How to Handle a Best Friend Breakup

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Breakups are never easy. Someone who played a significant role in your life is no longer going to be a part of it and that can be extremely scary. Normally, you would turn to your friends to rely on during this difficult time.

But, what if you need to break up with a friend?

I remember breaking up with my best friend in 7th grade. We had been best friends since kindergarten and had done practically everything together. Once middle school started, I found us growing apart.

While she was suddenly interested in boys and makeup, I was still intrigued with reading books and staying in to study. Over the summer, we went on vacation together, and although we had a lot of good times, we also fought constantly. We called each other out on characteristics that we hated and rehashed old arguments. By the end of the trip and the beginning of 8th grade, we were no longer talking.

This happened again in high school with a friend who was one-sided with our friendship. She would complain all day about the boys in her life, but once I tried to share some of my familial problems with her, she couldn’t care less. I realized that I needed somebody in my life who could support me through the good and the bad times.

Throughout your life, you will go through many emotional changes and you may find that the people who you once considered your closest allies no longer seem to have your back. (See also: Our guide to dealing with friendship changes in college.)

This is completely normal, and you should not feel bad if you need to reevaluate your relationships in order to grow as a person.

How do you know when it’s time to break up?

Two girls crying on a couch at night

1. Your friend is toxic

Do they encourage you to take place in uncomfortable situations? Do you find yourself changing to fit with your friends’ standards? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you may be in a toxic relationship with your friend.

Your friend should never make you do something you don’t want to do, and they should never force you to change unless it’s for the better. If you see yourself becoming somebody that you don’t want to be, it may be time to break things off with your friend.

2. You dread hanging out with them

Do you ever make plans with this person only to dread seeing them? While it’s normal to want to take a break from some people for a few nights, it’s not normal to hate seeing this person all the time.

If you find yourself not wanting to spend any time with your friend, then you may want to reconsider whether or not you want to remain friends with them.

3. They aren’t willing to put in effort

You see that your friends are hanging out and they didn’t invite you. Again. If this is something that constantly happens, no matter how many times you confront them about it, then it may be time to cut off ties with these people entirely.

4. They aren’t supportive

Friends are supposed to encourage you, every step of the way. If your friend is only around for the good times and not the bad or aren’t willing to listen to your deepest secrets, then they aren’t a friend worth having. This also applies if they are constantly pointing out your flaws rather than highlighting your strengths.

How do you go about it?

Girl in pink shirt alone at table writing notes

1. Decide if it’s something that can be fixed

If you think this is just a small hiccup in your otherwise amazing friendship, then try to work through it. Talk to your friend about how you are feeling and set goals for how you can both work on changing.

2. Know what you want

Before you decide to meet with your friend, know what you want. It is likely that your friend will be shocked and upset when you tell them you no longer want to be friends, so don’t let them convince you into being friends if that’s not something you want to do anymore.

3. Talk with them

Handle this breakup as you would a romantic one. Try to find a time to schedule meeting up with your friend, maybe somewhere public. Then talk them through your feelings.

Make sure to focus on why it’s not working for you, not why it’s not working because of them. It’s never nice to point out a person’s flaws. Try not to bring up specific examples unless it’s relevant or they ask. Remember to treat them with respect, since they were your friend once.

4. Set clear boundaries

Set up the rules for what to do next. Do you want to see each other less frequently? Do you want to cut off all communication? Be clear with what you want and expect.

5. Let it happen naturally

In some cases, it may be best to let the relationship die naturally. Don’t stress about having to formally end it if you can see that it has already ended on its own.

What do you do after?

Hands showing in bed under striped comforter

As mentioned earlier, you should treat this breakup as you would a romantic one. Stay in bed watching movies all day and feel free to cry over a bowl of ice cream. But also remember that you will be okay.

1. Don’t feel guilty

In this case, it is okay to be selfish. You deserve to make choices that will make your life the best that it can be, so don’t feel bad or worry about how your choices have impacted anyone but yourself.

2. Appreciate the friendships you do have

Look around you and see the positive relationships that you do have in your life. You are never alone.

3. Put yourself out there

Make plans for yourself over the next few weeks so you’re not just sitting at home alone. Try to stay busy doing things you love to do, whether that means meeting new people or hanging out with already established friends and family members.

4. Try to think of the silver lining

Obviously, any breakup is hard, but you should be proud of yourself for doing something that is the best for you. Try to focus on ways that you can grow and learn from this experience.

Friends hugging as sun sets on mountain top

Have you broken up with a friend before? How did you handle the situation? How did you cope afterwards? Let us know in the comments.

Going in and out of friendships with others is completely normal. As you each grow and find your passions, you may find that your interests begin to differ, or you no longer have the time to devote to spending time together.

It’s also totally okay if you need a break from this person, especially if they are toxic. You need to focus on yourself first and foremost. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about who you are. Be kind to yourself and know that you did what is best for you.

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