This post 10 Tips to Help Your Teen Survive a Friend Breakup
As a mom, there’s nothing worse than seeing your child in pain knowing that there’s really nothing you can do to “fix” their pain. All you can do is stand beside them, offer a compassionate listening ear and perhaps a few words of wisdom from someone who understands exactly how they feel… because you’ve been there.
That’s exactly how I felt when my daughter went through a difficult friend breakup in middle school. It caught her off-guard and left her feeling completely heartbroken, isolated and wondering “why.” And, oh… how I felt her pain.
If your son or daughter is dealing with a harsh friend breakup – whether it ended out of the blue or they gradually drifted apart, here are a few tips you can pass along to them to ease their heartache, help them view the situation through a different lens and help them get past the pain of lost friendship: 10 tips to help your teen survive a friend breakup.
10 Tips to Help Your Teen Survive a Friend Breakup
#1 Give Yourself Space to Mourn the Loss
The loss of a friendship can be just as heartbreaking and agonizing as a romantic breakup, it’s just that people don’t talk about it quite as much. Just like any other “loss” in your life, you have to give yourself time to mourn and come to terms with your feelings. Don’t push yourself too hard to get over it in a day, a week or even a month. A heart takes time to heal.
#2 Talk About It
Try not to keep all those pent-up emotions inside. Talk to your mom or dad (who likely knows way more about how you’re feeling than you realize), another supportive and caring friend, a sister or brother, or anyone else you’re close to. Even though they may not have answers to give or explanations to offer, just having the ability to bring your thoughts and emotions to the surface and verbalize your feelings can help you see things more clearly and help you cope with the heartache in a productive way.
#3 Focus on You
If ever there was a time for you to be your own best friend, now is the time. Make a list of all the things that make you happy and indulge yourself. If you love long, luxurious baths while listening to your favorite music, do it. If you love diving into a great book, do it. If you feel happier when you get outside and jog, hike, run or just sit by the pool, do it. If what really makes you happy is hanging out with people you care about (who really care about you), then make sure you put that as a priority in your life. Above all, do what brings you peace of mind, comfort and happiness.
#4 Realize That Not Every Friendship is Meant to Last
When you’re growing, learning, changing and figuring out who you are, you can’t expect every “bestie” you had in elementary or middle school to stick with you on your journey. Not only are you changing, your friends are changing also. It’s not a rejection if your friend moves on or if the two of you “outgrow” one another. Not every friendship is meant to last and that’s okay.
On the flip side, remember, some friendships are best left in the past.
Here are a few telltale signs a friendship might be over.
- When you don’t have anything in common anymore
- When you no longer feel you can be yourself around them
- When you’re the one putting all the work into the friendship
- When you realize the friendship has turned unhealthy or toxic
- When you no longer have fun together or don’t hang out anymore
- When jealousy takes hold in the friendship and they become spiteful
- When your relationship is constantly filled with arguments, chaos or drama
- When talking or hanging out with them is draining, upsetting or feels more like a chore
- When you feel manipulated, taken advantage of or they call you only when it’s convenient for them
- When you feel as though you’re being pushed away or replaced by new friend circles that don’t include you
- When they’re not there for you during difficult times and they don’t share in your accomplishments or “wins.”
Sometimes, walking away from a friendship can be the absolute best possible thing you can do for yourself!
Never forget that walking away from something unhealthy is brave, even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.
#5 Don’t Try to Force Closure
You may never get the answers you’re looking for. “Why would she just drop me like that? What did I do?” “We used to be so tight and he just stopped answering my calls. I wish I knew why.”
There are so many reasons why a friendship might dwindle. In some cases, the reason might be clear (like an argument), other times, it might not make any sense at all. It might be something you inadvertently did (in which case, it may require some self-reflection on your part) and other times you could be convinced you did nothing at all.
Try not to dwell on it and don’t get caught up in understanding the “why” of it all. Just move and focus on yourself, the healing process, and opening yourself up to new friendships.
#6 Plan Things to Look Forward To
Of course, you need to give yourself time to grieve the loss of the friendship, but also keep in mind that you and you alone are the only one who can help you get past this. Sometimes, the best way to feel better about yourself and life, in general, is to break free from your thoughts.
In other words, stop thinking so much and start doing. Get a few things on the calendar that you can look forward to. Plan a movie night with friends, join a club or class that interests you, start a new hobby, rearrange your bedroom and buy a few new things to spruce things up, plan a get-a-way to somewhere cool, switch up your hairstyle or buy yourself a new outfit that makes you feel amazing.
#7 Have a Game Plan with Mutual Friends (and Gossips)
If you hang out with some of the same people, chances are you’re going to run into them at some point. The question is, what the heck do you say to them (since chances are word is out that you’re not best buds anymore). The answer is, not much at all. The best way to handle mutual friend inquiries (as well as the gossips who are just fishing for information) is to come up with a mantra and stick to it.
Mutual Friend: “Hey, sooo… what’s going on with you and Jackie? I heard you guys aren’t talking.”
You: “Nothing really, we just don’t spend much time together anymore.”
You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you’re certainly not obligated to dish out a long-winded dissertation on what went down. Instead, keep your head up, take the high road, and don’t give the gossips much to talk about.
#8 Hit the “Unfollow” Button, If Needed
When my daughter went through her friend breakup, it wasn’t just the breakup that caused her pain. It was being faced with the bombardment of pictures of her ex-friend on social media hanging with other (often mutual) friends having the time of their lives.
You can’t control what your “ex-bestie” posts on social media, but you can control whether you choose to see it or not. You can either hit the “unfollow” button (which can actually be quite liberating) or take advantage of certain social media features.
Instagram, for instance, has a handy feature that allows users to “mute” someone. It’s a much softer approach than unfollowing your ex-friend but prevents their posts from popping up in your feed all the time.
#9 Accept It as One of Life’s Many Lessons
Life is brimming with lessons. Some are easy, while others are downright agonizing. Still, with every amazing and difficult experience that comes your way in life, there are lessons to be learned. When your heart heals, when you’ve had time to reflect, take a look back and draw from the experience. Maybe you feel you did everything right as a friend. Or, perhaps there were areas you fell short. With any challenging experience in life, you have a choice to become bitter or better… choose better.
#10 Open Your Heart to New Friendships
If the friend you lost is one you hung out with all time, you might feel the need to fill that void as soon as possible. But real friendships take time. Instead, focus on casting a wide social net to open yourself up to meeting new people. Volunteer, join a club, take up a sport, or even get a part-time job at a “happening” place where other teenagers work or hang out. The more you associate with others who have similar interests or commonalities in your life, the more likely you are to make new friends.
Friends and Friendships Will Change Over Time
Between the time you’re in elementary school and the time you graduate high school, friends may pass in and out of your life like a revolving door. Some friends might be in your life for six months or a year, while others might stick like glue in your life for decades to come. But that’s life… it’s really about surrounding yourself with the right people at the right time.
Just focus on being your authentic self and being an amazing friend, and you’ll soon find loyal friends who not only stay with you but also accept, appreciate and love you exactly as you are.