Moving on from a failed relationship or friendship
I’ve talked to a few people who have gone (and currently are going) through broken and bruised friendships and relationships. I’ve dealt with it myself. As I listen to the struggles of friends and associates and as I bear my own cross, I realize it’s not an easy thing to face. When things pertain to the heart and to our emotions, we can feel lots of stress and anxiety when previously special people are no longer there – whether they’re not there because of a wrong one of you may have caused the other or because one person has emotionally checked out and isn’t there the way they were before. As a point of clarity, I should not refer to them as “previously special people” because even though the nature of the relationship/friendship has changed, those people are still special.
Regardless the reason things have tanked, the void still feels the same. I’ve thought a lot about this and have come up with tips I found that have been helpful to me. Maybe if someone struggling with this should happen upon this page, they might find something here they can take away for their own healing.
- Sit down and write a letter to your friend (or former friend). Be as detailed and as thorough as possible. You’re not going to send it; you’re writing it to vent and express all the things that you are feeling. You’re going to include things such as a) what the friendship once meant to you (if you still cherish the friendship, include that too) and be sure to apologize – because there’s always something both parties can apologize for even if the problem is more on one person than the other; b) how you feel about what happened to cause the rift between you; c) whether you would do anything differently if you could turn back time and if necessary, include a statement of forgiveness; and, d) anything about the ordeal that you do not understand and need to seek clarity for. Again, this letter is for you and your own healing. You won’t be sending it. It’s a first step to moving on.
- Second, stop calling, texting, emailing, or otherwise trying to reach out to them. If it’s over, then let it be over. Don’t be misguided by your feelings and emotions and think there may be hope for it to be salvaged. By this time, any glimmer of hope will have burned completely out. It’s natural to think there may still be a chance you can turn things around, especially if you’ve shared many great times and fun moments, as you reminisce about all the ups and downs you may have seen each other through. But let’s be real. You’d only be prolonging the inevitable.
- If you mutually belong to any groups, clubs, organizations, or other social networks (i.e., fraternities or sororities, alumni associations, National Urban League, etc), try to join another chapter. It will be obviously awkward having to continue seeing one another, especially while the wounds are still trying to heal. But if it’s impossible or impractical to disassociate yourself from the organizations or networks, get your politician’s stance ready. If you must see one another, don’t be rude or bitter. Smile, say “hello” and keep it professional. You might find yourself doing just that if a mutual friend invites you both to her wedding.
- If you are connected via social media, consider whether seeing their regular status updates will exacerbate the pain you’re feeling. If you think it will, then consider disconnecting from the other person. Depending on the nature of rift, unfriending them might be extreme. You can stay connected without receiving notifications of their updates. I propose that option. Just don’t be a nosy lurker, going to their page to see what they are up to. Turn off their notifications and take some time away from them. Just note this: if you have mutual friends, you’ll still likely see the person when he or she comments on things. Consequently, if the source of the rift between you was so egregious and patently painful that it engenders excessive emotional pain each time you see their name, then you need to unfriend them, completely disconnecting from them.
- If you’ve spent a lot of your time with this person, you need to replace that time with something new. Write a book. Volunteer at your church. Take a swimming class. Do something you find thrilling to occupy your time to help you focus less on your friend and more on your own life.
The one thing I’d like to add to help you deal with this more effectively is to think about that old adage about how people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes, the people who come into your life for a REASON will serve whatever purpose they’re there for, and then the day will come when it’s time for them to leave. It’s like hiring a contractor to renovate your bathroom or remodel your kitchen. Once the job is done, there’s no need for that contractor to stay there. Think of that person who’s gone from your life in the same way. The friend does what he or she needs to do and then isn’t there anymore.
Finally, if writing that letter in #1 above was not sufficient enough to help you talk through how you’re feeling and get you to feeling better, talk to someone, and I’m not referring to another friend. Friends tend to take sides and may not always be objective. Furthermore, you don’t need to talk to other friends because it might cause you to divulge things that ought to remain private, particularly if mutual friends are involved. Even though your friendship/relationship has ended, any confidences or private things you know about the other person should always remain confidential and private regardless how you feel about the person and regardless why it all ended. That’s the classy way to do it. Never, ever be messy. The other person was (and probably still is) special to you. So, don’t go out being dirty. No matter how things end up, you always want people to say you were classy. So, if you need to talk, find a counselor, therapist, or a spiritual advisor/clergy. Those individuals don’t have a personal stake in your problems and are legally bound to keep your conversation confidential.
I hope this has been helpful. Truth be told, I don’t even know whether anybody has seen or will see this, because I wrote this for selfish reasons. This is meant to help ME deal with a lost, broken friendship. I usually have such a hard time following the advice I give to others, and #2 above has been (will be) the most difficult for me. But I vow today, to stop. I won’t call, text, email, Kik, WhatsApp, or whatever else exists for exchanging messages. It’s like giving up cigarettes. When I quit smoking, I did it cold turkey. So, extracting “Xxxxxx X. Xxxxx” from my life should be done cold turkey as well. It’ll be better for us both if I do. Life goes on, and no, don’t go backwards and try to make it work again; I won’t go backwards either. It ‘aint over till it’s over; and when it’s over, let it be over. Read more on this by checking out my post titled, Leave the Past Behind You. Moving on is hard but necessary. It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday.