Dealing With The Loss Of A Best Friend
All friendships, male or female, change as you grow older. But for women, early same-sex relationships are often far more intense than those of the male variety. These friendships can start quickly in early childhood and move fast.
That doesn’t mean they’re not meaningful, as these relationships are often the most intense of your life with a huge impact on your personal development.
Some relationships born during your school years endure over many decades, and if they do end, it can feel like the death of a family member, causing just as much grief and pain. The trouble with teenage rollercoaster friendships is that they’re often based on differences, rather than similarities. Frequently, one of the pair might be especially pretty, outgoing or smart, while the other party isn’t as popular with peers. The outcome is one person looks up to the other, while the ‘main star of the show’ looks back at them for reassurance and validation. The identities of both can mingle dangerously and, at a time when people are figuring out who they are, their individual identity is all wrapped up with those of someone else.
As you grow older, there is a tendency to cling on to those relationships. The problem is, the factors that helped form the relationship in the first place have been left behind with childhood and the relationship hasn’t matured, unlike the individuals involved. Holding on to long-term friendships is something most people want to do, especially when there’s history and a sense of loyalty involved. However, the move from adolescence into adulthood can mean these friendships become obsolete, and may even have a negative influence in your life.
Not that these friendships always end badly. Some people find a way to grow the relationship along with their own identities, but making them work takes time, effort and perseverance. The end of youthful friendships is usually inevitable. People go different ways emotionally, as well as geographically and it’s unlikely that the person who understood you at 13 would be the same as the one that understands you at 33.
Sometimes, the break provided by distance can help. When you do meet again, you both have different lives and priorities. In a way, you’re renewing the relationship. Certainly social networking platforms such as Facebook and Friends Reunited means that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing now.
That said, some people who are entering a new phase of life make a conscious effort to leave these relationships behind when they finish school. It’s never nice to be rejected and feels worse still when the rejection comes from your closest friend of many years. So how do you get closure? Sometimes the extreme emotions of the youthful friendship linger, even though the individuals have grown up. Protecting your feelings and emotional wellbeing is as important as it is with the break-up of a romantic relationship.
- Don’t ignore the split. It’ll only come back to haunt you when you least expect it. Take time to mourn the end of the relationship and express your feelings in whatever way you think is most appropriate.
- When you’re ready, look back at what happened to the relationship objectively. Question why it ended the way it did. If it was a bad end, try to analyse why and if you could have done anything to salvage the relationship.
- If someone let you down, don’t dwell on it forever. You may never know the reason, and it’s bad for your emotional wellness to continue reliving it. It’s time to move on. Don’t live in the past.
- If you recognise you are spending too much time focussing on the break-up, find a new hobby or pastime to take your mind off things. Join a club and make some new friends. With every ending comes a new beginning.
- Make a conscious effort to meet new people. It can do a lot of good for your self-esteem and confidence.
- If you bump into your ‘ex’-friend, try not to be resentful or bitter. Be polite and say hello. If you need to, make an excuse and walk on. Don’t talk behind their back or spread malicious gossip. Negativity only breeds negativity.