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How to Move on From Negative Friendships at University

I see university almost as a pressure cooker of undealt with hard feelings and emotions, every corner you turn a difficult memory comes back. This makes dealing with emotional situations extremely hard as you often study, socialise, live, and eat with people who may be making your life difficult, meaning there’s no escape. I’m in my 3rd year of university now and I have witnessed, and personally dealt with, an array of emotional dramas and backstabbing cattiness which have allowed me to make a checklist of things that personally work for me when dealing with and moving on from negative friendships whilst at university. Although you can’t always avoid people, there are steps you can take to make dealing with them a little less difficult.

#1 Talk to people about it

Firstly, and most importantly, get help! This step is consistent throughout the entire moving on process, you don’t have to deal with this situation on your own. The emotions that you are feeling throughout this time will not be individual to you. Every person I know at university has had to deal with difficult friendships or people trying to ruin their happiness. Talking about it is so therapeutic, it lets you get everything that is bottled up inside of you out into the open, it’s almost like letting all the anger inside of you go. Whether it’s talking to your flatmate on the kitchen floor or a counsellor, talking about what happened to you lets you accept what happened and move on. This may be difficult at first, but eventually, the more you talk about it the easier it becomes and the less emotional it is to think about.

#2 Get space

Next on my list is to get away from it. If you’re able to go home, then go home. If you can’t, go for a walk, study at the library, surround yourself with other friends, or even something as simple as going to Lidl. Whether it’s 30 minutes or 3 days, get away from the negative situation as quickly as possible. Doing this will allow you to calm down and process the situation before you have to deal with it. Giving yourself time is doing a favour for yourself, you deserve to give yourself breathing room!

#3 Put it into perspective

University is a time of your life, much like most others, where friendships and your relationships with others feels like the most important thing in the world. However, I promise you it’s not. If you’re having negative feelings towards someone and they make you feel like crap, you don’t need them. I have a rule of thumb where if I wait a few days and if my life isn’t missing anything then you didn’t need them to begin with. Your studies, hobbies, other friendships, even your mental health, is way more important than trying to bring back a friendship which has ran its course. Put it into perspective, it’s a good tool to realise what you really need.


Girls in the sunset
Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

#4 Deal with it

This is probably the hardest stage, but you have to deal with it. If the last time you spoke to this person was a pretty nasty conversation you probably don’t want to have to speak to them again, but you have to close the door on it all.  It’s not fair to yourself, or the other person, to leave the possibility of rekindling the friendship. If it’s a bad friendship, then it will always be that way. Closure will allow you to move on with your life and create new and more meaningful relationships with others.

#5 Make changes

For me, this was super important. Leaving behind a friendship is hard, it’s an era of your life which is probably plastered all over social media. Delete it all! Delete every photo you have, every post you made, even unfollow them on social media so you can’t see them anymore. This will allow you to start completely fresh without having to constantly be reminded of them. You can even make bigger life choices: join new societies, join a sports club or even get a job. Not only are these distractions but they are ways to meet new people! You don’t have to sit at home upset over all the drama, you deserve MUCH more than that.

The end of a friendship is difficult, especially if there are lots of ties linking you to this person. Sometimes it’s easier to stick it out and carry on than to make active decisions to remove this person from your life. However, that’s not good for you in the long run. This process is extremely difficult, but at the same time extremely important, you shouldn’t have to stick anything out. If you are having a bad feeling about a friendship or it is upsetting you, you deserve much more than just dealing with it, please remove them from your life. In my experience, leaving the negativity behind and moving on has introduced me to some of my favourite people in the world, do yourself the same courtesy no matter how difficult or long the process is.

Note: I’m not a qualified counsellor, if you’re in a dangerous situation please speak to a professional as soon as possible.

Useful Links:

Aberdeen University Counselling Service: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/support/counselling-3635.php

‘In Crisis’ University Service: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/support/counselling-3635.php#panel2001

Mental Health Aberdeen: https://www.mha.uk.net/help/index.html

Lucy Clarkson

Aberdeen '21

Poltitics & Sociology student
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