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Your 4-Step Guide To A Best Friend “Breakup”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

I think at this point in many of our lives, most of us have felt the undeniable confusion, rage, and sense of loneliness that comes alongside a romantic breakup. There is so much advice on how to manage and move forward from this specific form of heartbreak, from Alex Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy” podcast to Taylor Swift’s 10 studio albums. Yet, another experience that so many people have encountered is a best friend breakup, and there isn’t nearly as much insight on how to grieve this type of loss.

Losing a best friend, whether you’ve known them for 10 months or 10 years, is far more painful than many other losses, since the person you once trusted, relied on, and even looked up to on a daily basis, is suddenly out of the picture. However, this sort of canon event can help us grow individually into people we were once restricted from becoming. A best friend breakup may be a challenging period in your life, but if navigated in the right way, it can be extremely beneficial for your well-being. 

Step 1: Evaluating the “breakup”

A best friend breakup usually doesn’t come out of nowhere, so analyzing how it all escalated to the point where you contemplated the worth of a valued relationship is vital in this process. Although it’s hard to think about your faults, I found that asking questions like “How did I contribute to the fall out?,” “How could I have been a better friend?,” and “How have they made me feel in the past year?” helped me immensely in making my final decisions. It may come off as selfish, but in the end it came down to the fact that being around certain people wasn’t positively serving me for a long time. And even though we created great memories within that period of questioning, I kept returning to the constant irritation over minor things that compiled into one big explosion of emotions. Acting on emotions isn’t something that’s normal for me, so at that moment I knew that it was a time for change that would initially be difficult, but eventually have great benefits for all parties involved. 

STep 2: It’s Okay To not be okay

Like after every loss, there is a period of grieving. As the stubborn person I am, I refused to show my emotions or even speak of anything related to the fallout for weeks. I felt like I was the one at fault and that everything ended up where it did because I was “fixing something that wasn’t broken.” Obviously going to a school that’s hours away from home was helpful because I was easily able to ignore everything that bothered me. However, this terrible tactic of pretending like my issues didn’t exist only led me down deep spirals of overanalyzing everything and anything, which ended up being very damaging to my mental and physical health. Once I was able to set my pride aside and actually acknowledge my emotions, I found myself in a more positive mindset. The other day, when I was on my hot girl walk listening to the podcast For You From Eve, she said “don’t try to heal by admitting that you don’t feel.” Just those 10 words shifted my mindset for the day, because it was a reminder that it’s totally normal and acceptable to not feel perfect and cheerful all the time. 

Step 3: Loneliness Is The Key To Growth

I think that the biggest hurdle in moving on from my best friend breakup was the constant feeling of loneliness. Yes, I had other amazing friends that I surrounded myself with, but little things like being reminded of an inside joke or hearing a song that we would listen to would set me back like five steps. FOMO (fear of missing out) is so common during a friendship breakup and as dramatic as it seems, it was almost as if I was constantly being haunted by the ghost of these people I once knew. Overcoming the loneliness and having greater appreciation for “me time” took a while, but once I got there, I noticed my demeanor and attitude toward those little reminders changed. They went from peeving thoughts to happy little moments that I learned to cherish instead of hate. It was weird to not spend every minute of every day with someone, but honestly, the more I think about it, space is so necessary for growth. Now I happily go on long runs, sit in coffee shops, go shopping, and do other little activities that I once would’ve done with other people by myself, because I learned that being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  

Step 4: Life Goes On, With Or Without Them 

The final step in the post-best friend breakup process is accepting that life goes on and that there are greater things waiting for you in the future. When I reflect on who I was a year or two ago, it’s crazy to think how much I have evolved for the better. I think the ultimate lesson that I learned from my best friend breakup was that it’s okay to outgrow the people around you. Everyone deserves to experiment with new lifestyles, routines, and relationships, and sometimes you don’t realize how much you’ve been held back until you’re forced into change.

Honestly, looking back at the past several years, I can see how I may have been considered a “toxic” friend, too, by holding people to very high standards and being disappointed when they wouldn’t meet them. Now, this isn’t to say to just give up on your friendships over minor inconveniences, but if you feel like the people around you aren’t respecting you the way that you deserve, it’s so reasonable to step away from that toxic environment. In the end, this life was made for you, so instead of feeling the constant weight of competition and anxiety during what are supposed to be the good times, do what you know is best for you and everything else will fall into place.

Hannah is a second-year Economics and Political Science major at UCLA, from Yuba City, California. She enjoys writing about a variety of topics from finance to up-and-coming trends! In her free time she loves baking, going to the beach, exploring the coffee shops of LA, and playing tennis.