When we think of heartbreak, we usually associate it with the demise of a romantic relationship. But breaking up with a friend can be as painful, if not more so. And it’s totally normal.
“A friendship can be quite intimate. You and a close friend may share everything including the ongoings of your respective romantic relationships. This sort of trusted friendship adds to your identity—you know who you are because of them,” says Cherlyn Chong, a breakup recovery and dating coach.
“But there isn’t a lot of talk about the end of a friendship, so you may not know how to deal with this type of breakup. In fact, we’re expected to get over the end of a friendship quickly since the relationship wasn’t romantic or sexual in nature.”
She adds that you may also find the experience particularly agonising if you got cut off because you’re left to wonder how someone you were once close to could just cast you out of their life. And if mutual friends have taken sides and distanced themselves from you, there will be a deeper sense of loss.
But here’s the thing: you shouldn’t be ashamed that the end of a friendship hurt you so much—your anguish not only reflects your humanness, but also the prospect of growth.
“The end of friendships just means that you outgrow some people or that some people outgrow you. Whatever it is, there’s always a lesson involved so that you can do better in your future friendships,” says Cherlyn.
Not coping well with a recent split with a friend? She shares four tips for recovery.