A group of my colleagues and friends were talking about losing good friends. One of my friends' situations was a job promotion and a change of location. Her friend cut her off, didn't want to be her friend anymore, and un-friended her on Facebook, leaving her feeling confused and mistrusting. Had this person been a friend at all?
Another friend told me how disturbing it was when his very best friend un-friended him on Facebook. He said, "It's one thing if you don't know the person very well, but if it's one of your closest friends, it makes you feel angry and untrusting of the depth of the friendship."
Another colleague told me he had no idea what he did wrong. His friend just cut him off. When friends cut you off and won't talk about it, it leaves you with a sense of loss that you can never close. Losing a friend happens to everyone, but with social media it happens even more frequently, and the depth of hurt and loss is just as deep, perhaps deeper when you cannot talk face-to-face with the person about the unanswered whys.
Our talk led us to discussing rejection, loss, pain and the feeling of mistrust that you are left with after your friend cuts you off. It's one thing if you know what upset them, you can talk to them about the situation. At that point, even if they resist your apology or feelings, you have a sense that they understand your side or reasoning. It's tougher when you live far away from your friend, and they won't communicate anything with you. That means you have to try and imagine why they are upset, and in your own mind work through the reasons why you may have upset them. Being upset is one thing, but when someone cuts off all communication, it usually involves conflicts within themselves that they aren't ready to deal with.
Part of moving on after a friend breaks up with you is evaluating your feelings for this friend. Although you may feel anger and hurt with their actions, it's important that you consider what sort of friend this really was. Asking yourself these four questions can help you feel more in control of the breakup:
- Was this friend a good friend during times of crisis in my life?
- Was this friend able to celebrate with me when good things happened for me?
- Was this friend supportive of my success at work, home, and life in general?
- Was this friend true to me or did they talk or betray me behind my back?
It's normal to feel hurt, rejected and confused after a friend breaks up with you, but continuing those feelings and letting it destroy your sense of self-esteem is not healthy. Below are five important steps to healing and letting go of a friend:
- Don't ruminate about it. You have no way of knowing what junk other people carry around, and continuing to take their un-friending as a personal insult only traumatizes you more deeply.
- Don't stalk your friend. Checking their Facebook, Twitter, or texts keeps the loss in your mind. It actually feeds the feelings you are trying to let go.
- Don't talk to other friends about the two of you. These friends may betray you as well, and they may have an invested interest in keeping the two of you from being close. The issue is between you and your friend only. If they cut you off or end the friendship, it is likely they were conflicted in what they were feeling and didn't know how to deal with it. Time may help them and they may come to a point where they will reach out to you. If you distort what you had by confiding in others who weren't trustworthy either, your friend may have heard rumors that will prevent them from ever reaching out to you again.
- Do look at your past behavior and try to understand if there is a pattern that may have offended your friend. This is important in your personal growth and going forward. If you see that you have a pattern of bragging or belittling comments, you will want to stop those prior to engaging in new friendships.
- Do send one letter explaining your loss of friendship (if it was a close friend). You can send it via email or mail it the old fashioned way. This tells your friend that you loved them, and you regret the two of you no longer share a friendship. The old fashioned way is more heartfelt, and considered more special to most people. However, either way is a wonderful way for you to express your feelings so you can achieve closure on your end at least.
We make decisions based on what is in our best interest and the interest of our family. A friend is a friend because they support your decisions and stand behind you when you feel weak. A friendship is about sharing those times and being there for each other's support. When that ends, it is devastating. A good friend is invested in the friendship and they are open to talking about disagreements or if they feel hurt. A friend who cuts you off isn't a good friend because good friends don't want to hurt you. They can tell honestly when they are jealous, hurt, feel insecure or angry at you. Although it may break your heart to lose what you thought was a good friend, it may be their parting gift. This person is showing you they weren't really as good of a friend as you thought they were.
— Mary Jo Rapini
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