Episode #322: Friendship Breakups and How to Be a Better Friend
TAYLOR BRADFORD: You are listening to episode number 322 of the Boss Girl Creative podcast. Today I’m talking about healing friendship breakups. On to the episode.
Hey, welcome to Episode 322. I’m your host, Taylor Bradford. Thank you so much for tuning in. Hey, the Inner Circle membership is open right now for new members and will stay open through August 15th at 11:59 pm Central time, so you still have some time to get yourself into the Inner Circle if you haven’t already. Pop over to bossgirlcreative.com/InnerCircle to get yourself in. It’s $27 a month. You gain access to the community, a monthly live Q&A session to talk about whatever it is that you are needing help with or strategizing with, or whatever it might be. We also have a monthly business book club where we actually go chapter by chapter in whatever book it is that we’re reading so that we can implement the things that we are reading. We are currently reading Girl on Fire, and we’re only about halfway through that book right now. And since the implementation of the business book club, we have read one and a half books. It’s been amazing to be able to take time to go through the books that we’re reading and implement as we’re reading them and talk about what we’re learning as we’re going. That’s the important key to reading a business book. You also have access to two monthly co-working sessions, where we all jump into my Zoom channel for 90 minutes, and we work on a task or a couple of tasks that might be sitting on our to-do list. And maybe we just haven’t had the motivation to get things done. Or we’re about to tackle something big, and we kind of want some support at the same time. And that’s what co-working sessions are all about. You also gain access to weekly office hours through my Voxer audio channel, and it’s one-to-one, so you send me an audio message, and I respond with an audio message. It’s one-to-one, so if you’re feeling stuck or need some advice or have a question or whatever it might be, every week on Wednesdays, you have access to office hours. That’s what you gain access to inside the Inner Circle membership for $27 a month. Get yourself in there. bossgirlcreative.com/InnerCircle.
Okay, so let’s dive into today’s topic, which is all about healing friendship breakups and also how to just be a better friend. And this may be coming out of left field, but I have personally experienced in the last couple of years some truly heartbreaking friendship breakups. And for me, they kind of came out of left field. A couple of them, I could see the writing on the wall, but it still hurt nonetheless. And I – it’s probably my personality, but I don’t have a large circle of friends. I have a large circle of acquaintances, which is a completely different thing, and a super small circle of close friends because I can only give of myself in so much time and space, etc. And it’s important to me as a friend, to be a friend, to be a good friend to somebody, that I have the time and the space and the energy to devote to the friendship because friendships are two-way streets.
What I find curious about friendship breakups is there’s not a lot of material out there that talks about them. There’s a ton of material on romantic breakups, but not a lot of material on friendship breakups, and I would argue, and through some research, other people are also arguing that a friendship breakup is probably more traumatizing than a romantic breakup, or at least a lot more in-depth. I don’t know. I’ve been on the receiving end of friendship breakups. They suck. Let’s just be real. They suck. So we’re going to talk about healing friendship breakups.
So have you ever actually experienced a friendship breakup? Let me tell you if you haven’t. I am – I’m like, in awe of you. If you haven’t experienced one, I’m in awe because what you do experience is profound deep loss, abandonment, betrayal, emptiness. Those are some of the feelings I have personally experienced when losing a really close friend or even a best friend. And female friends are like our sisters. They are the first people we call or text. They’re our cheerleaders. They are also our therapists. And when you have a breakup, you pretty much have to just deal with it on your own, and that is hard. And when you lose a close friend, or you lose a best friend, it is literally like 90 to nothing for the friendship, and then bam, nothing. Reality clicks in when you realize your go-to human is no longer available, which then causes a chain reaction of anxiety and stress, sleepless nights. It causes you to question everything about yourself and the friendship itself. It causes you to question what you did or didn’t do that contributed to the fallout. It causes you to question the amount of trust you placed in one single human and makes you rethink ever doing that again. You will lose a friend at some point if you haven’t already. It’s just inevitable. We are human, and the goal, once it happens or when it happens, is to find closure that you can be okay with and acceptance that it happened. Because this will allow you to be open to finding new friendships when you’re ready to find friendships that you will enjoy that will meet your needs. That will be there when you’re ready.
Failed friendships open you up to understanding the exact type of friendships you need. What you will tolerate in the future, and lessons learned in order for you to personally grow. My own past friendship breakups have taught me that it’s not always my fault, that I truly had no way to reverse its course, that sometimes I’m way too giving of myself – which is good and bad – that I’m way too caring and helpful, and also that I tend to do most of the heavy lifting and a friendship. That’s not in those particular examples. That’s not what has happened in every scenario, but those are things that have happened, just maybe not all of those things at once. I’ve lost friends who I have deeply cared about and who I thought cared about me. And to their credit, I’m sure they did in their own way. But in reality, I was an endgame for them. I was a use-tool for them.
Friends are important, though, and losing one just plain sucks. And it’s hard, even if it’s ultimately for the better. Or maybe, if you don’t feel like it’s for the better right now when you get on the other side of hindsight, you might feel that way. If you are in the middle of a friendship breakup, or if you experience one in the future, I need you to do these things for me and for you – actually, this is more about for you, not for me – need you to do these things for you. Start with self-reflection. Pinpoint patterns from your previous friendships, and pay attention to those patterns. Then I need you to really, really work on your own self-care. Journal, meditate, talk to another friend, talk to a therapist. Yes, it’s important if you’re struggling to get over the hurdles of a friendship breakup. It’s totally okay to reach out to a counselor or a therapist. Write down what you appreciated from the friendship, but also give yourself permission to grieve the loss of it. Use the situation to grow and to also become a better friend.
There might be instances where you have to decline an invitation because it might put you in the same experience or scenario with the friend that fell apart. And that’s okay. You also need to be really careful if it’s a group of friends, that you don’t make those friends feel uncomfortable for your own situation, and you don’t make them choose. You don’t make them choose. You don’t pressure them to see your side of things. That is not fair. And don’t wait for an apology from the friend. It will just hurt you more because it most likely won’t happen. When friends fall apart, when friends have breakups, each friend sees things their own way and sees how the other person wronged them. And then they wait equally for the apology from the other person, and it’s most likely not going to happen. And it will just cause you more grief and anxiety, and stress if you wait for that apology.
Definitely find support from others, whether it’s family members or other friends. Again, a life coach or a therapist or a counselor, you’ve got to have people in your corner that can help you heal and help you move on. It’s probably wise to also completely cut communication from the person that you just broke up with. Don’t be rude. Don’t be disrespectful. It’s just a clean slate.
Eventually, you’re also going to come to an understanding that you are better off. But even knowing you’re better off, it’s still okay to reflect back on the good parts of your friendship that helped you get to where you are now. I think that’s also important. And then when you’re ready, write a reflection letter to yourself, about your friendship, how you became friends. The adventures you went on with the friend. What ultimately gave you the signals of the downfall? What happened? How did you get there? Did you miss any red flags? Are there toxic relationship patterns that you continue to gravitate towards because it’s familiar? And I want to be clear that it is typical to make friendship breakups mean more than their actuality. Nothing lasts forever. People grow apart. Life gets in the way. Maybe there’s distance involved. Maybe there are mismatched expectations. Maybe there’s unaddressed tension or other reasons that you may not have any possible clue about that could have contributed to the breakup. Just don’t make it mean more than the actuality – or try not to.
So here are some ways to improve your friendships. Number one, give real words of encouragement. Like, go beyond the surface level. If your friend accomplishes a major goal that she had worked really, really hard for, tell her why you are proud of her. Like, go beyond saying you’re proud, like, tell her why you are proud. Give real words of encouragement in situations. Go beyond surface level.
Number two, show up for your friend. Give them your time and energy.
Number three, stay in her corner and stand by her choices. Refrain from the I told you so’s. You aren’t her, and you truly have no clue the place she’s coming from or the dynamics behind it all. Even if you don’t truly agree with her choices, a true friend stays in your corner and stands by you no matter what. No matter what. So stay in her corner and stand by her choices.
Number four, be honest, though. Friendships will have awkwardness and conflict from time to time, and it’s important in order to continue a relationship with your friend to be honest.
Number five, don’t play the comparison game with your friend or with a group of friends. You are all special. You are all important. You are all brave. You are all beautiful. Don’t play the comparison game.
Number six, express gratitude for your friendship frequently, whatever that looks like for you. Express gratitude frequently.
And number seven, always continue to get to know your friend. Find out her quirks, find out her loves, her dislikes, her stresses, her anxieties, her fears, her dreams. Continue to work on your friendship and getting to know your friend.
I hope that if you do experience friendship breakups, that these tools can help you move beyond it to whatever is next in life for you. Because we are human, and we all will have friends that come and go. Some of them will just fade – I guess a friend fade. Some of them will be not fun breakups, and it’s our duty to learn from them. It’s our duty to seek out support. It’s our duty to be better friends in the future. It’s our duty to learn from the friendships. I hope you have friends in your corner always. I hope that you are not a user of friends. I hope that you are an equal cheerleader for your friend. And I hope that your friends support you in everything that you do and you return the favor. Friends are important. Friends keep us going. Friends are our confidants, our cheerleaders, our go-to humans. We need friends and our lives. They are a must.
Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode. Again, don’t miss out on the Inner Circle membership. Get yourself in there. Go to bossgirlcreative.com/InnerCircle. The doors will close at 11:59 pm Central Time on the 15th of August, and they will not reopen until December 1st. There will be a waitlist in the interim. You will be able to get yourself on the waitlist for when the doors reopen, but you don’t want to wait that long. Trust me, you don’t want to wait that long. I promise. So get yourself in there before the doors close bossgirlcreative.com/InnerCircle. Until next time, I hope you have a great rest of your week.