What to do when a friendship goes sour

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Guest post by Annie Evett

Friendships amongst women form part of their identity, sense of community and place amongst society. Women tend to invest a great deal of time, emotional and physical energy into nurturing and maintaining friendships, so when a close relationship suddenly ceases, there is little to prepare them for the fallout and hurt to come. Regardless as to if it broke down through neglect or if it were a sudden or calculated act, one of the hardest things is accepting the decision and continuing your life.

It’s common for seemingly close friendships to suddenly derail due to miscommunication, a misguided comment taken out of context or shifting priorities due to life changes. Very often silence and distance extends until neither side is comfortable to broach the gap, feeling its too late to try and patch things up.

Finding yourself in this situation, you may be experiencing a number of thoughts including:

Being confused about what has happened
Self Blame “Why me?” “It’s not fair”
Insecurity “I’ll never find another friend like them ever again.”
Repetitious thoughts or reliving last conversations
Pre-occupation on small or insignificant details

Should you find yourself in this position, try some of these approaches.

Trust your instincts

Women especially are fine tuned into social contexts and instantly know if there is a disruption in the “happy force”. In reality, its never ‘too late’ – make some sort of contact and test the waters. Trust that what you are feeling, your friend may also be experiencing and that perhaps they are unsure of what or how to reach out to you.

Kindness

Be kind to yourself, to those around you and to your distanced friend. Acting and speaking out of anger and hurt may result in things being said that you may regret at a later date. Maintain your grace and approach any situation involving your friend with the highest ethical standards you can manage. You are more likely to attract negative attention and perceptions if you surround yourself with a blame or angry approach when anyone mentions your friends name. If you cannot manage a positive approach, remain neutral until you can react in a more positive way. Resist the temptation to bad mouth your friend. Be gentle on yourself and those around you.

Allow yourself to be emotional

A close friendship claims a large part of your life and when it is suddenly stopped or ripped away, it is just the same to having ones heart broken. Similar to any major emotional loss, you need to allow time to grieve and come to terms with what has happened. Part of overcoming grief is being given permission to be emotional, cry and rant about what has happened.

Develop routines

A close friendship is often intertwined with daily routines. Should this friendship now be over, its important to refocus routines rather than allow them to flounder or lead the way to depression. Set up new or different routines in your life which may allow you to come into contact with a different group of people on a daily basis.

Talk it out

It may not be possible to speak to your friend, but its important that your feelings and unexpressed thoughts are conveyed. Start a private journal or write a letter which will never be sent. You may include good memories or outline some of the acts or events which led up to the break up. This may be a forum to ask forgiveness or asking them to seek forgiveness from you. State the terms – no matter how ludicrous – by which you would accept friendship back. You may choose to keep these written thoughts, or in a symbolic act of release – burn the entire sheaf of papers.

Relaxation

Pamper yourself with a long bath, afternoon spent reading, soaking in the pool, getting a massage or doing yoga. Take time out just for yourself and allow the pent up strain, stress and grief to seep out of your body.

Celebrate the good times

Make a list, scrap book, collection of photographs or stories focusing on the positive, fun aspects of the friendship. Allow yourself to smile and then allow yourself to say goodbye to that chapter in your life.

The closure of a friendship is very similar to a death. Instead of a physical person, a spiritual and emotional death occurs, resulting in feelings of loss and grief. People grieve in different ways. For many, it seems that they take several steps forward in coping with it, only to find an event or some sort of stimulus forces them backward or into depression. Close friendships often influence a persons identity, and when this is taken away, many people begin to lose their self confidence. By choosing to recognize and celebrating the portions of the friendship which were positive, allowing them to be released and replacing them with new interests or routines, will ensure that you will come out the other side of grieving for a lost friendship on a stronger note.

sourced ~ Annie Evett

Annie draws on her years as a teacher, a busy mother of two and time in the corporate field to bring life experience to her eclectic style of writing. She has written speculative science fiction, feminist literature, romance, adventure and magazine articles exploring themes in mothering, feminism, spirituality and sharing her journey as a woman. Currently involved with a number of collaborative writing projects in both fiction and non fiction as well as conducting workshops with community and speaking at key events, Annie somehow finds time to care for her family and occasionally sleep .

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