One of the most difficult and inevitable things that happen throughout college is the process of gaining and losing friendships. Not all lost friendships are the same – some happen without the two parties even realizing it, while others are caused by a more dramatic falling out. All of a sudden, freshman year best friends, old roommates, and friends from high school who once joked about being in each other’s wedding are suddenly strangers that you only know through photos and the occasional walk on the quad.
The end of a close friendship can be even messier than a breakup. Losing a close friend means that there’s someone out there who knows more of your personal secrets than you might have wanted. There are a million books and articles about what to do after a breakup, but not so many on what to do when you find yourself in a friend-turned-stranger situation. Of course, every situation has unique circumstances, but looking at things from a different perspective is essential.
Assessing the state of your friendship is simple; all it takes is three easy steps. The fact that the following three ideas all happened to start with an “R” was completely unintentional, but it makes them all the more easy to remember: reflect, reach out, and remember.
Reflect: Sometimes it takes time to be able to get into the mindset of looking back at the past with a clear mind. It’s important to think about the pros and the cons of the relationship (a truly great friendship will have some cons, even if they’re tiny and insignificant). What were your fights like? How did you feel when you were around them? Did they make you the best version of yourself, and vice versa?
Reach Out: Everyone is busy, especially during the school year when “we need to hang out soon!” turns into the default expression for that friend you only see a couple times a year. With a million things going on (especially during the school year), some friendships can completely fall to the wayside, but it’s not a good excuse for someone you care about. Friendships are two-way streets that need equal effort on both sides in order to function. Just like 99% of the roommate disagreements that just require some open communication, there may be a chance that your friend simply had no idea what was going on. Who knows?
Remember: Don’t forget the harsh truth that some things aren’t meant to last forever; friendships are no exception. They may never return your call again, or you may be the godparent to their children one day. Even if it ends badly, remember that it’s only one door shut out of (literally) billions. Good luck!