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How To Stay Friends After A Break Up If You Don’t Want Them Out Of Your Life

My best guy friend is also my ex high school sweetheart. It was not a pretty breakup — any of the times we split. But somehow, from the ashes of the scorched earth, we did it. We turned our romance into a bromance for the ages. I’d like to say that I was the emotionally mature party who resurrected the relationship but, nah. If I’m honest, it was totally him who taught me how to stay friends after a breakup, and I will always be grateful for that. I can’t even imagine not having him has my ride-or-die now.

As Erica Gordon, dating expert, founder of The Babe Report, and author of Aren’t You Glad You Read This? points out, people tend to date people they enjoy spending time with. My ex and I had a ton of things in common, and we had a lot of fun together. “ you and your ex had a lot in common, enjoyed similar activities (other than sex) and your personalities didn’t clash, a friendship just might work,” Gordon tells Elite Daily. It would be a shame to lose that from your life just because you don’t want to make out any more, right?

However, Gordon warns if you do still secretly have residual feelings, then consider putting the brakes on rekindling a friendship. “Stay friends if you don’t have an agenda such as ultimately getting them back, or an agenda of keeping tabs on them so that you’re the first to know when they might be interested in someone else,” she warns. But here’s the good news: If you are actually over the romantic part of your relationship, you don’t have to forfeit that friendship forever.

“If your relationship was healthy and non-toxic, and you truly loved them as a human being, then it’s natural to want to stay friends with an ex so that you can keep them in your life in some capacity,” says Gordon. “Many people describe their partner as their best friend, so breaking up can feel like losing your best friend. Nobody wants to lose someone who uplifted them or added value to their lives in ways that weren’t just sexual.”

While it might feel like you’ll never be able to be friends again (especially right after a breakup), having a genuine and fulfilling friendship with an ex can often be possible, as long you do it for the right reasons.

Here’s how Gordon says you and your ex can turn your heartbreak into a lifelong friendship, so that when you say “Let’s just be friends,” you can mean it.

1. Make It A Clean Break

If you want to have any hope of rekindling a friendship with your ex, the most important thing to do is make sure your breakup is as clean as possible, since that can help make the healing process go more smoothly. That means trying to avoid talking badly about them, getting into ugly fights, or saying hurtful things you might not mean. This is essential, says Gordon. “You can be friends with your ex if both of you no longer harbor any romantic feelings for each other, and as long as the relationship wasn’t toxic or abusive. In order to be friends, it’s also crucial that you no longer feel resentful, hurt or angry toward them,” she explains. In many cases, some hurt feelings are unavoidable, but there are ways to help mitigate the worst of it.

2. Mute Them On Social Media

If you want to heal and be friends with your ex in the near future, Gordon says it’s best to disengage on social media. “It requires a lot of self-discipline to avoid stalking your ex’s social media. It’s unhealthy, and muting them on social media will help. Think about how many more productive, healthy activities you could be doing instead of stalking your ex on social media,” she explains.

While you have the option to delete or block them completely from — and if that’s what feels right, don’t be afraid to do it — you can also take a softer approach by muting them. After all, nobody needs the stress of watching an ex move on, but straight-up blocking them on social media might be the kind of clean break you’re not willing to make at the moment. In the aftermath of a breakup, no one could blame you for wanting to scorch some virtual earth, but there are options to soften that approach in the hopes of a friendlier future. Instead, muting them saves you both the front row to their post-you life, and the awkwardness of sending them a friend request later when you’re ready to be buds.

3. Spend Some Quality Time Apart

This one is just as (if not more) important as the clean break. Spend some “quality time apart” and take some time to heal and move on. “Many relationships actually started as friendships. Perhaps the romantic relationship didn’t work out, but if you started as friends, it might work to go back to being just friends. Always take some time apart to get over the lingering romantic attachment, though,” says Gordon. “Take as much time as you need,” she adds. It’s always amazing when that day arrives that your feelings, once so strong, have suddenly up and gone. That’s a sign that you’re free to rekindle a friendship with your former flame. Just be prepared, when you do reach out, that your ex may need a bit more time to get there, too.

4. Be Real With Yourself

Before you decide to make first contact, Gordon says to make sure to take a beat and really get honest with yourself. Why are you doing this? Is it just a sincere desire to be platonic friends with your ex, or are you secretly hoping that sparks will fly again? If it’s the latter, then hit pause, because you might need more time.

“Your emotional self-inventory will help you check-in with yourself and ensure you aren’t holding onto hope you’ll get your ex back, feeding a toxic addiction by trying to stay friends, or holding onto an unhealthy attachment,” says Gordon. Anything less than total realness with yourself is a recipe for heartbreak.

5. Plan Hang-Outs Thoughtfully

So, the time has come: You’ve done some reflecting, and you feel ready to enter the friend zone. If that’s the case, plan your first hang carefully, says Gordon. “Hang out in public settings, not alone,” she advises. It’s also probably a good idea to avoid anywhere romantic, or that will trigger your (or their) feelings. It’s important to set a platonic and positive tone.

6. Play It Cool

When you hang out, Gordon suggests “keeping it light.” In other words, don’t make it weird. When you see your ex for the first time, you may feel a strong desire to rehash the past and process the breakup. Just don’t, advises Gordon. “Instead of rehashing the past, get to know each other again. Chances are, you’re different people apart than you were when you were together. When a person is newly single, they often re-discover who they are, figure out who they are without a partner, and discover new hobbies and interest. Get to know your ex all over again, because chances are, they’re different now,” she says.

In other words, even though you have a past, remember that you’re forming a new friendship and starting fresh, so treat it like you would any new friendship.

7. Avoid Flirting Or Hooking Up

If you want to make your ex your friend, treat them like one. According to Gordon, this means “zero flirting.” It has the potential to confuse them, or make them think you’re catching feelings again, which in turn might make them want to push you away. Either way, it’s not great, so make sure to keep the boundaries crystal clear by always treating them like you would any platonic friend.

Also, no hooking up. I mean it!

8. Have A Game Plan For Dealing With Any Jealousy That Might Arise

“Would the idea of your ex dating someone else send you into a frantic spiral of jealousy?” asks Gordon. “If so, you aren’t ready to be friends with your ex,” she warns. If that resonates, then give yourself some more time to heal before restarting the friendship. However, even if you know you’re ready, seeing them with a new partner for the first time can still be a little impactful. Go easy on yourself. Try not to beat yourself up and say you should’ve waited longer. At the end of the day, their life is separate from yours now, and they are allowed to move on.

This is why it’s good to have a jealousy game plan ready, since it’s possible to feel an unexpected twinge of pain when you see them with someone new on their arm. Remember: There’s a reason you two are no longer together. Try to focus on being happy for your friend rather than side-eying your ex.

Bonus tip: Stay out of their new relationship. If you really want to maintain a friendship, keep your opinions on who they date to yourself.

9. Stop Thinking Of Them As Your Ex

Yes, they’ve probably seen you naked and you used to draw little hearts with your finger on their back while they slept. (Just me? Whoops.) But the sooner you decide to start thinking of them as a friend instead of an ex, the sooner you’ll start to feel that way, too. Gordon suggests focusing on really getting to know who your ex is as a person. “Find out who they are without you. Be supportive of who they are without you. If they’ve discovered new hobbies or rediscovered old interests, be supportive of that,” she says. And make sure to introduce them to new people as just your friend.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to time, respect, kindness, and a determination not to make it weird. It might be hard at first, but with a little time and a whole lot of patience, you can do it.

14 Ways To Deal With Mutual Friends Breaking Up, Because It Ain’t Easy Being Switzerland

It’s spring. Your inbox is probably filled with save the dates and elaborate conversations about bachelorette party decorations, and it seems as if everybody is disgustingly in love. But this is also the time of year when the fallout from serious break-ups start to hit: According to a study of Facebook statuses, the February-March period is one of the most popular times of the year for breaking up among our generation — and it’s especially sticky if you’re a friend of both parties. The rush for long-term couples to get married can also prompt a push in the other direction, and suddenly you’ve got two heartbroken friends wanting to come over and weep on your couch while calling the other person an jerk. What’s a mutual friend in the middle of a breakup to do? It’s not easy.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a big fan of sharing friends with a partner. Even when this backfires (a boyfriend once left me for a friend I’d encouraged him to meet “because they had so much in common”) I maintain that it’s good policy to share friends in a relationship. But it can make life seriously awkward if you break up and friends feel the pressure to choose sides, slag off the other partner, or plan parties like war zones.

So how can you handle a two-friend breakup like a diplomat and avoid hurting anybody’s feelings? Very carefully, is the answer. Here are 14 tips.

1. Be Switzerland.

It’s one thing if there’s a clear wronged party — say, if one person has abused the other (or, in one memorable case in my friend group, had sex with somebody else at their partner’s birthday party). In most situations, though, you’ll want to stay neutral, giving each side full freedom to vent their feelings but not getting drawn into any declarations of loyalty one way or the other.

2. Don’t diminish either person’s pain.

Breakups hurt — and science has shown that the pain is seriously physical as well as mental. Even if you haven’t had a break-up since 8th grade, it’s still important to be affirming that they’re really feeling the way they’re feeling, rather than telling them to “stop wallowing” — or, worse, implying that the other person is coping better than they are.

3. Don’t act as a go-between.

In international relations, this concept is called “shuttle diplomacy,” where a mediator goes back and forth between two parties working on some kind of reconciliation (or just starting some sh*t). This is not your job. Don’t agree to carry any messages or “tell them something” when you next see the other party.

4. Remember that pre-relationship loyalties are important — but not contractual.

Just because you were “friends first” with one half of the couple doesn’t mean you are instantly required by the friendship code to be on their side in a break-up. You are allowed to make your own decisions about whether you want to maintain a friendship with the other party.

5. Give equal time, if you can.

If you’re friends with both mates, then it’s only fair that they both get equal amounts of your time while hashing out the details and getting comfort. (If they don’t want that, don’t force it to make yourself feel better. It’s just an idea.)

6. Try to hear both sides.

Chances are that both parties have grievances. Even if it seems pretty clear-cut, don’t shut off a partner who’s cheated, for instance — if they really want to talk and explain themselves, you should at least give them a chance to do it.

7. Let them reflect.

Both sides will need to talk about and rehash the relationship a bit, whether with you or on their own. There’s a good scientific basis behind letting them do this: studies have shown that more reflection helps people get over break-ups faster. So a certain amount of wallowing is more than allowed.

8. Don’t talk trash.

If you don’t agree that the other person is actually a “f*cking raging psycho with a control complex,” you don’t need to agree or join in. Sometimes it’s a way to make the person feel closer and more bonded to you — if you both make the ex into a monster, you’re doing something psychologists call “othering,” both making the ex less than human and bonding together.

Instead of joining the party, you can just say soothing things instead, like “I’m sorry you feel like that, that sucks”.

9. Avoid leaking information.

Want to make everything as bad as possible? Feed each side titbits to keep the drama going. “I saw XYZ at a party and he/she was hanging with ABC!” Nope. This is not middle school. Resist the pressure to obtain info for either side — you are not a double agent. Keep any responses to interrogations short and sweet. “Did you see her/him? How are they?” “Good.” That’s it.

10. Try to keep your own agenda out of it.

If you think they broke up for stupid reasons, should never have gotten together, or just want to set one of them up with your brother, too bad — keep your mouth shut. Your friends need to sort this one out for themselves. Respect their opinions and choices, and do your best to make sure their decisions make them happy.

11. Be smart about your white lies.

Diplomats and people in tricky negotiations understand that honesty can sometimes thwart a happy outcome. Occasionally, the truth and diplomacy are completely different things. Look at every choice carefully: if you lie to one friend about seeing their ex for coffee because you don’t want them to feel neglected, that may be comforting in the short term, but how will it damage your relationship in the long term?

On the other hand, does Ex 1 really need to know that Ex 2 is weeping every night/moved on immediately with a hotter person? Future happiness can sometimes be more important than stark, unvarnished truth.

12. Don’t compare new partners to your friend.

Resist any urge by either partner to draw you into comparing a new flame to the old ex. Maybe they are cuter, happier, smarter, and don’t have that stupid haircut — but that person is your friend and requires your respect, as does their previous relationship.

13. Draw boundaries.

There are certain things that are not OK in friend-friend breakups. Either side berating or guilting you into “picking” them, pressure to carry messages or provide information from the other party, having screaming matches in your space — all are unreasonable and can meet with a firm “nope”. Which leads me to …

14. Know that you can always break-up with either party, too.

Equally, if one partner has behaved so badly in the breakup (even when given chances to explain themselves, and the full benefit of your friendship) that you really don’t want to be friends with them any more, you have the right to draw that boundary, too.

Images: HBO; Giphy

How To Break Up With Someone and Stay Friends

Breakups are arguably one of the worst parts of life as a physical human. We associate them with incredible pain and loss. They threaten our sense of connection, which is the number one need we have. But a big part of this is that we have an idea about how ‘breakups’ should look and to be honest, that expectation we have is based on watching unconscious people separate and destroy each other specifically in order to avoid their own shame. But there is another way. There is a way to end one type of relationship with someone that feels bad and maintain another type of relationship with him or her that feels good.

Before we get any deeper into HOW to go about doing this, I must tell you that I have had many breakups over the course of my life with friends and colleagues and family members and employees and also romantic partners. Some of those breakups went terribly. They went exactly how you would expect the worst kind of break up to go. And others went incredibly. I have many people who no longer work with me or for me that I am very close to. My former fiancé’ has now lived with me in the same intentional community for sixteen years and through many ups and downs, we are closer than we have ever been. My former husband and the father of my son is also still an intentional community member of mine. We spend time together every single week and are strong advocates for each other’s wellbeing as well as our son’s. And believe it or not, the two of them are super close to each other as well. Because of all of this experience, I have worked out the variables regarding how and why it works and how and why it doesn’t. And I’m going to tell you in this episode how to make it work. Though all the following points apply to whatever kind of relationship you have, I am going to tailor them towards break ups of a romantic relationship.

  1. Make sure that you actually want to be friends and that this is a genuine commitment. Genuine friendship is based on love. It is a love where you take the other person as a part of yourself and you genuinely are committed to their wellbeing and love for who they really are. So many people say they want to be friends, when what they really want is to buffer themselves against the consequences of ending a relationship. When this is the case, it’s totally self-serving. It is done for self-preservation sake alone. This is the opposite of true friendship as it is a guarantee that the minute you find another way to feel good and safe, you will simply abandon your commitment to relating to this person as if they were a part of you and you will start to play zero sum games.
  2. Get it out of your head that success in relationships means longevity. Even if most people would wish that their relationships would last happily ever after, some relationships are not meant to. So we need to keep this as a desire, not a fixed expectation. So much of the pain of breakups is about how we thought it was supposed to go vs. how it did go. There are all kinds of reasons for someone to enter your life or play a role in your life for a time. Longevity is not the definition of a good relationship. Plenty of people are able to maintain perfectly miserable marriages and friendships and business partnerships for years upon years and even until they die. The definition of a successful relationship is a relationship that enhances the wellbeing and growth and happiness and fulfillment of both people involved. It feels like a win-win. A healthy relationship is positively interdependent. All relationships at this current time in human evolution face conflict and challenges and are better at some times than others. But maintaining a relationship that does not enhance your wellbeing because you are holding on to the idea that relationship success is about longevity is not relationship success.
    Also it is possible for two people to really love each other and for the relationship and love to be very real and for the relationship to come to a point where it must transition. So we need to also get rid of the idea that if a relationship or love is real, it will last and so if it doesn’t, it isn’t. There is no good reason to devalue a relationship if it ends or to consider it a mistake if it ends. The fact that we base the value of our relationships on how long they last is not reflective of the reality of their value. Instead, it is merely reflective of our desire for them to last. Some of the most valuable relationships we may encounter in our lifetime may just be with someone we sat next to once on a train.
  3. Do not expect a transition to be without pain. People often get interested in conscious break ups or un-coupling because they imagine that doing so will make the break up painless. I have never found this to be the case. Human beings are predisposed to bond and connect. An attachment with another being is akin to an emotional home. It is our greatest source of safety as physical humans. Any transition of a bond will at least initially cause insecurity about it. Consciously transitioning a relationship does prevent relationship rupture and it does significantly reduce pain, but it does not eliminate it. Prepare instead to face whatever pain does come up; most especially painful patterns within yourself, and to consciously face it together. After all, if there were no pain inherent in the situation, breaking up wouldn’t be a consideration in the first place. That being said, a break up is an opportunity to completely re-write your life. It is an opportunity to start new and create a new life that is in alignment with your highest personal truth and desires.
  4. Relationships do not end. They simply change. For example, if you break up with someone and it goes horribly and you decide you want nothing to do with each other, that other person doesn’t cease to exist. They may have simply shifted from a partner to an enemy. That’s still a relationship. This is why people who choose to do this tend to not call it a break up and instead call it a transition or a passage or a shift or an un-coupling. It’s important to get that any time you break up with someone, a relationship isn’t ending. It is changing. The question is into what? Your goal should be to get very clear about specifically what you want it to turn into instead. And if possible to get on the same page with the other person about that vision so you can work towards it together.
  5. It is not always possible to do this process of consciously breaking up so as to stay close and aligned in a different way with all people. There are ways that you can behave that will increase your odds exponentially, but a relationship still takes two. This means that for example, if someone unconsciously decides that it serves their sense of self to make you the enemy, they have stronger motive to create a typical ‘lovers to enemies’ break up than to transition the relationship lovingly.
  6. A relationships can look however two people decide they want it to look. We live in a world where there are very fixed and rigid rules about how things need to look. This of course changes from culture to culture. For example, we have an idea that a sexual relationship should be between two people (maybe even a man and a woman) and that’s it. We have the idea that we need to live in single-family households with only immediate blood family members and anything else is dysfunctional. We have an idea that if two people break up, they need to get away from each other and stop talking. The time has come to really question and potentially break these fixed and rigid rules about how things should look. Our wellbeing as a species depends on it. In order to decide what is right for you specifically when you are re-structuring any relationship, you need to get out of these boxes and realize that the way you are going to restructure a relationship and what you are going to transition it to should be unique to both of you. It should be whatever enhances your wellbeing. For example, my ex husband and I decided that we would stay living together. Another couple may decide that both of their wellbeing would be better served by moving into separate houses. One couple may decide to maintain a sexual relationship and simply open the relationship to other people. Another may decide to both not be sexual with anyone, including each other, for a defined period of time. One couple may decide to take a break from each other where they don’t have contact with the intention of coming back into contact in the future; another may decide to call or text each other every day at least in the beginning. There is no ‘one way’ it should or must look in order to have the un-coupling process go well.
  7. Transition slowly and carefully. Nothing is worse for conscious transitioning than sudden, immediate and non-mutually consented to change. For example, if the break up is happening because one person wants to be free to explore the world without having to answer to anyone and the other one wants a committed, available partner, that first person cannot get on a plane to climb Everest the next day and expect it to be ok. Sudden loss and sudden change creates a ‘severing’. It is this severing that creates shock and makes it so we can’t cope with the adjustment. Do what is necessary for both of you to feel ready and take each step that needs to be taken.
    That being said, you also can’t use this as an excuse to stall and avoid the parts of you that are resisting that change. In other words, transitioning slowly and in steps is not a way of keeping the other person locked into the relationship the way it was. It is a way to ensure that there will not be rupture in the relationship, only change. The process of a butterfly coming out of a cocoon must be careful and deliberate. If you just rip it off, it will damage the butterfly. The same goes for transitioning relationships.
  8. Breaking up or transitioning the relationship is usually scary for people, therefore it is a process that is likely to call up all of your vulnerabilities and therefore defenses. These defenses are what makes maintaining a positive relationship with the person hard or impossible. Usually, a break up causes us to feel like something is bad or wrong about us. It causes us to feel shame. We reason that if we were not bad or wrong, a person wouldn’t be breaking up with us. So, to save our own self-concept, we deflect that shame and begin a kind of ping pong match over whose fault the break up is and who the bad guy is. To understand more about this, I want you to watch my video titled: Deflection (The Coping Mechanism From Hell). We have to avoid doing this if we want to stay close while transitioning the relationship.
    Take a look at your defenses. What are they? Some of us may shut down and withdraw. Some of us may get angry. Some of us might bypass. If we want to transition well, the key is to stay in the vulnerability instead of in the defense of that vulnerability and share that vulnerability with each other. You would benefit greatly by having additional support from someone who is going to be an advocate for what you are trying to do and who can help you with your process relative to the transition. But I actually disagree with most experts who say that this should be a time to take care of your own feelings, not each other’s. The couples that I see do this process the very best are polite, thoughtful, generous and respectful of each other and take care of their own feelings, but they do this with the other person as well. In other words, they share and support each other’s vulnerabilities through the transition. For example, if you hit a wave of grief and you defensively say “you lied to me about having an affair” the person will probably say something defensive back like “you were always gone.” This isn’t vulnerability. Vulnerability is, “when you had an affair, I felt like I am never going to be good enough for anyone. That’s what I’m scared of right now… that every person I get with will think there is something greener on the other side.” This opens a window for the other person to support the vulnerability and even offer their own vulnerability so you can reassure them, instead of defend themselves and cause a rupture in the relationship.
    The bottom line is, you need to support each other’s vulnerabilities through the break up instead of fight for your own sense of rightness or goodness vs. their wrongness or badness. A big part of these vulnerabilities is the meaning we are assigning to the breakup. We need to bring this meaning we are assigning to what is happening to the other person instead of simply making those assumptions. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Meaning, The Self Destruct Button.
  9. We must take loving care of our feelings of rage, resentment and hatred so that they do not unconsciously orient towards the other person. These emotional states arise from feeling hurt. Any time we feel pain, we feel hurt by something. When we feel hurt, we tend to fall into hatred and resentment as a kind of coping mechanism. We use hate to stay connected to a person, it simply becomes a negative bond instead of a positive one. We also use it to attempt to justify disconnecting and maintain our positive self-concept. But doing so actually causes heartache to root itself deeper instead of resolve. For this reason, I strongly encourage you to watch my videos titled: Hatred (The Secret Cause of Hate), Why Love Turns To Hate, Resentment (How To Let Go Of Resentment) and Forgiveness (Radical New Approach To Forgiveness).
    Also, in a break up we may find ourselves slipping into self-hate. If this is the case, you would benefit by watching my video titled: Self Hate (The Most Dangerous Coping Mechanism). Rage, whish is also a common emotion in breakups is an emotion that can be changed into personal transformation energy. If you want to consciously transition a relationship and you feel rage, instead of directing that rage towards the other person, channel it towards creating change in your life. It can be like fuel for determination. Another way of putting this is, put it toward, “I’m not going to put up with this pattern in my life, this is never going to happen again” and use that energy to transform your beliefs, thought patterns and behaviors that contributed to the pain in the relationship that led to the breakup in the first place.
  10. In most breakups, each partner feels that the breakup is the other person’s fault. I have to say that it does actually only take one person to ruin a relationship. The idea that it takes two to ruin a relationship is false. It takes two to make it work because each party has free will. But because each party has free will, it only takes one to decide to disconnect or compromise the ‘link’ that is relationship. But this ‘fault finding’ process will lead you nowhere because even if a single person does compromise the relationship, it is usually because incompatibility is at the root of it all. What would make you enter into a relationship like this in the first place? A good way to stay away from finding fault in a breakup is to recognize this incompatibility that is at the root of the conflict. For this reason, it would greatly benefit you to watch my video titled: Incompatibility, A Harsh Reality In Relationships. Incompatibility is not about someone being right or wrong. It is about the differences in who we are and what we want. As long as you can avoid making the other person (or yourself for that matter) wrong for being who they are and wanting what they want, you can consciously face your incompatibilities with each other and decide what to do with them and it doesn’t have to be someone’s fault. This is what the irreconcilable differences clause is all about.
    Speaking of all this, taking responsibility for our part in the pain of the relationship is a critical part of the transition process. If we take responsibility, it will trigger the other person to do the same. It also empowers us because as much as it may suck to see, we can see the ways that we have been the source of our own suffering and therefore, how we can change that so as to not repeat the same pattern again. No matter how badly the other person behaved, focusing on what you do have control over, which is the ways you are responsible for any of the situation you find yourself in, is empowering as long as you don’t confuse doing this with sliding into fault or blame or shame. Even if the other person is 98 percent to blame, find and own that other two percent. Put your attention on that so that you can change, empower yourself and feel able to move forward in a different way. Become infinitely more committed to developing yourself than to defending yourself.
  11. Stay as far away from zero sum games as possible. A zero sum game will kill any relationship dead in its tracks and make the relationship completely and totally unsafe. Because it is so critical to never play a zero sum game if you want to maintain a positive relationship with someone post break up, I strongly encourage you to watch my video titled: The Zero Sum Game (What is a Zero Sum Game and How to End One). You must take the other person’s best interests as a part of your own best interests. What makes a relationship safe post break up is deciding together what to do given the incompatibility inherent in the current arrangement so that you can find what is the highest and best option for both of you. Communication is absolutely critical for this to actually work out. Most people are not psychic. They can’t just intuitively know what your best interests and needs and desires are. This means, you must communicate them and the other person must also communicate them so that even if it doesn’t feel like a win to break up, you can arrive at the next best win-win scenario for the both of you. Any agreements you make during this process such as promises and expectations and changes that are made must be focused around the best interests of both of you. A new relationship implies a new set of agreements.
  12. Surround yourselves with people who can be and will be on board with what you are trying to do. Try to get your social circle on board a well. Relationships are part of a larger network of relationships. When a relationship needs to transition, it impacts everyone in that social network. This means, do not begin to triangulate against the person. While it is tempting to cushion the impact of a breakup with other people’s validation for how bad the other person is, it makes it almost impossible to transition the relationship to something different and to keep your intertwined social groups intact. People do not need to turn against the other person to demonstrate their loyalty to you. Ask them to join you in your intention to transition the relationship instead of become enemies. Tell them they don’t need to take sides.
    There are plenty of people who will put more pressure on your relationship and help turn you against the other person and who, because of their own expectations about how a break up should look, will not be advocates for a new and different kind of arrangement. Though their intention may be good, fanning the flames of hatred and blame is not an effective way of helping someone to transition a relationship. Often, it can provide temporary relief and validation for separating, only to create long-term scars and pain. Really limit your exposure to these people until you feel strong enough to not be effected by them or their opinions. Choose to be around people who will be advocates for holding that space where both of you are still close, just in a different way. Choose people who will help you to choose the right arrangement for you both, no matter how un-orthodox that arrangement may be. Yes, this means surround yourself with conscious people who really care about maintaining connection and creating genuine peace.
  13. Make amends and generous, loving gestures that will clear the bad blood and mend the damage done however possible.
    Have the clear intention of resolving what is unresolved so that you can move forward into a different kind of relationship. The feeling you are going for with this one is to try to establish a feeling of “completion” with regards to what is still in turmoil and what tensions are still churning between you. What would actually help to repair the damage they did to you or you did to them? You can’t un-do the past, but you can learn from and correct mistakes, take steps to clean up what has happened and establish a totally different way of doing things moving forward.
  14. Figure out where you DO align and make that the foundation of your new relationship. To make this process work, it has to be about the future, not about going back to what was before. It must form around a mutual intention. Craft this intention. When we break up with someone, we are totally focused on where we don’t align. Knowing that, to build a new relationship, we need to build it around where the alignment does exist. For example, alignment may be wanting to be family members still. Or it may be the shared goal of being lovingly united co-parents. Or it may be a specific hobby. Or it may be a common world vision. Then you focus on and build your relationship and make decisions and agreements with this area of alignment as your focus. Your new relationship will begin to mutate around that. To give you one example, a couple I know both love sailing more than anything and they have a daughter. When they decided to transition, they decided their areas of alignment were their mutual goal of raising their daughter as well as sailing. They moved into their own apartments, but they kept their island house and boat together and they decided to take their daughter out sailing all together every month at least once and to spend holidays together still at the island house, which they alternate staying at on the weekends.
  15. Create a conscious transition or un-coupling ceremony with the person. You may choose to involve other people in this as well if you want to. These ceremonies can be beautiful. Rituals are important, especially for transitions. We have them for weddings and funerals and coming of age and promotions and significant holidays. This should be no exception. This paves the way for healthy closure and a new beginning. Let it be emotional. Do this ceremony when you both feel ready and make this ceremony personalized to you both.

Our long held assumptions about breakups and divorce are false. Even though it is difficult for us to hold space for the good and the bad at the same time, we need to learn to hold the complexity of valuing the beauty and gains in a relationship along side recognizing the pain and need for the relationship to change. If we can do this and we are committed to the pursuit of a more evolved, more conscious, peaceful and safe human society, conscious transitioning of relationships is the wave of the future. I, personally commend you for your commitment to this culturally creative change. It is possible to face heartbreak in a way where your heart is broken open to more love, greater authenticity and a life you are really meant to live. And I can personally tell you that if you manage to transition your relationships consciously, they will be stronger and bring you both more security and pleasure than you could ever currently imagine. If your relationship has broken, think of the broken pieces as a soon to be mosaic. You can put those pieces back together into a new relationship, which may just be more beautiful than the original work of art it was to begin with.

Your Couple Friends Called It Quits: Now What?

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Last year, Abbe Wright’s friend group was seemingly perfect. The 28-year-old from Brooklyn mainly hung out with her two best friends from high school, Sarah and Brittany, and their boyfriends, Peter and Patrick, respectively-it was a nice little fivesome. But at the end of the year, Brittany and Patrick broke up-and utter mayhem ensued.

“It was awful,” recalls Abbe, who explains that the breakup aftermath happened in two phases. “Brittany expected Sarah and I to have girl code and not see Patrick, ever. But we’re really close with Patrick, obviously, so we felt trapped. Then Brittany started requesting that little nuggets of info about her love life be edited down. It basically became, ‘Don’t tell Patrick that I’m fill-in-the-blank.’ The whole situation was exhausting and so stressful,” Abbe says.

Experts say that dealing with group dynamics after a friend split is a social situation that’s on the rise-in part because of today’s hookup culture. “What’s happening is that more people are hanging out in large groups and dating within the group because dating is so casual right now,” explains Carlin Flora, a friendship expert and author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Our Friends Make Us Who We Are. Here, the three most common post-friend-breakup scenarios-and how to deal with each.

Scenario #1: You Feel Pressure to Take Sides

You don’t have to engage in a friendship custody battle to be supportive to both parties-all you have to do is communicate. The key is to be honest and respectful, and to not sneak around in secret. “Chances are, you may naturally gravitate toward one party a little bit more than the other, and that’s okay. But whatever you do, be sure to say something to both friends like, ‘I understand that it may be difficult for you if I still hang out with Mark occasionally. But I have a good relationship with him too and I want to maintain it-I hope you realize this doesn’t take away my support for you,” advises Andrea Bonior, a clinical psychologist and author of The Friendship Fix. Your friend may be a little hurt at first (“I can’t believe she’s still hanging with my ex!”), but ultimately, those feelings are rooted in confused breakup pain-and your pal will realize that once he or she emerges from the breakup tunnel.

RELATED: How to Heal a Broken Friendship

Scenario #2: You Want to Stay Out of the Negativity

Often, in the throes of a breakup, both parties will vent about the other. A lot. And this can create a rather, um, fired-up environment. In fact, the toxic vibe can be so strong that it can cause you to want to run under a hill and hide rather than support your buds. That’s what happened to Alison, a 33-year-old from Manhattan. “In my heart of hearts, I wanted to be there for both of them, but it was so intense that I also just wanted to bolt and not deal at all,” she admits. The best advice? Don’t avoid your friends-they need you more than ever. Rather, stay neutral by just offering to listen. “Say, ‘I’m here for you, and I get that it helps to vent. But I think it’ll be most helpful if I just listen,'” Bonior advises. Chances are, they’ll be just as happy using you as a sounding board. This way, you won’t jeopardize your friendship with either person-and it’ll be easier to maintain both relationships over time.

Scenario #3: Your Friendships with Both Parties Feel Awkward

When two of your closest friends split up, you’ll find yourself dealing with unexpected side effects, like the whole group email thing. What used to be a quick and easy “send” now turns into: “Who do I include on the list?” Even though you know that they’re going through substantial pain, a part of you may resent them for ending an era for all, says Flora. But just because things won’t be the same doesn’t mean they won’t be good. Your best bet is to give it time; hold up on the group activities until they have time to heal and decide how to handle the new setup. “Establishing the new normal doesn’t happen overnight. Your friends may even feel too sad or stressed to socialize-even alone-in the ways that they used to,” explains Bonior. Be patient, and over time, you’ll figure out what they need from you. In Abbe’s case, Brittany recently started dating a new guy, and she’s been bringing him to group hangs-even with Patrick there. “It’s definitely still a little awkward, but everyone is trying to be mature. I’m just thrilled that we can all hang out again. Things will never be the same as they were, but that’s life, and we’re making this new dynamic work,” she says.

*Names of Abbe’s friends have been changed for privacy reasons.

  • By Annie Daly

How to heal if you’ve been dumped by a friend

Dr. Benjamin Ritter, founder of Live for Yourself Consulting and The Breakup Supplement, says that losing a close friend can feel like you are losing a part of yourself and that there are a few immediate things you can do to help yourself heal.

  • Box up the old memories. “First, get rid of your memories, at least for now. Anything that reminds you of your ex-friend will feel like a slap in the face,” says Dr. Ritter. “You need to get rid of your photos, gifts, avoid your favorite hangouts, at least for now to give your mind a chance to get used to that person not being around.” This felt familiar as I’ve done this before with exes. But this time, it meant getting rid of clothing that I borrowed from that person, pictures that were all over social media, and even birthday gifts that were given to me. It was hard to let these things go, but what was even harder was unfriending her on social media. I knew that I had to, not just because I didn’t want to look at her life without me in it, but because she was still liking things I posted on Facebook and Instagram, as if our friendship was still going strong. Unfriending her online was the right thing to do since she pressed the unfriend button offline.
  • Stay busy. The next thing that Ritter advises is to fill up your free time. “If you spent a lot of time with your ex-friend then you’ll have a lot of empty time available,” says Ritter. “Fill that time with things you know you enjoy. If you don’t, you may find yourself feeling lonely and focusing on the fact that your friend decided to move on.”
  • Conduct a friendship inventory. I made it a point to do a “friendship inventory,” making a list of all the people I considered close friends. Next to their names I wrote down one nice thing I could do for them that month and also reached out to make plans with them, whether in-person if they lived nearby or via Skype if they lived far away, to make sure that our friendship was maintained. After losing a close friend, I wanted to do everything I could to make myself a better friend to those that I cared about.
  • Don’t take it personally. The last thing Ritter advises is the hardest. “Don’t personalize this. It can be easy to think that if your friend broke up with you, something is wrong with you,” he says. “If you mistreated them you really need to reflect on your actions and self, but the majority of the time in friendship breakups it’s just that your friend is on a different path than you. It’s not personal and has little to do with who you are, more so, who your friend wants to be.” One thing I did to make sure I remembered this was to do an evaluation of my life and also the qualities that I know I bring to any friendship, plus the ones that I look for in friendships. This helped me understand that quite possibly, one of the reasons why I was broken up with was because our lives were moving in different directions and we shared different values when it came to friendship.

What’s the best way to break up with a friend?

The more I told people (other friends and co-workers) what happened to me, the more I realized that not only was I not alone, but that plenty of people have been on both side of the conversation, even as the friendship enders. Which made me think: when the time comes to end a friendship, what’s the best way to do it so that the other person is able to move on quicker and not feel so broken?

Weena Cullins, a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT), says it’s important to end relationships that have become unhealthy to avoid fostering bitterness or resentment.

The first step in doing that, Cullins says, is with the truth.

“Sometimes true friends are the only people who are qualified to point out our blind spots, shortcomings and hurtful behavior. Be honest with your friend about your reasons for wanting to break up versus walking away without having the hard conversation,” says Cullins. “Your bravery just might help them develop self-awareness and make corrections for future relationships.”

The other technique she suggests is talking about the bigger picture and explaining your decision.

Friendships are about the dynamic that two people help create; not just one person’s behavior.

“Friendships are about the dynamic that two people help create; not just one person’s behavior. Acknowledge your behaviors and personality traits that contributed to your decision to break off the friendship,” says Cullins. “Your friend will appreciate your objectivity and may be able to receive your feedback with a less defensive posture.”

Almost a year later, I think about that ex-best friend on a weekly basis and wonder what I did to make her want to end our friendship. While I may never get my answers, the experience has been a learning opportunity, reminding me to continue to put effort into being a good friend to those I care about in my life, and teaching me what not to do should the time come when I am the one doing the unfriending.

More from BETTER

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  • The secret to stronger friendship: Try this to build better bonds
  • How to spot (and deal with) an energy vampire

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Watching a friend go through a split isn’t easy; it can be difficult to know how to make yourself available. Here’s how to help a friend through a breakup.

Let’s face it, break-up’s happen, and the second most popular time of the year for people to break up is two weeks before Christmas. Yes, that’s right. It appears that folks who call it quits at the holidays feel like they’re doing you a favor. They just want to be honest and true to their feelings.

Or, it’s the only comfortable way they know to overcome the relationship pressures of the season. Expectations of expensive gifts, engagements, or possibly: they only intended a summer fling that carried on too long. Whatever the case, for a thinking feeling person, breakup’s can be rough.

All relationships are negotiated and if you begin with a common understanding of what you both want then you can bypass a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and hard feelings. Unfortunately, there remains the pesky fact that so many people either just don’t know what they want or are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for fear of being rejected. So, those unwanted holiday break-ups just might be inevitable.

If someone you know is working through a break up, here are a five pointers to make the experience a little easier. Read on to see how you can help a friend through a breakup.

Ask What Your Friend Wants or Needs from You.

It’s important to ask what your friend wants or needs from you. While in your mind, they may be served well by your expert advice, they may not need or want it. Relationships and the break-up/ grief process that follows is a karmic experience. Meaning, how a person relates to what has happened is usually much more important than the relationship itself. Everyone is attracted to entering into relationships for reasons that are obvious but oftentimes are un-apparent. The relationships we enter into teach us something about ourselves every time and therefore hold immense value.

In order to be an expert in the needs of your friend, it’s imperative that you be able to empathize with the spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical need your friend had in going through this experience and be willing to see it from their prospective rather than your own. So, ask your friend what they need from you and how you can best support them, then take the time to think about what you have to offer. Creating a meaningful connection over a shared interest or topic can be the place to start.

Be Clear About the Time & Energy You have for Listening.

The next step is being truthful with yourself about the time and energy you have to offer someone who is grieving a loss. Grief for the bystander can sometimes be taxing, especially if you don’t understand or can’t align with the break up at hand. It’s easy to judge someone as having made a bad decision by entering into a relationship that you could see the end coming a mile away. As a friend, it’s not your place to judge, criticize or be-little your friend for information you feel they should have had.

If these are the feelings you find yourself having, it’s best to let your friend know that you are unable to help in this situation and then consider if there is any other way you can be supportive. Saying something like, “Hey, I care for you, but I am not the one to be able to listen or talk with you about what happened. What I can do is take you to a movie, help you around the house, or go for a run with you.”

Or, if the truth is, you really just don’t want to be around your friend, then say that. It’s okay to say, “I am having a hard time watching you go through this.”

Don’t Feel Locked in to Helping, But If You Do: Think of Your Friend’s Feelings, Not Your Own.

A person who is struggling with rejection and is grieving a loss will do better with your open honesty than passive aggressive avoidance. Their spirit is busy finding the answers to what happened in the relationship they’ve just separated from and don’t need further confusion or loss created by your discomfort. Ultimately, this kind of honesty can only make your friendship stronger.

There is no shame in not being able to support someone how they need to be supported. It is far better to take yourself off the call roster if you’re not going to answer the phone. I have a tendency to run from people who say, “Call me anytime, night or day.” Because the truth is, maybe they’ll answer, or maybe they won’t. When you call they may not be available or in fact, may not want to be available.

Whatever the case, the emotional skin of someone who is grieving a loss and rejection will be hyper sensitive to any disappointment. It’s best not to set up an expectation that is not possible. If you’d like to extend this offer to a grieving friend. Say something like, “Feel free to call me. And I’ll be sure to get back as soon as I’m able. I really want to speak with you about what you’re going through.”

This way everyone wins. You’ve been honest about availability and your friend knows how much you care.

How to Listen & Set Boundaries in a Breakup.

Everyone knows someone with a new boy or girl friend every month—maybe a friend, colleague or co-worker. With that much relationship negotiation going on, there’s bound to be some fall out. As a friend or confidant to this person, it’s important to be able to set kind yet firm boundaries. When someone is recovering from a major rejection, one that maybe for you, as a witness to their life, seems more like self-sabotage or a consistent unresolved life pattern, it can become tiresome for the person supporting the loss.

This is a delicate situation to say the least. Remember, for the person experiencing the loss, the pain is very real. You, as an outsider, may have some objectivity that your friend does not have, so it’s vital for you to listen with compassion or be kind enough to be honest.

Honesty may entail letting your friend know that you’re unequipped with the time or energy to go through the grief process with them, or that if you do spend the time and energy, you are going to be honest with them on your thoughts and feelings. Most of all that you love them and wish them well.

Are You a Friend or a Healer During Breakups?

A friend listens or says what you want to hear, a healer tells you what you need to hear. There are times in our lives where the circumstances are set up for us to experience a loss completely on our own. It’s truly one of the most amazing experiences to have worked through a loss or problem for yourself.

When we bring others into our grief, often we are sharing our grief with them. Literally, they share in processing the grief we have. It’s an enormous job to put on someone to help you with your grief, and it is one of the greatest acts of love and trust to take someone’s grief and help them to process it.

If you’re a friend, these are the things you can do to help during the breakup:

    1. Actively listen and respond with empathy and compassion.
    2. Offer to participate in distracting activities like hiking, shopping, movies, or a visit to the spiritual place of their choice.
    3. Help your friend with their responsibilities; i.e., house cleaning, car maintenance, food preparation, or anything else that may get swept under the rug in times of grief.
    4. Do something thoughtful like; sending funny text messages, sharing funny videos, getting them a card or their favorite candy, or showing up on a lunch break with their favorite: Venti quadruple half caf with organic almond milk, topped with extra soy cream and cinnamon. It’s sure to bring a smile, no matter how fleeting.

If you’re a “healer” and they want your help during the breakup:

    1. Listen, digest, reflect, then give your opinion.
    2. If you’ve known them a long time, offer prospective on the part of their journey you’ve witnessed.
    3. Encourage them to treat themselves kindly and with respect. Times like these bring out the inner addict. Whatever you do, don’t criticize, because under no circumstances is it helpful. If your friend has a tendency to self-medicate with anything do your best to be present and offer other options like a spa day or afternoon of golf sans beer.
    4. If your friend does in fact have substance issues that bring you concern, consider where your most value lies. Being involved and invested in the relationship or taking a stand by not participating in the relationship. Ultimately it’s imperative to be honest and your honesty in this circumstance may possibly be the end to your friendship for a period of time. Staying involved and offering consistent, loving, alternate options may be the way to go depending on the severity of the situation.

When romantic relationships don’t work out, the resulting break-ups are always difficult for people to deal with. Yet the support of a good friend can make all the difference. We hope you can use some of these ideas when helping a friend through a breakup.

About the Author:

Tracee Dunblazier

Tracee Dunblazier, GC-C, CCDC, spiritual empath, shaman, educator, author and speaker is based in Los Angeles, California. Tracee specializes in grief counseling, energy dynamics, Shamanic healing, past life and soul recovery, transition strategy, addiction transformation, and space clearings. In 2015, Tracee founded GoTracee Publishing LLC and BeASlayer.com to publish a new hybrid of self-help, memoir, and spiritual book to access a wider audience of spiritual seekers. As a multi-sensitive, Tracee blends information that she receives intuitively with different modalities to create a unique healing plan for every client. Every session is focused on freeing the client from their presenting issue to release, empower, and heal – no matter what the condition. Tracee’s compassionate, humorous, down-to-earth style supports and empowers clients as tender topics are addressed during the session. An accomplished author, Tracee has written two books on the topic of personal soul excavation and deep healing from soul to body. Book one: The Demon Slayer’s handbook: A Practical Guide to Mastering Your Inner World addresses inner mental, emotional, and spiritual mastery through self-awareness and spirit guide communication. Book two: The Demon Slayer’s handbook: A Practical Guide to Self- Healing and Unconditional Love empowers cultural awareness and understanding through looking at the concept of past lives and soul imprints. Tracee’s published articles cover many subjects related to spirituality and relationships while her blog breaks down current events and daily energy dynamics that everyone experiences. Tracee’s been a guest on many prominent television and radio programs informing others about spirituality and sacred ritual practices. Tracee teaches workshops, webinars, and offers two online courses on the DailyOm.com. As well as speaking engagements touching on subjects like grief, death & dying, unconditional love, self- acceptance, and healing. Contact Tracee at TraceeDunblazier.com

Breakups will always suck. It doesn’t matter if the relationship ended with a dramatic fight or a carefully navigated and loving conversation—the aftermath can convince someone that she will never know happiness or find love again. (False on both counts.) This can be especially hard to watch when it is your friend going through a breakup: You know she’s awesome and she’ll find love again, but she’s still crying into a glass of pinot grigio and deleting pictures of her ex off her Instagram every night. It’s often painful and confusing to adjust to life as a single person, but everyone gets by with a little help from their friends, right? Here’s what to say to a friend going through a breakup—and what not to say, too.

1. “You’re allowed to be sad.”

Sometimes people feel ashamed by the depth of their sadness post-breakup, especially if it was a short, intense fling or someone they know they’re better off without. Validating your friend’s feelings gives her permission to work through them and get closer to moving on. After you tell her it’s completely fine to be upset, explain that you’re always available to listen. “The best thing is just having someone listen to you as you talk your way through the sadness,” says Marie L., 26.

2. “I promise, you’re so much better off.”

The trick to making her believe this one is coming prepared with proof—otherwise it can seem generically insincere. “List concrete reasons they’re better off without the ex, like now they can move to the new city they’ve always wanted to try,” says Alana R., 26. It doesn’t even have to be something that monumental—anything that helps her realize there’s exciting potential in being single will do.

3. “You won’t always feel this way.”

It can be hard to remember the thrill of a new love when you’re mourning the loss of a previous one. “It’s helpful when a friend puts it in perspective,” says Cindy H., 25. “Heartbreak doesn’t last forever. You feel it, accept it, and eventually meet someone better.” Just be sure to say this one in an I’m-cheering-you-on way, because with the wrong tone, it can accidentally seem like you’re minimizing their feelings.

4. “It’s OK to have a bad day.”

“One day at a time” is a staple of 12-step programs, but the concept behind it works for heartbreak, too. Remind your friend of positive accomplishments and experiences happening in the here and now. Giving someone permission and space to grieve can help them find the energy to make the next day a little bit easier. “For me, having a declared one-day ‘grieving’ process is just what I need,” says Genevieve S., 24. “I get it out of my system knowing that tomorrow, it’ll be much better.” Of course, most breakups require more than one day of mourning, which is why this is a better approach than trying to ignore negative emotions.

5. “Rebounds are great (but only when you’re ready)!”

There’s no one-size-fits-all time limit for getting over a breakup, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be helpful to be reminded that dating and hookups can be a lot of fun. Lilli P., 32, says she got this advice from her mother, but in slightly more ribald language: “My mother has literally told me, ‘The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.’” Good friends will encourage you to enjoy life, whether that means dancing with a stranger, swiping like a maniac on Tinder, or taking time away from dating—whatever it takes to affirm that you were special and whole when you were single before and you still are now.

1. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!”

Genevieve S. nominated this response because it’s “just plain terrible” to hear in the midst of heartbreak. “In that moment, it trivializes the relationship that ended,” she says. “It makes it seem like you can move on quickly because it was nothing, and that’s not fair.”

2. “You’ll find someone else.”

Very similar to the above, but it’s worth noting that two women think this type of response is the absolute worst. Marie L.’s reason for hating this one: “Ugh. It’s so unhelpful. It’s the last thing I want to hear when I’m still in the stages of mourning the person I lost.” According to her, it’s basically the same as saying ‘Oh, sure, you can’t have the person you want, but you can have someone else.” Also, your distraught friend might look at you with tears in her eyes and be, like, ‘But how do you know?’ Then you’ll be heartbroken right along with her.

3. “They were an asshole anyway.”

Sure, it may be true, but your opinion might come as a surprise to your friend. “It’s, like, ‘Wow, how long have you thought I was stupid for liking him?” says Alana R. Instead, try reflecting some of her complaints about her ex back to her in a constructive way (and only on the days she actually wants advice, not when she just wants to cry/eat her feelings/generally indulge her sadness). Something like, “You’d always mentioned how mean he could be during fights. I know it hurts now, but you won’t ever have to deal with that again, and that’s beautiful.”

4. “You’re so much cuter than her.”

There’s no need to commit woman-on-woman crime when cheering up your bud. “Superficial things like who’s hotter or who’s dating more attractive people after don’t matter,” says Cindy H. “All that matters is that I was attracted to my ex, which is why I dated them in the first place.” Rather than focusing on how your friend stacks up to her ex’s new boo, explain how amazing she is all on her own. Tell her that even though you know she’s strong enough to get through this, you’ll be there for the totally normal moments when she doesn’t believe that herself.

5. “Couldn’t you have given them what they wanted?”

Compromise is essential in a healthy relationship, but there are some impasses that no one can’t be overcome —and that shouldn’t be questioned. “After a very difficult breakup—we loved each other, but he wanted children and I definitely did not—someone told me, ‘Well, you know, couldn’t you just have one kid, for him?’” says Jennifer P., 44, about a breakup that happened in her mid-30s. If the person you’re splitting from can respect your choices, your support system can do the same. Breakups that happen because two people want different things don’t have to get ugly, and there doesn’t have to be a villain. Don’t shame someone for knowing herself well enough to make a hard choice.

6. “Everything happens for a reason.”

This cliche is an infuriating thing to say to someone going through a difficult time. Hearing it can leave a friend feeling like you’re not listening at all. After her marriage dissolved, Stephanie S., 38, says that this was the exact opposite of what she wanted to hear. “It was dismissive of what I was feeling and the huge hole that was now in my life,” she says. “I was committed to spending my life with her,” and comments like this diminished the magnitude of her choice to get married and why she felt so devastated after the breakup. If you ever feel the urge to say this, stop yourself. Admit you’re not sure what to say, but that you support your friend and love them even when they’re sad. Tell them that in good times, too. You don’t need a reason to show a friend you value her.

How to Break Up With a Friend Without All the Drama

When someone mentions a breakup, a lot of things come to mind: sexless heartache, staring down the bottom of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, re-downloading dating apps, revamping your Instagram to indicate you’re single—all things associated with losing a lover. Less associated with this concept is the end of a friendship, but friendship breakups are very real, and can be just as painful and significant as ending romantic relationships.

It’s only natural that, as with lovers, some friendships have expiration dates—and that’s okay. Almost everyone has people they were once close with but no longer are. Sometimes, though, simply fading out a friend over time isn’t the approach that serves us best when it’s time for a friendship to end. We care (or, at least, used to care) for our friends—even those we no longer want in our lives, so some situations require more thoughtfulness—including, you know, actually talking to your friend about what’s going on.

Breaking up with a friend can seem, frankly, terrifying, but there are things you can do to make it less daunting—and ensure that ending a relationship is what’s best for you. Here’s some advice on how to figure it all out while keeping both your friend’s feelings and your own in mind, according to an expert.

How Do You Know if You Should End a Friendship?

Only you know the ins and outs of your relationship with a friend. Almost all relationships include conflict or at least disagreement, so it can be tough to know if the reason you’re thinking about ending your friendship can be changed or forgiven. You first need to establish exactly what is bothering you about a friendship. “The clearer of a sense that you can have about what’s upsetting you, the more clearly you can approach the other person and give them an opportunity to weigh in” before cutting things off for good, says Malika Bhowmik, a New York City–based mental health psychotherapist (LMHC). (There are, of course, scenarios where ending things swiftly without readdressing them is more than understandable: A friend who doesn’t ask you about yourself enough is not the same as one who’s low-key racist.)

The timing and frequency of your interactions is worth considering here, too. The cool thing about friendships is that they’re often more malleable than traditional romantic relationships. You can see someone a couple times a year, and another multiple times a week—both are your friends. In some cases, changing the form of or settings for your relationship may be all you need for this friendship to stop bothering you. For example, if you’re thinking of ending a friendship because you don’t want to babysit your friend who gets way too drunk every time you go out, see if you can start meeting them for lunch or coffee instead of hitting the club. According to Bhowmik, if you have feelings that you no longer want to be friends with someone almost every time you see them, it may just be time to do something about it.

All of that being said: You know your limits and your dealbreakers; respect them. You don’t have to “save” any relationship just because you’re trying to spare the other person’s feelings. Not wanting to spend time with someone is, on its own, a perfectly acceptable reason for deciding not to do that anymore.

How to Talk About a Friendship Before Deciding to End It

If the the person in question is someone you’ve been friends with for a long time or someone who has meant a lot to you, you may want to consider making a final effort before ditching the relationship entirely. (Although: You’re never obligated to stay friends with someone just because you’ve known them for a long time.) After all, there’s probably a reason you were friends with them to begin with.

Explaining what’s bothering you may seem scary if you’re wary of hurting other people, but it’s in fact a sign of kindness and respect. “Give them an opportunity to weigh in and see if what you thought was irreparable could be repaired,” says Bhowmik. While this process should recognize their feelings, it should also be beneficial to you. “If you want healing, then it does really seem important to create the opportunity for that,” she says, “And it can’t happen unless you work up the courage to share with them that there’s a lot going on inside of you, a lot of feelings that you have towards them.”

Bhowmik says that, while people often reserve partnered therapy for family and romantic partners, there could be a lot to gain from seeing a therapist with your friend. (If, of course, your friendship feels worth the time and financial commitment that something like therapy necessitates.) But, sometimes, even if you’ve tried to save your friendship, it’s not going to work. At this point, it may be time to directly end the friendship.

Do You Actually Need to Officially End Your Friendship?

We’ve all had friends we’re no longer friends with because we “got busy” and “grew apart” (…or faded them out deliberately), but to actually sit your friend down requires more effort. If we can end a friendship without having this uncomfortable conversation, is that a better plan than talking about it right up front?

“It has to do with who you are,” says Bhowmik. “If you want to be able to say I did everything I could, then you can’t really stand by that unless you gave them an opportunity to say something to you. It’s far more often that people downgrade their relationships or put more space between themselves and a friend.”

Having the difficult conversation about ending your relationship with a friend may also help you set boundaries. Your friend isn’t exactly going to get the message that they need to quit texting you every weekend if you’re trying to passively phase them out. So please don’t fully ghost your friends out of nowhere—unless they did something so awful you really can’t bear to speak to them again—it’s going to confuse your friend, and probably hurt their feelings.

How Do I End a Friendship?

Now, for the part you’re dreading if you’ve made it this far: actually ending the friendship. If you’ve either exhausted your options trying to make this friendship work or decided that this relationship isn’t even worth that effort…it’s time to do the deed.

Reach out to your friend and ask to meet up to discuss some feelings you’re having about your friendship. You don’t want to blindside them with a conversation this heavy by insinuating that this will be a normal hangout, and you’ve had time to prepare for this conversation, they should too.

Once you’re sitting down with them, remember that now is not the time to bash your friend or go on a rant about how awful they’ve been. Instead, enter the conversation with respect and compassion. Bhowmik suggests you start off on a positive note:

Share, first, how much this person has meant to you and why it is so heartbreaking or difficult to have arrived at a decision where it doesn’t make sense to sustain a friendship moving forward. It should be both parts a celebration of the friendship as it was, the connection that once was, the bond that had occurred and felt worth sustaining for whatever amount of time, and acknowledging that there’ve been ruptures or differences that could not be aligned or reconciled.

After sharing how much they’ve meant to you, you can say something like, “In the past few months, I’ve been so by in our friendship that it’s begun to outweigh the good parts, and it doesn’t feel sustainable to me anymore, or good for either of us.” If appropriate, take responsibility for your contributions to the deterioration of the friendship, and make sure that you’re not doing all the talking. Give them the chance to weigh in on how they feel and the ways that you may have hurt them, too—this should be a healing opportunity for them and you as much as is possible.

Communicate that, even if your friendship isn’t working, you still want the best for them and care for them (if true). “You may still care for them as a person and be able to see the good in them, but also feel that there is a difference you can’t see past,” says Bhowmik.

How to Deal With a Person’s Response to a Friendship Breakup

There are a number of ways your friend may react to this conversation. Perhaps they’re relieved, having wanted to end the friendship for a while. Maybe they’re hysterical or livid, or maybe just stoic. Put yourself in their shoes and understand that what they’re hearing isn’t easy. Let them feel their feelings and calmly, respectfully answer the questions they have.

They may, however, come at you with more than feelings, like demanding that you rethink this decision or promising to work towards improving your relationship. What you do next is up to you and depends just how fed up or frustrated you are. “It depends where you are on the spectrum of being decided or not,” says Bhowmik. “If there’s room in your heart to take in their question or response, if there’s a part of you that has desire to reconcile, then there are ways to do that productively, like seeing a therapist.”

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If, however, you’re definitely over the idea of making this friendship work, do your best to stick to your word. Our gut reaction when we see a friend in distress is to try to fix whatever’s upsetting them. You have to come to terms with the fact that this conversation will be upsetting for both of you and push through it anyway. Listen to your friend and respond thoughtfully, but, ultimately, be firm in letting them know you don’t have it in you to keep trying in this relationship if that’s the case for you.

“Endings are hard no matter what,” Bhowmik says. “You can make them into arguments and more painful experiences, or you can take that ending as an opportunity to consolidate the good.” Keep that in mind as you evaluate how to handle whatever friendship might be confusing you right now—and work toward something better for yourself and your relationships.

The holiday season can be especially rough on the newly brokenhearted. If a good friend is going through a painful breakup, here are some things to keep in mind as you help him/her navigate life without a significant other.

How to help a friend going through a breakup:

Be there.

Sometimes the best way to help is to just show up. Even if you’re not sure what to say, reach out to your hurting friend and let her know that you care. Provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on — and remind her that even though she might be feeling lonely, she’s not alone.

Know when to stay quiet.

Unless it’s requested, steer clear of giving advice. Don’t judge the situation, lecture him about relationships, or trash his ex (beyond validating or empathizing with his own feelings of anger and grief). Sometimes a friend just needs to vent without anyone adding to the noise.

Don’t make it about you.

It can be difficult to let someone mourn according to their own process. Don’t try to rush a friend to get over her ex, or selfishly insinuate that she should “suck it up” after a few days of moping just because it’s getting hard on you. And never compare a friend’s breakup to one of your own. Every broken relationship is a unique one. Don’t minimize your friend’s fresh pain by reminiscing over your past and trying to draw parallels.

Be the voice of reason.

Empathy and support is important, and part of being supportive is trying to protect a friend from making a bad decision in the wake of emotional upheaval. Don’t let her shave her head or egg his house. Don’t encourage him to immediately rebound or treat his pain with alcohol binges. If he agreed that it’s best to cut off all contact with his ex, remind your friend to delete her number from his phone. Help him focus on healthy ways to get over his ex and avoid impulsive behaviour that might lead to regrettable consequences.

Have fun together.

If time heals all wounds, why not pass the time with some fun distractions? Sure, those serious heart-to-hearts are important, but so is getting out the house and doing something that your friend loves to do. (With no dates in the foreseeable future, Friday nights can get depressing. Be a friend and help fill that empty calendar.) Go to the movies. Invite him to play shinny on a local rink. Go see her favourite band together. Your friend needs to feel like herself again.

Provide practical support.

Some breakups hit harder than others. If your friend is having a hard time managing certain aspects of her day, try to offer some practical help: walk her dog, pick up her dry cleaning, bring her her favourite cup of coffee. She might need some help picking up her things from her ex’s apartment — or in packing up his things at her place. Maybe she’ll want you to inform a few close friends about the breakup so she doesn’t have to. Show your friend she’s loved by lending a helping hand.

Know your limits.

You don’t have to be your friend’s saviour. Nor should you be a permanent stand-in for your friend’s ex, time-commitment-wise. You can’t fill the relationship void. Offer to listen and help, but don’t let him abuse your friendship — even unintentionally — in his sadness or anger toward his situation. Try to be patient, but still set boundaries for yourself so you don’t grow resentful.

Any advice to add? How would you help a friend going through heartbreak?

Sources:

One of the longest-running gaming channels on YouTube, Super Best Friends, is coming to an end after nine years on the platform. Sadly, and a little ironically, the channel is ending because two of its members, Matt and Pat, are no longer friends with each other. Which, as heartbreaking as that may sound, is actually one of the leading reasons successful group channels end up stopping. There’s a long history of that happening from The Creatures to The Completionist, with every situation being different. But it usually comes down to the business side of things hurting the friendships that are in place when everything was formed.

credit//Super Best Friends

Woolie made the video along with the others in edited together clips explaining the situation and assuring fans that the videos would stay so they could enjoy all the content over the years. Hopefully, down the road, whatever their differences are can be patched up and Matt and Pat can go back to being friends with each other. Because life is too short to hold grudges over a YouTube channel. But we don’t expect them to return to making content as a group. If anything, you’ll probably see their channel and Twitter feed promote three new YouTube or Twitch channels for you to enjoy down the road. During all this, a former member of the channel, Liam, who left two years ago, also expressed that this isn’t too surprising and that he also fell out of friendship with Pat. We’re gonna miss watching them!

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About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys standup comedy, Let’s Play videos and trying new games, along with hundreds of other geeky things that can’t be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.

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