Letting Go of Friendships for Your Mental Health
Letting go of friendships can feel even more difficult than letting go of a significant other. You may find yourself ending a friendship for a variety of reasons, but the process is similar to ending a romantic relationship.
Seek Clarity to Let Go of a Friendship
The first step in letting go of a friendship seems obvious, but without completing it, you might have a hard time letting go. Take time over several days to write out the reasons you’re letting that person or people go: have they lacked empathy or support during difficult times? Do they engage in abusive behavior or speech? Perhaps they spread gossip, manipulate people, or have habits you’re trying to move away from. Perhaps they're the ones who let you go, instead, with no chance to reconcile. Whatever the reasons, list them all in your journal. Then write a paragraph or two describing why those characteristics don’t fit in your life and why you’re letting go of these friendships.
Take a minute to switch to the opposite approach. List what you do want in a friendship, particularly qualities you aren’t willing to compromise on. Write a paragraph or two describing what life will be like when you have these great friendships surrounding you ("Heal From Abuse: Decide What You Want Not What You Don't Want").
Letting Go of a Friend Without Closure
Sometimes a friendship ends without a final conversation, and you must let go of the friendship without closure. If someone refuses to talk to you, consistently neglects to send a reply to your messages, communicates only through a third party, acts evasively when you try to make plans, or ghosts you, letting go can be hard. This situation happened to me recently with a group of people I’d formerly felt like family with. I so badly wanted to keep messaging them and try to find out what I’d done to upset them. I spent sleepless nights reading through all our most recent messages and reliving all our last get-togethers in order to find what I could’ve done differently, but still had no results.
This situation has been trying, but I’ve realized that this type of behavior is exactly what I need to let go of. I added “lack of open communication” to my list of reasons to let go of friendships. Imagining myself surrounded with only talented and honest communicators helped. With those types of friends, all difficulties or unpleasant feelings could be discussed and solved easily.
In all honesty, letting go of these friendships without closure has proven difficult for me. I still often wish I could reach out and find out what’s caused the separation, but I consistently return to my reasons and remind myself that those friendships were not, in fact, of the caliber I require. The simple lack of honest response lets me keep that reminder at the front of my mind. At this point, no matter the reason for the distance between us, their lack of ability to discuss it with me is reason enough to move on.
I still struggle with letting go of friendships without closure, but as time goes on the impact of losing those people feels less sharp. As I add more friends who do embody the qualities on my list, I feel cheerful about the friendships I do have, rather than agonizing over those I’m letting go.
Meredith, M. (2019, May 26). Letting Go of Friendships for Your Mental Health, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingablissfullife/2019/5/letting-go-of-friendships-for-your-mental-health
Author: Morgan Meredith
Addressing that a) ending a friendship can be almost more difficult than a romantic relationship and b) it may have to happen without closure are both such important things to realize. Closure is often one of the biggest things we seek when a romantic relationship ends but this isn't always the case, or more difficult to obtain when ending a friendship. I love your suggestions to take time and reflect on why you're stepping away from the person or persons and how that impacts your life positively.
Thanks Lizanne - happy this made an impact! It was one of the more difficult posts I've written in a while, since that hunger for closure can really send me into an unhealthy loop.