Getting Closure on a Failed Friendship

Moving on Emotionally From a Friend

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One reason people have a hard time letting a failed friendship go is that they feel the need for closure, or something that will allow them to fully let go of the relationship. Breakups seem incomplete when you can’t say what you want to say or feel like you could try again. But the hard reality is that when a friendship is done, it doesn’t matter if you were ready for it.

Getting closure means that you come to a place of emotional acceptance with the end of your friendship. You might still feel a little sad or angry about it, but overall you’re ready to accept it and move on to healthier friendships. Here’s how to get closure on a friendship that has ended.

Embrace the Reality That Friendships Are Sometimes Meant for a Short Time

It can be shocking when a friendship ends that you thought would go on. It’s hard to believe that a pal you hung out with and had so much fun with is no longer available to you.

Instead of focusing on how long or short the friendship lasted, be grateful for it as it was, beginning to end. All friends teach us things regardless of how long they were in our life, including some lessons that we don’t realize until much later after we’ve left them.

Understand That You Can Get Closure Alone

It’s a common misconception that you need your friend there in order to truly get closure. People want to say what’s on their mind, share their final thoughts, or even ask for one more try. But even if your friend has shut you out, you have it within your power to say goodbye all on your own.

In the book Best Friends Forever, author Irene S. Levine, Ph.D. shares “Friendship Recovery Affirmations" that can help when a friendship ends. They include:

  • Lost friendships are a part of life.
  • Every broken friendship offers lessons to inspire better ones in the future.
  • Closure doesn't take two; it's something you can work on independently.

With the knowledge that you can work through your emotions on your own, regardless of what your friend might think or feel about the situation, you’ll be able to fully embrace closure by the work you do alone. This is a powerful concept that can free you and prevent you from dwelling too long on a relationship that has run its course.

Accept the Mistakes You or Your Friend Made as Lessons You Were Meant to Learn

Too often we’re bummed about a friendship that ended because we feel like we’d do things differently if we just had a second chance. But the reality is, that friendship was probably meant to teach you the lesson, so when you learn it, embrace the knowledge you gained and move on. Don’t try to change the past by wishing it were different.

If you learned something about yourself or people in general, accept these lessons and know that next time you’ll do things differently. This concept, while simple, will prevent you from getting stuck in “what if” thinking.

The End Isn’t Always About You

It’s especially hard to move on from a breakup when you honestly didn’t see it coming. A friend who simply pulls away or blocks you, seemingly for no reason, can leave you wondering what you did for a very long time after. But unless your friend is willing to talk to you about it, you’ll have to accept that perhaps the breakup really is more about something your friends is going through and very little about what you might have done.

Don’t Hope for Reconciliations

The only way reunions work out is when both friends fully leave the friendship and move on with their lives. Then, when they’ve worked through whatever it is they’re meant to deal with, they can reunite at some point. But even then, a reunion that is forced by one friend or attempted at a bad time can fail miserably.

Rather than pine away for a reconciliation, change your thinking to “I’d be open to being friends again in the future if an opportunity should present itself.” This means that you’d be willing to look at a possible friendship in the future, but it would still have to be the right fit for you at that time in your life.


Perhaps most importantly, forgive you and your friend. No matter what happened (if your friend betrayed you, dumped you for a new love interest, or just walked away without another word) forgive them for whatever it is they did.

But you’ll also find that the end of a friendship often comes with a lot of guilt. Forgive yourself as well. Don’t get caught up in the “If I would have done this, then we’d still be friends” thinking. The truth is that if you were meant to stay friends, you would have, regardless of what each of you did. There is a higher purpose to everything in life, and that includes friendship.

Use the Things You’ve Learned to Improve New Friendships That Come Into Your Life

Don’t waste those great lessons that you learned from the end of this friendship. Use them to improve all your current relationships and the new friendships you form. Never dwell on mistakes, because as Maya Angelou has said, “When you know better, you do better.” If you’re know more now than you did before, you’re growing emotionally and can form deeper, more solid friendships.

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