Friendships can be tricky sometimes.
Friendships change and evolve all the time, and sometimes it might feel like you’ve ‘outgrown’ a friendship with someone. Or perhaps you and your friend have had a disagreement or aren’t getting along. Sometimes, it can be hard to pinpoint why our friendships feel different, they just do!
Most of the time our friendships bring us great joy, but falling out with a friend can cause lots of negative emotions that might feel difficult to tackle, and may lead to bullying behaviour. It can feel overwhelming to deal with a friendship fall out, but it’s helpful to remember that they happen to everyone and can often be resolved.
If you’ve fallen out with a friend, we’ve put together some advice and top tips to help you get through it:
Listen to your emotions.
If you’re feeling hurt, unsure, or uncomfortable about something your friend has said or done, don’t brush your feelings aside. Sometimes, it feels easier to ignore the problem, but this could lead to feelings of resentment or frustration later down the line. If something has happened between you and a friend, take time to consider the situation: What happened? Why did we disagree? Can I put myself in their shoes? What was it about their actions made me upset? By working through your emotions and not shying away from how you feel, you can better understand the situation and decide how best to respond.
Reflect on the friendship.
If this isn’t the first time you’ve felt hurt by this person, you may want to reflect on your friendship. By reflecting on our relationships with others, we can determine whether they are a positive or negative influence on our lives. For example, if you feel uncomfortable every time you hang out with a friend, or they exhibit bullying behaviour towards you, the friendship could be causing you more harm than good.
A helpful action to take could be setting a boundary for yourself and not being afraid to say “no” to situations you’re uncomfortable with. Even though this might feel difficult at the time, it can prevent negative situations from occurring in the future.
Reflecting on your friendships can allow you to think about your needs and set healthy boundaries. Do you enjoy spending time with this friend? Do you feel like you can be your authentic self around them? Do you want to recover your friendship with them, or do you need a bit of space? Taking time to reflect on these questions can help you decide how to respond.
Practise your communication skills.
If you feel comfortable doing so, an honest conversation with your friend can be the best way to resolve a fall out. Find an appropriate time and place to chat without distractions – this will help both of you to stay focused and feel more comfortable sharing how you feel. Consider your words carefully and give an example to help them understand how their actions made you feel:
“I feel upset and insecure when I receive jokes targeting my appearance.”
Try to use “I feel” statements instead of “you did” statements, as these might come across as accusatory.
Once you open up about how you’re feeling, it often becomes a lot easier to work through a problem. Perhaps your openness will encourage your friend to explain how they’re feeling, too: “I hadn’t thought about it like that, I thought it was just banter that you wouldn’t take seriously. Maybe I got carried away? I wouldn’t want to upset you.”
Chances are, you or your friend may not have realised how your actions made the other person feel. Engaging in open and honest communication can help you to understand each other better and work through the issue in a calm, respectful way.
Listen to them.
When communicating with a friend, be sure to practise your active listening skills. You can show someone you’re listening by making eye contact or turning to face them, and acknowledging what they are saying by nodding and responding.
(Pro tip: It is usually easier to practise active listening during a face-to-face conversation. If you’re able to, try to communicate with your friend in person to avoid misunderstandings! If you are having a conversation online and things start to go wrong, remember you can always block, unfollow, and report if necessary.)
By engaging in active listening, your conversation will be more productive.
Find your support network.
If a friend has made you feel bad, you can always speak to a trusted adult about the situation. It could be a teacher at school, a sports coach, or a parent or carer; whoever you choose as part of your support network, having people to lean on can help you to get through a tough situation.
If you’re looking for advice, try talking to someone who is completely removed from the disagreement. By speaking to someone who isn’t involved, you’re less likely to get a biased opinion (bias happens when someone already has a particular perspective on something and is often shaped by personal opinion or prejudice).
Stay true to yourself!
During a friendship fall out, it might feel like you need to change your personality or identity to fit in with everyone else or put a stop to the negative behaviour. It’s important to remember how special you are and think about the values that make you unique.
If you’re feeling low, why not take time to do things you enjoy? You could even try a new hobby – creating art can be a great way to express how you feel!
You have the power to be your own best friend, so don’t let others put you down.
Falling out with a friend can be tough. If you’re experiencing this, we encourage you to reach out to someone you trust for support. The Diana Award Advice Messenger provides free*, 24/7 text support across the UK. If you are a young person under 25 who needs support, you can text DA to 85258.