How to Cope When a Friendship Ends

Like money, friendships don’t just grow on trees.

The pain of losing a friendship can hurt even deeper than the sting of ending a romantic pursuit. In the dating scene, potential lovers enter with an understanding that it just...might not work. “We’re taking it slow,” they say, “Seeing what happens.”

Friends, on the other hand, can click instantly, dive deep impulsively, and a friendship can feel so natural that both are certain it was meant to be. Not having the same cushion of expectation to soften blows of dissension, the unique intimacy found among friends can make it devastating when trust is broken, calls are left to voicemail, texts are ignored, or a friend is made an ex with a conclusive Facebook message. We are left with the question, how does someone cope when a friendship ends?

There are many reasons, both good and bad, to end a relationship. But, whether you are the one moving on or the one being moved on from, allow a friendship ended to challenge you toward inward reflection, then encourage you toward outward reaction.

First, this is an opportunity to reflect. Be careful not to let the hurt you feel blind you to appropriately considering the hurt you may have caused. None of us are perfect. What were some ways in which you contributed to the dispute? What can you learn from this situation? Don’t rob yourself of the chance to grow personally or neglect this opportunity for self-reflection. Reflecting humbly will not only help to make a positive out of a negative, bring hope from despair, and give meaning to the unknown; it will mature you and equip you to move forward appropriately.

Second, this is an opportunity to act. Mourn the loss of a friendship, but focus your energy on cultivating new ones. See a Brave counselor, if necessary, to help navigate the sometimes painful and challenging transition. Friendships don’t grow on trees, but like trees, friendships change with every season. It’s natural for them to grow and to die. Though there is grief when an intimate friend withers to a mere acquaintance, there is someone somewhere who has the potential to become an intimate friend. And you can’t know which one until you simply ask them out to coffee, plant a few seeds in fresh soil, and apply what you learned from a fallen tree before.