The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Losing a Friend Sucks but Some Tips on How 2 Handle It

Last night I attended an event where I got to watch a teen I know (let’s call her BFF#1) interact with her “BFF” (let’s call her BFF#2) of several years. I put “BFF” in quotes because it’s clear (at least to us adults who have lived through this) that this friendship is likely doomed. I suspect, sadly, that it’s mostly because of a boy but there might be other issues which I’ll also explain.

You see, BFF#2 has her first boyfriend and it’s starting to impact the amount of time she spends and gives to BFF #2. You’ve seen this happen before right? Maybe it’s even happened to you? You have a great friend, you’re closer than sisters, you spend all your time together and then WHAM! Your BFF becomes someone you barely know overnight as she becomes completely consumed with a boy. It’s sad when this happens (and sadly, it happens even as you get older) but it’s a learning experience for sure. You may never experience this during your teens or you may experience it several times but here’s some advice on how to handle it.

1. First, try to be understanding. I know, I know. This sounds like completely bizarre advice for the person who is obviously hurting you. But, it’s really easy to just get mad or sad or upset that your BFF has flown the coop and it’s also very easy to say “I would never do that to my friend!” but maybe you would! Your first boyfriend is a big deal and you too may find yourself completely consumed with a boy at some point. So, try to understand why she’s acting this way and put yourself in her shoes for a moment. I’m not condoning how she’s acting but it’s really easy to say you would never do something when you actually might if you were in the same situation (at least for a little while and perhaps unintentionally). The biggest reason to be understanding, however, is not because I want you to accept what she’s doing as ok but because you shouldn’t build up hate or anger towards someone. It’s easier to shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t like it and I hope I wouldn’t do it but I guess I get it and I can get over it.”

2. Ok, once you have tried to understand why she’s acting this way it’s time to actually talk to her about it. These conversations are never comfortable but she may not even realize she’s doing it or if she does, she may just think that you’re so happy for her that you must obviously understand why her time is now occupied with someone else (yeah trust me, people can act pretty dumb when it comes to boys). You could start the conversation out by just telling her you miss her and that you’d like to spend more time together. That might be enough of a clue for her (unless she’s completely clueless) that you’re reaching out. You could say something like “Hey, how about we go shopping on Sunday afternoon just the two of us. I really miss you.” If that doesn’t seem to work you could try being really honest and tell her that you’re hurt. If she really is a good friend she shouldn’t want to see you hurt and might try harder to find balance. If she doesn’t come around, well, that’s information for you to process too.

3. Ok, this is a hard one but sometimes people just aren’t what they seem and/or people change and you just need to accept this. The BFF you thought you knew better than yourself may be changing. She may not share the same interests as you anymore. She may have stuff going on at home that is making her pull away. She may, and trust me this one happens ALL THE TIME, be jealous of you and it makes it hard for her to be your friend. I’ve seen jealousy impact a lot of friendships (my own included) and it is a really powerful negative force. You would hope that BFFs would just be happy and support one another regardless and with a true friend, this will (hopefully) be the case. The reality is that jealousy often gets in the way. Again, I’m not saying it’s right but it happens. When someone changes or jealousy tears you apart there isn’t too much you can do but learn from the experience.

Does any of this help? The most important thing to remember about these kinds of experiences is that it has nothing to do with you. I know that sounds weird but you really didn’t do anything wrong (unless you did in which case you need to own that) and your friend is just struggling with her own fears, inadequacies, feelings and needs. Yes it obviously impacts you but really, and I mean this, it has nothing to do with you. This is a super super super important lesson to learn about life and people. In fact, I wrote an article for parents about it that you can read here if you’re interested. You can’t take anything personally in life because it’s not about you. It’s someone else just dealing with their own stuff and taking it out on you. Trust me on this. It’s hard to practice but if you can learn it and accept it now in your teens, you will be an amazingly well-balanced and lovely adult. I promise.

I hope this helps a little. Losing a friend is a gut wrenching experience and it’s ok to feel upset about it. But, as with all painful experiences in life, it will help you grow. It gives you an opportunity to figure out what kind of friend you want to be to others and what kind of friends you want to attract in your life. I hate watching it happen to the teen I know but I know she will find her own way and be stronger for it. I know you will be the same.

Want to talk about a similar experience? How did you handle it or how did you not handle it?! Comment here and I promise I’ll try to help!

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