Surviving a BFF Break-Up: Letting Go of Your Best Gal Pal

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Best friends are meant to be forever, right? Men come and go but our girlfriends are the ones we believe will stick by us through thick and thin.

So, what happens when things go wrong? How do you break up with a friend? Experts say losing our best friend may be even more devastating than breaking up with a beau.

A recent study suggests, “friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are.” Friendships are also vital to our happiness and longevity. Researchers found women with no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.

Maybe you moved away and naturally grew apart, maybe the relationship turned toxic, or maybe a fall-out was involved. No matter the circumstances, a BFF breakup can really take its toll. The most stinging part is that when it happens, you’ve lost the person you usually confide in.

Even if the split was a long time coming, how do we overcome the immense hurt and loneliness of losing our other half? Here are six ways to help you get closure and move on:

• Cry it out.
Let yourself be sad. Losing a best friend is just like any other long-term relationship ending. It sucks. It may feel lonely and embarrassing. Moving on will be an adjustment that takes time, but there is no shame in feeling awful for a little while.

• Say goodbye, privately.
Write a letter to your friend that you never intend to send. This is a blank canvas – a safe space for you to share how the relationship ending impacted you. You get the chance to say goodbye or say things that haven’t been said. Writing is incredibly therapeutic. And if you’d like extra help on processing, a Digital Diary is the perfect way to get insight on your reflections.

• Assume the Sweden Strategy
Just like Sweden in world politics, keep it neutral. It may seem obvious, but don’t force your other friends to take sides. Get comfortable with the fact that they may still spend a great deal of time with your ex-gal pal and that this is no reflection on you. Resist bad mouthing your ex-friend to others. It will only make you look bad. If you need to vent, go to someone well outside the situation…that’s what we’re here for!

• Develop a script.
Think about what you would do if your friend reached out, or if you ran into one another around town. What would you say? How would you react? You can avoid paralyzing fear or coming off defensive by developing a script for these types of situations. Visualize the situation happening and jot down what you would ideally like to be saying and doing in the moment. Practice it out in the mirror so you’ll feel confident and prepared when the time comes.

• Institute a new friend policy.
What are the qualities you most admire in a friend? If your last BFF was a toxic mess, ask yourself what about your personalities made you clash. Maybe she was sneaky and you highly value loyalty and trust. Think about how you like to live your life and what type of people fit into that picture. It’s okay to be selective: You deserve friends who support and empower you.

• Stick your neck out.
Just like dating, sometimes you have to be the one to take the first step. If there’s someone you’d like to get to know better, ask her out for coffee. If you’re looking for something new, Meetups are a great way to find new friends with similar interests. Pick up the phone – hearing a person’s voice is a powerful way to connect. At first this process will feel uncomfortable. That’s a sign that you’re growing and processing. To expand our capacity to meet new people requires a willingness to endure short-term stress in the service of long-term fulfilling relationships.

Ending a friendship isn’t easy, but often it can be a step in the right direction. By letting go, you free up more time to for healthier, more satisfying friendships and hopefully learn a little more about yourself in the process.

Have you ever dealt with a BFF breakup? How'd you cope?