How to Forget a Friend Who Meant a Lot to You

Three Parts:Working Through Your FeelingsFocusing Your Attention on Other ThingsSeeking Companionship in Other Places

Not all friendships will last forever. In fact, friendships may end for a variety of reasons. Despite the rationale for severing ties, losing a friend can be a painful process. Fortunately, there are several ways to move forward with your life after you’ve lost someone who once meant a lot to you.

Part 1
Working Through Your Feelings

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    Do not play the blame game. Assigning blame is unhealthy and breeds anger. While both you and your former friend may have been at fault for the dissolution of your friendship, you are not in control of the each other’s thoughts, feelings, choices, or actions.[1] Understanding that both you and your friend have roles to play in the ending of your friendship is important and will help you to consider the potential reasons for the end of your friendship from both your point of view and from the point of view of your former friend.
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    Work through your negative emotions. Be aware that you may feel anger, guilt, sadness, or grief over the loss of your friendship. [2] This is completely normal. It is important to process and work through these feelings on your own or with the help of a licensed mental health professional. You might work through your emotions by:
    • Writing about your feelings
    • Talking about your feelings
    • Making art about your feelings
    • Channeling your feelings into something else
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    Allow yourself to go through your emotional process. You may feel a range of emotions when faced with a loss. It is important to allow yourself to process these feelings and understanding where these emotions come from.
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    Ask yourself why you feel the way you do over the loss of your friendship. Do you miss the person? Do you miss the support that your former friend had given to you? Do you miss the activities that you used to do as friends? Understanding why you feel the way you do is the first step in coming to terms with your emotions.
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    Let yourself feel as deeply as you need to. Do not try to block out the negative or painful emotions that accompany the dissolution of your friendship. Sitting with the pain or negativity will eventually allow you to move beyond those feelings and heal.[3]
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    Understand that healing takes time. In order to heal from this loss and move forward, you must be patient. Rushing through your natural process is unhealthy and will not resolve your negative feelings properly.
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    Acknowledge that people change and grow.[4] You are not the same person that you were when you met your friend, nor are they the same person they were when they met you.[5] Over time, everyone’s interests change and those changes can cause distance and disagreements between friends. Understanding that this is a normal fact of life might help you better accept the end of your friendship.
    • Think about who you were when you met your former friend.
    • Think about who your former friend was when you met.
    • Think about the reasons you became friends with this person.
    • Think about who you are now. How have you changed during the time you were friends?
    • Think about who your former friend is now. How has s/he changed?
    • Write down the significant changes you and your friend experienced in a list form from the time you met until your friendship ended.
    • Read over your lists and understand that change, while at times imperceptible without scrutiny, is inevitable. You and your former friend have both changed and it is possible that you are no longer compatible as friends as a result. Understanding and accepting this fact without placing blame will help you move on.
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    Accept that your friendship has ended. While acceptance can be difficult, it is an important step in moving forward with your life. [6] Moreover, accepting the situation means that you have made peace with it and you are no longer tormenting yourself with what-ifs, or details of the dissolution that cannot be changed, or negative emotions.

Part 2
Focusing Your Attention on Other Things

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    Focus on the things over which you have control.[7] If you focus on the actions of others, you’ll dwell on what-ifs and moments that cannot be changed. Instead, try to spend your time and energy on your personal actions. Moreover, focusing on your choices and actions will help you to live in the present, rather than focusing on the past. Examples of personal actions and choices you can focus upon include:
    • Acknowledging and working through your emotions
    • Acting with kindness and generosity toward others, including your former friend
    • Deciding to spend time with your other friends and family members
    • Working to move forward with your life
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    Cut off all contact with your friend.[8] This will allow you to gain distance from the person, which will enable you to refocus time and energy that you previously would have given to your friend. Better still, when you stop interacting with your friend, you are less likely to think about them as well. Finally, in ceasing all contact with your former friend, you are ensuring that no negative interactions between the two of you come to fruition. You might consider cutting off contact with your former friend by:
    • Blocking their phone number
    • Ignoring and/or deleting emails
    • Not returning text messages
    • Unfriending or blocking them on social media
    • Avoiding them in face-to-face situations
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    Engage in an activity to distract yourself from your loss. You might decide to go shopping, to go see a movie, or to go for a walk if you are looking for a short-term distraction. If you think you’ll need a longer activity, you might consider taking up a hobby or donating your time to help others. Regardless of what you decide to do, it is important to fill your time in some way in order to positively channel your energy and emotions. [9] Activities you might enjoy include, but are not limited to:
    • Dancing
    • Making music
    • Reading
    • Exercising
    • Playing a sport
    • Undertaking an art project
    • Volunteering your time at a charity organization
    • Mentoring someone else
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    Spend time working on yourself. You need time to process the dissolution of your friendship. While you are processing your loss, you need to make sure that you are caring for yourself. Make sure that you are eating properly, getting enough rest, working through your emotions in a healthy manner, and not isolating yourself.[10] Remember that sometimes you need to put yourself first. You can improve your well-being by:
    • Seeking out the company of friends and family when you are lonely
    • Eating healthy foods in appropriate quantities
    • Getting adequate exercise
    • Spending time alone in order to recharge and relax
    • Sleeping regularly at night
    • Investing your time in activities you enjoy

Part 3
Seeking Companionship in Other Places

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    Confide in a trustworthy friend or family member. Keeping your feelings bottled up will hurt you in the long run. This doesn’t mean that you should you’re your former friend, but certainly you should talk about your feelings with someone you know, love, and trust. Your friend or family member can offer you support and love through the act of listening. [11] While they are not a replacement for your former friend, your friend or family member can diminish the impact of your loss.
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    Make new friends. You can go to social networking sites or simply start conversations with other people that you may encounter in your daily life. Know what traits you are looking for in a friend as you are getting to know new acquaintances. You might even look for positive qualities in your former best friend in the people you are befriending. [12] Here are some ways to make new friends:
    • Strike up a conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store
    • Talk to the barista at your local coffee shop about his or her interests
    • Go to an art or music show and talk to people there
    • Meet people online through social networking sites
    • Open the lines of communication between the yourself and another person
    • Participate in mutual self-disclosing behaviors with others
    • Invite new acquaintances to hang out with you
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    Talk to a mental health professional if the loss feels too immense for you to process alone. [13] Mental health professionals are impartial listeners and it is their job to avoid making judgments. If you need to vent to someone, or if you feel that the loss of your friend has created a severe imbalance of emotions for you, please do not hesitate to seek help. You do not have to go through this loss alone.
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    Adopt a pet. While an animal cannot replace your former friend, you can form a new and important bond of companionship and love with an animal, which might help you reconcile the loss you have experienced. Studies have shown that owning a pet also leads to lower stress levels, better psychological health, and emotional support.[14] All of these emotional and health benefits would certainly be a pro for someone who is dealing with the loss of a close friendship.


  • While you might feel as though you are alone, know that this is not the case. You have friends and family that care about you.
  • Dealing with the loss of a friend can be extremely difficult. Be kind to yourself and to your former friend.
  • When dealing with your former friend, be mature and generous. Do not attack, demean, or insult this person. They once meant a lot to you, and perhaps still do. Try to remind yourself why you held them in such high regard if you feel the urge to say or do something rude or cruel.
  • When remembering the times you once shared with your former friend, do not dwell on the negative, but rather, think on the positive memories that you made with each other.
  • Avoid saying anything negative about your former friend on social media as it is unnecessarily hurtful and reflects poorly upon you.

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends