The 12 Stages of Losing Your Best Friend

We’ve all been there; sometimes friendships just start to drift and become distant, often for no apparent reason. Sometimes the friend you used to do everything with suddenly wants nothing to do with you. Sometimes the person you used to talk to everyday just stops communicating. I’ve had this happen twice in my life, (making me somewhat of an aficionado in the best friend losing business), and each time was accompanied with a rollercoaster of emotion. The first time, I didn’t have a full understanding of my emotions and couldn’t pinpoint that the cause of my emotional turmoil was my lack of a best friend, but the second time was all too familiar. I have never experienced the heartbreak of being dumped by someone I loved, but I would imagine it’s pretty similar to this. I’m sure each case is unique, but here is a rough idea of the feelings that accompany losing a best friend.

Suspicion. Much to your dismay, you get the first inkling that a problem may be arising.

Affirmation. You get hit with the affirming blow that it’s not your imagination making up stories. Your friendship is sailing into uncharted territory with rough waters as far as the eye can see.

Optimism. You convince yourself that it’s just a phase that will blow over given time. Certainly they will acknowledge the fact that there is a problem and try to improve and rebuild the strong friendship you once had, right?

Annoyance. As the optimism slowly fades, you wonder if they even realize the dynamic of your friendship has changed. Their obliviousness equates to your annoyance, and you roll your eyes at their every move.

Dedication. You put the annoyance in the past because you are still committed to the friendship and will make efforts to mend it. You try to initiate communication, make plans, and go along with their obliviousness pretending nothing is wrong. You are willing to do whatever it takes to be best friends again.

Hopefulness. One minuscule step in the right direction gives you an abundance of hope that your normal friendship will return in the near future.

Disappointment. You realize you’re the only one making effort, that you’re no longer a priority in their life, and that this new standard of friendship is permanent.

Sadness. Friendships are work, and you cannot comprehend how they can simply toss aside years of friendship and memories without even acknowledging the problem.

Hatred. Coming to terms with the fact they have been knocked down a rung (or a few rungs) on the friendship ladder makes you angry. You want to completely cut them out of your life; why should you expend time and effort for them when they don’t do the same in return?

Uneasiness. Adjusting to the new normal and accepting the new type of friendship you have with them takes some time. The thought of having to start over and find a new best friend is daunting, and you’re not quite ready to think about that.

Loneliness. It is a bit of a wake-up call when you realize just how much time you spent with that person as you find yourself lacking plans quite frequently. You have to adjust to eating meals alone, watching Netflix alone, and initiating plans with acquaintances instead of just having spontaneous plans happen automatically.

Acceptance. You come to terms with the fact that the role of best friend is now vacant. There’s no getting over the fact that it sucks, but you accept the new normal and adjust to life void of that once-best-friend-now-acquaintance.

You feel powerless when you see this coming and cannot do anything to stop it. You rethink countless decisions and look for something you could have done differently. You waste hours thinking about a person that rarely thinks about you. You have to learn what your new relationship with that person will be, and while your gut may tell you to hold a grudge and never speak to them, it is probably in your best interest to be civilized and maintain small doses of communication.

In the end, every bad situation has a hint of good hiding within it. Maybe losing your best friend will make you more independent, or maybe you’ll find a whole group of best friends as your silver lining. Regardless of the outcome, you have to move on. You can’t let one person hold you back and influence your life in a negative manner. So go put on your big girl panties and set out on a journey to find that new best friend that’s looking for someone who loves wine, puzzles, and chick flicks on a Saturday night just as much as you!

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