5 Reasons Friendship Breakups Are the Worst

As Rupi Kaur describes, friendship breakups culminate in the “underrated heartache,” and wow, is she right! I believe the underrated aspect of friendship breakups directly contributes to the difficulty we have in healing from them. Read on for reasons that friendship breakups are the worst.

1. Friendship breakups are unexpected.

Oftentimes, when a friendship ends, it is truly unexpected. When you have someone in your life that you connect so well with, who you trust, you laugh with, you have fun with, you don’t really expect there to be a time where that’s not the case. You don’t really expect there to be a time when that person is not in your life, and so the unexpected nature of the friendship ending can be incredibly hard to sit with.

2. The breakups aren’t typically definitive or can even go unexplained.

Unlike divorce or death or romantic breakups, friendships don’t typically have a formal ending process. Sometimes a friendship ends or phases out, and there’s not even a clear reason why. The ambiguity of a friendship breakup can leave one with the feeling of not having closure which can prolong the healing process.

3. You no longer get to know what you had always known.

When somebody is in your life in a close and intimate way, they typically know what’s happening for you at work, with your significant other, with your family, and all the in-betweens. They know the good, the bad, the ugly, and when the friendship ends, you no longer have access to that information from a primary source.

All you see is what somebody posts on social media or what you hear from other people. It can feel unnerving to go from “VIP backstage pass access” to “another face in the crowd.” If this friendship was a part of your life in a very major way, it can feel unsettling to recognize that your former bestie no longer knows the ins and outs of your day, let alone year – and you don’t know theirs, either.

4. You didn’t realize that a context change would alter the friendship.

Friendships that shift due to a context change, such as a change of job, school, graduation, location, or activity can have a certain vulnerability pang to it. If you’re used to seeing somebody on a day-to-day basis and they were a regular part of your physical daily/weekly routine, you might not expect much to change without the tangible frequent interaction.

The reality is that there are those who need physical proximity in order to engage in emotional intimacy, and so it can be peculiar and unexpected for the context to change or for the shift to end a friendship, thus moving a daily experience to more of an acquaintance interaction.

5. There is grief in all the events.

It’s possible that while in your friendship, you had imagined future events being celebrated together including weddings, birthdays, job changes, having kids, getting pets, etc. You might have anticipated those people being a significant part of those celebrations, and when those events finally come, it can be disheartening to recall that this once-meaningful person is no longer in your life in the same way that they once were. It is natural for there to even be a yearning for that friendship, particularly during challenging times, such as a death, romantic breakup, or job loss. That person may have been somebody you typically relied on for emotional support and now that isn’t the case.

Friendships can be for a reason, a season, or for life.

As painful as this may be to recognize, every relationship, regardless of its current status, has something to teach us about how to be in the world, how to connect with others, and what’s important to us in our relationships moving forward. As you grapple with this, may your healing be meaningful and bring you much insight.