Most of us can relate to the initial denial, fiery rage, and/or newfound loneliness associated with being on the receiving end of a romantic breakup. And there’s plenty of expert advice—and four Adele studio albums—out there to help people get over such heartbreak. But what about the pain of losing a platonic relationship?
We’ve already offered advice on how to tell if it’s time to call it quits with your BFF, but if you’re the one who’s been dumped or ghosted by a friend, we see you. Seriously, it hurts—perhaps even more than the loss of a romantic or familial relationship, Suzanne Degges-White, PhD, LCPC, NCC, professor at Northern Illinois University and co-author of Toxic Friendships: Knowing the Rules and Dealing with the Friends Who Break Them, tells SELF.
“Friends are the people who are there for us when our love lives fall apart, our careers implode, or we just need a hug and place to vent,” Dr. Degges-White explains. “They’re our sounding boards, cheerleaders, coaches, and sometimes, stand-in therapists all in one. So when we’ve lost a close companion, we’ve also lost someone we could turn to for support.”
Sometimes an unfixable issue or a major difference of opinion is at fault for the fallout. Basic life changes, like moving to a new city or becoming a parent, can also make it harder for people to connect the way they used to.
Regardless of why, exactly, your friend chose to cut ties, these expert tips can help you navigate this difficult and not-so-often-discussed transition.
Remind yourself that it’s possible—and totally okay—to grieve the loss of a friend.
Rejection hurts, and it’s normal to experience a flurry of emotions, from anger to sadness to confusion, when your bestie decides they no longer want you in their life. Rather than dismissing these very valid feelings (“But it’s not like we dated, right?”), the first and arguably most important step in getting over a friendship breakup is recognizing and addressing your painful emotions head-on, Weena Wise, LCMFT, licensed therapist and owner of Covenant Counseling Group in Maryland, tells SELF.
“All breakups deserve a time of reflection that enables you to work through any initial emotional reactions, so you can process them and healthily move forward,” Wise says. That might look like journaling to get some perspective, talking things out with another close pal or family member, or just trying to accept your feelings without judgment.
After all, you’ve probably shared an endless amount of texts, secrets, and laughs with your former friend and made yourself totally vulnerable to them. Just because you’re not dealing with a death, say, or a traditional breakup doesn’t mean you didn’t endure a hurtful loss. So before you beat yourself up for being so upset, acknowledge that it’s only natural to feel this way. By showing yourself kindness instead, you’ll be more equipped to challenge self-blame, self-criticism, and other negative thoughts that can arise as you process the split, Wise says.
Try not to dwell on the good (and not-so-good) ol‘ times.
Most of us are guilty of romanticizing the past, and when it comes to a breakup with a friend, that nostalgic pull may compel you to scroll through old photos or mindlessly refresh their Instagram feed to see if they’re having fun without you. Fixating on the past and obsessing over what went wrong can be extremely tempting—especially when your pain is fresh—but it isn’t going to make you feel any better in the long run, Wise says.