How to Handle Breakups with Friends

September 21, 2018 Published by
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“People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world.”
Dear readers, Barbra had it right. But I’m going to take it one step further: as women, we need other women in our lives, especially when we are over 50. That’s a time when most of us have entered a new chapter of life. We may be empty nesters, retirees, divorced, widowed or never married. And because of this, our friendships with women are more important than ever.

Friendships Over 50

And that’s why friendships at this age can be a double-edged sword. Friendship can be a delicious experience based on trust, laughter, sharing and caring—or, as in many of  you may already know, a great big awful, “OUCH.”

I am certain that you, like me, are interested and involved with many different types of women. From the casual relationships with our trusted hairdressers or trainers to the lovely and interesting women from all walks of life that we call close friends, most of us would not be who we are without them. And we are all grateful for their friendship and the marks they have made on us.

And to the women who have hurt us—I say the same thing! For the truth of the matter is that we would not be who we are today without them and the “ouch” they bestowed on us.

Why? Because each of those painful “ouches” has led us to ask some hard, pointed questions. Was there something we could or should have done differently? Are we choosing the right women to share time and experiences with in our lives?

More significantly, what did we learn from our “ouch?” How did we react to it? More simply put, our “ouches” leave us with learnings that force us to grow and change.

When It Rains, It Pours

Up until my sixties, I was one lucky woman. I experienced no “ouches” with dear friends. And then the rains came pouring down. At the time, I didn’t know how to react to the rain except to feel betrayed and lose my trust in women. I used to assume that when you have a blowup with a friend, you could sit down and work things out. Boy, was I wrong.

I wondered “why now? We should be past these petty indignities to each other.”

After much introspection, I have come to see that until a certain age, so many of us are truly busy with young families and demanding jobs. And we don’t have time to be anything but nice. But that changes when we have time on our hands, our hormones change, the aging factor kicks in and we start worrying about who has this and who has that because we look back and take stock of things. It’s a recipe for JEALOUSY. And some women revert to intimidation and downright meanness.

I know I was naïve because I was untouched by any negative emotions from friends until then. Unfortunately, things have changed since that time and left me shell shocked.

One of my very dearest friends shocked me into reality when she said, “If you don’t expect anything from anyone, you will never be disappointed.” I don’t come from that school of thought, but her comment did help me. I no longer expect anything. And I feel better. Why? Because I get it that women have so much on their plates with their private situations. So, be careful when you’re feeling hurt and don’t overreact.

How I Feel Today

But what about my “ouches?”

Am I bitter? Maybe a little.

Was it painful? Yes.

Did I retaliate? No.

Did I talk to other women about what happened? No!

Am I leery of women now? Yes.

Am I saddened that I have to feel leery? Yes!

Will the feeling of being leery ever go away? Yes!

So what’s the deal when you face a blowup? First you have to decide if you want it to be a break-up or just a blowup. Do you want to try and take your time to pursue the relationship and keep the conversation open in order to resolve the problem? Or do you want to delete the woman (or women) who hurt you, from your life?

In my three negative exchanges, I decided I did not want two of these women in my life and I deleted them. I weighed my options. I held the reins. And this is what I’ve learned.

Do Damage Control

  1. Ask yourself, what was my role in the blowup? What was her role? Do some serious soul-searching. Put your thinking cap on. Do you want to recoup?
  2. Then ask yourself, “do I really care if the other person derails our friendship? Did I say something to my friend that was justified to cause her wrath?” If the answer is no, I suggest you move on. If the answer is yes, try and make amends in a face-to-face conversation. Not by text, email, a note in the mail or over the telephone. Only in person. Validate her feelings. Don’t be defensive. As my father taught me: take the high road, be the bigger person.
  3. Ask yourself: Can I let go of my hurt and my anger? I have a best friend. We became friends when we were six years old. We have had words. Not many, but words that cut communication off for a time. One of us always calls the other. We have the ability to place our relationship over our hurt and anger. If you respect and love your girlfriend—make the first move. Don’t stand on ceremony.
  4. Remember this: you are not alone in getting an “ouch” from a so-called friend. Don’t believe in all the myths of women and friendship because it creates an unrealistic and overly romanticized idea of what it means to have a friend and be a friend. Move on. Learn from your experience. Be more critical of who ‘you choose’ to have in your life after 50. And choose to be friends with women that have real inner beauty, dear readers.
  5. And last but not least, reach out to your children and their children, your treasured grands. They will value your advice. Remember—they are facing your problems at their early age, and will benefit from your hindsight, wisdom and even-tempered approach to this problem.

What Has Been Your Experience?

Do tell! I would so love to hear from you either on  TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram or in the comments section below.

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19 Comments

  • Holly says:

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for writing this!

  • Tina Rotter says:

    So timely Honey..have been contemplating how to handle this Ouch..thank you for great advice and for letting me know I am not the only one facing this. .

  • Magda says:

    I too had a serious blow out with a female friend after 17 years dkthoyalthough that had become a pattern. I felt betrayed but over what others might not take seriously but I felt she laid all blame on me we never talked so it’s been a loss though I never follow through on contacting her. My belief in friendship has been very destroyed Unfortunately I don’t have any other close friends so I am very disheartened that as I age I am alone. Very sad

    • Nancy Marchese says:

      Magda, I can sympathize. I’ve lost 2 friends and their families along with them since of course I’m mot invited to their gatherings. I have almost no family of my own so holidays especially are lonely and sad. I wish for you that you find other friends and that your life will be filled with happiness and fun. Peace to you.

      • Susan "Honey" Good says:

        I am sorry you are lonely. Would you possibly consider joining some type of group? A church group for example. That may be very nice for you. Warmly, Honey

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      This is sad and I am so sorry. Would you consider joining a church group or another type of group? You have to put yourself out there and it is hard. Maybe join a group that practices mindfulness? Warmly, Honey

  • Audrey Piazza says:

    Yes, this has happened to me, but I still keep a positive attitude by remembering all the happy times shared. Worse than this is the phase I’m going through now. At 80+ several of my close friends have died and/or have some form of dementia. I am crushed by this loss of friendship. It’s a subject I would like you to tackle, Honey. Your insight on issues have always been of value to me.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I will try and tackle this issue. For now, I will say this. Friends do not have to be your age. You can seek out some younger friends. I have a friend that is in her fifties that took a trip to Iceland this past summer with a friend who is in her 80’s. Warmly, Honey

  • Connie VM says:

    I have had several of these experiences in my life, and there were times I chose to distance myself from the relationship that no longer “fit”, or did’t feel right anymore. I choose friends that “fit” me. Friendships move in and out of your life, and some stay put for a lifetime. All for a reason. I accept that learn from it and move on.

  • Annette Carney says:

    Thank you for insights here. Friendship is complicated, especially as we mature and life circumstances evolve.

  • Catherine says:

    My blow up with a friend who was more interested in my husband than me resulted in a five year smear campaign that progressed to constant harassment. Be careful how you handle those sociopaths!

  • Bonnie Shackleford says:

    Thank you for sharing this article. Great advice!

  • Linda White says:

    Thank you for covering this topic. I experienced this when my husband died suddenly. A friend that I felt very close to let me down after a forty year friendship. She has tried to apologize but I see her in a different light now. I have learned not to let others treat me in a way that I would not treat them. That is the bottom line but it took a lifetime to get to this point. Be strong.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      I feel it is important to be with women who mirror the manner in which I treat others and my principles. That is my take on friendships. It works. You have reached the same conclusion. Good for you. Warmly, Honey

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