When you lose a friendship, you face a unique kind of rejection.
Unlike in romantic relationships, where the lines of commitment are often clearly defined, definitely broken, or completely removed, friendship exists in a place that both seems less important than romance, and yet in many cases, is far more intimate. When we are rejected by a potential romantic partner, we understand it’s part of the game of dating. When we are rejected by a friend or group, we’re often far more bereft. These are the people with whom we have shared far more honest and authentic pieces of ourselves. The pain from losing a friendship can often run far deeper and last much longer.
This is only amplified by the fact that we often don’t get closure.
We define the beginning and end of a romantic relationship, but friendships tend to break and fade over time. Sometimes, we simply stop talking to someone and are afraid to be the next one to reach out. Sometimes, we just can’t get our plans aligned and are left wondering if life is really this busy or we’re both avoiding one another. Sometimes our lives stop running congruent to one another, and we discover our bond was really through circumstance and nothing greater. Sometimes we stop having enough in common to make the effort worthwhile. Sometimes we stop being the people we once were, and our relationship shifts alongside that.
True Friendship Is Never a Performance
How to distinguish between your real friends and everyone else
There’s a really particular sting that comes with the fear that your former friends might secretly hate you. Every time you see a Instagram story in which everyone is tagged but you, a Facebook album of a party you didn’t know about, a tag on a meme page about a joke that isn’t yours, a wedding website with a bridal party that doesn’t include your name — it hurts. It hurts because you didn’t know where you stood and now you do. It hurts because you can imagine these people making these plans consciously and, for whatever reason, deciding to not include you.
You are not for everyone, and everyone is not for you.
You should know that this kind of hurt is legitimate — far more legitimate than most people will ever tell you.
You should also know that this is how it’s supposed to be.
The problem is just that you’re now seeing what was once invisible.
You’re supposed to outgrow people.
You’re supposed to let go of some people in order to find others.
The honest truth is that you are not for everyone, and everyone is not for you. This isn’t because you’re unworthy of being in their presence but because you’re simply mismatched. Being rejected from a romantic relationship isn’t a testament to your inferiority; it’s a sign you weren’t properly paired with a partner who could walk alongside you on your path in life. Being rejected from a friendship is the same.
You don’t need to develop a complex because some people don’t want to hang out with you. You don’t need to interpret their actions as a sign that you’re a social recluse, someone deeply undesired and cut out. You do need to understand that it is normal, and healthy, to phase through certain friendships. Personalizing and ascribing intent to that natural process is what’s causing you so much pain.
In the past, friendships would end and you weren’t faced with constant updates of those people’s lives. Now, you are. Now, you’re connected to them in a way that no human beings ever have been before.
Instead of naturally growing into the people we’re meant to be, we hold onto our old identities and try to bridge them all together. We try to be a piece of what we imagine each person in our lives wants us to be, and the weight of trying to be everything, all at once, breaks us slowly. Because we aren’t supposed to carry all of this. We are only supposed to show up as we are today. Authenticity is the only avenue through which true connection can form.
You’re not supposed to see those nights out that you weren’t invited to.
You’re not supposed to have to witness an ongoing feed of photos and videos that serve as nothing but a reminder of what you weren’t included in.
You are not entitled to be part of every plan someone makes, even if you consider them your friend.
Your friends are allowed to do things without you.
They are allowed to move on.
You are too.
The point isn’t that you should just “get over it,” but do recognize that you are supposed to outgrow some friendships. Not everyone is here for a lifetime, and not everyone can walk a path that aligns with yours.
The faster you accept this, the easier you can let go and find the people who are ready to walk with you toward where you’re heading next.
Friendship, like so much in life, is best when it’s effortless.
Though lifelong friends are invaluable gems, the truth is that it is okay to catch up with your childhood pals only a few times a year. The truth is that it is okay to not need to see every detail of their lives as it unfolds. The truth is that you can hold space and love for all the people with whom you’ve shared happy times in your life while acknowledging the bittersweet fact that life sometimes carries us in different directions, and that’s not because we aren’t right for each other, but because we are meant for something different.
Real friendship is allowing each other to grow.
It’s waving from the shores as you say thank you for everything they’ve meant to you and wishing them love as they pursue what they are meant for next.
It’s not about deciding who is or isn’t worthy, who is or isn’t at fault, who is or isn’t calling enough, including enough, and so on.
It’s about understanding that friendship, like so much in life, is best when it’s effortless. You didn’t have to make a concerted effort to see the people you loved most when you were most in love with them, it happened naturally. When it doesn't, there’s a reason, and that reason isn’t your perceived unworthiness.
It’s that you are becoming different people in different places with different responsibilities.
Love is not holding on so tightly that nobody can ever move on. It’s allowing the people we love to move forward, even if sometimes that path doesn’t include us.