Beyond Happily Never After: Rebuilding My Friend Circle

Here’s usually what happens: when you are dating someone, the goal is to “become one”, so you spend a lot of time doing things together, making decisions together, building a friend group together. So, when you break up, and that part is peeled away from you, you have to learn to re-orient yourself, and ultimately, rebuild your friend group.

I think part of the anxiety of breaking up is that your insecure self thinks everyone is talking about it, and you, being in the very early stages, don’t really want to talk about it, but you are afraid everyone you encounter is going to bring it up, and you aren’t sure how you will respond. Rest assured: everyone is probably talking about it, but no one is probably going to approach you about it. They are probably going to be watching you to determine how you are going to react. People are naturally nosey, and they are going to want to know who broke up with whom, what the reason was, when it happened, etc., so the less information you give them (particularly on social media), the more speculation they have to do to find the truth (I am not a good example of this because I have broadcasted the entire thing over my blog, but I was also aware of the consequences and honestly didn’t really care if people talked about me or not). You will never stop people from talking about you, but feel comforted in the fact that not everyone is probably going to approach you about it. And, those who DO approach you about it will do it in some kind of inconspicuous way so you can decide whether or not you want to respond to their advances.

Rebuilding your friend group is part of re-identifying yourself. I remember when Kent and I first broke up, it was really strange to me that I no longer saw his friends anymore. He had teammates who I saw every single weekend for the last four years—I knew about their girlfriends and those break ups, I knew about their parents and met their siblings, how they were doing in school, when they would graduate, what mischief they recently found themselves in, and to not ever see them was very strange. Then, they all started getting married, having children, and that was a strange transition as well, mostly because it really was not too long ago that I was driving you around in the Ford Escape, stopping for you to roll down the window and holler at those girls. But, friends serve us for all different kinds of purposes. We have some friends that only work in college, and once we grow out of that phase, we grow out of them as well. We have some friendships that are only work friends, and we only do work related things with them. We have some friends that survive a lifetime, some that come for a few months, some that never actually blossom. All of those friendships are perfectly relevant, too.

I had been isolated from my own friend group for a long time that I had to figure out how to rebuild my friend circle. I went through an identity crisis when I stopped dancing, stopped hanging out with those friends, and instead, devoted my energies to my boyfriend’s friends. They were cooler than mine anyways, right? So when we broke up, I didn’t have my own friends, and I didn’t have his friends anymore, so I had to figure out how to rebuild that.

Here’s the secret to getting friends: ASK. People want to help you, and if they have ever been through a break up themselves, they know how emotionally taxing and lonely it can be. I found all these people coming out of the wood works, inviting me to concerts, family gatherings, parties, coffee, church activities, etc. When you are in a crisis, people want to help (it makes them feel better about themselves), they want to reassure you, and they want to share their stories with you. All it takes is for you to tell them what you need; tell them you need to meet for coffee so you can share your newest revelation about what a jerk he was, tell them you need to make plans on Friday night so that you aren’t tempted to check your phone, tell them you need someone to stalk his Facebook profile so you don’t have to. I can’t tell you how many family dinners, pool outings, children’s birthday parties I was invited to, because people knew I just needed to stay busy. And now, my friend base is awesome and I couldn’t ask for a better set of them.

Of course, you also need to prepare yourself for some rejection. Some people get weird and don’t know how to talk about other people’s feelings, or they don’t want to be reminded of their own wounds, and some people are just legitimately busy. You really cannot take it personally because at this stage in our lives, everyone is carrying their own set of wounds. So then, you just move onto another friend, or get yourself a dog (dogs are always a great way to meet people). But, the key to rebuilding your friend base is that it starts with YOU. And, once you start asking, you won’t be able to turn down the invitations and you will have to start asking everyone to schedule you via Google calendar.

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