You would have thought I stole her boyfriend, well her husband rather, or left the backdoor of her townhouse open and let her dog run away. I could see if I talked about her kid, or stole from her purse (do people still do that anymore), but I didn’t do any of those things; nothing even remotely close. The truth is, I don’t know why she called it quits. All that’s for certain is that she pushed me away with a laundry list of excuses, each time I texted or called.
So, what did happen? Well, from my perspective, we had a disagreement, somewhat like a debate, over an opposing philosophical view. We were having lunch one day and I made a statement, to which she adamantly disagreed. She countered, but I didn’t waver. Finally, we hit a brick wall. Next came silence– the awkward kind that takes too long to pass, but it did, and like real friends, we agreed to let it go. Cool, or so I thought.
From my end, it was over! She was my friend; friends sometimes disagree–move on. That’s how I viewed it and when I called her later that evening , she claimed she felt the same way. “It’s cool girl,” she said, before we hung up the phone, but her actions were more on par with ice! She froze me out, gradually, until I got the subtle hint: my once dear friendship was no longer– it was a realization that truly hurt!
I wish I could say that was an isolated incident, me losing a friend, but I can’t. There was that time I lost touch with my summer camp bestie, who became like a sister to me. For three years, from sixth to ninth grade, we were inseparable at camp, then, we’d keep in touch during the school year via letters and long distance calls (yeah, I’m ancient). After advancing to high school, sadly, all of that changed. We became inundated with the windy road of being a teenager and high school life, and eventually lost touch. One day, a letter came back from her unopened, with no forwarding address; we lost contact after that. It’s been almost thirty years, but I still think about my friend. I still miss my friend, up till this day. Years later, I experienced something similar, but as an adult. My husband and I had just moved to a new city and I’d gone months without even a prospect for a friend. You can imagine my elation, then, when a new family, with children similar in age to mine, moved in down the street– I was over the moon! Our families click instantly and the wife and I became fast friends– it was wonderful! Soon after, though, she unexpectedly became distant. I had no clue as to why. Then, less than a year after arriving, she and her family moved away.
It’s a truth that’s not often acknowledged, but, loosing friends is painful, no matter what age we are. In fact, who’s to say it doesn’t hurt more when we’re adults? As grown-ups, we expect our peers to be able to communicate and to also be mature. So many times, however, this just isn’t the case. Adults still fall victim to petty disagreements and misjudge the value true friendship brings. What I’ve learned, though, is that friendship is a maze– sometimes we do great at navigating through, other times we fail. Regardless the outcome, however, there is always insight to be gained.
Here are five things you should know when it comes to losing a friend:
- It might not have anything to do with you– Don’t internalize! When friends get distant and we don’t know the reason, it’s common to question ourselves. “Did I do something wrong?” “Did I hurt her in some way?” The uncertainty can surely push the envelope of self blame. Truth is, sometimes people create distance because of their own personal issues that they can’t or don’t want to share. An example of that is the friend I described earlier, who became very distant before moving away with her family. Some years later, she contacted me and divulged that she and her husband were having deep marital issues that she didn’t want exposed at the time. For her, it was easier to create distance between us, rather than risk her marital problems being revealed. Although I was sad to hear about her marriage, her admission brought relief. Our “break-up” had absolutely nothing to do with me! had
- It might have everything to do with you– Take accountability! I once hurt a dear friend very deeply, by missing the birth of his first child; With no children of my own then, I simply did not grasp the magnitude of that moment in his life. When he brought it to my attention and explained how hurt he was, I had immediate remorse, but the damage was done. On my end, it was a major friendship fail, but it happens. None of us are perfect, which means we are all susceptible to being a not-so-great friend at times. The key to growing in the friendship department, however, is acknowledging our missteps when they happen, and then applying the appropriate corrections going forward.
- Assess the Situation–Then, Accept it! There’s this millennial saying that’s a trite overused, but still powerfully true– “It is, what it is!” No matter how badly someone wants it, if the other person involved no longer participates in, or desires the friendship, all one can do is accept it. Friendships end; Sometimes someone is wronged, other times, the friendship has just run its course. Seeing a friendship, or the loss of one, for what it is, may be difficult, but in order to grow and get to life’s next chapter, it’s often a necessary step to take!
- Grieve– you’ve experienced a loss! It’s okay to cry over, think about, or miss someone with whom you shared a bond, regardless of the reasons why the person is no longer there. Suppressing your feelings only stagnates the grief process. Let those emotions out so you can deal with them and heal!
- Move on and Grow from it! Instead of lingering and wallowing, choose to learn from the experience instead. Consider ways you can be a better friend in the future; reexamine what you require in a friend. Put greater emphasis on those friendships that remain solid. Extend the hand of friendship to someone else. Trust that all friendships, no matter their duration, are simply apart of your journey– use them as lessons that help you to grow!
Tell us, have you experienced losing a friend? What was your experience, or the lesson you learned. What advice would you give? We want to hear from you!