How to cope when a friendship ends

We all know that heartbreak hurts, and it hurts bad. Really bad. There’s a reason why some of the best songs in the world are written about a broken heart. But what about when we lose our friends? It can be just as hard.

Illustration shows two young people, drifting away from each other on separate islands
Hey! I’m Molly, the Fundraising Officer at The Mix. I’m passionate about mental health and wellbeing, particularly challenging stigmas surrounding eating disorders. In my spare time you can find me volunteering, travelling and writing about the issues I care about most.

Friends forever?

Friendships are so important and so precious – friends are there to have fun with, to express yourselves with, to confide in, to love you unconditionally and celebrate you for who you are, without judgement.

But we know that not all friendships last forever. Friends come and go with each stage of life, and sometimes they go, come back and stay ‘til the end.

Why do some friendships end?

Friendships can end for lots and lots of different reasons. Perhaps you grew apart? Maybe you got into a romantic relationship that took prominence in your life. Or maybe you had a big, drama-filled argument that can never, ever be resolved.

Change is inevitable and sometimes the person you thought you were inseparable from, naturally drifts apart.

If any number of these things has happened to you, or happens to you at any point, it’s okay! In our lives we’ll meet so many different people, and we can’t always get on with every single person. We all have unique personalities, mannerisms and different ways of dealing with our emotions.

Processing the end of a friendship

  • Don’t punish or blame yourself and dwell on what you could have done differently.
  • Instead of feeling regret or anger, try to think – every person comes into your life for a reason and from each person you can have new experiences and learn really valuable life lessons.
  • If your ex-friend had upset you, or if you had an argument with them which can’t be mended, it can be helpful to just close that chapter. If you’re around each other lots, maybe because you share mutual friends, it might help to agree to be civil – this doesn’t mean you have to be close to them.
  • If a friendship ends bitterly, to start with, it might hurt to remember all the good times you had together, all the precious memories. But in time the pain will gradually lessen and you can appreciate that, although temporary, that friendship was once valuable and made you happy.

Things to remember

Accepting the end is key to finding closure. Remove anything that might trigger sadness like old pictures, tuck them away somewhere safe so you can look back on them when you feel ready.

A friendship should always be a two-way street, meaningful for both people. And some really do last forever! While you may go through hard times and argue, friendships can survive all the ups and downs, if you have the same values, intentions and respect for one another.

When a friendship ends you may feel a really strong sense of loss and sadness. Learning to let friends go can be emotionally upsetting, but sometimes people take different paths in life and head in different directions.

Just always be true to yourself and the people you love.

For more support on losing a friendship

If you need help coping with a friendship changing or ending, get in touch with our team, who are there to talk through any issue.

Read our articles on falling out with a friend and losing a friendship.

Next Steps

  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Molly Gorman

Updated on 28-Aug-2020