Life is full of heartbreak, most of us expect to go through at least one heart-wrenching break-up before we settle down for good. But another common, but unexpected, part of life is the heartache of drifting away from a friend—it's just a different kind of breakup.
My husband and I married in college, setting us in a different path than most of our friends. I quickly discovered that college and marriage are two conflicting worlds. In college, you’re full-time job is your schoolwork, your friends are your family, and your parents still pay for your rent. As a married student, I had two jobs outside of my classes and a school load, my husband was my family, and we paid for everything. As my priorities began to set me apart, I slowly saw my friends shift away as well.
The difficulty with friendship breakups is that there’s really no defining end. When you breakup with a boyfriend, you at least have a conversation and from there on can go through the mourning and healing process…ice cream, bubble baths, and burning his sweatshirt all included! But with friends, I’ve found it ends in more of a drifting apart…less text messages, phone calls, and hangouts until eventually, well, they’re non- existent.
You can find yourself ridden with guilt – “Was it my fault? Did I do something?” Or infected with anger – “How could she! I thought she was my friend!” Whatever your response, take a step back and remind yourself that it's okay and, in many ways, an expected part of life.
Here are a few tips for dealing with a drifting friendship:
1. Give yourself room to mourn.
Take a bubble bath, watch your favorite sad movie, or start making cookies–but then only eat the dough. The most important thing is that you don’t stay here. Mourn, and the move on.
2. Let go.
Blame, anger, and bitterness can rot you from the inside out. Who’s fault is it, really? Maybe it’s hers, maybe it’s yours. Maybe it’s just the natural flow of life. Leaves fall and die with the winter, but spring brings new life. Forgive, accept the change, and let go of blame.
3. Give thanks.
Don’t miss out on the good things in front of you because your eyes are stuck on the past. As C.S. Lewis said “There are far better things ahead than what we’ve left behind.” Don’t let your past keep you from enjoying your future.
4. Get out and make new friends.
There are so many people and potential friendships out there–new personalities and different stories, get to know them! A new friendship may be one of your greatest blessings. Don’t miss out on a chance to connect with others.