How Losing Friendships Can Be a Sign of Growth
Losing friends can be challenging, but it really can be the start of something new for you.
I’ve lost some friends over the last few years. It really got to me at the moment, too. I would ruminate over what I did, what they did, could it be fixed, did it matter if they were in my life or not, and many other anxiety-fueled questions. Having friendships was always a very important thing in my life and a massive source of anxiety. I was such a people pleaser growing up; constantly seeking validation, acceptance and appreciation. I always wanted to make sure I never made my friends upset, never messed up and would do anything just to show them how much I cared.
I thought everything I was doing at the time was in an effort to be a good person, help everyone else and be the best friend I possibly could. What I know now, is that what I was really doing to “be a good friend” was actually quite selfish. In trying to make sure I never upset my friends, I now realize, I was being pretty manipulative. People are allowed to feel what they want to feel and it’s not your place to alter that or try and change the outcomes. Putting on a façade or a mask to try and gain approval is not going to get you far and you’re only going to lose yourself along the way.
So, let’s get back to expired friendships. People enter our life for various reasons. Some people are there for a lifetime; like those friendships that last for years and years and have their healthy doses of great times, challenges, conflicts, resolutions and memories. You know exactly who those people are, and you freaking love them. Some people are there for a different purpose, to teach us something in a shorter time frame: we might meet someone who guides us from one challenging place in our life to a solution. For example, we may meet someone after a break-up from a partner. You can call them a rebound or whatever, but in the end, they are guiding us away from that expired relationship and bring us forward to a new place. I don’t define this as ‘using someone’ either. People are attracted into our life for certain reasons and purposes, and it’s interesting to start identifying that and to view it as a positive process. These lessons can include beginning to know your worth, what you will and will not tolerate, what your boundaries are, what you expect in a friendship, what a reciprocal friendship looks like, and lessons on how you are growing as an individual.
It’s hard to see those lessons when you’re caught up in it, but as time goes on, losing friendships is just a part of growing up. I never really wanted this statement to be true, but over the last few years, I’m getting more comfortable with the idea. I don’t need a lot of friends to be happy; quality over quantity any damn day. I’m not going to make time or space for people that wouldn’t do the same for me and I’m going to cherish those friends that play equal parts in the give-and-take. Balanced friendships are my jam now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do not regret the friendships that were lopsided though, as they have taught me so much and for that I am incredibly grateful.
If you’re currently going through a bit of a friendship break-up yourself, here are some tips that have helped me along the way.
1. Sit With It
It sucks, I know… I know it’s hard and it hurts. But these are your feelings and you are entitled to them. They are valid and you are valid and so are all of your concerns. Sit with your feelings and acknowledge them. Give them a name, hold pace for them, and don’t judge them. Know that what you’re going through is temporary. Feelings are not facts, remember that.
2. Write it Out
If just sitting with them isn’t doing enough for you, try writing out your feelings. I really encourage you to write it out regardless, as some magical stuff can happen when you do. You might not even be fully aware of what you’re writing once you get started, but keep riding that wave until you begin to feel a release. Acknowledge your part in the friendship, make note of lessons you’ve learned and notice where you can improve as a person. Visualize the type of friendships you want going forward and write out a list of what those qualities are so you can begin to attract more of that in your life.
3. Have a Chat
Talk it out with another good friend, a family member, a life coach or therapist. However, I recommend not getting friends involved that are within the same friend group. There’s no need to alter someone else’s feelings or try to manipulate the situation in your favor. Let that shit go and speak with a third party in those instances. Expressing yourself and embracing vulnerability by talking it out with someone will have great shifts in your life and in your perspectives. You can even ask friends for constructive criticism, if that’s what you want. You can ask questions about where you excel as a friend, what might need work, and how you can improve the relationships that are currently important in your life.
4. Have Strength and Trust in Knowing You’re Going to be Okay
This is tough and I get it. Be patient, be kind, and be gentle with yourself. Having ups and downs is totally normal in this process. A great question I tend to ask myself is “will this matter in a year, or five years.” Most of the time, the answer is a solid “no.” Take the time you need to feel free from the situation and have confidence in knowing this is all a part of your personal growth.
As always: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Gratitude is incredibly powerful and I encourage you to acknowledge all you already have. Be grateful for the memories you had and for the guidance this friendship brought you over time. Even though it’s expired now, it’s okay to still have fond memories and moments that make you laugh or smile. You don’t have to hate them. You can respect them, be grateful for the times you had together, and gently move on. Forgiveness with that person and with yourself is so key. Also, share your gratitude with the friendships you have now. Call up your friend and tell them why you love them and what you’re most thankful for. Notice the qualities in those friendships that are working well and how those qualities and core values are in line with yours. It helps to know what’s most important for you in a relationship or friendship and to stick to your boundaries moving forward.
I hope this post helps you and that the tips work as well for you as they do for me. Sometimes, we may not get closure and that is something we will need to be okay with accepting. Acceptance and forgiveness will play two big roles for you during a friendship expiration but I know you’ll get through this and persevere on the other side. If you have stories you’d like to share, I’m happy to receive and hear your story. Let me know how this works for you and comment below with what works well for you when you’re going through the ending of a friendship.
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