Friend Breakups: The Fizzle, Explosion, and Damage Control

Originally published on iamthatgirl

Most of us have experienced the ending of a friendship. Some of those friendships crash and burn, some of them simply fade over time, and some friendships we foresee heading for disaster and so we abandon ship. One of my best friends always called these endings “friend breakups.”

It always seemed silly when she used that phrase because to me, breakups are reserved for romantic relationships. Breakups are when your crush stops crushing on you and you melt into the couch with your movies, your tissues, and your ice cream. I just never quite understood her expression.

But then it happened. I had a friend breakup... and it hurt like crap.

Ever since my friend breakup, I’ve given the concept a lot of thought and even become more aware as to how common it is. I noticed that I wasn’t the only one struggling because just like any other breakup, friend breakups are hard.

In my conversations with other recently “dumped” friends, I started noticing three main types of breakups: The Fizzle, The Explosion, and The Damage Control.

The Fizzle 
Although it is the most common friend breakup, it can still leave us feeling a little lonely. Sometimes friendships just don’t move with us into new phases of life. We are always changing and ever evolving, and sometimes people move different paces and directions. Although the fizzle is usually caused by inevitable circumstances like distance, missing out on milestone events, marriage and family, etc, it can still feel really nostalgic.

It’s ok to miss them and not necessarily need them in your everyday life. But the great thing about the fizzle is that usually things are still amicable, so those communication lines can still be open for well wishes, condolences, and encouragement. You can both look back in fondness on your friendship and smile knowing that you’re rooting for each others happiness.

The Explosion
This is the breakup that comes suddenly and hurts your feelings; when your friend humiliates you, breaks her promise, kisses your boyfriend, or anything else that boils your blood. The explosion stings but it’s important to realize you have choices.

You have the choice to either forgive and move on together, or forgive and move on without them. Either way, you should forgive. Trust me, you’ll sleep a lot better.

And if you caused the explosion? You have the choice to own up to your mistakes and apologize.

The Damage Control
The hardest of all breakups, this is when you have to step out of someone’s life because they are being destructive. Sometimes, no matter how much we love someone, we have to let them go in order to protect ourselves. We can’t engage with people who put us in dangerous situations and pull us into harmful patterns.

You might feel a lot of guilt with this breakup, but it’s important to know it doesn’t mean you love them any less. In fact, given time, you might be able to help them get back to their healthier self. It’s just important to have boundaries and to know the difference between Damage Control and being part of the damage.