How to Gracefully Handle Friend Breakups - 10 Etiquette Tips for After the Breakup

10:52:00 PM

So much effort and time go into giving advice and encouragement to girls who have gone through romantic breakups, but I don’t think that we talk enough about friend breakups. The bonds that friends have is arguably just as strong or even stronger than the bonds that some couples have.

I will never forget the night that I was truly and deeply hurt by a friend for the first time. It came as a complete shock to me, and it still is something that I have to work through and process. Here is what I have learned through the process.

How to Gracefully Handle Friend Breakups - 10 Etiquette Tips for After the Breakup

How to Gracefully Handle Friend Breakups - 10 Etiquette Tips for After the Breakup

Let Yourself Feel all the Feels

I totally went through the six stages of grief during my friend breakup. From anger to denial to sadness, I felt it all. Sometimes all at once. And it’s okay. Don’t let yourself wallow in the sadness forever, but learn to recognize and understand the emotions that you are feeling, as you are feeling them.

Something that can help with this is journaling. I journaled a lot during the time — sometimes I even wrote letters (that I never sent!) to my former BFF and it honestly helped a lot. Only naming the emotions (“I feel hurt because…”) can make a huge difference and can help you process everything that you are feeling.

Seek Help if you Need it

After my friend breakup, I leaned heavily on other friends in my life. Friends who took me to Starbucks. Friends who let me come to their house late at night to literally cry on their shoulder. Friends who asked me what they could do for me. It could have been straightforward for me to brush off those friends and attempt to handle it on my own. But the reality is that I couldn’t have made it through without the support of my buddies.

However, I felt like I was talking my friends’ ears off about my friend breakup. It was all that I could think about and talk about, so I decided to seek to counsel. Therapy and counseling are something that can be stigmatized in our culture, but it is something can be extremely helpful. For me, counseling was one of the biggest things that helped my process and heal from my friend breakup. I was able to talk about how I felt, how I imagined that she felt and how I was going to move forward from this.

Embrace the Awkward

My friend breakup was not a clean break by any means. We tried to patch it back together a couple of times, but it just didn’t work. I had to wade through the awkward, and honestly, I’m still trying to figure it out. Even though we are no longer friends, we still see each other multiple times a week. And it’s DANG awkward. But, when you try to pretend like the awkward isn’t even there, that’s what makes it even more uncomfortable. Realize that there will probably be plenty of unpleasant moments that make you anxious and sad, but try to embrace them!

Set Boundaries

It was tough for me to do this at first because I attended the same school as my former best friend. But, you need to decide from the get-go what your relationship is going to look like. Are you going to occasionally check in with each other? Are you deleting her number from your phone? Are you going to be always checking her social media profiles? One purposeful boundary that I set was that I muted and hid her on all social media. I still followed her, but I hid all of her posts from my feed. This allowed me to not have to see her face every day when I log into Instagram, but I still have the choice to check up on her when I want to.

Yeah, friend breakups suck. They can be one of the greatest heartaches that you face. Unfortunately, being hurt and hurting others is a part of life, but you don’t have to let them control your life. The pain will not last forever.

10 Etiquette Tips for After the Breakup

Have you ever experienced a breakup? Whether you're the one who initiates it or you are blindsided by someone you care deeply about, it's never a good experience. If it's a broken engagement, it's even worse.

It happens to the best of us. We go into a relationship with high hopes, only to discover later that we weren't the perfect match. Then comes the breakup – the hard part. This is when you can show what you're actually made of.

Be Nice

Just because you and your former main squeeze hit the skids doesn't mean your claws and fangs have to come out. Be the sweet person you were before you ever met, and you'll get through the difficult times much more easily. Take the high road and keep your anger under wraps. Practice being polite, and eventually, it will seem natural.

Get Busy

It's okay to sit around and feel sorry for yourself for a day or two, but after that, get busy doing something productive. Make your time even more useful by taking up a cause. You just might find a better match if you're performing acts of kindness and generosity.

Choose Your Friends

The ideal thing to happen is for both of you to maintain all the friends you had when you were a couple, but we know that's not possible. A general rule of thumb is to leave with the friends you came with, and any you made while together will naturally gravitate to the one they have the most in common with.

Avoid Gossip

Although it's tempting to trash the other person when asked what happened, once again, it's best to take the high road. Just smile, say it's a personal matter, and change the subject. Gossiping about others might make you feel better for…oh, say, about five minutes, but after that, you'll know it was the wrong thing to do, and you're likely to be even more miserable.

Shun Revenge

Like gossip, getting revenge sounds sweet after being scorned. However, it is a terrible thing to do and could get you into a peck of trouble. Friends and prospective romantic interests might see this as a sign of emotional instability. If you're tempted to get revenge on your ex, step back, take a few deep breaths, and develop a philosophy about kissing frogs. You just haven't found your prince/princess yet.

Not a Chance

Don't go running to your ex, begging for another chance. It's over. Acting desperate will cause others (possibly including your ex) to pity you, and you don't want to come across pitiful, do you? Face the fact that it's time to move on. Whatever caused the breakup is still there, and all the extra chances in the world won't make things any different. While reconciliations work in the movies, this is the real life we're talking about. Unless your life is "The Truman Show," you don't have script writers tending to the details.

Social Media

If you follow each other on social media, stop. Continuing to be connected through Facebook, Twitter, and other social venues will only prolong the pain. Give the breakup at least a year before you decide whether or not to reconnect, and only do so if you have become friends.

No Permanent Physical Changes

The last thing you need to do when you're in this state of mind is run out and get a tattoo or shave your head. Give yourself some time to heal before making any permanent changes.

Ex Sighting

When you see your ex out with someone else, do your best to avoid a confrontation. If possible, go in another direction. However, if you can't prevent a close encounter, smile, say, "Hi," and get as far away as possible. Don't make an awkward situation even more uncomfortable and don't prolong the face-to-face. If your date asks what is going on, simply mention that you were in a relationship with the other person and change the subject. Your partner might want details, but save them for later when you're not so rattled.

Keep Looking

Okay, so your last relationship didn't work out.

That's the past. It's time to get out there and mix and mingle. Let your friends know that you're single again. They might know some fabulous people they can introduce you to. Even if you don't get romantically involved with any of them, it's always nice to have more friends. 

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