Why Friendship Breakups Can Hurt Worse Than Romantic Ones, According To A Clinical Counselor

Have you ever experienced a friendship breakup? Thanks to society's obsession with the ins and outs of romantic relationships, among other factors, you might have been caught completely off guard by just how painful the experience of losing a beloved friend really is. You may even find yourself wondering if you're being overly sensitive or a drama queen, or if you're taking too long to "get over" the loss of your friend and the role they played in your life.

The unexpectedly deep pain of losing a valued friendship is very much real and valid, just like the pain we experience when a romantic relationship dissolves. As such, Glam spoke exclusively to Aditi Jasra, registered clinical counselor and psychotherapist at Wellness North Counseling, about the devastating emotional effects of losing a friend and the reasoning behind these reactions. If you've ever struggled with the end of a friendship, join us for this expert's take on the matter. 

Unrealistic expectations

Thanks to a seemingly endless slew of dating apps, rom-coms, and romance novels, it has become part of the collective narrative that most romantic relationships aren't lifelong. Friendships, on the other hand, are still typically viewed through the more unrealistic, childlike lens of permanence. This can make a friendship breakup feel more like a blindside than a romantic one. "When a close friendship ends abruptly," Aditi Jasra exclusively told Glam, "it can shatter the belief in the enduring nature of these relationships. They can leave us with feelings of betrayal, trauma, disappointment, frustration, anger, sadness, jealousy, and much more."

Recovering from the loss of a friend is difficult enough. Dealing with the breakdown of your expectations of friendship, in general, is a whole other can of worms a friendship breakup might bust open. Don't rush yourself; take as much time as you need to process both the loss of the individual friendship and your expectations as a whole. 

Emotional support

Friendships between women are well known for their deep, emotional bonds. It can be difficult — if not impossible — to find a romantic relationship that embodies the same level of mutual emotional support as a healthy friendship between two women. "Friends often provide emotional support, understanding, and companionship during both good and bad times," Aditi Jasra exclusively shared with us. "Losing a friend means losing that source of comfort and someone who understands you deeply."

Suddenly losing a friend who may have been your main source of emotional support is a loss of much for than just friendship. Feeling that hole in your life can compound the sadness you feel from your friendship ending. This — like any other major loss — can require an entire grieving process to heal and move on from. In the meantime, lean on your remaining friends, family members, and other loved ones for the support you need. 

Overall investment

Think of your oldest close friend and try to tally up the amount of time, effort, and emotion you've invested in them since the beginning of your friendship. Then, try to recount every major experience you've shared that helped to form an emotional bond and build trust between you. For most, these are impossible tasks. Once you reach a certain number of shared memories with a person, you almost lose your ability to imagine your life without them.

"Friendships are built on shared experiences, memories, and a deep emotional bond," Aditi Jasra shared exclusively with Glam. "The longer the friendship, the more intertwined your lives become," she elaborated. "Losing a friend means losing that history and connection, which can be incredibly painful and leave a void in your life." If you feel like you're experiencing a death as you mourn the loss of your friendship and everything you invested in it, you're not alone. 

Societal invalidation

At the same time that society perpetuates an idealistic everlasting view of friendship and a more realistic acceptance of the fleeting nature of romance, it downplays the significance of those same friendships. When a friendship ends, the friends are expected to move on with their lives as if nothing has happened. When a romantic relationship ends — even though it wasn't necessarily expected to last forever — an emotional meltdown and grieving period is fully expected and even encouraged.

These lopsided collective views on relationships can add to your distress. "Society tends to place more emphasis on romantic relationships, often overlooking the significant role that friendships play in our lives," Aditi Jasra explained in our exclusive chat. "This lack of societal validation and understanding can make it harder to find support and navigate the pain of a friendship breakup." If you can't help but feel like you're overreacting to the breakup of your friendship, these societal beliefs are likely to blame. 

Social dynamics

Few friendships exist in a vacuum. Most of your friends are probably also friends with each other, creating a wider social network of friends and acquaintances. When one friendship within this group ends, it can throw the whole network for a loop. If you're still friends with other people in the group, you'll now have to make decisions on whether or not you will still attend group activities, for instance. No matter what you decide, the potential for discomfort is high.

Aditi Jasra exclusively explained that "when a friendship ends, it can disrupt the dynamics within that social circle and create a sense of isolation or loss of community." The clinical counseling expert also shared that, in her opinion, "romantic breakups, while challenging, may not have the same widespread impact on social connections." If you're struggling to heal from the pain of a friendship breakup, you are absolutely normal. Take your time and take care of yourself until you're ready to create new, lasting friendships.