• Hibah Ayub, APA

The Stages of a Friend Breakup



A wise fictional character named Charlotte York once said that it takes exactly half the time of a relationship to get over someone. So, if you dated someone for a year, the complete healing process would take about six months. Can the same be said for friends? Or, is the recovery process for getting over a best friend entirely different from getting over an ex?


Some say that while significant others are temporary, friendships last forever. They’re built over months and years of trust, memories, and companionship, and take time to solidify. But once they’re molded, friendships can be the strongest and most beautiful relationships one can have in life, which is why it’s never easy to make peace with a broken friendship and the person you’ve lost touch with.


Phase 1: The Realization

Friendships can meet their ends in a multitude of ways. Maybe you and your friend simply drifted, losing touch over time until you stop speaking altogether. Perhaps you and your friend had a toxic relationship, and you finally decided that you had had enough. Or maybe you and your friend had a massive fight resulting from your friend committing a terrible act, or vice versa, and there’s no possible way to recover. Whatever it was, you are one friend short, and realizing that can leave you feeling uneasy. In the initial aftermath of a friend breakup, your reaction may be angry, relieved, disappointed, sad, or betrayed. The Realization is the grace period between losing a friend and deciding to not be hung up on it forever.


Phase 2: Ghost Town

The breakup is still fresh, and while your friend may be out of your life, their memory is certainly not. You still find personal items of theirs or presents they gave you lying around your house from sleepovers and holidays past. That song that you always played in the car together keeps annoyingly popping up when you press shuffle. Every time you eat at that fast food place the two of you went to together, you lose your appetite, and your Snapchat memories are filled with pictures of you two in happier times. Living in a ghost town is never easy, and it can be draining when these memories bring a tear to your eye, even though you resent your emotional side, or simply remind you of times you’d rather not remember. That is when the Ghost Town becomes Declutter Central. Switch out the box of tissues for a bag to put all your ex-friend’s stuff in and stow it out of sight. Delete pictures of past memories as well as their phone number. Unfollow their socials and take care of yourself. Sure, you can always follow them back later if you have mutual friends and wish to maintain an air of civility and good-naturedness. The goal is to free your space, clear your mind, and make way for a new chapter in your life. The possibilities are endless.


Phase 3: Seeing Other People

While self care is great, there comes a time where you need to get back in the saddle and go out again. It can be baby steps at first, or a deep plunge, but hanging out with your other friends reminds you that one friendship ended does not a doomed social life make. Our friends can be good shoulders to cry on, partners to try adventures with, and comedians to crack jokes with or about. They remind us that there will always be new people to meet, new memories to make, and new experiences to share.


Phase 4: Acceptance (Finally)

The time to mourn has come and gone. You’ve accepted and come to terms with the fact that a person who you shared both good and bad times with is no longer a part of your life. The only way to move is onward, and the only way to do that is positively and with a smile on your face. We put our past behind us, make peace with our mistakes, and start fresh. Not all friendships last forever, which is why it’s all the more special when you find one that sticks.


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