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When you make a new friend, it's a wonderful feeling. You learn new things and have new experiences with this friend, expanding your mind to possibilities, opportunities, hobbies, and more. You usually don't think that with any person you call your friend, that anything truly bad will happen to your friendship. Sure, you'll have spats and disagreements every now and again; but that's normal. But what about when something happens that destroys the friendship? How do you know if it's your fault or not, and regardless which, what do you do?
In my recent happenings, I've lost a few friends due to some normal and some not so normal circumstances; I've learned quite a few things during this time, and figured I would share them so I can help someone with the same problems. I'll start with what's the norm.
More often than not, when you graduate high school, you'll lose a good few of your friends. Not necessarily that there's any kind of issue going on, but because you all go your separate ways and live your own lives. Some people go to college, some don't. Some go straight to work once graduated, some don’t. There's many things that can cause people to just simply drift apart whether it's after high school or not. Just because you drift away from someone does not mean you weren't their friend, nor you or they didn't care anymore. Life gets in the way sometimes. Someone I used to consider my absolute best friend is someone I rarely talk to anymore. I still care about her, and vice versa; but we never see each other anymore. But that doesn't mean that she no longer has her place in my heart. If you have a friend who has been there for you through thick and thin and you've grown so close to, they're like family to you. Even when this friend of mine and I weren't speaking much, she was the first person to come to mind when I got engaged, and was looking for a maid of honor. She accepted, and when we would spend time together, it was like nothing ever changed. After my wedding, we went back to living our own lives. But I know that she still cares, and I know I care about her. So how do you begin to cope with this new life change?
1) Understand that it's not your fault.
People drift from others simply because of life. Life getting in the way isn't necessarily anyone's fault.
2) Reach out.
Try to check in with that friend every now and again. Or, try to make plans. It's nice to catch up over a cup of coffee, or lunch.
3) If it's a problem for you both, talk about it.
If this is something that hurts you and your friend, discuss how to resolve the issue. Maybe once every two weeks you get together to recap, or whatever fits your lifestyles the most appropriately.
Regardless, when life takes you down different paths, there's usually no hard feelings or friendly love lost.
On the other hand, when you lose a friend through problems, there's a much different way to go about it. In my experience, I had a friend I wanted to be my bridesmaid. I paid for her dress and everything. Out of nowhere, she cancels a week before my wedding, telling me she would pay me back and how sorry she was. I have to hurriedly find someone else to fit the dress, pick up the dress, and rearrange so much. Her reason? She wanted to go to a college sorority party. Another friend of mine showed me pictures she had posted and everything. The night of my wedding, I let it slide off my shoulders. But when I found out that she was talking negatively for no reason behind my back, then I had an issue. Literally nothing bad had happened between us. She and I never had an issue out of the time we were friends; then, suddenly, I'm a bad guy to her. When I tell her how much she'll need to pay me back, she refused and proceeded to go off on me about how she's a college student and "doesn't have that kind of money" even though she offered. So what do you do when you have a huge ordeal with a friend, it's not your fault, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it?
1) Let it go.
In my instance, she's the one who has some kind of thorn in her side over something. If you have a similar case, letting it slide is what's best. What their deal is, you may never know. But, you should never let someone else's negativity control your life. If they want to live this way, so be it. But it doesn't define your lifestyle.
2) Decide whether it's worth staying friends with this person.
For me, I chose it to not be worth it. She apparently does not care about me enough to ditch her responsibility as my bridesmaid last second, then leave me without over $200 of my own money. If this is the same for you, it is not worth putting forth the effort for someone who wouldn't even do half for you.
3) Move on.
If you decide to stop being friends with this person, don't wallow in it. This person is toxic to you at this point, and is just bringing you down. Your life has such bright opportunities to let one person ruin it. For me, I just focused on my job and my new husband. Whatever your reason for moving on, understand that this is for the better.
Now, what if you lose a friend, and it's your fault? Let's say for general purposes that you said or did something that really hurt your friend. Where do you begin?
An apology is always the step in the right direction, so long as it's genuine. In your apology, make sure to state what you did wrong. That way, they know you truly are sorry since you do know what you did to hurt them.
2) Be understanding and a good listener.
If your friend chooses to not accept your apology at the time, that's alright. Sometimes, people need to simmer down before being willing to speak about it. If they begin to talk about what happened, listen, and don't interrupt. It's always good to hear what they have to say. Taking the time to let them tell you how they feel allows that person to realize that you're trying to make this better, and that you care.
If your friend chooses to cut ties, also try your best to understand where they're coming from. If what you did was really that bad, then they're making a decision based upon what's best for them. It's always good to respect that. It shows that you care how they feel. It will hurt, but if it's better for the person you care about enough to consider your friend, then you have to let it happen. You can't change someone's mind about what's good for them to fit your needs.
3) If making up, don't suffocate them.
Make sure your friend has the space they need to truly put the past behind them. If you try to immediately go back to how you were before, you might accidentally offend them again. So be careful with your words, and let them breathe.
In summary, losing a friend is hurtful in many ways to various people. But in the end it's the better choice to do what's mentally and emotionally healthier for yourself, and letting your friend make that same decision for themselves.