3 Ways To Handle A Friendship Breakup

Break ups of the friendship kind can leave you feeling just as devastated as the traditional romantic breakup. They’re not always handled well, and often result in one or both parties left feeling hurt and confused.

No matter what age you are or how much life experience you have, friendship break ups can feel uncomfortable and awkward. We need to remember that every person and situation is unique, so there’s no single perfect way to end a friendship.

Here’s 3 ways you might want to look at ending an friendship if your involved on either side of the break up.

Talk about “the issue”

Friendships can be just as tricky as romantic relationships. At times we hurt each other; we don’t always get it right for each other and our own “stuff” can impact on the friendship.

So when something happens that makes us want to end the friendship whether this is something that was said that was cruel or hurtful, feeling let down by something a friend didn’t do or if a friend wasn’t there for you when you needed them, consider if what happened is a tear in the relationship worth ending the friendship.

If in your friendship you can both talk about the issues that are bothering you and openly communicate form your own experience, what’s causing the hurt you can often move forward and through what has happened. Being able to go through this process can even deepen and strengthen the friendship.

For me I like to let those closest to me “I am human and as such I’m flawed, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to get it wrong for you and you’re going to get it wrong for me at times and I value our friendship so much. This is why I’m always committed to coming back to the dialogue with you, so that we can hear each other, connect and be open to repair.” – Natajsa Wagner

The gradual fade

The gradual fade is often the most preferred way to end a friendship as it is the least confrontational, this works best when the friendship is coming to a close mutually.  

We all know life doesn’t sit still. People evolve, grow and develop. Our Journeys take us to different places and we often lead very different lives to what we once did at the time we meet some of our friends. (You might be single, career focused and living in the city whilst your former friend is now married with 2 kids and living interstate).

These changes are all part of the natural process of development as we move into adulthood and beyond.  If you have a friend you don’t find yourself connecting with due to your significant life changes, lack of similar interests or other reasons you may find that mutually you both begin to fade out of each other lives and that’s OK.

Fading a friendship out doesn’t negate the history or the memories you have shared with this person, it simply means at this point in time your choosing not to connect with this person for your own reasons. This doesn’t mean that your paths won’t cross again or that the friendship can’t be rekindled, it’s just at this point in time your energy lies elsewhere. 

End the friendship formally, with love, care and respect

For me this would be the ideal way to end ANY relationship. When the end of a friendship isn’t mutual, where either it’s going to be a surprise for the other person or you didn’t see it coming, having the opportunity to end the friendship with love, care and respect might feel like the road less traveled, but if done well can also leave both people at peace. 

If you’re ending a friendship or having someone close to you tell you they feel as though your friendship is ending, it’s important to recognise the value that this friendship gave you. The other person may feel confused and shocked about why you want to end the friendship. 

Ending it formally doesn’t mean you need to go into specifics about why you’re ending the relationship, though this might feel tempting at times! 

Be realistic in what this person is going to take on board, if you find they have difficulty taking on peoples feedback, you may not be heard. Often letting someone know the important part they have played in your journey and how valued their friendship has been is a good start to letting them know that you feel like your life is being pulled In a different direction or that you feel that the friend ship has changed and you wanted an opportunity to say goodbye and thank them for being a part of your life.

Please note it is a given that if you are in a friendship that is abusive or toxic in any way to your mental health you have the right to drop it like it's hot, no explanation required.

Your mental health and well being are ALWAYS the most important priority in any relationship. 

Natajsa Wagner is a Masters qualified Psychotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. Natajsa blends relational Gestlat methods, contemporary Psychotherapy and neuroscience practices in her work. Natajsa guides and mentors professionals in understanding themselves and their behaviour patterns so they can make more aligned choices in their life. Natajsa is thought leader and advocate for authentic human conversations and connection. She works experientially with individuals and groups to teach, that in a moment, we can create and experience more deeply satisfying connections with each other.

Her work offers an antidote to the modern day disease of disconnection.She invites others to create a ripple of connection in the world, so that we might all feel more intimacy, belonging and aliveness. Natajsa has been featured as an expert both locally and internationally and has contributed to a number of print and online media outlets including: Womens Health and Fitness Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine & ABC Online.

You can find her sparking conversations online in the following places:

Natajsa Wagner