Surviving a friendship break up
Break ups suck. Everyone knows that. It doesn’t really matter who instigated it or how it came about and the Hollywood movie cliches – sweatpants on the sofa, crying into a pint of ice cream in front of The Notebook – don’t really touch upon the true grief that is saying goodbye to an important period or person in your life. But what happens when the person on the other end is a friend you’d assumed would hang around forever?
Nobody really talks about friendship break ups or gives them the air time they deserve. In all honesty, I think it’s often worse than the end of a relationship because whilst you may be able to heed the warning signs and appreciate that things just aren’t how they used to be, we often assume that our good friends are in it for the home run.
Not all friendships are the same, we bond with different people in different ways, often for distinct purposes (even if not consciously so). There are the friends you’ll introduce to your family, the one’s who’ll treat your little sister like their own. The friends that you’ll call up on a Friday evening because you know they’ll be down for tequila shots, and the ones who will be round in their pyjamas with a bottle of wine and the Sex in the City boxset instead. Sometimes I do believe friendships are only destined to last a period, perhaps borne out of convenience even, such as a work pal or a friend at school that you know you won’t really keep in touch with. That’s okay. We can’t be BFFs with everybody and it’s these perhaps less meaningful (but no less valuable) friendships that help us to gain perspective on our really close ones.
When a friendship breaks up that you expected would run the long course though, it really, really hurts. It’s not actually that different to a relationship break up: you wonder how you’ll get to know someone else so well, you’ll mourn your ‘in‘ jokes and seeing them move on to pastures new can make you feel jealous and bitter, or perhaps just really sad. This is, without the usual outpouring of empathy that often comes along with a newly single status. Maybe that’s because we’re less inclined to publicise a friendship break up, or maybe we just don’t recognise the platonic relationship as as important as a romantic one.
I’ve broken up with friends before. I’ve been broken up with by friends before. Sometimes friendships have just come to a sad but necessary end and other times I’ve barely noticed as they gradually melt away. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and often if a relationship of any variety ends, it’s for the health and happiness of both parties, even if it may not feel that way at the time.
Perhaps one of the other real difficulties and acute differences to a romantic break up is that often a friendship break up doesn’t come with closure. We allow ourselves to drift apart when actually, it’s far braver to have those difficult conversations if you feel that a friend isn’t treating you the way you expect to be treated anymore. Even the most blazing of rows or dramatic of romantic break ups come with some sort of ‘end’, if only because you’re likely to be tied to each other in some form, be it as huge as splitting a property or as little as giving back their stuff. I’ve only ever had one friendship end on the basis of a big, angry row and it took years before either of addressed those feelings and sought closure.
I went for lunch with a friend before I left London and she explained how she’d recently decided to break up with a friend. She explained to her all the reasons she felt it was for the best and I thought that was a really brave, and probably quite rare, thing to do. It really got me thinking.
Being someones friend is not unconditional and neither is the love that comes with it. Sometimes friendships become sour, sometimes they weren’t as strong as you believed in the first place, other times it’s simply part and parcel of growing up; something I believe we’re all constantly in the process of. We are not the same person year on year (at least, I hope not) and thus whilst some relationships may alter and adapt as you grow together, others may become fractured. Sometimes it’s a relief to feel unburdened from a friendship that perhaps has becoming damaging, or even just simply a chore. Maybe you realised you just aren’t quite as aligned as you once were and that’s totally fine too. Either way it’s kinder to have those conversations, even if they’re not always fun.
I don’t regret a single friendship, relationship or encounter I’ve had in my life. Even the more toxic ones have taught me something, be it about myself or about how to do better next time.
I quite recently experienced a friendship break up with someone that I lived at uni with for two years (I am in my final year but we don’t like together this year). I realised that I our friendship had began to turn sour, and I was putting effort into something that was making me feel awful. It was really hard to end, and my “then-friend” still tried to make me feel like an awful person as I was doing it. But after I felt like a weight had been lifted, I didn’t need to feel bitter as we cut all lines with each other. I didn’t need to worry about why I had been let down last minute again. I didn’t need to feel like I was only being met up with as a formality. I am so much happier and have learnt what is healthy in a friendship and who true friends are.
I am so glad you wrote about this because nobody talks about it, but it is such a difficult thing to experience. Thank you xx
I can totally sympathise and it sounds like you did exactly the right thing by putting yourself first (and actually, her too) and creating some closure too. Xx
Very recently, I had to „break up“ with a family member (sister) and subsequently her kids, hubby etc….
My sister always treated her other siblings and even our mother as people of a second class. Over these last 3 decades I only received pain and heartache from her and I always tried my best to be here for her. 5 months ago, someone close to me told me, this treatment isn‘t fair and he can not for the life of him see why I keep up with it…
For years I was told I‘m not good enough by her and that messed badly with my mindset. So I made the decision to tell her and also tell her that as of this meeting, all our ties are cut because I need to be worth more to myself as allowing to get treated this way.
I cried more then ever before that day, but I have also never felt more at ease and happy on a daily basis as I do now.
I have experienced a friendship break up with my friend of 23 years. We drifted a little when we went to university and that is bound to happen when you make new friends and start a new life. For me, the hardest part is that it just happened 1 day, she stopped replying to messages and since then she has cut me out of her life completely. 4 years on and I still don’t know why or have any closure which hurts the most.
Thanks for writing this blog post, not enough people talk about the fact that breaking up with a friend is harder than a boyfriend/girlfriend!
A couple of years back I broke up with my long term friend. sometimes you don’t realise how that friendship affects you. honestly, breaking that friendship made me grow as a person and realise that that friendship, even though a long term one, wasn’t the healthiest. sometimes you just gotta step back and reflect.
Thanks for this post it is very rare to talk about these things!
This post is really interesting and has touched on a topic that is very close to my heart right now. I have friends who I simply stopped being friends (I grew out of that friendships and so did they), but I also have some which are like a book that hasn’t been closed properly. It is very frustrating as some of these friendships were supposed to be “forever” and they didn’t even last a decade. I agree with you completely in that post. I even had a similar moment as you thinking that maybe friendships are there to last for a certain period of time and not forever. I don’t know now what I think is true, but I do appreciate this post and how it made me think about my past friendships.
I’ve had my fair share of friendship break ups over the years, some much harder than others. When I was in my final year of school, I got a boyfriend and my best friend decided that she didn’t want to be friends anymore as I ‘spent too much time with him’, which wasn’t necessarily the case. It was sad, she moved onto different people and I guess I did as well, whilst having my boyfriend. Its been years since that but I can still look back on the memories we shared and honestly, I’ve never had a best friend like her since!
Lucy | Forever September
LOVED this post, Beth! I think everyones experienced a friendship break-up at some point along the line. I actually just wrote about something very similar on my blog. Its about how being in a toxic friendship for years on end was actually something I’m incredibly grateful for because it led me to my closest friends xx
I recently ‘broke up’ with a friend of mine, I have been friends with for the past 3.5 years. The friendship was very spontaneous to begin with and she was always a dramatic person. A lot of things gave me the impression that she was rather spoilt and selfish when she wanted to be, but she was never overly that way with me, the worst being her getting annoyed if she didn’t get her way. She has a tendency of being petty and we had a huge argument over something minor which nearly ended our friendship. I’ve gotten to a point where I have grown tired and realised only she benefits from the friendship. A recent argument has lead to us falling apart completely. I apologised for any perceived wrongdoing, but her childish and exaggerated response lead me to say that I was done and can no longer deal with the pain she causes. I am sad the relationship is over, but it isn’t unexpected, as I am not the first person she has pushed away like this in the last few years. Sometimes you have to wipe the slate clean and move on, if the relationship is toxic and causing you problems, you have to know when to step back and walk away.
I feel like it is only natural to go through things like this every now and again, it makes us stronger as people!
A friend of mine stopped contacting me once we went to separate universities and I still haven’t got over it. I think about her every day.
We wrote to each other for a while, but then the last letter I sent she didn’t bother replying. I guess that was her way of telling me our friendship was over. I don’t really know how to get over it and move on. I always want to message her but i’m scared she won’t reply.
What a good post! I’ve had best friends (and flat mates!) stop talking to me with no given reason and it was shit but I decided that actually they didn’t deserve my friendship if they weren’t going talk. It was sad and I do miss the friendship we had. But equally I’ve had to cut someone out of my life too as they were toxic and it took years and I hated it as I still care for them but it has made my mental health ten times better and sometimes you’ve just gotta do it for you.
I had experienced friendship break up last year with my one and only bestfriend. We always met each other during break time and lunch time.
Apart from that, we ALWAYS text each other every single day over random things .we were literally like those clingy couples and even My mum thought that we were in a relationship haha but of course we’re not.
Then, our friendship started to become bitter when she stayed in the hostel At my school. I found out that she slowly try to make excuses during breaktime /lunchtime like she would say ‘she wanted to sleep n etc ‘ but i realised that she hang out more with the hostels friends .
Morever, she only hangout with me so that i could accompanied her stalking her crush .basically i was being used n it’s really exhausting but at the same time i was really happy to meet her and ignored the red flag cause i’m so attached to her.
Overtime, I felt very sad and alone that time like literally i would cry everyday, i didnt know who to talk to because i didnt hv any friend AT ALL.
Few months after that i found new friends,And yet i still thinked bout my bestfriend that time.
Slowly, i started to hang out more with my new friends and my bestfriend noticed it too.Little did i know that, my bestfriend don’t like them and evrytime i want to talk about my new friends to her, she literally didn’t want to listen to me and not interested.so i respect her n kept everything to myself altho i always listened to her if she talked bout her hostel friends, i felt like she’s being selfish but i tried to be understanding .
one day,i was really pissed and ignored her for weeks because she was being mean and rude to me via text, so it took me awhile to let it go but at the end i decided to meet her to apologize n explained everything.
Later on that day, I didnt see any changes from her, she had the same attitude n she still being rude to me n worst .in result, we hv our first fight.
It had been months and I cannot take it anymore n told her that we should go separate ways because i realised that she wont change and she wont learn her mistakes .Following that days i literally remember i was sobbing heavily in the toilet n cried everyday until there’s no more tears left .
It was the worst feeling ever n the temptation to text her was real but i reminded myself that this is for my own good n distract myself by hanging out more with my new friends .
Well i felt so much better now that i let her go at the end ..both of us hv our own life now n past is past. I believed that i deserve better and everything happens for a reason 🙂
I had a friendship break up a couple of years ago and it broke my heart. Some one who I thought would always be there for me. We had supported each other through so much and we had exciting times ahead, or so I thought. My life wasn’t moving at the same pace as hers so I could see her spending more time with other friends. Which to be honest didn’t bother me as we still hung out and spoke over the phone.
But something went horribly wrong when she was planning her wedding. Her hen weekend was being planned and she needed some money to put towards the planning but it came at time when I didn’t have spare to money to give. I felt so embarrassed and guilty because I really wanted to go, of course.
But I knew I couldn’t afford it and at the time I was already mentally unwell I didn’t want money stress on top of that. So I plucked up the courage to tell her, hoping as friends we could even come up with something. But instead I lost a friend because I never heard from her again. It was the worst pain I had ever felt as I thought I was the villain in our friendship. But what’s worse is I feel it has left me with some trust issues and an unwillingness to make new friends. Which is sad!!
Hey just come across your page and your blog and started with this one. A really good blog and it resonates with me so much.
As I have got older I have started to think that not all friendships are “forever friendships”. People come into your life as lessons or blessings.
Throughout the years I have had friendships fade and never really knowing why which is upsetting as I believe I’m a good friend always there for everyone.
One particular friendship got me questioning myself as she hurt me so bad, used me really. It makes you think is it me? Why do I attract these people? Maybe I need to change? Then I thought why should I change, I’m a good person.
Anyway thank you
This post helped me so much… me and my life long best friend of 25 years have recently gone our separate ways… over the years our friendship has slowly drifted apart but we have both managed to find certain things and excuses to bring us back on track again however it’s never the same, each time we become “best friends” again it’s lost another little piece of its spark… we have always been so similar that we found ourselves clashing… she had done things to upset me and I’ve not had the guts to confront her, and apparently now she says she’s always felt the same about me… after about a year of trying to make this friendship work we’ve had to go out separate ways. I felt like I was walking on eggshells shells every time we’d meet for coffee, we’d chat but we both knew we were holding certain things back from
Each other and in the end it felt as if we didn’t even know each other… it really hurt, like the post says, it feels like a breakup, especially when others ask you in the street, how your best friend is, but really you don’t know yourself… urgh! It’s been tough! BUT I do feel I have come out the other side, less anxious, and stronger!