Being an adult is hard. And it’s not just about ‘adulting’ or finding a fulfilling career or having enough money for retirement. Those are stressful in their own right, but there are other ways being an adult seems to get harder over time. Something that drastically impacts your mental health, but society rarely acknowledges, is adult friendships.
Finding true friendship is one of the greatest gifts in life. Amongst all the heartbreak and triumphs you experience, friends create and elevate irreplaceable memories. And that’s why it is so hard when those friendships end.
Whether from the completely normal process of growing apart overtime or a more abrupt and emotionally draining situation, friendships that end in your adult years are a major loss in their own right and leave a significant imprint on your life from then on. It’s important to learn why it happens, how it can impact your mental health, and what you can do about it.
Some Reasons Adult Friendships End
When you’re younger, there isn’t much stopping you from making new friends. Being an adult is a different story. You learn that boundaries can keep you safe, happy, and healthy. But ending an adult friendship because of boundary issues (or lack thereof) is one reason it can cut so deep. If a friend crosses a line, it’s a breach of trust. If you have unhealthy codependency, it can make you lose your sense of self and feel isolated – even when surrounded by loved ones.
Fact of life: your priorities change as you get older. Responsibilities like work, home, pets, children – it’s a lot! Adult friends with their own responsibilities may naturally grow in different directions. It doesn’t mean it’s easy to let go or that you won’t grieve their absence, but you can learn to prioritize your needs and connect with new friends in a new way in the future.
Your perspective on time changes, which makes a big difference in where and who you choose you spend it. Ending a friendship can make you feel a range of emotions like inadequacy, unworthiness, poor self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, and loneliness. It’s important to take the time to slow down and learn from both the positive and negative lessons in that friendship.
How It Impacts Your Mental Health
Anxiety and Depression
Ending an adult friendship may bring feelings of anxiety and depression that show up emotionally, mentally, physically, and even socially. In fact, social anxiety is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder with over 15+ million Americans suffering daily. If you begin to feel depressed, it can be that much harder to believe you are worthy of making new friends by holding onto unhealthy relationships or preventing you from seeking help altogether.
Do you remember a time when you made new friends without overthinking? You didn’t have those hang-ups that make us question everyone and everything around us yet, so we’re more open to befriending someone new. Your trust issues may have valid reason; however, it’s important to determine whether the issues come from a place of concern or a place of fear.
When a friendship ends, it’s natural to feel unsure of yourself. Friendships help shape who we are and, when one ends, it can have a profound effect on how we view ourselves. Your self-esteem can easily be swayed depending on how the friendship ended and what remaining ties there are in your life that could directly impact how you are able to move forward.
What Can You Do?
When you’re an adult, it’s almost too easy to disassociate from the present and be consumed by future plans. Throughout your day, plan time for personal growth and time to connect with friends. Learn new ways to meet people where they are and intentionally put yourself in a new and safe environment.
You don’t have to go through the hard times alone. Online therapy is an awesome way to connect with a professional therapist who is trained in relationship issues, personal growth and life coaching, anxiety and depression, or any other concern you may be struggling to overcome on your own. If you’re in the Seattle area, you can get the support you need by booking a complimentary consultation call when it works for your schedule.
The hard part comes from not knowing how to move forward. One question to ask yourself: what would you tell a loved one that’s going through this? Be kind and forgive yourself for not knowing exactly what to do or how to heal from this. Give yourself love and time to heal.
The friendships that end still add value to your life and, sometimes, people who are only meant to be in your life for a season help you grow into your best self.