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How can I help my 13-year-old daughter get over a friendship breakup?

January 4, 2013 | By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
Your daughter apologized after the breakup and there isn’t much more she can do if her friend won’t forgive her.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My 13-year-old daughter had a best friend. The girls were “going out” with two boys that were also best friends. My daughter’s boyfriend recently broke up with her. Shortly after that her friend broke up with her boyfriend.

My daughter had been friends with her friend’s boyfriend all through grade school. My daughter still talked to her friend’s ex-boyfriend, walked in the hall with him, and talked to him. Her friend was hurt by this and has since decided not to be my daughter’s friend.

My daughter is extremely sad about the loss of this friendship. She has apologized several times, tried to talk to her, tried to make amends. Her friend told her if she really wanted to be her friend she wouldn’t talk to her ex-boyfriend anymore. My daughter had a hard time with this but eventually did this.

Her friend still won’t talk to her and now their other friends are shutting my daughter out. She is devastated. I have been sick to my stomach worried about her for a week now. She’s cried to me and is very sad. I don’t know what to tell her or how to help her handle this. While I think my daughter made a mistake in the beginning, she has tried to do what’s right and it just keeps getting worse. I don’t know what the right thing to do is anymore. Please help.

ANSWER

Dear Worried Mom,

Both you and your daughter have had a double-whammy. It’s hard for a young teen to get over a boyfriend breakup but it can be even more painful to lose a best friend. Together, the two losses can be overwhelming for someone of any age.

Coincidentally, I answered a post earlier this week from an adult (Is it wrong to talk to your friend’s enemy) who also had difficulty knowing how to interact with a friend’s ex or with a friends’ enemy. As I mentioned in the other post, the rules aren’t crystal clear but my sense is that your daughter didn’t do anything fundamentally wrong. The ex was her friend, too. However, both girls are young and I can understand, too, that her friend may have gotten upset.

It was very mature of your daughter to apologize and it’s unfortunate that the other girl wasn’t forgiving. Even though this matter wasn’t resolved amicably, your daughter should feel good that she did the right thing by apologizing.

Although you may feel powerless, there are ways you can help your daughter:

1) Let her cry, complain and express her feelings to you. It’s good that she is able to trust and confide in you.

2) Reassure her that friends often have misunderstandings, talk about them, and make up. Tell her that she didn’t do anything fundamentally wrong and that you wish her friend had been able to be more forgiving.

3) Help your daughter identify other friends, either at school or outside of school, or family members with whom she can spend time and socialize until this becomes a dim memory.

As upsetting as this is right now, she will get over this hurt. It’s part of growing up and learning from disappointments. Teenage friendships are often fickle so the two girls may, in fact, some day get over this disappointment.

Hope this helps a little. My heart goes out to you and your daughter.

Best, Irene

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Category: OTHER ADVICE, Teen friendships

Comments (4)

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  1. Amy says:

    I agree with Leah. The job of a mom is to help her daughter grow character and strength, not to teach her to jump into the drama. She can support and strengthen her daughter w/o teaching her teen that showing kindness to friend B is wrong if friend A disapproves. In my opinion, friend A wasn’t being a good friend by expecting that.

  2. Leah says:

    I don’t believe your daughter did anything wrong, in fact it shows strength of character to remain friends with her former best friends boyfriend.
    I hope they all make peace with each other.

  3. Amy says:

    Your daughter sounds like she’s mature and loyal beyond her years in her ability to show loyalty to two friends who aren’t getting along at the same time. Unfortunately that maturity doesn’t always relate to popularity. Disliking someone because a friend does is a characteristic of a follower, not a leader. Sometimes being a follower is “safer”, but in that safety, others can be hurt.
    Girls can be petty and mean, so can women, but this is not universal, even though it feels that way sometimes. EVERYONE isn’t mean andEVERYONE doesn’t hate her, even though it feels that way. Feeling sad, hurt, and angry is okay, and appropriate.
    Your daughter might want to write her friend an email or note explaining that she cares about her bf and her bf’s ex, that she has no romantic feelings toward the ex, but she likes his friendship. (Though she should realize before there’s a chance anything she writes down can be shared with others).
    Encourage your daughter to stand by her principles and check in with her daily to see how she’s being treated by her friends. Don’t say negative things about the character to her friends, because they could be bffs again next week. Focus on mirroring your daughters feelings, “that must really hurt” so that she knows you understand. She doesn’t need you to try to fix her problems (unless this turns into full fledged bullying), unless she asks for advice.
    This too shall pass, but she’s probably not in a place to hear that right now.

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