No One Talks About Friendship Break Ups

There is a theory (propagated by Sex and the City) that says it takes approximately half the time one was in a relationship to get over said relationship. By that logic, I will be fully recovered in…three years. A strange claim coming from someone who has never been in a “serious relationship”? Allow me to explain.

I am in the midst of the most difficult break up of my life. I was dumped by my best friend. The person whose shoulder I normally cry on is now the person causing the pain

No one talks about friendship break-ups. This leads me to believe they are rare. Sure, friendships fade, we lose touch. I don’t cry every time some one “unfriends” me on Facebook, chances are I don’t even notice. But when someone you love cuts you out of their life- someone who knows your secrets, dreams and fears-how can you not feel heartbroken?

There is no inciting incident I can pinpoint. It didn’t end with a blow out- no cliché betrayal, no boyfriend-stealing. I was subjected to the slow fade: the anti-confrontation, the coward’s break-up. It’s left me hurt and confused- what went wrong? Was it me? Cosmopolitan magazine a source no one should trust says the number one reason people break up is because they fall out of love. Does this only apply to romantic relationships? I’m an only child, my concept of “loving someone like a sister” can never be exact. Where did the love go?

annoyed friennd

Cosmo (how much respect am I losing by referencing this rag?) says the number two reason people break up is cheating. Perhaps this is where our problem lies.We never had an exclusive best friendship. She was always my best friend- from college. Throughout the four years (and three years post college) we both maintained best friends- from home. Maybe this feeling of not being the one and only, the best best, is the cause of our ultimate demise. Was she my best friend soul mate? No. She wasn’t. (That’s Miranda.) I’ve always believed in having several best friends. A saving grace. A break-up with one of my best friends is difficult enough. The pain of a falling out with my one-and-only, best of the best, soulmate, is unimaginable.

In a romantic relationship, you consider that possibility. That someday one of you will wake up and say “Um, I’m over this.” In a friendship, do we ever consider that? My best friend has held my hair back as I’ve puked and I knew she still loved me. She saw my face red and puffy from tears, laughed with me to the point of almost peeing our pants, witnessed horrible decisions with no judgments, cheered me on through bouts of self-doubt, held my hand at the ER. We have seen each other at our best and worst. Did the worse out way the best? Was that the deal breaker? With a best friend does one ever think “Does this have any future?” or “Where is this going?”.

You never consider a future with your best friend, you take it for granted.

The third reason people break up, again, according to the worst source ever Cosmo, is because someone lied about something and trust was difficult to regain. I did lie to her once. I remember it vividly because the reason I lied was because I was judging myself. Does that diffuse the lie? As someone looking on the situation older and wiser eyes, I would say yes, somewhat.

What was the lie, you wonder? I lied to her about loosing my virginity.

A thing that was not exactly any of her business and in every way my own secret to choose to tell. But when she asked, I lied. I told her I hadn’t when in fact I had. A month later I would end up telling her the truth, when I was finally comfortable with it myself. The fact that I had not trusted her did cause a rift in our friendship that took some fixing. In my eyes, I repaired the trust without much difficulty. Now, I look back on that lie and wonder if it was the beginning of the end, an unraveling that began years before the ultimate demise.

I will likely never know exactly what went wrong. We haven’t spoken to each other in over six months, aside from painfully awkward “hellos” at the gatherings of mutual friends. I tried to save the friendship once by confronting her, talking things out and it worked for a while. Then she stopped returning my calls. Again. That was the last straw: “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me” goes the cliché. I live in New York, I’m no fool. “Time heals all wounds” goes another cliché. In three years I won’t give it a second thought. Until that time comes, I will avoid two things:

  1. Thinking thoughts of “If my best friend doesn’t love me, who will?”
  2. Reading Cosmo articles along the lines of How to Get Over A Break Up or Break Up Survival Guide. Let me amend that to: Avoid reading any Cosmo article ever. At age 26, I think that’s a good choice to make.
Have you experienced a friendship break-up? Any words of advice? I’d love to hear about it!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

8 thoughts on “No One Talks About Friendship Break Ups

  1. I’ve broken up with best friends before and it was mostly because they were shitty friends to begin with. They wouldn’t show up on time or at all when we made plans, would ditch me to hang out with their boyfriends and were just generally inconsiderate of my time. No one needs friends like that.

    Another time it was because I just couldn’t put up with her lifestyle anymore. She jumped from guy to guy (actually back and forth between two guys for like 3 years), then had a kid with one and still wanted to party and do drugs everynight and I just couldn’t deal with her drama anymore.

    Sometimes people and friends change and then best thing to do is just move on. It sucks but you can always make more friends.

  2. Sorry that you are being faced with this. I have experienced this and the worst part was not having any closure – just one day friends and the next not. I moved on within 6 months and still think of this friend every once in a while, especially if I have something I really want to share. Just take your time and you will deal with it on your own time – hang in there.

  3. I’m sorry for what you’re going through; it hurts to lose a friend. But you’re right to want to move on with your life rather than wait for her to change her mind or her ways.
    Friendship breakups are tough (maybe you should write a book about them, especially because there are so many books about romantic breakups, but there isn’t as much stuff out there about friendships ending, like you said). I’ve lost a couple friends in the past who didn’t give me any explanation either for why the friendships ended. It hurt a lot because I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong either. But on the other hand, true friends are honest with each other (without being brutally honest) and are there for each other. They don’t just cut you out of their lives for no reason. And you deserve true friends like that.

  4. I’m with Neurotic Workaholic on this one. There are a million articles/books/movies/songs out there on how to deal with romantic loss, and a fair amount on the rules of family relationships, but no real advice on how to navigate a rift with a best friend, who is technically neither family nor lover, and yet somehow both. Write a best-selling self-help book about it and get it made it into a movie. That’s a good cliche, right?

  5. Hmm. I don’t have a best friend. You can ask me who my best friends are, and I”ll name some, and it’ll usually be the same list. But, for a long time, I haven’t had anyone I’d call a best friend. The positive side of that is the same as the positive side of being single – you never even have to worry if you’re putting too much stock in one person. I’ve never had major friend “breakups” but I’ve drifted from many people who were at one time a definite best friend. I think it’s just as hard/weird as a romantic relationship, in a way, because you’re still re-thinking your life after it no longer revolves around one person.

  6. bummmmerr 🙁 I think the main reason I have had friendship breakups is that me or the friend has grown separately and differently. some people, like me, are very much “out of sight, out of mind,” which makes me feel really bad about keeping in touch with people but that’s how I operate and why I pay more attention to things/people, say in SF than in other cities. great articulation of your feelings. at the very least, I’m glad you’re articulating your feelings!

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