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Why breaking up with a friend can be as painful as breaking up with a boyfriend

Why breaking up with a friend can be as painful as breaking up with a boyfriend
PHOTO: Pexels

When we think of heartbreak, we usually associate it with the demise of a relationship. But breaking up with a friend can be as painful, if not more so. And it's totally normal.

"A friendship can be quite intimate. You and a close friend may share everything including the ongoings of your respective romantic relationships. This sort of trusted friendship adds to your identity-you know who you are because of them," says Cherlyn Chong, a breakup recovery and dating coach.

"But there isn't a lot of talk about the end of a friendship, so you may not know how to deal with this type of breakup. In fact, we're expected to get over the end of a friendship quickly since the relationship wasn't romantic or sexual in nature."

She adds that you may also find the experience particularly agonising if you got cut off because you're left to wonder how someone you were once close to could just cast you out of their life. And if mutual friends have taken sides and distanced themselves from you, there will be a deeper sense of loss.

But here's the thing: you shouldn't be ashamed that the end of a friendship hurt you so much-your anguish not only reflects your humanness, but also the prospect of growth.

"The end of friendships just means that you outgrow some people or that some people outgrow you. Whatever it is, there's always a lesson involved so that you can do better in your future friendships," says Cherlyn.

Not coping well with a recent split with a friend? She shares four tips for recovery.


“If you can’t get closure from your friend, resolve to find closure within yourself. Have an honest think about why the friendship broke down and own up to your part in it.”


“Imagine how your friendship would have been like five years from now if the two of you didn’t fall out. Would you be happy? Was it actually inevitable that there would be a clash? This helps to put things into perspective.”


“Resolve to strengthen your circle of friends by nurturing current friendships and being open to new ones. When one door closes, another opens, and the ostracism won’t hurt as much if you’re constantly getting social cues that you are in fact a good person and a valued friend to the people who still care about you.”


“Also be open to exploring new things, ideas and activities. You should be your own best friend, after all you can do so by enriching your life and body with new experiences. Try out new food, discover new places or even implement a new exercise regime. The further you distance yourself from the old you, the more you’ll feel like you have your own identity again.”

ALSO READ: What I learned using a 'friendship app'

This article was first published in CLEO Singapore.

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