How to work through friendship breakups

friendship breakups

As we start a new year, many people take this as an opportunity to try a new beginning. Whether it’s finally starting that fitness regime that’s haunted you throughout Christmas, or shedding negativity from your life. The whole world has been through something that our grandchildren will look back on and think we’re overexaggerating. This pandemic has, inevitably, tested relationships- particularly friendships, which have caused a lot of friendship breakups. Friendships typically rely on being able to regularly hang out (extroverts, I’m talking about you). But these two years have made things difficult, to say the least. What had once been the impossible dream of recluse by introverts, is now a massive strain on the strings that tie us together.

According to a 2015 study published by the NCBI, relationships play an instrumental role in our social provisions. Adding that “Human relationships also have a tendency to weaken”. I, like most, have shed myself of a few friends this past pandemic. Realising that you’re not the same people you were when you became friends is one of the hardest things to come to terms with, not to mention the deep blow when you don’t know why you remain friends any longer. Whether it’s because your lives are going in different directions and you’re drifting apart, or they don’t spark the same joy anymore, things like talking become one-sided and your get-togethers are more of a social obligation you tie yourself to. Sometimes, it’s better to Marie Kondo that relationship. 

It’s not you, it’s us.

You’re not alone in your guilt at how many friends you’ve broken up with in the past year, no matter how long the friendship had lasted. Whilst the pandemic may have helped bring everyone a little closer in some ways, it also showed us who was really there for us in this time of strife. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to free ourselves of negativity, even if that’s a friend who was once inseparable to you. Most countries saw multiple periods of lockdowns and isolation in order to prevent infection. Meaning that we couldn’t go out and see each other in the custom we were used to. Everything was distanced, isolated. 

In a 2020 psychological study by Dr’s Giada Pietrabissa and Susan H. Simpson found that “human beings are not ‘designed’ to manage segregation for a long time“. So it’s definitely not you. We’re all feeling the effects of the pandemic equally as deep. The term, dubbed “lockdown lonely” was reported to have affected many people during the pandemic. The Opinions and Lifestyle survey conducted research on this phenomenon. From the period of April 3 to May 3 2020, 30.9% of those asked  said that their well-being had been affected through feeling lonely in the past seven days. It’s perfectly understandable to try and keep in contact with your friends. Which is why it may be so easy to overlook a toxic or failing relationship that brings nothing meaningful to the table.

Acceptance is key.

Like most breakups, sometimes it can be hard to accept. I came to terms with breaking up with one of my friends when the only message I received throughout the year was on my birthday. A half-hearted message that we both knew was out of obligation; there were no emotions there anymore. Breakups are hard because you know that part of your life is over. You’ll quite often be left with memories of what was good to try and overlook the not-so-good parts. The red flags look a little more green if they’re being painted over. That doesn’t make you a bad person though. You tried, but sometimes people are only meant for a small part of our lives. You deserve to surround yourself with positivity and healthy relationships that bring you happiness.

This isn’t the end.

Don’t be disheartened that your friend circle is dwindling; the great thing about friends is that you can make more. After all, a lot of us are in the same situation where we are looking for new friends, or to expand our friend pool. Alternatively, if you’d like to stick with the friends you have now without making more, that’s alright too. There is no definite answer as to how many friends you should have.

Relationships are always evolving as we learn and grow, so don’t feel bad. Your current friends may not be the same people that you would hang out with down at the local park because there was nothing else to do- or the same friends who attended every major life event you had. However, that’s not to say that your current and future friends won’t bring you more joy than what you shared with your friends of the past. 

Have faith and be easy on yourself. Some friendships aren’t forever.

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