The advice: Four tips to help you handle the end of a friendship

Liz Pryor is a relationship expert and the author of What Did I Do Wrong? What To Do When You Don’t Know Why The Friendship Is Over. She shared this advice with Woman’s Hour…

1. Write it out

Sometimes just writing down all the feelings you have around the painful experience of a friend deciding to dump and end things can begin to help soothe the soul. Write everything you’re feeling and experiencing in a letter. You can decide whether to send it, file it away, or even burn it. Just getting it all out can begin to help.

If you’ve been completely blindsided with no explanation at all, a letter to your friend acknowledging the ending can be empowering. If she can’t find the nerve to state what has happened, you can and should state the reality for her. It’s a marking of the closure in a way that gives you some power, which helps in the process of healing.

2. Do not suffer in silence

Allow yourself the freedom to talk openly to others about the gravity of the experience. Share and talk it out with people you trust. Think of it as an instrumental part of helping to shift the cultural norm. We want to get this emotional pain of friendship ending on the radar so that ultimately the endings can be met with more care and thought, and with less shame and silence.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself

What did you do wrong? Possibly nothing, this experience so often follows the internal life of your friend. Difficult as that may be to believe, it is often true. If you do feel you could have behaved better inside the friendship, learn from that. Force yourself to grow and forgive yourself, it will help you to move on.

4. Acknowledge the shame

Take note of the shame you carry around this experience, it can be so slippery and permeating. Literally try to go inside and look your shame straight in the face. It comes from places we don’t even realise. Like guilt, most shame is something we manufacture ourselves, so it requires a conscious choice to stop it.

5. You are not alone

Mostly, know that almost every woman you know has experienced this in their lifetime – if not once, several times. When it happens to us, we imagine we are the only ones. Women thrive on camaraderie, on shared experiences. There can be great solace in knowing you are not alone, and benefits to sharing the pain of it all.

I receive dozens of inquiries weekly and answer all of them, in the hope that slowly we can shift behaviour and break the silence on friendship ending. We want to move toward being able to honour the endings as we do our friendships themselves.

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