Before boys, friends were my first love. I fantasized about friendships like the ones in Sex and The City and Girlfriends. I knew they weren’t perfect, but our love would trump all evil and we were eternally joined by the hips and tits. Unfortunately, as most of you may have experienced at least once, life doesn’t often work that way. One day you suddenly find yourself trying to figure out how to heal a broken heart when the friendship that you thought would continue into the retirement home falls apart. You realize that you won’t be drinking soup together because you’re toothless or using a measuring tape to see how far one another’s tits have sagged, because it’s over.
Now, I know this is the era of being canceled and I too have canceled a mofo or two. However, canceling people doesn’t cancel the pain in your heart when someone that was once your one and two breaks your heart. It also doesn’t mean that friendships don’t play a critical role in your life. To begin, we’ll look at why friendships are so important to us and what science says about them.
The Importance of Friendships
Now you know I love me some research and statistics so I had to see what the people who have dedicated their lives to being nosey and inquisitive AF (sorry, I like to abbreviate my profanity because science says smart people use vile words but the Jesus in me says it’s unladylike) have to say about the importance of friendship. Look at highlights of what I found below.
Friendship Becomes More Important as You Age
There’s this journal called Personal Relationships that recently did research on the importance of friendship using over 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries. They found that the older people get, the more important friends are to them. This probably explains why my moms is die hard trying to be my bestie right now. I guess old age is making her forget all those times that she told me that she wasn’t my lil friend. So why you trying to be my friend now Suzy?? Hope she’s not reading this. If so, just kidding girl, love you.
Strong Friendships Are Good for Your Wellbeing
The same research also found that strong friendships had a stronger connection to wellbeing as you age than family connections do. This was often because people preferred spending time with friends as they could do leisurely things with them whereas sometimes family was a little too serious. In other words, you can go to the trap house or strip club with ya friends but your momma ain’t having none of it.
Absence of Social Connections Could Negatively Affect Health
The scientific literature on the value of friendship found that there’s a strong connection between social relations and how long you’re going to live. Relax, before you start sending all of your loved one’s special messages, this doesn’t mean that if you don’t have friends you’re going to die. It just means their studies found that loneliness led to worse outcomes than obesity. And that wasn’t a joke by the way.
Now that we’ve gotten a little research in, we’ll go into all the soppy and painful stuff regarding how to heal when friends break your heart. I’m not writing this as someone who has fully healed. When certain old friends come to mind, it still stings and their absence is greatly felt in that moment. But at least it no longer brings me to tears. That’s progress if you ask me. Anyways, here are a few ways you can heal a broken heart when friends break it.
- Figure Out What Went Wrong
Sometimes you know why a friendship broke down and other times, you’re left in the dark. Whatever the case, I think the first step is having that uncomfortable conversation about what went wrong. I once had a friend I thought was close who stopped talking to me for no reason and after a series of awkward conversations of me telling her how I felt, she said I was overreacting and nothing was wrong even though she would never call or reach out. I had to accept that the friendship was over and stop begging her to want me and it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done because I felt so much rejection but I had to figure out how to heal.
For you, figuring out what went wrong could mean writing them a letter, sending a text, or having a face to face conversation and pouring out your heart about how you feel without accusing or criticizing. This can be sticky, awkward, painful, and in many ways, it may bring you to your knees as pain, vulnerability, and love do. However, this is often one of the only ways to mend something that is broken and heal. There is also the possibility that they may not feel as deeply as you do and after pouring out your heart they may reject you, but that’s the risk that comes with loving. Whatever the outcome, at least you know you tried. Let’s face it, our friends are like our lovers, so you go through many of the same things that you do in a relationship.
2. See If It Can be Salvaged
When looking at how to heal when friends break your heart, one of the first things you should think about is whether or not the friendship can be salvaged. We all know that pride and forgiveness are two major things that get in the way when it comes to repairing friendships. However, you need to honestly ask yourself whether or not your life will be better off without this person and if the damage done can be fixed. I can testify that as you age, it becomes harder to make deep connections and your heart is also a lot more fragile. In light of this, it’s a good idea to hold on to good friends and not judge them by their mistakes but instead, judge them by the value that they add to your life. I have a few friendships that have broken and that I haven’t been able to salvage because I’m African, afraid of rejection, and I need counseling. However, if you have the courage and feel like you can reach out and save your friendship, find out what went wrong and how you can work on healing. Remember, everyone doesn’t need to be canceled and as it’s been established above, strong friendships, even if just one, can make your life a lot more beautiful. Also, if we can forgive cheating partners, why can’t we forgive our human friends?
3. Accept That Not All Friendships Last Forever
The first friend to break my heart was my high school best friend. We spoke every blessed day to the point that we knew what each other’s breathing sounded like because most of our phone convos consisted of that. We cried together, talked trash together, enjoyed ratchet living together and wore gold teeth together. Then one day I had to move to London because I ran away from home and that was the last straw for my parents. I thought we would continue being overseas besties and nothing would change. I emailed tirelessly only to find that she had moved on and she couldn’t understand why I was so hurt by it. That was the first time I began to realize that not all friendships last forever.
In light of this, if truly you’re wondering how to heal, you’re going to have to accept that not all friendships last forever and not be bitter about it. If you’ve tried to salvage it as mentioned above and you can’t seem to get on the same page, you may have to accept that the friendship has ended and it just wasn’t meant to last forever. On teh other hand, maybe this just isn’t the season for that friendship and you’ll reconnect in the future. Whatever the case, your heart will break, it may bleed, but after that, it will scab and heal if you stop picking at it.
4. Focus on The People That Love You
Many times, we spend too much of our lives focused on the people that don’t love us. We focus on the people that we begged to love us and the pain of that rejection. However, you should know that all of the love you have right now, in this very moment, is all of the love that you need. Never underestimate the power of a single person’s love and how it can help you heal. Try and stop focusing on the friends that broke your heart and focus on the ones capable of helping it heal. When you do remember friends that have broken your heart, remember that they once loved you, so when you do remember them, remember the good.
When thinking about how to heal from the pain of friends breaking your heart, remember that the key to healing is accepting that pain is a sign that you’ve loved. Allow yourself to go through the motions, let the pain rip through your soul and then allow it to leave. Whether your friendship stands the test of time or not, at least you know that you shared something special once upon a time. Even if you can only count your remaining friends on one hand, they are constant reminders that you are loved and quality is far more important than quantity.