The Pain of Friendship Breakups

Almost every piece of media–whether it be hugot songs or scenes from a romance movie–always center around how painful break-ups are, but no one really talks about how losing a friend is equally painful. Depending on who they are, your friends may be your second set of siblings. They may be the shoulder to lean on whenever you have conflict with your family or significant other. They may also be your work bestie. Regardless of what type of friend they are, your level of closeness with them, and how many friends you have in total, losing even one of them would leave a small void in your life.

There are many reasons for friendship breakups, and the most obvious one is through conflict. It’s unavoidable that you may have misunderstandings or different viewpoints with your friends, and sometimes, it may lead to arguments that you cannot bounce back from. Other times, you may find yourself on the receiving end or even being the perpetrators of gossiping and backstabbing, and you may inadvertently end up losing the friends who are actually closest to you. There are also times when we come to the realization you’re better off without your friends because they are toxic, or that you are putting more effort to be there for your friends while they don’t seem to care about you at all. Most of these are valid reasons to end your friendship with someone, but it doesn’t make the breakup any less painful, especially now that your memories are tainted by the conflict. 

However, friendship breakups are not always dramatic because friends may stop talking to each other for no particular reason. That’s because many of the friends we have are friends of circumstances. This means you are neighbors, groupmates, co-workers, co-club members, etc., and it makes sense for you to be friends in that context because you’re pretty much forced to be in that situation together, but once you graduate, once you find a new job or move to a different neighborhood, you no longer have a common ground with those friends. Eventually, you’ll run out of topics to talk about, and you’ll realize it’s been months or even years since you last talked to each other, even though there’s no bad blood between you. There are also some cases where the people who you thought were your close friends would start ghosting you simply because they don’t need you anymore.

Of course, this isn’t to say that all friendships of circumstance won’t work out. Plenty of people manage to find their lifelong barkadas because they sat next to each other at school or were assigned to the same team at work, but drifting apart due to lack of common ground happens more often than you realize.

When we lose friends, especially through conflict, our instinct is to suppress our feelings and say things like: “I don’t need them anyway” or “I have plenty of other friends.” We try our best not to mention or think about them, but the truth is, our friends made an impact on our lives the same way we did on theirs. Your taste in music, the movies on your to-watch list, and even your favorite restaurants are likely influenced by your friends in some way, so there will be moments when you would instinctively turn around to tell a joke or open Messenger to send a random meme to your friend, only to realize that you don’t talk to them anymore. 

Instead of simply brushing the thought aside, allow yourself to mourn the loss of your friendship, and at the same time, try to reflect on what went wrong and who was wrong as objectively as possible. Maybe then you’ll be able to decide if your friendship is worth salvaging and allow you to muster up the courage to apologize if you’re the one who is wrong. 

If it’s a matter of you simply drifting apart from your friend without a major conflict, let this be your sign to reach out to them again. If you live in different cities, try to meet each other once every one or two months to have lunch or dinner together. If regular meetups are not possible, even something as simple as sending memes or recommending new shows so you can talk about them together will do because friendship, like any other relationship, requires commitment, and it will only last if you are willing to meet each other halfway. 

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