The dissolution of friendship has recently come hurtling into my view. The importance of friendship in our lives is common knowledge, as is the understanding that sometimes those relationships end, change or drift. Yet when circumstances lead things awry we are all quick to shout betrayal, but I wonder how often this is true?
There is a lot said about the over-expectation given to romantic relationships due to fairy-tale ideology. Narratives of romantic tragedy start a little later on in our learning, thus we grow with our books and not toward them. Is this the same case with friendship? Friends often seem to be the catalyst of romance and seemingly blend into the background. They get labelled betrayer and therefore they are in the wrong, truthfully, perhaps Brutus and Judas had their own manuscript in the making, their own life, personality and beliefs but the author found them a dull read.
We have all been or will be the betrayer at some point in our lives, just as we have all been or will be the betrayed. The true question is how do you deal with a breakdown of friendship? Our obsession for passion and love has overshadowed the vital need of companionship. Friendship is intense and can last far longer than romantic love, yet there is seemingly no set advice for the aftermath of its breakdown. When you fall out of love you can find sympathy in a thousand love songs and endless self-help literature, but what about when you fall out of friendship?
After a couple of years of persisting in a negative friendship, I finally snapped. I became exhausted, aggravated by the way she was and acted. I was adamant to remain by her side during her rough patch, but soon I realised it wasn’t a rough patch, she was simply changed. Completely content with the way she was and acted and… why shouldn’t she be? I was happy with who I was. Loyalty for the sake of loyalty is in itself disloyalty. I didn’t wish her harm, but I did wish myself happiness.
But like every relationship breakdown, it was a mixture of emotional recoil; guilt, regret, relief and contemplation. So here is my advice for dealing with the remaining turbulence:
Surround yourself with your positive relationships
It can sometimes feel like talking about being ostracised by a friend (or the act of cutting someone out) to another friend, is a lot like talking about a problem to the problem. You don’t want to brandish all your friendships as faulty. It is important to remember that the breakdown of relationships is often for the better of both parties, for one reason or another the initial thing that bonded you no longer exists, and each bond of friendship is unique: your relationship with one friend does not have to be the case for another. You will more than likely find a shared experience, confidence and positive feedback.
Get busy with clarity
In the process of knowing what you don’t want from a relationship, the focus upon what you do need is heightened. It is important to embrace this to follow your intuition to greener pastures. Get involved in new activities, is there something you always wanted to do but didn’t due to the negativity of your old friend? We often suppress our interests to fit in with our peers, even as we get older. Like the end of a romantic endeavour, we feel a new lease of life and we hurtle toward it. Do not underestimate the same desires at the end of a friendship. It’s the same idea- if you want something go and get it.
Dive into the Sea
Unlike romance, where it is often advised to love yourself before anyone else, starting a new friendship can aid this transition. Remember not all friendships have to be lifelong follies or intense loyalties. You can have a fling of friendship. This is not to say you don’t need a mourning period, after a particularly draining friendship you may find you are quite happy to have some “you” time in the newly found space you have; just because the number of friends you have has diminished does not mean it needs to be replenished. But if you find yourself on the route to self-discovery through new hobbies and passions, engaging with new people associated with these passions can aid personal progression. Don’t self-pity and self-exclude.
You may find that the reasons for your friend-breakup are reasons for personal development. This may be the acknowledgement of your own personality flaws, tolerance of others or simple self-love. Whatever the reason is, wrong or right party, remember the main thing to focus on is your future. You can be the person you wish to be. Take a moment to appreciate the goodness of your friendship and aim to (in time) look back with fondness and forgiveness. People change, in the future perhaps your relationship will rebuild, perhaps it will not. Like all things of the past you must let go, you are not losing out on your old life but instead starting fresh in the more developed skin of the you now.
Most importantly self-love. Whoever you are, it is who you are. Lavish yourself with some indulgence, respect and leeway. Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, do not grade yourself too harshly or take to self-pity or filling up on hatred. It will only cause you unhappiness and restrict you from moving forward.