How to survive a break up with your best friend

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How to survive a break up with your best friend

When the Four Seasons sang that bit about "breaking up is hard to do," they clearly meant romantic relationships.

Breaking up with a best friend might be even harder. "Friends aren't just icing on the cake of life – they're the cake," psychologist Thelma Duffey stated in Psychology Today. "Our friends are the people we let in. They're the people who can get under our skin, for better or for worse, and they're the ones in which we choose to invest."

The Mayo Clinic also hails the positive health benefits of having good friends, from the esoteric like increased happiness to the scientifically-proven reduced risk of depression, high blood pressure or unhealthy body mass index (BMI) for folks with close connections.

When your best friend moves away (hard), deserts you (harder) or betrays you (hardest), losing those benefits can trigger a life-altering event. Just don't count on society to see it that way.

Ryan O'Connell summed it up nicely in Thought Catalog: "A dumped person is seen as a totally tragic sympathetic figure and is given the appropriate support to help 'make it through.' When friendships end, when the 10-year bonds you have with someone who feels like family start to dissolve, we're left with no instruction manuals. We don't have a movie to turn to or a book to read. Pop culture has pushed it under the rug."

Another irony: while you'd run to your best friend when you get dumped, there's no one to run to when you break up with your best friend.

So that leaves it up to you to get through the tough time with your chin up and ready to try again. This roadmap for getting beyond a BFF breakup includes seven tips from psychologists and bloggers who have been there, done that:

Realize that the struggle is real. A feeling of being unwanted comes with any friendship breakup, and that is hard to bear for anyone who has trusted an attachment, psychologist Seth Meyers noted in Psychology Today. "In my clinical work, I find that the confusion has to do with the following differentiation: You know exactly why it hurts so much when you lose a lover, but you tell yourself that a friend leaving you shouldn't be as painful."

But it is. "Even though friendship breakups don't include the loss of sex, men and women experience a similar sense of loss when a friend cuts off a relationship. The bottom-line feeling between is the same: 'He or she doesn't want me anymore.'"

Understand that friendship can be fleeting. "The notion of lifelong friends is absolutely a rare commodity," Meyers acknowledged. Even the closest ones may be circumstantial or temporary, regardless of how connected two friends feel at one point in time. "Acceptance is the key to recovery from the loss. You must also keep in mind that some friendships formed when you were young or in an unstable or impressionable point in your life may not fit you as you evolve and grow over time."

Banish the thought that the breakup's your fault.  It can be easy to start thinking you were "not a good enough friend," "easily forgotten" or "not worth making time for," RealBuzz noted. It's not true, though. Everyone goes through a friendship breakup at some point; if they didn't, we'd all still be hanging out with the same friends we had in daycare.

Get communication established at the beginning of the end. This isn't easy, or fun, talking to someone who just hurt your feelings or has left you furious. "But whether you're doing the breaking up or you're the one being broken up with, it's very important to communicate with the other person," Dr. Coral Arvon, Director of Behavioral Health and Wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spatold Glamour. "Face-to-face communication is best, but if that isn't possible then try speaking over the phone."

Avoid important conversations via text. "Feelings and words can be easily misconstrued in text messages and can lead to even more damage," noted Arvon.

Keep busy. Similar to the end of a romantic relationship, you want to stay active and distracted after a BFF breakup, sex therapist Gloria Brame told Glamour. "Every time we lose a relationship or person we cared about it's like a little death," she said. "Try not to grieve alone. That can snowball into depression. Instead, reach out to others and let them try to cheer you up."

Honor the role of friendship in your life. Don't let the message be that since one friendship ended, you're done with friendships, advised PT's Duffey. "Know that at the end of the day, your life is richer – your history is richer – because of your friendships and because you have it in you to be a friend."

If you're not in the agonizing end stage of a cherished friendship, take the opportunity to spruce up the connection, advised Meyers. The next time you're tired after work and you postpone responding to a friend's call, pick up the phone and talk for a minute anyway. Perhaps if we learn to feed our friendships as much as we feed our romantic relationships, we could spare ourselves a few painful breakups.

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