Here’s Another Way to Look at the End of a Friendship
I’ve always been the type of person to thrive on my friendships. Not the “I have 1,000 Facebook friends but would recognize 1/4 of them on the street” type of friendship, but the deep and well-nurtured type of friendship that doesn’t come along very often.
I’ve always taken pride in the longevity of some of my friendships, and truly believe good relationships are the best way to invest in yourself and your future. Maybe you’re the same?
For these reasons, the end of a friendship has always hit me hard. Unlike romantic relationships, true friendships are meant to last. They’re meant to grow and prosper and get better over time, not fizzle out suddenly and prematurely.
Like Losing a Limb
For me, the hardest friendships to let go of are the ones where there has been an abundance of shared history. New friendships absolutely have their merit, but there’s a magical, hard-to-replicate quality of an old, been-there-through-everything friendship.
The friend who was there during a bad breakup, the one who you endured your freshman year of college with, the one who held your train as you walked down the aisle. No matter how close you get to a new friend, they weren’t part of these life-altering, milestone events that made you who you are.
Probably my most painful friendship breakup happened with my best friend in college. He and I did everything together and could talk on the phone for hours at a time. Our friendship was layered, intense and one of the most influential of my life.
It ended not with a splash, but a with subtle distancing that was no less painful. I’ve determined that there really is no easy way to watch a valued friendship end.
The Advice I Wish I’d Been Given
There’s no shortage of advice out there on how to get over a broken friendship.
You’re told to practice acceptance, journal about the experience, talk it out, and “remove reminders” (as if it’s as easy as cutting your former friend’s face out of pictures). I’ve even seen the advice to “go out of your way to make new friends”, implying that a new relationship can easily replace the old, it’s just a matter of trying hard enough.
Needless to say, I’m not buying it.
Mark Groves, a Human Connection Specialist and social media sensation, wisely says this:
“Relationships ending is not a failure, it’s the beginning of something different.”
It’s taken me a while, but I am changing my perspective on friendships that have run their course. I’m realizing that it’s these sacred relationships that have undoubtedly made me who I am. Their ending isn’t something to mourn, but a harbinger of a new chapter in my life.
Mourning these relationships is inevitable and natural, of course. It’s remarkably painful when a “friend forever” proves to be anything but.
I’m learning, however, that friendships evolve and not everyone who’s a part of your journey is meant to stick around until the end. Each friendship has gifts and lessons to impart, and when it’s time to let go, it’s the sign of the inception of something new. Not necessarily something better, but something that will help you grow and evolve a little more into your true self.
A New Chapter
So how’d this play out in my own life and with my own failed friendships? With the friendship I mentioned above, I now can see that however valuable and necessary the relationship was at the time, the post-college shuffle was always going to make it hard to stay close. I was able to take the lessons I learned because of that relationship, and use them to grow and develop newer friendships (most still going strong to this day).
With another friendship, the endings taught me valuable lessons about boundaries. With yet another, this inevitable truth was proven indisputable: people will always make time for what they want to make time for.
As a result, I try hard (and, yes, sometimes fail) to prioritize my relationships; I resist the allure of “busyness” and intentionally make the time for those friendships most important to me.
The end of a cherished friendship will always be painful. There’s just no way around that. When you can shift your focus, however, and see the ending not as a failure, but as a beginning, it will go a long way towards helping you heal.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please leave a comment and let’s continue the conversation.