Why Do Friendship Breakups Hurt More And How To Deal With Them?

While suffering from a romantic breakup is something we seem to have gotten the hang of over the years, friendship breakups still come as a rude surprise no matter how many times we deal with them, even well into adulthood.

Tanya Savkoor
New Update
friendship breakups

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Who do you vent to when the person who used to tolerate your twenty-minute-long voice notes crying over a breakup has now broken up with you? The song We Don’t Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez hurts your feelings tenfold when it reminds you of a breakup with a friend. While hundreds of songs and movies express the pain of romantic breakups, little in this world can prepare you for the end of a friendship. Even when you see a friend slowly slipping out of your hands, a single reminder that your friendship has undoubtedly concluded is never something you can anticipate.


As we grow up we realise that one of the pitfalls of any relationship is the possibility of it ending someday. Friendships are just as susceptible to running their course, sometimes as people surreptitiously drift apart, or sometimes like a sudden slap in the face. Regardless of how they happened, friendship breakups can leave a blank space in your heart that cannot be described in a few lyrics or a rom-com plot.

The Hurting Phase

Unlike most romantic relationships, friendship breakups are complex and painful, and take a longer time to process. When you go through a healthy break-up with a romantic partner, you often have a conversation with them before parting ways and seal the deal with an understanding of your rapport from then on. But in friendship, there is no definitive explanation for what closure is and you are left questioning everything, including yourself, for a long time.

“Friendship breakups affect me a lot. Even after a year, if I am over it, I still think about it sometimes. I guess we get over it eventually but we'll always remember old times and wonder why it changed and when,” expressed Urja Umesh, a 23-year-old woman from Chikmagalur.

Why Do Some Friendships End?

Friendships usually do not initiate over a verbal contract of expectations like in romantic relationships-- 'Looking for something casual, or 'Want to grow old together'. Thus it can come as a rude surprise when your friends begin inclining in another direction from what you want from them.  While there could be a plethora of reasons for friendships to come to an end, changing priorities is usually what triggers most of them to take a different course.


Aadhya Muthamma, a Bengaluru-based law student shared how she knew her relationship with a friend was coming to an end. "She was my best friend in school and suddenly she stopped hanging out with me and joined the 'cool girl gang 'or whatever... She wanted to be popular in school and would only talk to me when her other friends were not there. I just felt like she was forcing herself to be friends with me," she shared.

As we grow older and experience new things in life, our relationships with our old friends are bound to face the test of time. Thus, communication and mutual understanding of changes are necessary for the friendships to remain unchallenged.

22-year-old Reema Razak from Dubai agrees. "One of the major reasons for my friendships to end is lack of communication. People change over time and life happens, when you're in school, when you're in college, you get a different group. So if you don't put effort into communicating with your friends then the friendship doesn't work eventually," she shared, adding that some of her friendships have also ended because the friends prioritised their romantic partner over her, or when she advised that her friends' partners were not right for them.

How To Deal With Friendship Breakups?

The grief of breaking friendships can be prolonged and leave a lasting impression on your personality. You might feel the need to change yourself for your future friendships, hoping to cling on this time, or better, not feel hurt when this friendship also ends. 

Reema Razak said, "I have learnt a lot from my friendship breakups. I just realised that no matter how close a person is to me, there is a limit where you just stop getting involved in certain habits that they are not going to change. I learnt that I need to put a boundary on how much I need to help someone, interfere or involve myself in their personal [choices]. When I make friends now I'm self-aware about that"


Urja Umesh also believes the same. "I have tried my level best to understand the situation from both sides-- mine as well as theirs. I now know when to take my leave, and I won't try convincing people to want me or be my friend... I've become more understanding that people have their liking and their ways of dealing with things. I don't want to force people to do as I do in different situations," she shared, adding that she is glad that the friendship ended so that she could go out of her comfort zone to make new friends.

Some friendship breakups could even be for the best. Instead of feeling suffocated in a gruelling friendship that has run its course, putting an end to toxic relationships can come as a breath of fresh air. "I was the one who suggested we part ways because I felt that I had changed a lot while my best friend expected me to be the same as he knew me from back in college. I have been feeling light-chested ever since," said a 31-year-old Bengaluru-based woman who wanted to be anonymous. 

While watching a friendship turn sour can be hard to deal with, there is a lot of personal growth that it can bring. It gives you a fresh take on the friendship that you once thought was perfect and proposes the opportunity for you to internalise your perspectives, take chances and build new connections. It can also be a chance for self-growth; and self-growth is something you are always open to, right? 

Views expressed by the author are their own

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