How Do I Handle Friendship Breakups?
I have heard you talk about experiencing friendship breakups, so I am hoping you have some input!
Over the last two years, I have had a lot of friendship breakups. The first was with 3 friends I had been friends with for over 10 years, triggered by the UK general election, but ultimately by different ways to handle conflict. Others were with friends from drama school, and some with newer friends in my city.
Some of these friendships ending were very good things and are due to me becoming someone with healthy boundaries and speaking up about my needs and wants. Others I still don't quite understand what happened. The pandemic was undoubtedly a factor!
I have a therapist and am working through some of these things with her/worked through them at the time, but there are a couple of things I would appreciate your input on as someone who is of a similar age and who has experienced friendship breakups.
1) How do you process those friendships where you don't really understand why they ended, particularly in cases where it seemed like you hurt someone but they won't tell you how? I like to self reflect on things I fucked up but I don't know what I did in these cases.
2) Is reaching out to ex friends to talk about rebuilding a friendship okay? This is in situations where we still are connected on social media but haven't spoken in years.
3) Any tips of navigating social situations where you might need to share space with people due to mutual friends/partners (am polyam)?
4) How to talk to potential new friends about it? There's a big interconnected group that I have taken a step back from cause of certain members, but new people still go there and I don't want to have to explain early on why I'm not going to such-and-such event.
I hope that's not too long! Thank you so much for starting the advice column, and Emotional Support Lady in general is amazing.
As soon as I saw the subject of this email (Friendship Breakups) I knew I’d have to answer it. Losing friends has been a constant in my life and it’s one of the topics I am most sensitive about (if not the most). On the one hand, this history gives me a lot to talk about, but on the other, it makes me wonder if I’m the best person to ask. There must be something wrong with the way I am conducting myself for me to have lost so many close friendships over the years? It almost feels like asking someone who failed a math class to tutor you in algebra. But despite this insecurity (and self-judgment), I also know I’ve learned a lot from these experiences and one of the most important takeaways is realizing that it’s natural for some friendships to end. Even if no one likes to talk about it.