to frenemies, so you have to listen to your gut.

There's a reason you drifted, and it's most likely a valid one.

But grudges are a heavy thing to hold and they can weigh you down. So in the immortal words of Elsa the Snow Queen, it's time to let it go.

9. And remember, just because you’re no longer BFFs, that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly.

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Female friendship is often so intense, that it can be all or nothing. Remember in Beaches when Hillary and CC have that big intense fight in the department store, and hold a grudge bigger than Bette Midler's hair?

They eventually make up and become the best of gal pals again, but it doesn't have to be that way; you don't have to be someone's "best friend" and constant companion to think fondly of them, be friendly and even be there for them in some small way if the shit hits the fan. A shared history is a powerful thing, and there's a way to strike a balance.

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