Download the latest issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine just for ₹69/-

Can we please talk about how friendship breakups are the worst?

Bonus: here's how to recover from them.

Friendship means many things to many people but irrespective of how they define it, one thing is common and certain—you cherish the bond you have with your closest friends. Back during my college days, my friend and I were so close, people would say we are joined at the hip! We would bunk our classes at the same time, go on endless bookstore dates, hang out at her place and just ponder over existential questions together. Despite our seemingly unbreakable bond, a misunderstanding made us drift apart, in the last year of college. Our friendship, as we knew it, came to an end right before the pandemic. Though over the years, we’ve tried to resolve things and decided to stay friends (read: acquaintances!), that equation we shared of being best friends has been lost. When I was going through this “friendship breakup”, it was admittedly one of the hardest times of my life. I felt lost, confused, hurt and alone. Which made me wonder, what is it about friendships ending that make them hurt more than romantic relationships? 

Even though I’ve not gone through a non-platonic breakup in the 24 years of my existence, I’ve had a few friendships end on a heart-breaking (can it ever not be?) note, and I’m convinced that the latter can leave you feeling more upset. 

What causes two friends to break up? 


Oftentimes, one can’t pinpoint the death knell of a friendship, however, miscommunication can play a big role. Maybe you said something unknowingly that hurt your friend or they did something that rubbed you off the wrong way and instead of a confrontation, you both chose to ignore it, leading to resentment. One of the other reasons could be not spending enough time together—unlike in school or college when you spend a major part of the day in close proximity. As an adult, you have other commitments to take care of, and meeting or catching up with friends is put on the back burner. You may also realise that both of you have matured into people who are drastically different from when you first met, leading you to grow apart. 

Why does this hurt so much?

As we grow older, we tend to lose close friends to incompatible (and busy) schedules. You keep missing each other's calls and find it hard to find a time when both of you are available to meet, which leads to waning communication. And it never gets easier. The demise of a long-shared bond can affect you badly and people have found friendship breakups to be particularly challenging because a close friend is someone who you rely on for emotional support, and continuity, and to help you process your own thoughts and issues. When such an end comes about, it denotes a major shift—for instance, when you break up with your partner, you have your closest girlfriends to console you, but who do you go to when you break up with one of your besties? 

No rulebook to deal with a friendship break up

friendship ending

Unlike romantic breakups that are waxed about endlessly in pop culture through sad poetry, heartbreak songs or tragic love stories, nothing similar exists for friendships ending. There is no rom-com to be watched as you eat an entire tub of ice cream by yourself and no friend around to drag you out of bed so that you don’t mope alone. 

Tough to talk about with others

Even though the ending of a friendship is a great loss and one where you want to be consoled, it feels almost taboo to discuss it with others. When I stopped talking to my best friend from college, I didn’t dissect our failed relationship with any other pal—I even felt ashamed to do so. Why would I share my failings as a friend with another friend? I think, somewhere, we’re scared to be shunned by the entire group if we acknowledge the rupture out loud, so most of us end up keeping the details, and the ensuing grief, to ourselves. 

Often, there’s no concrete point of breaking off, it happens over time 

When a romance ends, the point of the breakup is tangible—one of them, or both of them, decide to call off the relationship. The lines, “I think we should break up” or “I don’t want to be your girlfriend/boyfriend anymore” are said and the intention to not stay together is made clear. But friendship breakups are decidedly ambiguous and messy. Most times, there’s not one point of certainty where both of you decide to part ways—you tend to just distance yourself and then fall apart. Plus, since by their nature friendships are non-monogamous—you don’t have to break up with an existing friend to make a new one, there’s nothing stopping you from putting off the breakup conversation indefinitely. 

So, how does one heal and get over them? 

If you’ve gone through a devastating friendship breakup, you’re wondering what to do next. These tips will help you cope with feelings of grief, guilt, and confusion. 

Self-reflect on your friendships

If you’ve just undergone a friendship breakup, one of the best things you can do is take this time to reflect on your current relationships. Try learning from this experience and figuring out patterns in your other friendships so you can improve and become a better friend. 

Indulge in some 'me-time'


Self-care activities can also help you deal with the loss—maintain a journal, meditate or talk to your therapist. Think about all the good times that you had with this person, and all the wonderful memories you’ll take away from your friendship. These mantras are sure to make it easier to move on.

Accept that it’s a part of life

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that gaining and losing friends is normal. Who says that we are supposed to have the same friends around for our whole life? And just because a friendship ends, it doesn’t mean you didn’t gain anything positive or valuable from it.