7 Reasons Why Ending a Friendship Feels More Gut-Wrenching Than a Break-Up

By Krista

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Last Updated: October 1, 2021

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Undeniably, any relationship ending sets in motion the grieving process — even if we know the end of the relationship is in our best interests.

We’ve all watched the endless amounts of Hollywood films and TV shows that depict just that. And most of us have also experienced heartache in some form or another. 

Inevitably, it’s really hard to get through life unscathed by the void that losing love leaves. Yet, what about when it’s not a “love” break-up per se but a friendship break-up? Why does it feel just as bad as if your S.O. decided to pack up and walk out the door?

If you’re experiencing this, hang tight, and know that when a friendship ends, it’s only natural to grieve. So, let’s really nail this down and help you process your feelings so that you can finally begin to move on.

 

7 Reasons Why Ending a Friendship Feels So Bad

You’ve determined this is an unhealthy friendship, so you’ve decided to cut it off. Yet, the immense amount of turbulent emotions that follow weren’t what you expected. Why is this happening? Let’s dive a little deeper into that internal struggle.

Here are 7 reasons why ending your friendship might feel super gut-wrenching.

1. We might feel ashamed for not being able to make it work.

Maybe you have loads of friends or only a few.

Whatever the case may be, perhaps this friendship feels like some kind of personal failure. Could you have made it work? Was it you? Or them? Was it the combination? The thoughts circle in your head.

The truth is that decisions are tough. And sometimes, ending things is the best for your own sanity and the other person’s. Yet, as an adult, you might figure you should have this “friendship thing” figured out.

Cut yourself some slack here. Everyone is always learning, and we are all only doing the best with what we know. 

2. It’s harder to figure out what to say to end things.

For a romantic break-up, what to say is a bit easier.

It’s pretty much by the book (most of the time). And we’ve seen in a ton in novels, movies, shows, and more. 

But when it comes to ending a friendship, there aren’t as many resources for knowing what to say or how to say it. Sometimes, a friendship just gradually breaks apart and nothing needs to be said. For others, they might want to know and something might need to be said.

Whether you have that conversation or not, it’s painful. It’s even more painful because of the confusion surrounding it. You might look back years from now and wonder what happened to that friendship. And you know what? That’s 100% okay.

There aren’t really rules here. It’s more about doing what’s right for you and your life.

3. It’s less defined.

Comparing to romantic relationships again, a friendship isn’t as defined. You might not even often call your friends your “friends.” Meanwhile, in a romantic relationship, you’re a couple or you’re dating or you’re S.O’s. 

Again, it’s confusing. And then that, again, leads to the questions as to whether you should say anything at all or let it gradually fizzle out. This is really situation-dependent and person-dependent. This can lead to a variety of emotions, leaving you feeling lost, upset, and maybe even a little hurt or vice versa.

4. Our expectations weren’t matching very well.

We usually have expectations of what a “good” friend is.

If these aren’t lining up, we probably will drop that friendship pretty quickly. Recognizing this can help you move past it and into other friendships that are more aligned.

Related Article: 4 Things Real Friends Won’t Do

5. We might be losing a confidant.

Friends are people we often confide in.

Maybe you’re losing that person. There might be certain toxic traits that just don’t make it worthwhile for you. While you’re losing a confidant, focus on what you might gain without this person in your life.

6. It’s emotionally overwhelming.

Usually, a friendship ends because it’s not worth the emotional pull.

Perhaps you always feel drained after your encounters or “hang-outs.” Or maybe ending the friendship has been emotionally turbulent. You second-guess yourself. You have a hard time making that decision.

Again, do what’s best for you. And guess what? Only you know what’s best for you.

So, make that decision. Stick with it. Move forward. It’s tough but you will be able to find relationships that fit you and serve you better.

7. The grief catches us off-guard.

Then, there’s the grief.

We don’t expect it. After all, it’s just a friendship. No one died. No breakup happened. Yet, here we are. 

And we repeat: Ending a friendship is tough! Let’s quit pretending otherwise. Expect the grief. It’s okay. These emotions will pass.

 

How to Start Moving On

You’ve dived into your emotions a little further. And maybe you understand yourself a little more. So, now what? How can you move on? Here are a few tips:

  • It’s okay to feel sad. Let yourself feel the feelings.
  • Outline your own healthy boundaries so that you don’t repeat any mistakes you might’ve made with this round.
  • Get rid of any reminders. That photo of you guys 7 years ago at that electric music festival? It’s time to tuck it away. It’s a great memory but you don’t need to be reminded of your friendship ending each day.
  • Make new connections with people who allow you to feel good. Start a new hobby to meet people or turn to other friendships you have that you know work.
  • Come to recognize that this might be for the best. You will both be better off, especially if it’s been rocky for a while. 
  • Find your own closure. You don’t need the other person to give you that. And who knows, maybe down the road, they will pop back into your life. For now, reassure yourself that this is for the best and your life will be better for it.

Related Article: 21 Signs You’re Dealing With a Fake and Toxic Friend

 

Focus On What Makes You Feel Good

Ending any relationship is tough.

Human connection is so important to our well-being and overall health. So, don’t let this phase you when it comes to making those connections with other people. With 7 billion people on the planet, you will find your tribe. One person didn’t fit that mold and that’s 110% okay!

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said,

Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.

Read Next: 5 Unhealthy Reasons to Start Relationships

Photo by Raphael Rychetsky on Unsplash

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