Why Losing Friendships is a Sign of Growth
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Losing friends is challenging, but it’s only the start of something new for you.
I’ve lost some friends over the last few years. It really got to me and affected me in the moment, too. I would ruminate over what I did, what they did, could it be fixed, did it matter if they were in my life or not, and many other anxious-fueled questions. Having friendships was always a very important thing in my life and, at the same time, a massive source of anxiety. I was such a people pleaser growing up and constantly sought validation, acceptance and appreciation. I always wanted to make sure I never made my friends upset, would want to ensure I never messed up and would do anything just to show I care about them. However, let’s quickly dissect this last sentence. I thought that everything I was doing at the time was in an effort to be a good person, help everyone else and be the best friend I possibly could. What I do know now, is that all of what I was doing to “be a good friend” was actually quite selfish. In trying to make sure I never upset my friends and changing my ways to be the perfect friend, I realize now that it’s actually pretty manipulative. People are allowed to feel what they want to feel and it’s not your place to alter that or try and change the outcomes. Being a different version of you just to try and impress someone or gain friendships is not the best move. You’re not being yourself in the process, either. Putting on a façade or a mask to try and gain approval is not going to get you far and you’re only going to lose yourself along the way. Honesty is the best policy, they say. Being yourself takes much less work and you'll attract the people into your life who love and appreciate you for being you. They will love you for your flaws and for the things that make you so endearing and imperfect.
Let's get back to the expired friendships piece. Many people enter our life for various reasons. Some people are there for a lifetime; like those friendships that last for years and years and have their healthy doses of great times, challenges, conflicts, resolutions and memories. You know exactly who those people are, and you freaking love them. Some people are there for a purpose. We might meet someone who guides us from one challenging place in our lives to a solution. They have a sense of purpose in our lives. For example, we may meet someone after a break-up from a partner. You can call them a rebound or whatever, but in the end, they are helpful in guiding us away from that expired relationship and bring us forward to a new place. I don’t identify this as ‘using someone’ either. People come into our life for certain reasons and purposes, and it’s interesting to start identifying that and to view it as a positive process. Some friendships and relationships give us many lessons as well. Lessons can include beginning to know your worth, what you will and will not tolerate, what your boundaries are, what you expect in a friendship, what a reciprocal friendship looks like, and lessons on how you are growing as an individual.
It’s hard to see those lessons when you’re currently caught up in it, but as time goes on, losing friendships is just a part of growing up. I never really wanted this statement to be true, but over the last few years, I am getting more comfortable with the idea. I don’t need a lot of friends to be happy; quality over quantity any damn day. I’m not going to make time or space for people that wouldn’t do the same for me and I’m going to cherish those friends that play equal parts in the give-and-take. Balanced friendships are my jam now, and I would never have it any other way. I do not regret those friendships that were lopsided though, as they have taught me so much in my life and I am incredibly grateful for that.
If you’re currently going through a bit of a friendship break-up yourself, here are some tips that have helped me along the way.
Sit With It
It sucks, I know… I know it’s hard and it hurts. But these are your feelings and you are entitled to them. They are valid and you are valid and so are all of your concerns. Sit with your feelings and acknowledge them. Give them a name, hold space for them, and try not to judge them. Know that that it is temporary. Feelings are not facts, remember that.
Write it Out
Write out your feelings if sitting with them isn’t doing enough for you. I encourage you to write it out regardless, as some magical stuff can happen when you do. You might not even be fully aware of what you’re writing once you get started, but keep riding that wave until you begin to feel a release. Acknowledge your part in the friendship, make note of lessons you’ve learned and notice where you can improve as a friend. Visualize the types of friendships you want going forward and write out a list of what those qualities are so you can begin to attract more of that in your life.
Have a Chat
Talk it out with another good friend, a family member, a life coach or therapist. I recommend not getting friends involved that are within the same friend group. There’s no need to alter someone else’s feelings or try to manipulate the situation in your favour. Let that shit go within the friend group and speak with a third party in those instances. Expressing yourself and embracing vulnerability by talking it out with someone will have great shifts in your life and in your perspectives. You can even ask friends for constructive criticism, if that’s what you want. You can ask questions about where you excel as a friend, what might need work and how you can improve your relationships that are currently important in your life.
Have Strength and Trust in Knowing You’re Going to be Okay
This is tough and I get it. Be patient, be kind and be gentle with yourself. Having ups and downs is totally normal in this process. A great question I tend to ask myself is “will this matter in a year, or five years.” Most of the time, the answer is a solid “no.” Take the time you need to feel free from the situation and have confidence in knowing that this is all a part of your personal growth and beautiful journey.
Checking in with your values is an excellent way of seeing whether this friendship even aligns with you anymore. I've lost friends along the way in life simply because we've grown apart with respect to our values. When our values don't align within ourselves, we feel like we are stuck. So when our values are not aligned with our friendships, we can then feel stuck with these relationships and have several conflicts. Not everyone is going to have the same values of course, but when they are quite the opposite, we can sense that and feel tension. Sometimes we don't even realize how toxic a friendship was until we take time apart and look back on everything. This has come up a lot for me lately and sometimes it makes me upset, angry, disappointed...all because I can't believe I was in that and felt somewhat blinded by it all. It's okay though, you don't need to put yourself down for being in a friendship that didn't align with your beliefs, thoughts and values. Knowing where you are now is a sign of growth and understanding what kind of people you want in your life.
As I write this additional point on Values on July 10, 2020 ... I'm thinking about the state of the world at the moment. Throughout a global pandemic, anti-racist protests, Black Lives Matter & BIPOC protests, and a massive global movement ... you might have lost a few friends over the past few months. We're seeing a lot of people's true colours and beliefs. I've noticed people posting racist and ignorant comments belittling the movements and cause. I've seen people shaming others online, ultimately putting others down and perhaps trying to make themselves feel better? I've deleted and unfollowed many people because of this, and you may have, too. People are cutting ties with family, friends, loved ones. It's tough and it sucks. But at the end of the day, when you stay true to yourself, your values and your beliefs, you will feel confident and sure of who you are and who you will be open to sharing your life with in the future. You don't need to shrink yourself and throw away your values to maintain an unhealthy and toxic relationship.
As always: gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. Honestly, what post of mine does not include this! Gratitude is incredibly powerful and I encourage you to acknowledge all of what you have to be grateful for. Be grateful for the memories you had with this person and for the guidance this friendship brought you over time. Even though it’s expired now, it’s okay to still have fond memories and moments that make you laugh or smile. You don’t have to hate them at all. You can respect them, be grateful for the times you had together and gently move on. Forgiveness with that person and with yourself is so key. Also, share your gratitude with the friendships you have now that are awesome and give you life. Call up your friend and tell them why you love them and what you are most thankful for. Notice the qualities in those friendships that are working well and why those qualities and core values are in line with yours. It helps you to know what is most important for you in a relationship or friendship and to stick to your boundaries moving forward.
I hope this post helps you and that the tips work as well for you as they do for me. Sometimes, we may not get closure and that is something we will need to be okay with accepting. Acceptance and forgiveness will play two big roles for you during a friendship expiry process but I know you’ll get through this and persevere on the other side. Let me know how this works for you. If you have stories you would like to share, I am happy and grateful to receive. If you’re looking for further guidance, please send me a message or fill out a booking form and we can have a chat.