Exploring the very painful world of friendship breakups

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Erin KLG
Photo by Linhh-Los Angeles - CC BY 2.0
Photo by Linhh-Los AngelesCC BY 2.0

I recently went through a period where I thought a friendship of mine was dying. It didn't, thankfully, and much of the anxiety I had about it was in my own head. I had never experienced an adult friendship breakup, and I had no idea how to handle it. Did I need to put a fine point on it, to pronounce it as dead? Did we need to have a talk, or could we let it die with the dignity of cowardly silence?

Whether because of a fight, distance, or natural causes, friendship death can be especially painful. Unlike romantic relationships, we don't expect friendships to have expiration dates. There are no "where is this going?" conversations, no breakup war stories, no vows or pronouncements in front of friends and family. Friendships are what you turn to when you end a romantic relationship; they're there when you begin a new one. Friendships can be forever.

But the most painful breakup I've ever had wasn't with a romantic partner.

I was 12, and, at that time, had started rigorous figure skating training. I had been skating since I was 8 years old, but adolescence became the time to up the ante in order to show you were getting better, to prove your parents' investment was worth it. It's the age when many figure skaters quit, as the next few years become only more intense. Like every figure skater at that age, I had Olympic dreams and the injuries to show for it.

My best ice skating friend, Nina, was the same age as me but had started skating about six months earlier. It was understood that anyone who started before you would perform better than you in competitions. It was only natural, and everyone accepted it. Until you got to the top of the game, the narrowest point of the pyramid, could you expect those age and time differences to even out. But not at our level. Nina was always just a bit ahead of me — a better jumper, taller and stronger, better at dealing with thumps and bruises. She trained hard.

Nina and I took every class together, rolled our eyes at instructors we didn't like. We listened to the same music (Paula Abdul was one of our favorites). I made her laugh. We had sleepovers together, lunches together. She was my favorite Marco Polo partner for the pool. Nina was an only child being raised by a single mother, and she was fond of telling me that if she could have a sister, I would be that person. I once worked on a friendship bracelet for her that was so involved it took me two months to complete it. She wore it to competitions.

You get the picture. As with many friendships, ours was based on the fact that we were isolated together, going through a unique experience most others couldn't comprehend.

Nina was my best friend for two years. Then, in the summer of 1991, right before I turned 13, Nina and I both entered the same competition somewhere outside of Philadelphia. We had competed before — Nina always placing ahead of me, as was the natural way. But unlike those other competitions, I had recently started landing the Axel jump (arguably the hardest jump in figure skating), as well as a few double jumps, and they were incorporated into my program. In essence, Nina and I were now on the same level.

We both did okay in the competition. Not great, but not bad. I stumbled once, and she fell on a double jump. The results were posted on a wall across the rink. She grabbed my hand and we ran over together. We couldn't see over the heads of the other competitors. But once they cleared, my eyes landed on the middle of list, hoping to find my name. I would never look to the top three — it seemed impossible that my name would be there.

Fourth. I was fourth. Fourth! I was excited — it was my best performance to date at this new, higher level. I looked closer. I wasn't the only one in fourth place — there was another name there.

"Nina!" I screamed, turning to find her face, "We tied! We tied together for fourth place!"

I don't know what I expected. Did I expect her to be happy because this was one more thing we could share? Her face was unreadable. She stared at the paper again. "There must be a mistake," she said. Then she turned away.

That was the last time Nina ever spoke to me.

We would see each other at the skating rink every day after that competition, making it painful and embarrassing when our mutual friends asked what had happened. I didn't know, and saying so turned my cheeks crimson. I quit skating one year later, right before I entered high school. I didn't quit skating because of Nina, but the loss of friendship there certainly made the decision easier.

I never quite recovered from Nina dumping me. It took me a long time to understand how it could have happened, to understand what I might have done (or not done).

Today, I can understand why a 12-year-old might, under pressure from her mother to perform, cut off a friendship with someone who had caught up with her, skills-wise. She couldn't afford to be nice to someone who might one day beat her. I understand that now. And if the roles had been switched, perhaps I would have done the same. I'd like to think not — but we were 12, and many 12-year-olds don't know magnanimity.

But the experience created a blind spot in me. I can't see how to bring a friendship to a gentle end. Maybe when you're dumped like that, it's too painful to think you might have to do it to someone else. Maybe there are no nice breakups, no matter how you view it.

I would love to hear your own friendship breakup stories — what worked, what didn't, and how you coped.

REMINDER: Assume anything you post in the comments will be read by the person you're writing about (and your mom… and your boss). Comment with integrity.

  1. Urgh, I feel you. I've never had too difficult a romantic break-up, but a friend break-up remains one of the biggest regrets of my life. Well, I don't think the friendship necessarily could have lasted in the circumstances, but I definitely could have handled it better. But I was 17 – what can you do. I think it took me five years to stop feeling upset about it.

    I don't have much to suggest about how to make things easier. But she and I have run into each other a few times since. I very much wanted to be casual and friendly, since we were such good friends once, but it's always been awkward. I'm not sure if it would ever be possible to get back into all the teenager-y stuff now, or if I'd want to. But I wish we could hang out for a non-awkward coffee sometime. I regret that I screwed up breaking up, and so we can't.

    • I know right? I've been friends with this girl for a year now and a week ago she dumped me.
      I was at her house when this dog was loudly barking. (We where in her back yard.) She was throwing pebbles and telling it to "sut up". The dog was scared of her and her brothers. I told her if she was calm it would understand that she was not a thret. She ld

      • (So sorry I accidentally hit post.) She wouldn't listen. Then I said "If you had a kind heart and listened… OH MY GOD! I DID NOT MEAN THAT! I'M SO SORRY!" Then she said, "You can't take that back, you jerk!" I tried to reason, but she wouldn't have it. She just walked into her house and left me alone. I called my mom and left. She actually locked me out! I was done! She had been doing stuff like this to me for a while now, and I was fed up! I haven't heard from her since. It's been very depressing for me to open up. What I have learned is… it happens. You just have to keep those little happy memories and move on. I hope this help others. 😉

  2. Oh lord, yes. The worst I have ever felt in my life was when my BFF dumped me. She and I had been friends since 4th grade, and BFFs since middle school. When we got to college, I went though a really rotten period of depression that ended up in a couple of hospitalizations due to suicide attempts. She and my other close friend at the time made the best decision for them, which was to cut off contact with me. They said I brought too much drama & pain into their lives. I haven't talked to her in about 5 years now, and it still burns me. I really don't blame her for what she did, because I was a complete disaster and acted like a total sh** for a long time, but it still to this day hurts that she refused to have anything to do with me.

  3. I have been going through the tail ends of this for about two years. I didn't realize that I was breaking up with my oldest friend and I wish I had. Those words would have helped me when I was hurting the most. Baskets.

    The bottom line in my case was that no matter how much history I had with my friend, or how long we were friends, or how much we both wanted it to work out, I didn't and couldn't trust her anymore. And no matter what we tried, that trust wasn't coming back.

    I think in trying to fix the problem for so long we each made it worse and suffered longer. After all, a clean cut heals faster then a jagged tare right?

    I don't blame her alone, I know I need to take my share of the blame and honestly, I think the buck really stopped with me. I'm the one who finalized the, "break up," and it sucked, and it hurts, and I wish it were different. I still lose sleep at night wondering what else we could have done. I still think of new things to try, and have moments of happiness and heartache that I want to share with her. Moments when the phone is half way dialed and I have to set it down. But for me, I need to stop hurting over this. I need to stop loosing sleep, and stop wanting to make that call. Maybe when I'm over it we could try again, but not before. Not before I can forgive and forget – and I'm a long way from that point…and yes, I understand and agree, those are MY problems and 100% MY fault.

    Sometimes, there's just nothing more you can do….

  4. My experiences of romantic and non-romantic breakups have been about the same — non-dramatic, and about as unpainful as they could be. I've never actually had a big break-up with a friend, we've just drifted apart without really talking about it or having a fight. (I've had plenty of fights with friends before, but we've always resolved our differences afterwards). When I see former-friends from whom I've drifted away, it's easy to be acquaintance-ly with them. I guess I've been really lucky.

  5. I thought I was the only one! Distance, a new fiancé, and feelings of being left behind all contributed to my breakup with my best college friend.

    For me, one thing that helped was giving the relationship my all. Just like a marriage, I didn't want to leave wondering if I had tried everything. Of course, that was tricky because it made the end less clear-cut, as I reached out a few more times.

    I'm so interested in other responses. Two years later she appears in my dreams (creepy much?) often, and I still
    Find myself wondering what I could have done different, and if I should still try….

    I also never went through any other breakup (romantic or otherwise), so I don't know how much of this is "normal" when ending a relationship, or if my continued strong reaction means something else.

    • A couple of my high school friends (10 years ago now, 4 years since we last saw each other other than just bumping into each other) still appear in my dreams on a regular basis (once or twice a month that I remember). We didn't "breakup" so much as slowly drift apart. Anyway, glad someone else has this, because it's always made me feel like a bit of a creeper dreaming about them.

    • I get this a lot with some of my old friends where we had a really rough break-up. The attitudes and general feeling of the dreams shifted from angry and fighting to us sharing about what's new in our lives. It's a little eerie, but I'm also happy that subconsciously I can still love them.

    • I have friends, some I haven't seen in years, appear frequently in my dreams. They each of them represent foils of their real selves, so I have one representing jealousy, one representing wisdom, one regret, one shame, etc. I feel nostalgic afterwards, but know that each of the friendships, while not ended as cleanly as could have been, were not healthy for me.

  6. This story made me want to tear up. I agree completely, "breaking up" with a friend is harder for me than a romantic break-up in many ways. I've had friendships that fade with distance and time, and those don't bother me. One time though, I experienced the dreaded friend break up.

    My best friend was amazing. We were two peas in a pod. It all changed the first year of college. She didn't go away for college and I did. I got a boyfriend at school and made new friends. So, I started coming home less on the weekends and she decided it was time to go our separate ways. I cried and told her I loved her, but she said it wasn't enough. She deleted me off of myspace (Because that means it's REAL haha) and didn't respond to any texts I sent or calls.

    I too, like you, can see now what happened. She was jealous that I was off at college making new friends and she was still hanging out with our small, home-town group. I was at fault too; I didn't answer her texts or calls as quickly as before. I made her feel unimportant. I didn't see any of this at the time though.

    I stalked her on online and cried randomly when I was home alone. I actually even told people that it felt like a break up! It was just as painful and I never expected it. Our millions of inside jokes weren't funny anymore. I was so upset, and, as a couple months went by, I started to get mad. I was mad at her. How could she? Well, like with most things, time heals. I'd say it took me about a year to stop thinking about it everyday.

    Guess what? We didn't speak for 4 years and then, one day, she contacted me. She told me she was sorry and I did the same. Recently, we had a really fun night out at a bar creating super-intricate, fake identities. It won't ever be how it was before, but it felt really good to come full circle.

  7. Oooh boy, memories. I was dumped & subsequently subject to verbal abuse by a group of friends in high school– of course we were in all the same classes, extracurricular activities, etc. Similar to your experience, Erin, the breakup was a result of my success in contrast with the struggles of the other girls. It was a very painful time for me and, looking back, I probably would have benefited from some counseling, but I was embarrassed and felt that somehow it must be my fault so I stuck it out on my own. To cope, I focused entirely on schoolwork and after-school activities (which served me well when I went to college, so that's good). I never made another close friend in high school, so that sucked.

    I feel strongly that this experience really defined my character: I value relationships very highly, have an aversion to overly competitive attitudes, and even can trace some of my existing insecurities back to that time. For the most part I'm glad it happened. I'm definitely glad that it happened in high school, because at least I could leave it all behind after a couple of years!

    • I had a similar experience in HS right before prom where all my "friends" tried to have me moved to a different table. They weren't successful so I had to sit with them as they pretended I didn't exist. SO AWKWARD!

  8. Personally, my friendship break-ups have always way more painful than any ending relationship I have ever had. I have no advice, because there is not a day I don't wish I can get those people back in my life. I cope just by telling myself we hurt eachother too much and they would not want to have me back in their life, and deep down, it's better for me as well after all.

  9. ALLL of this, including the comments.

    I've had a lot of adult friendships that just faded, and some stayed faded, and some came back. Sometimes they came back out of circumstance, sometimes because one of us would make an effort.

    My now-husband and I had a friendship breakup long before we ever started dating (or met in real life, for that matter). We disagreed about something; I was so mad, I deleted every online account I had, changed email addresses and phone numbers. The only account I forgot about was MySpace (I wasn't really using it anymore)…and he found me on there 2 years later with a message that said something like, "20/20 hindsight can be damning, but I wish we could be friends again like we used to." It was just the message I needed, at just the right time, too — I'd just gone through a death in the family plus a romantic breakup.

    Having him do that changed how I approached my faded friendships. I evaluated who I missed having in my life, and thought: was it my fault? Was it theirs? Was it just circumstance? And I found them, contacted them, apologized if I needed to (usually for sucking at staying in touch), or sometimes admitting I didn't know what happened. As a result, I'm now re-friended with my old BFF from elementary school, one from high school, and one from university. After a few hours of playing catch-up, it was like we never lost any time at all. And they were all REALLY happy to hear from me.

    I guess my best advice is: just because a friendship is broken now, it doesn't necessarily have to stay that way forever. They're better at bouncing back than romantic breakups, to be sure 🙂

  10. I don't know that I've ever known when I was being friend-dumped, which I think is another way in which losing friends can be more complicated than the end of a romantic relationship. It's generally considered bad form to end a romantic relationship worth the name "relationship" by just not talking to the person any more, but friendships can easily fizzle out this way. I've never had a friendship end with a fight, or even a specific incident like the one in the post that in retrospect could be seen as the cause. If a romantic partner moves away there's an expectation that either you'll agree the relationship is over or you'll have a plan to make it work long distance. Friends don't typically discuss what their intentions for the relationship are once they move apart. And since friendships aren't exclusive, the fact that your friend is doing friend-things with somebody else isn't a signal that they have moved on (or that they are "cheating on you" in some way and you need to either break up with them or get them to work on fixing the relationship with you). The beginning of my relationship with my husband was a friends-to-lovers situation in which it took us several months to figure out what the other's respective intentions were, to the point where we can't settle on what our first date was, and I've still had far less difficulty in my life figuring out romance than friendship.

    I found the book Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine to be helpful. She also has a website at http://www.thefriendshipblog.com

    • funny enough, the only friend break-up i could think of was over whether friendships are exclusive. that was third grade. my "best friend" at the time (for what that's worth in 3rd grade) told me that i couldn't be friends with anyone else; i felt like not being friends with her was a better solution, and she stopped speaking to me. i'm kind of proud of that breakup, actually.

      all the rest of my friendships have just fizzled out over time, though.

  11. I had a really horrendous romantic breakup that was only as bad as it was due to poor choices I made, so I can't fall into the camp of a BFF breakup being *the worst*, but I did have a huge falling out with the person I thought for a long time would be my forever friend.

    We were friends for roughly a decade, but the last 4 years were markedly troubled. We both were going through a lot of challenges, but hers were greater. We met in Jr High and were simply each other's "people." It was great. I haven't really felt that at ease with another person, excepting my husband, since. But life took us different directions:

    I finished high school and started college, becoming extremely motivated in the process. I was motivated to study, to excel, to work out and get fit, and to stomp the competition. Looking back at that period, I admire myself but can't imagine what I was like to be around. She dropped out of high school (for not terrible reasons), and kind of floated around a bit, moving and getting involved in relationships I didn't understand (via the internet). We stayed close inasmuch as we were roommates, twice. Both times were rife with trouble.

    I don't know why I thought we could live together after the first time ended as poorly as it did.

    Everything we did grated on each other, towards the end. I can only speculate as to how it was for her, but to me — at the time — I felt like we'd lost touch with each other. I strongly felt that she exhibited deep-seated and complex jealousy of my life and my relationship with my family. I resented the fact that my love of her didn't seem to matter to her beyond making me a doormat. Now, I'm not sure either of these things explain what went on… and I don't think I'll ever know. One day we got in an especially heated argument and she moved in with her boyfriend and his mom in the space of an afternoon. After that, our relationship decayed to arguments about money she owed me (and that I actually *desperately* needed to be repaid, though I don't think she was aware of that) via Myspace messages.

    I think about her fairly often. We still live in the same small area, and have a few mutual friends (on Facebook, anyway). I like thinking that her life is a lot better than it used to be. I sometimes think about contacting her, but always stop myself. I guess you could say I coped through the power of emotional distance.

    • Oh, the joy of making that living-with-each-other-twice mistake. I haven't had a breakup with my best friend – she and I still talk and enjoy each other (probably because she lives two states away and we do much better with limited contact, it honestly likely saves our friendship). However, each time we lived together, we spent at least 6 months afterward not talking at all. It always ended in tears and sadness. Always. Like an idiot, I did it twice. But something in you always tells you it'll be different the next time. We had another crappy roommate the first time, so we both blamed it on him. Lo and behold – it was just us.

  12. I have had friendships end in various ways. Some have renewed later, some ended gradually, some have remained acquaintances that still feel like friends when we see one another but we do not make that effort regularly.

    I had one spectacular friendship break-up that was a permanent end. There was an email airing grievances that resulted in some clarity that obviously things were not going well. I definitely had some resentment because there was not a lot of acceptance of guilt mixed in with the blame. We sort of tried to continue, but we were not close or comfortable anymore. Then I screwed up and, in telling my partner when he should book his vacation for our big trip to Europe, I did not factor in my friend's wedding. I tried to fix it, but there was no changing the vacation dates and I made the decision that I would go on the trip at the same time, rather than waiting a week while he went on ahead, and miss the wedding that I was sort of dreading anyway (I had previously been informed that I was not viewed favourably by her other friends or family). This was unforgivable and we ended up having a "talk" when we went out for lunch after I had admitted this situation. After that, I was suddenly uninvited to her shower and I never heard from her again. I definitely feel that I made the right decision and that it was probably time the friendship ended but… it still hurts that I lost a friend who I had previously been close to.

    Most of my friendships that have ended did so through just slowly losing touch, thankfully, without major blow ups or fights.

    • The email of grievances oh I hate thee. I've had one of those and it was the most frustrating thing ever. And really, friendships are two way streets and if there's no room for both sides to take some of the guilt how is it supposed to move forward from that.

      • I don't totally agree with this. People are often unable to see their part in a problem, that's true–but sometimes one person really is at fault.

        There might be mental illness involved (see the posts on BorderlinePD), or it might just be someone who "runs hot." In my life I've known a few people who got abusive very easily. They would launch verbal or email attacks and then expect everything to blow over in a week or a month, without any kind of apology. I don't keep those people in my life.

        Interestingly, I think people like that have a tendency to attack "safe" friends–people who are easygoing and very tolerant.

        If you want a peaceful and pleasant life filled with people you can trust, let the firebombers go! If you treat your friends really well, there are lots of people who will be delighted to do the same.

  13. I am still dealing with a friend breakup a year after the heart breaking moment in that friendship. I was a new mother with a 7 week old and she had 2 kids (1 is only 4 months older than mine). My baby had trouble gaining weight and I was flirting with postpartum depression. I guess I leaned too hard on her, but out of the blue she texted me that my son wasn't being handled right, that I didn't read my car seat manual, she had spoken to her pediatrician about how he was being handled and her therapist said to contact child protective services. Well, I obviously flipped out! I have so many instances where I wish I had the presence of mind to say something immediately along the lines of "you've got to be kidding me!" and that she put my ability to parent and trust my husband with my child at risk. I'm home a lot alone (both of our husbands are active duty military) and have lots of time to over think. I decided after we moved to just put her in the Xmas card friend only category and stayed her friend in Facebook. But she continually made me feel like something was my fault (after nurses, doctors, lactation consultants and my straight talking mom & grandmother said my son was safe) while commenting on my Facebook statuses, especially regarding my son, so I cut all of that off as well. On the upcoming anniversary (in the next few weeks) she has emailed me 2x and messaged me and I cannot figure out how to respond. It has been very difficult.

    • It's strangely difficult to have a baby at the same time as a friend. One of my closest friends (who I adore) and I had our kids within days. Even our birth stories are wrapped around each other, though we don't live in the same city. It's been a really cool thing to share, but at the same time a really difficult this to share. Pregnancy was especially difficult as she kept giving me advice that I hadn't asked for and telling me how things are/what to expect, and I'm sure I did some things to drive her crazy. It's gotten better since we had the girls, but I still worry about it when we finally see each other in person. My main fear now is that we'll be competitive, but we're close enough that if we start to do that, we can talk about it (I hope).

      All this to say – having kids at the same time, with all the insecurity, competition, bossiness newness, etc that aren't even always issues beforehand, is a really big challenge for friendships and it's one that we don't talk about.

      Funny thing – this just made me miss her and I'm going to set up a skype date, because while in some ways, sharing this experience has pushed us further apart, it's also made us closer.

    • How to respond depends on the content of the emails and how that made you feel.

      If you are not ready to reopen the friendship door then simply say that.

  14. I had a very similar experience with my best friend since infant school (we're talking age 4 here). We were very equally matched all through school, right until GCSEs. My friend was much more social and arguably had a better social circle and life, whereas I was more reserved and focussed on school work.

    I think things changed when we started A-levels. I seemed to be overly mature and wasn't interested in the new going out scene that became available, whereas she was and becoming increasingly popular.

    It got to the point where I found her childish and she found me boring (I imagine). When I went into work rather than the typical student life that she chose, we drifted further.

    This was compounded by the fact our friendship group, that I initially branched out into many years before through extra curricular stuff, had become more centric around her. We were all one friendship group, but their preferences was for her largely because they had similar lifestyles.

    After I'd been in work a year and a half or so, we'd lost touch to the point we didn't update each other with new phone numbers or the latest social network things we joined. Shunned each other essentially.

    Up until two weeks ago, I hadn't seen her at all. Then we happened to be out for a meal and she was in the same pub. It wasn't even me who spotted her, it was the friend I was with. Although we didn't converse, cross paths or anything, I felt awkward just by her presence that I would otherwise been oblivious to.

    Although at times, it's sad to remember just how close we were and for how long, I think it's important to remember we've changed into completely different people now and I doubt that would have led to a healthy friendship.

    I think it's important to remember that people change, not out of spite or jealousy or maliciousness, they just change and change is not anything to be blamed for

    • "I think it's important to remember that people change, not out of spite or jealousy or maliciousness, they just change and change is not anything to be blamed for"


      It's so true – and somehow it's a really hard truth.

      • Yep, SO many times this. As I wrote in Will I stay friends with my wedding party members after the wedding?:

        At this point in my life, I've got waves upon waves of social circles and friend groups who've come and gone and looped around and drifted away and reconciled. Childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, raver friends, hippie raver friends, aging raver friends, media colleagues, web nerds, burner friends, parent friends, family friends… everyone at all ages is shifting and growing and moving and breaking up and having kids and falling in love and getting new jobs and ditching old hobbies and it's just time and life and it doesn't have to be drama.

        It doesn't have to be a tragedy when people find themselves heading on paths that diverge. Send postcards back and forth — how are things going down that path I didn't take with you? These communiques can be dispatches from a you who might have been. We don't have to agree all the time.


        • y'know….I thought we avoided the whole "will I stay friends with our wedding party?" thing by only including siblings….six months after our wedding my sister and I were no longer speaking. Sigh.

          • My bridesmaids were my two cousins who I'd been close to since we were babies. Both of them hate me now and we haven't spoken in 5 years. Just because you're related doesn't mean that you won't go through those same changes, unfortunately. Actually, sometimes, I think family is MORE likely to be dramatic and shitty with you because they feel like you HAVE to take it because you're related.

  15. In my mid-twenties it became painfully obvious that most of the women I had been friends with since high school didn't actually give two damns about me, and that the only thing that had made us friends was seeing each other all the time in class. They'd pay lip service and act like everything was hunky-dory, but when it came down to it, they didn't want to be friends and rather than just say that, they strung me along with platitudes. It was awful.

    • This is exactly what's happening to me now. We left school 10 years ago, and over the last few years it's become more and more apparent to me that we aren't actually friends anymore – they just pretend that we are because it's easier than the alternative. They don't invite me places unless they absolutely have to, and then pretend like they haven't noticed that I've noticed :/ I've also recently had it confirmed to me that I'm bitched about when I'm not there (something I've suspected for the longest time, but haven't had confirmed til now).

      About a month ago I "broke up" with one of the circle after we had an argument about her totally inappropriate and massively racist attitude and since then none of them have spoken to me. Not one word. Funny how NOT being the racist asshole can make you the bad guy.

  16. I wish I could tell you "what worked". Unfortunately, nothing did. A friendship with someone with BPD is very, very hard- I admire people who know how to manage doing that. I couldn't. Maybe it makes me faulty, but I just didn't have the emotional resources. The outbursts, the purposefully hurtful statements, getting cut off without a chance to respond (i.e. "If I leave first, she can't leave me"). One of the cruelest things she could have said, she said. She knew it would hit hard.
    Then your friend cools off and calms down and thinks you're crazy for not doing the same when you're still hurting.
    There really was nothing I could do. I was scared to go back because I didn't know what she was capable of anymore. What old hurts might get brought up. She wasn't always like this, but the person I knew has gone. I think of her almost every day and miss our connection a whole lot. It isn't like a romantic relationship, where one can maybe help you get past the other. That friendship was irreplaceable. The way I cope is reminding myself that at least for a good long time, I had that great friendship. And I always hold out hope that she'll get treatment.

    • As the person who had BPD when I had my BFF breakup, you did the right thing. My friends couldn't handle my unreasonableness or outbursts either, and they shouldn't have had to. It was my problem to fix, and eventually, fix it I did. I do the same thing as you, and remind myself that I had a great friendship, and really am alive today because of that person. I hope your friend can get the help she needs.

    • I think this can be said about any mental health condition. There's only so much that can be handled when you are attempting to stay friends with someone that is mentally ill. My BFF since 5th grade suffers from crippling depression and anxiety and refuses to get continuous treatment so for my own sanity I keep my distance and had to tell her why I wasn't responding to every desperate text. I struggle with this so much, I used to be her crutch/therapist/punching bag and just simply ran out of energy to deal with that despite how close we were and how much fun we had. Sad, but at some point you have to put your needs first.

  17. Perhaps something to consider…

    Would any of us actually want to reconcile with someone that may be completely different to the memory you had in your head, given our tendency to exaggerate some things and forget others? Would it be possible to have the friendship in the same way at 30 as you did as teens? Would the relationship ever bloom had there been no previous history?

  18. I've had very few lost friends – the only notable one I can name completely dropped off the face of the earth suddenly, which really hurt me. Come to find out three years later that he's in jail for Grand Theft Auto. Which has me even more confused because I didn't think he was that kind of person. But it is what it is, and I guess I'll see when he gets out in two years if we can rekindle our friendship.
    I'm notoriously bad about keeping in touch, but never defriend people I consider true friends on Facebook.
    That said, a couple years ago, right after I got engaged, I visited my fiance where he was then living – near where my best friend lived – and invited her to come over and hang out, so I could ask her to be a bridesmaid. When I asked her, she replied "Oh God! Here I was thinking we weren't really friends anymore because I haven't heard from you in forever!"

  19. For me, I experienced no so much the blatant breakups (I can only think of one such incident) as a gradual fading throughout the second half of high school with those friends with whom I'd been close for years–some since before kindergarten. What did it there, I think was that studying abroad changed me–and my relationship with my friends. We just started to drift apart after that. I don't think we had as much in common anymore–just the fact that we grew up in the same town. We had different interests and priorities, and for me I just lost that bond with my group when I realized that they didn't value the things for which I cared so much. I certainly do feel guilty, though, that I let so many friendships die, and that I'm not always the best at keeping up with people.

  20. I was dumped hard and ugly when I was in college. I've always been agnostic and my bff for years was Christian, but it was never a big deal. I'd even gone to church events with her a few times. I didn't really think it mattered that we were different. Then one day, out of the blue, about 3 weeks after my boy friend and I broke up for unrelated issues I got an email from her that basically said she thought non-Christians were going to hell, and she "respected" me too much to try to convert me, but she wasn't going to waste time in this life with someone she wouldn't see in the next. I could believe she did it by email… So fast forward many years, and I find myself in need of ending a friendship. I've been torn on how to do it, so I've taken the chicken road… I've simply avoided her for weeks. Which seems pretty crappy, but would it be worse I broke off cleanly with her? I don't know.

    • I think it's like ripping off a band-aid.

      If you make a clean break, it will really sing, but then it's just over. You can both get on with healing. If you try to just fade away and avoid her it won't hurt as sharply, but it will take forever. I'm sure there are other perspectives but I think the only thing that matters is whichever option is better for YOU.

      I wish I had just torn off the band-aid. I wish I had just told my friend to her face, that I didn't trust her, that we had grown apart, and that we should stop trying to shove a square peg in a round hole….it would have been VERY difficult and I didn't want to hurt her feelings, but in the end, I hurt her feelings anyway. Dragging it out didn't spare her one iota….it probably made things worse.

      What's better for the other party? I don't know. But before you worry too much ask yourself if that's your problem anymore? You are ENDING a relationship after all…

  21. It feels to me like I've had more friendship break-ups than some of the people on here… so maybe my perspective will help somewhat. They were all friends from college, and I kind of had bad taste in both friends and romantic partners back then, and I learned different things from each one.

    One friendship break-up was because both of us were suffering from anxiety and making a toxic environment for each other. She acted superior a lot, which made me feel constantly kind of inferior, jealous, and anxious because I thought she was so awesome. And I acted out my anxieties in ways I am not proud of. I appreciate her still, because she was a role model for me when I was just learning how to be a confident sexy woman. But she could only teach me so much, because she wasn't one herself yet. Lesson: Don't idealize your friends or put all your apples in one basket, no matter how awesome that basket seems, it's still a flawed human.

    Another was a roommate who went away for a summer and came back acting really nasty to everyone. No one was sure what prompted the switch but it was widely acknowledged. The signs were there before she left, she was always a little condescending and always lovably nuts. But this was completely left field, and my reaction was to try really really hard to keep her around, including convincing her to room with me again when that never should have happened. My roommates and I had to kick her out eventually, it was that bad. Lesson: Know when to let go, just because you have a history with someone doesn't mean they're worth keeping.

    The final friend I became romantically involved with. This was a long saga that lasted years. Ultimately he was a selfish person who strung me along in all kinds of friend ways and romantic ways, and I tried too hard to make it work, and talking to him just never worked. And then one day I woke up and found myself completely vacant of fucks to give. I fell in love with my partner, got sick of being his go-to for negative interactions, and just quit talking to him. He was very hurt, and I eventually apologized and explained my actions, but he never replied. And I don't regret doing it. I would do it again. Lesson: Friendships need to be reciprocal. And so does love. And if it isn't, don't look back.

    I've since pursued more positive and happy people, and used these lessons and warning signs to eject the negative influences from my life. And I'm happy to say I've had no more friend break ups since. =)

  22. I was in a codependent "friendship" with a girl at school; my homelife was horrifically abusive, and she had serious issues possibly due to neglect. I never did figure her out, but she seemed closest to Histrionic Personality Disorder. Anyway, we were practically inseparable at school, which to my small amount of shame was as much due to the big bullying problem there; being on your own much of the time was a really bad idea. But we spent a lot of time together outside of school too, and when I say codependent I mean codependent; she treated me like a doormat and I pandered to her because I needed her, but in many ways I was stronger than her.

    Thankfully she solved the break-up issue for me just after we left school, as her attention-seeking got more and more dramatic, culminating in her trying to persuade me to have a threesome with her and her boyfriend despite knowing for absolute certain that women are a turn-off for me, *then getting angry because I turned her down*. I just walked, she never called. Result.

    Now, that's pretty messed up compared to some people's stories, I know, but I mention it for two reasons. 1. I want anyone else reading this who's been through something similar to know that they're not alone. 2. I'd rather run into someone who bullied me at school than her, and I don't know why. I want to say that for some reason, having been that close to someone like that freaks me out now far more than 10 years-ish of psychological abuse from classmates. Friendship, including seriously dysfunctional friendship, is powerful. Really, really powerful, and it's hardly ever talked about in terms like this, so a massive THANK YOU for this article.

    These days I'm not really friends with anyone with whom I cannot have honest relationship-status conversations. I don't see why we can't have those for friendships too.

    ETA: I also once had a friend who to me was like a brother, who turned out to have been grooming me for rape (over about 10 months). I still miss the person I thought he was. I don't know if that counts for this conversation, except as point one on "how not to end a friendship": Do Not Sexually Assault Your Friend! Asshole.

    • I really just want to THIS! this: "Friendship, including seriously dysfunctional friendship, is powerful. Really, really powerful, and it's hardly ever talked about in terms like this, so a massive THANK YOU for this article."

      I was just thinking about how these stories could be considered the Awful Olympics, but they're more important than that… Even the ones without clear resolution (like my own) are really insightful into the complexities of the close-friendship-dynamic that is rarely talked about.

    • As someone who also survived a seriously dangerous codependent friendship, my heart goes out to you.
      That shit is fucking hard to walk away from, and still hard to deal with years after the fact. I'll still cross the road to avoid people who look to similar to my "ex"… and I've since moved *countries*.

      • Thanks so much for posting that, it makes me feel a bit less alone. So often when I try to explain why the whole thing freaks me out so much all I get is a bemused look. Maybe it's one of those things people don't get if they haven't experienced it, though that idea makes me sad. I hope you're getting through it alright.

    • I've been there. I've SO been there. It's tough to break out of those unhealthy relationships. My friend was depressive/passive aggressive. Everything was about her. I called and had to cancel getting together one evening (dog was really ill) and the following day she asked for my address so she could mail back my stuff since "driving across town was too much trouble apparently".

      It was the last straw and I finally had to tell her that I was done. After all that time walking on eggshells and worrying about her and constantly having to correct her assumptions about every damn thing I said, freedom is amazing.

      I miss her. A lot. But I know that there is no way to maintain that relationship and keep myself mentally healthy.

    • Great post. Sorry you had to go through this, twice. SO CREEPY!

      A lot of the posts have me wondering what the poster's part in the breakup was. Yours doesn't. It sounds totally honest.

      Hope you find better friends in the future.

      (And yes, it's totally normal that you can't stand the thought of seeing her again. It's like food poisoning–your whole healthy system is telling you she's toxic to you and you need to stay as far away as possible. I had the same reaction to a guy who dumped me. I was totally, completely in love with him, and to this day the thought of seeing him again makes me want to vomit.)

  23. Wow, these comments have made me feel so absolutely thankful that other people still have those feelings of guilt, regret, and sadness at losing a friend. What a great post, and set of comments. Well, not great, but they have made me feel better at not being alone (eye roll) so thank you everyone so much for sharing.

    I have had a few different friendships fade away, and a couple breakups.

    The one that I still regret (not at the loss of the friend, but how it went down) happened only a few years ago. We met each other in the summer after both of us had just gotten out of long-term relationships, and were in the need for some recuperating. We spent most the summer partying and boy shopping and filling each-other's holes, basically. We were there when we each really needed a friend who were going through the same things.

    Fast forward a few years to me having another long-term relationship, a good job, and mostly on the right track. She was still partying and an alcoholic, basically. We'd had fights before but had reconciled, this one seemed to push it all over the edge. She was drunk so came to crash on our couch and generally obnoxious and loud while I was sleeping. I was tired of needing to go pick her up when she had been partying too much, and the next day was pretty furious with her. I wrote her a nasty email, I think. All about how much drama and a mess that her life was, basically, and to pull her shit together. I don't even remember, to tell you the truth. It ended with both of us getting nasty, and then being mean and our ties being cut.

    I apologized later and tried to save the friendship, but it was too late. I had definitely "started" it, and she finished it.

    This was a horrible way to end the 4 year friendship we had, but in hindsight, my life is so much more drama-free now. She is still in the same place, doing the same things, while I feel I've grown up and gone down the white-picket fence road. We had fought before and having her in my life, while fun (she was a life-of-the-party kinda gal) I don't need all that now. I don't regret our time together, but I do wish we hadn't ended on such sour notes.

    She actually reached out after the birth of my daughter and said a quick congrats, so we are at least both at peace with everything.

  24. These comments are amazing and painful and cathartic. Hugs to everyone, and thank you for sharing your breakup stories.

    I had no idea when I set out to write this article that friendship troubles and breakups were so common — at least more common than I imagined. For me, there was such a shame and guilt associated with ending a friendship that I consciously chose not to talk about it to others in my life or in my writing. That, of course, only compounded the burden and made me feel terribly isolated. I'm learning that I don't have to approach it that way.

    All of you have offered different ways of coping with friendship breakups — everything from "ripping the band aid" to letting it drift to accepting that life changes and friendship death is part of it. I think these are all relevant depending on the friendship in question. It sounds like some of you knew it was the right thing to do and some of you still have regret. Sometimes it's both right and you can regret it.

    Anyway, I'm appreciative of all of your comments. Know that I'm reading each one and learning from them.

    • Thank you for writing the original post too – it's really meant a lot to me, and so have all the comments.

      I've felt a lot of shame and guilt over how I've dealt with a couple of friendships, but everyone sharing their experiences has made me realise that it's not that uncommon. Thanks for bringing this out in the open.

  25. I'm so grateful for this post. I just recently experienced my first "adult" friendship break-up. It's put me through the same hell each and every one of you is describing, and there's something very comforting about that. I thought maybe I was the only crazy one.

    Z was one of the first people I met when I picked up my entire life and moved away from my hometown to live with my boyfriend (now husband). We became fast friends and did everything together. We loved all the same music (which is hard because of my very… eclectic tastes), we loved to do the same things (who else is going to sit around in a bookstore, drinking coffee, and making fun of passerbys with me?), and we had the same goals (get better jobs, get married to our significant others, have nice things).
    Year went by, things were awesome, I had my man and we were engaged, and I had Z and she was helping me plan the wedding and keeping me sane through the entire process. She also threw me a kick ass Bachelorette party! She stood by my side on our wedding day, she looked through our pictures from the honeymoon.
    Shortly after we got married, I was offered a job. It was a huge opportunity for me, and I took it immediately. I would still be in the same area of town, I could go see Z on my lunch break! I would have so much more money to go out and do stuff socially with her. It was awesome.. until I realized she was upset with me for moving on. She began talking to me less, she didn't say anything positive about my doing something good for myself, she began ignoring my calls and texts. She cancelled lunch and dinner plans numerous times in a row. I began to see a change in her, I realized maybe there were more pros to her not being in my life than there were cons. She abruptly left her long time fiance for someone who really doesn't have any ambition in life and who is definitely going through some serious struggles. She got pregnant, and she changed her circle of friends, big time.

    I miss her, and by that I mean I miss who she was when we were friends. The person she is right now, is not who I fell in friend-love with 7 years ago. I wonder if she acted out because of me? I worry about her all the time, is she eating right? Is she putting herself and her child in harm? Has she felt motivated to do better? It hurts to know that someone I knew was going to be around forever, and someone who will be in my wedding photos and memories for the rest of my existence, is gone.

    I understand changes happen, I've adapted many times, but losing a friend sucks, no matter how old you are. 😉

  26. I'm in the situation that I don't regret that the friendship ended, but rather the way it did. One of my best friends from high school gradually became someone I just didn't want to hang out with anymore. We had different interests and the only thing she wanted to talk about was gossip from our high school years and the guy she was sort-of seeing. She was completely uninterested in my life. So I took the "fade out" approach. I just stopped calling. When she called, I got off the phone sooner and sooner. We reached the point where she didn't call for three months, and I thought "OK, good, we're both just going to go our separate ways." I was SO WRONG! I got a nasty Facebook message from her, telling me that she had been "testing" me to see how long I could go without calling. It drudged up every single thing I had ever done or said to make her angry. Stuff from years and years ago that she had never brought up but apparently still was bothered and hurt by. I tried to apologize and work through it (she had some legitimate points, no one is perfect and in high school I was kind of a bitch). But after a few exchanged, it became apparent that she didn't want to work through it. She wanted me to feel bad about it, and grovel for it. Ain't no one got time for that. The last communication we ever had was an email I sent her letting her know that I wanted to be friends, but that I was not going to accept all the blame. I heard nothing again. It's awkward because our parents all live in the same small town. My mom often sees her mom.

    The thing is, I'm not sure I would want to be friends with her again. She was immature and selfish, despite being a lot of fun to party with. We didn't have much in common anymore as our lives changed. But I really wish we wouldn't have ended with a fight and hard feelings. I wish our friendship had ended the way my other high school relationships did; a gradual lack of phone calls, maybe a drink when one of us is in town, liking each other's Facebook posts. But that's not an option anymore either.

    I guess the only thing I can say I learned from this is honestly. If you're the one who's pulling away, be real about it. "I just don't think we have much in common anymore. Nothing bad has happened, but it might be best if we went our separate ways." If you're the one who's feeling the pull-away, just ask. "Do you feel like we're still close? I feel like you're pulling away." It hurts at the time, but an honest conversation is better than feelings of awkwardness or abandonment any day.

    • The fact that she was fun to party with, became uninterested in your life, and "tested" you are indicators of narcissistic behavior. At least according to the book I recently enjoyed called "Help! I'm in Love with a Narcissist" (haha). I feel your pain. But I just want to say I don't think you did anything wrong–the fade-out is fine for most people who are generally wishing you well but drift apart because we're all busy, etc. She was upset that you weren't calling, not because she missed you (you said she was uninterested in your life) but because you weren't catering to her needs. Yes, in the long run, it may have been easier on YOU to have the conversation cutting it off. But you didn't do anything wrong by pulling away from a one-sided friendship. In my empathetic opinion. <3

  27. I don't really have much to add here, but it's comforting beyond what I can express to know that I'm not the only one who's ever felt this way. I'm still emotionally gutted from a "break up" that happened last year (she was my MOH), and it feels like we never finalized anything, but…we don't talk. We went from talking every day and coffee twice a week to nada, and though it's not rational, the evil little voice in the back of my head says she doesn't care. It sucks. It hurts. This is one of the crappy parts of life. Thanks for making me feel less alone, ladies.

    • I'm still getting over my best friend dumping me last summer during my honeymoon. She was also my MOH, and although I knew we had some issues to work through, but to go from her calling herself my "other soulmate" during her speech to just straight-up dumping me via text a week later for supposedly being a bridezilla gutted me. My sweet husband has been incredibly supportive, but this still hurts. I went from thinking we would be friends until we're old and grey to seeing a flood of facebook posts about her new bff. Add to that the fact that she told our mutual friends "her side" of the story while I was still out of town, but then told those friends not to talk to me about the breakup because it was "personal," and the whole thing really isolated me. For a while I felt like I couldn't trust my own friends, because they would only accept her view of the situation. I just wish she would have talked to me about the stuff that bothered her, rather than stewing in it and letting it pile up. If we could have talked through our differences, maybe this would hurt less. Maybe not, I don't know.

  28. I would love to know how Nina thinks of that day now… if she's (appropriately) ashamed of how she acted, haha.

    I've only really ever had one falling out with friends (tried to live with 'em- bad idea) – the rest of the time it's just been a slow build up of neglect. I think Facebook has made it a little easier to maintain relationships at a very slow burn when they would've otherwise fizzled out by now. I'm still in touch with most of my very good friends from high school even though we only see each other maaaaybe once a year and we don't really talk that often. We just keep an eye on each other's goings-ons, "like" each other's posts, etc.

    • Oh wait I thought of one! In kindergarten, my best friend told me at recess that her ex-boyfriend (uh…yeah…what?) had told her on the school bus that if he saw us hanging out again, she'd be "dead meat" (I remember this because it's the first I'd heard of the phrase.) And then she left and that was it. Never spoke to her again. I've thought about looking her up but since her last name is "Smith" there's no hope, haha. I… don't even want to wonder at the interpersonal dynamics involved in that "ex-boyfriend" situation.

  29. I broke up with a friend about a year ago, and it definitely felt like a break-up. We'd been friends for years and went through a lot together, but it was not a balanced relationship. I gave too much and she would ditch me as soon as whatever current boyfriend/fuckbuddy snapped his fingers, even if they told her not to be friends with me since I was, "A waste of space who should have been killed at birth." (I'm disabled. Apparently this was a problem for one of them. She stayed with him until he dumped her for someone else).

    I shouldn't have stayed either, but I loved her. I kept hoping that one day she would find a boy/girlfriend who wasn't an arsehole. I didn't want to watch her being mistreated again (if it sounds like her boyfriends were horrible to me, that's nothing compared with how they treated her at times). I hoped that she would continue being a friend during her relationship instead of casting aside everything else. But I couldn't take that she didn't put as much worth on me as I did on her, and I shouldn't have stood for that. I should have ended things sooner and never looked back. However, I wasn't so sure of my own self-worth at the time. I thought that I deserved to be left behind. Friends aren't as important as relationships, especially if those friends are trying to open your eyes to how your boyfriend's treating you. I only know now that trying to tell her was only driving her away and that trying to stay friends with someone like that means keeping your mouth shut until you have to pick up the pieces. And she wasn't worth all the time and effort that took.

    I still held out hope of being friends again one day until I found out that she was still friends with a once-mutual friend who tried to rape me, because, as she put it, "He's really sorry about that. He's such a nice guy, really." It was the same line she used for her boyfriends when they were acting out or just plain abusive towards her, or her friends: "He's such a nice guy, you just don't know him very well."

    I wish it hadn't came to that before I realised that I never needed someone like her in my life ever again.

    I'm getting better. Leaving her meant leaving other 'friends' who either didn't know the whole story and thought I was just being a dick, and leaving 'friends' who did know the whole story and still thought I was just being a dick ("He's really sorry, you know. He's just too proud to say so to you. Why can't you just forgive him?"). I'm at a new university, with (very new) friends. I'm still regaining my confidence in friends.

    But I've recovered from the break-up.

  30. Commiserating here too. I've had a lot of friendships fizzle out, and a lot that have evolved over time to be not-as-close-as-we-once-were-but-still friends. But I was definitely friend-dumped and still have a hard time with it. We met in college, dated for a few months, and then broke up. I did the breaking up romantically, and gave lots of space afterwards. Because we had a group of friends, we decided to try our best to be friends, and it actually worked. She met someone else (later married her) I met someone else, then someone else (later married him) and we stayed friends through it all. She was in my wedding, and we asked her to be godmother to my daughter when she was born. We emailed back and forth every day, as we lived in different parts of the country.

    Then, emails stopped coming so often. I found out her dad was diagnosed with cancer, and I made a rare phone call (neither of us are phone people) and she rushed to get off the phone, promising that she would call me back. She never did. We ran into each other at a college reunion, and things were awkward and strained. I emailed when I got home and asked if we were still friends, and she said yes we were, but there was no more than that. I finally sent an email asking what was going on and she wrote back basically saying that she felt our lives were going different directions and that we weren't friends any more. She didn't want to discuss it further, she said. It wasn't really "out of the blue" but to this day (5 years later) I have no idea what happened. (And our lives weren't really all that different – we're both teachers, now we both have kids, we have the same interests, etc).

    I'm truly sad to have lost the friendship, for my daughter to have "lost" her godmother. While I likely could have done things differently, I still don't know what those things are. I guess it's the friendship equivalent of "the one that got away." I've moved on, but do wonder about it sometimes. Thanks for the post.

  31. It's interesting to read all of these stories. Absolutely the most painful break-ups for me have been being "friend-dumped". It's happened a few times in my life, and nothing shatters your self-esteem like being told by someone that you have loved and been loved by for years that you're no longer worth their time.

    The worst for me happened in college, when my best friend since high school became increasingly distant. We had spent the past six years inseperable, and had supported each other through a difficult high school experience. By senior year, even though we were at the same college and had roomed together sophomore year, she wasn't returning my phone calls, texts, emails, anything – but when we ran into each other, it seemed like old times. Talk about mixed messages! I tried to give her her distance, and asked her what was up several times, but never got a straight answer until years later.

    I actually beat myself up for this breakup for years. I missed her and still loved her, and could never figure out why she had distanced herself from me. I figured I must have done something terrible for her to want to cut me out of her life when we were so close. When I got engaged last year, I finally sent her an email – telling her how sad I was at the loss of our friendship, and trying to figure out whether I wanted her at my small wedding. She responded, and apparently had felt as though I was being really competitive throughout college to the point where she didn't want to be around me any more – she said she felt like a sidekick more than a friend. This was a complete shocker to me, since I had always thought she was so amazing and I was lucky to have her as a friend! If she had communicated those feelings to me earlier, we might have been able to salvage our friendship. Then again, if I had tried harder to get a straight answer out of her when she was first distancing herself, maybe that would have helped too.

    We're still vaguely friends since those emails cleared the air, and I did invite her to my wedding, although she didn't come. I've been able to get over a lot of the guilt that I had about our friendship ending since we both came clean about our feelings.

    Moral? Always talk it out.

  32. I had a best friend in college with whom I had a super intense friendship. We were damn near inseparable. We held each other up through relationship drama and I had more fun with him than I've ever had with anyone. If only we'd been physically attracted to one another, we might have been soulmates. (We weren't. The thought of kissing him was like kissing my brother. Ew.) And then he went and fell in love with this miserable crazy girl who decided that she simply must fuck her way through all the men in our little friend group, including MY boyfriend. Of course, once we found out about these shenanigans, me and my BFF were crushed. We dumped them both and ran off for a week of drunken foolishness in another city. And when we got back…he got back together with her. And there was friction. And it was made worse by the fact that he and I were roommates. And that was made even more uncomfortable by the fact that, I'll admit, I was not the most responsible or reliable young adult to be living with. I owed him money, which didn't matter when we were BFFs, but started to matter once I protested the presence of the miserable crazy girl in our apartment. It culminated in him kicking me out on my birthday, and me being homeless for the better part of a year. He and our whole social circle completely ignored and alienated me, and I eventually became completely immersed in work and a romantic relationship, and moved away.

    He and I, eventually, years down the road, started speaking again and had a long talk where we both apologized (I bore some responsibility in the situation, too.) but we are not part of each others lives anymore. And honestly, even all these years later, that relationship with him has changed how I am able to have friendships. I have never experienced that level of closeness with another human being who I am not romantically involved with. I am skeptical of "friends" and people who regard friends as family. Because I had that relationship with a best friend who used to get drunk and cry and tell me I was his only real family, only to have him discard me completely in a terribly hurtful way over something that, in the grand scheme of things, was super trivial (200 bucks and a girl who ended up cheating on him again two weeks after he kicked me out. And totaling his car.). Not saying all friendships are fair weather, or that true friendship isn't possible…just that I have never really opened myself up to it again. I have great friends who I enjoy and have fun with…but I do not trust them the way I trusted that friend and I don't think I'll ever be able to. And I am less likely to seek out human companionship, where before I was a social butterfly, I've spent most of my real adulthood as someone who is much happier at home.

    • Nothing groundbreaking to add but I totally feel you here. Opposite sex BFF dates crazy ass chick, he can't see the crazy and she decides that he needs to chose between her and me because "nobody can be that close to the opposite sex without dating" despite me being MARRIED. We chat every few months without her knowing and I watch from the sidelines as she slowly dismantles his life and he loses every good trait that made him such a great person before she was in the picture.

      I would love to see a healthy Offbeat article about this. It's such a complex territory and unfortunate for those of us who really get along better with the opposite sex. I find myself defending and explaining friendships so frequently thinking, 'are we really not able in 2013 to wrap our minds around the fact that a girl and boy can be JUST friends?'

      • Man, I hear you. I would love an Offbeat article on this too.

        From my perspective: I used to always have male friends until… well, they did just want to screw me. It sucked to come to that realization, because I believe that YES, you CAN have a male friendship and it still be platonic. I mean, from MY side I can, but it seemed that despite having 2 male BF's during my life, in the end… well, they did just want to date me, or whatever.

        So yeah, I'm not helping that argument, am I? But I do believe that opposite sex folk can be BF's, it just never seemed to work out for me. I do still have a very good, extremely reliable male friend (who about 10 years ago had tried to get with me, twice) who hasn't tried a move since, but I always wonder and never quite trust him.

        • Ugh, that sucks. I think it helps when both of you are in separate relationships but it did seem like with certain friends that as soon as they became single it was like, 'why don't we just date?' Ummm because we have a great friendship going here and I'm not attracted to you??

          • There was absolutely no sexual element to our friendship at all, ever. And I'll be the first to admit that that was weird. But it wasn't there. We were sexually neutral to one another. We even slept in the same bed/tent sometimes. It was even a conversation that we had, how if only we DID have that going on, we would be the best couple. Everyone was always talking about what a wonderful couple we'd be, and even assuming sometimes that we WERE. We even pretended to be married in order to get the apartment that we shared. And yes, the nut girl was jealous. She was the sort of person who made all her relationships sexualized (once she found out I was bi she even hit on me) so she couldn't understand how we could have been close for so long, and even lived together, and not be fucking.

            I admit to being one of those women who gets along better with men most of the time when it comes to friendships, especially when I was younger. I've never had the same friend dynamic with the opposite sex, though, ever again. I've had close male friends who I thought were platonic, but invariably they have turned out to harbor annoying and inconvenient feelings. I think opposite sex close friendships are possible, obviously, but tricky.

        • A quick note on the sexual component of friendships: I'm surprised by the heteronormative assumptions in the comments that only male/female friendships have these tricky dynamics. Once you start recognizing that sexual attraction can play a role in any friendship (cough cough), it starts to be easier to recognize why there's no reason that ALL male/female friendships would be tainted by sexual attractions.

          Then again, this might be very much regional/cultural. In my corner of Seattle, it's just a non-issue.

          • Agreed. Bible belt Midwestern culture here however dictates that same sex friendships are never sexual and assume that all opposite sex friendships are. It's sad. All friendships are confusing yo.

          • I also think that it's important to recognize that unrequited affection/attraction doesn't have to ruin a friendship, whether it's between same sex or opposite sex people. I've had crushes on friends before, and still remained friends with them knowing that it would never turn in to anything more than friendship. My brother had a huge crush on one of his friends for something like 15 years, and they stayed friends even after he mentioned it to her once and she didn't feel the same. You might need to set some boundaries to keep both of you feeling comfortable, but if you can respect certain ground-rules together, there's no reason that attraction needs to screw up a friendship.

          • I never thought about it in those terms, and I should have. I'm not going to say that I've never been attracted to a female friend, or been friends with a female that I had a sexual relationship with. But there was something less awkward about that for me somehow, and there were never any unrequited loves between me and female friends, or any embarrassing announcements of unreturned affection by me or anyone else. And in cases where the relationship became sexual (or became friendship after a hookup) it felt much less fraught and much more organic than anything involving a male friend. That's just my personal experience, and certainly not representative of everyone.

          • And honestly, I feel like I personally could move past a friend announcing a crush that wasn't reciprocated, but it has been my experience that sometimes the friend can't. The friend who announced his love for me expected me to act on it RIGHT NOW. When I didn't return his affections, he got angry and annoying and pushy, insisting that we should date, that I must give him a chance, etc. I had to eventually be very firm and assertive with him about the fact that it wasn't going to happen, and he then just stopped speaking to me period. It wasn't his feelings that made our friendship not work, it was his behavior. That's the important difference, I think.

          • I completely agree with this, but am surrounded by people who can't wrap their head around a non-sexual opposite sex friendship. Or, for that matter, same-sex friendships with sexual tension. I'm mostly straight, but have had crushed on my female friends, while feeling absolutely nothing sexual for my best guy friend. However, we never heard the end of it from several of my college friends about why the hell we just didn't date. Having experienced this, I'm always naively "WFT?" whenever someone makes the statement "Men and women can NEVER be friends without wanting to sleep together." But that attitude is still out there.

          • Exactly! Because if she had been down for it, I would totally have married my best college girlfriend. I still believe she is my soulmate. But we are now both married to men and she has drifted away, despite my desire for our friendship to remain.

  33. My absolute best friend in high school and I were completely inseparable up through my first year of college, talking on the phone for hours upon hours and spending as much time together as possible. We'd been through a lot together, including an incredibly awkward bit of groping that is one of the few life moments I regret, and I'd supported him through an awful, two-year-long abusive relationship/obsession with a piece of sh*t guy who was deep in the closet.

    About three weeks after I started dating a (harmless, if slightly weird) guy who I would almost marry three years later, my best friend decided he didn't like who I was becoming as someone's girlfriend. He felt like I was spending all my time with the boyfriend and neglecting our friendship, so it was "better" for him if we just ended our four-year friendship. He invited me over, and since I was with the boyfriend, I brought him along. Apparently this pushed him over the edge. I was COMPLETELY blindsided, and it took a long time for me to recover from that.

    It has been about 13 years since that happened, and we've spoken a few times since then via email, though not in a long time. He just requested an add on Facebook a few weeks ago, and I've left him in limbo because I just don't know that I want him in my life, even in that small way. I sometimes feel like his complete abandonment is one of the reasons I fell into a deep relationship with that guy, who was just totally unsuitable for me. I eventually forgave him, but I also don't want to let him back in.

  34. You guys, I'm going to repeat the caution that's at the end of the post:

    Assume anything you post in the comments will be read by the person you're writing about (and your mom… and your boss). Comment with integrity.

    I don't want to be getting emails like this in a couple months. Please be cautious with your comments.

  35. I keep friendships going for decades. I visited a girl I knew for one week in summer camp in 7th grade 10 years later when she was living in Dublin and I was in London. Maintaining friendships across time and space is my thing, but I had a spectacular fail in recent years…

    I had an adult friend breakup that still upsets me. I was friends with this person starting in junior high. She was one of six girls that I consider sisters. She was funny, amazing, adventurous, the kind of friend you bellydance with in a parking lot at midnight or drive to see meteor showers with at 2 a.m. on a whim.

    When she started pulling away, I did try to have lots of "Where is this going? / How can I be a better friend to you?" type conversations. I will confess, however, that my particular Taurus loyalty is, to quote Elizabeth Gilbert, like "a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle." All it did was push her further away, in the end.

    She withdrew, got all weird about my photographing her baby (I'm a professional portrait photographer; this is the great gift I can give anybody), and talked about "boundaries" a lot. The thing was, she changed the "boundaries" all the time; I could never predict what would feel violating to her, and it was always petty stuff, like I had a negative memory about her favorite teacher in high school. If I crossed one of those elusive boundaries, our phone call would have to end, immediately, with no warning and no time for me to apologize. Apologizing also seemed to make things worse.

    I danced as fast as I could, tried to be the best friend to her that I could be, tried to find a way to include her in my wedding in a way that wouldn't be overwhelming to her, tried to respect these ever-changing boundaries, and then one day I said, "No. I am setting a boundary. You either have to teach me exactly where these so-called boundaries are so I can never violate them again, OR YOU HAVE GOT TO CUT ME SOME SLACK." She seemed really receptive to that, and I thought that our "rough patch" might be over once and for all. It wasn't.

    The final straw was when someone in my family committed suicide. She sent a curt email saying she had gotten my voicemail and heard from someone else about what happened, along with some really weird cold religious bullshit. And I realized, you know what? SHE IS A TERRIBLE FRIEND. I don't need this in my life. I can pour my time and energy and talent and affection into someone who actually wants to spend time with me.

    Of those six women, she now only speaks to one of us, which makes me sad, because this circle of friends are some of the greatest women I've ever known. It's her loss. I know that, but sometimes it still really feels like it's my loss, too.

  36. This hits home for me in a big way, being dumped by my best friend all the way back in grade 8 impacted the dynamic of my friendships for the rest of my life. I never really found out why I was dumped but I suspect that fact that I didn't start smoking, and hanging out with the bad girls etc, probably put me in the boring friend category.
    So not only did she dump me but all the girls we hung out with stopped speaking to me one day. I was completely and utterly shunned, living in small town, life sucked for quite a while after that.
    I was way into my thirties before I realized that I don't hang out with groups of friends, all my friends know each other well enough to have a conversation if I have a party but they don't hang out together. I am not unhappy with the dynamic of my friendships, I am still very low key and I like seeing people one on one or if I have a party the numbers are small.
    I guess I am still that same boring girl, I just have way better taste in friends now.

  37. I'm going to refrain from posting specific examples from my friendship break-ups, but here's a few things I learned over the years:

    1) If you're breaking it off, find an objective and willing person to talk to. Lay out your reasoning, facts only, and invite them to ask questions about whether or not there may be some responsibility/attitude adjustment on your end.

    2) Do you want to break-up or does the other person need to change? Expecting the latter could cause the former. If I can think of a specific outcome I need then I reframe this as not a break-up. Good friends will hear you out, and if you truly want the friendship to last you'll both work at it. This works for both sides.

    3) Examine your role in the friendship. If there's a chance you contributed to the decay of the friendship acknowledge it yourself. And if the other party calls you out on hurtful behaviors actually listen. Your hurt feelings are still valid, but at least give each other a chance to be heard.

    4) My mother once told me as a teenager that friends don't have to be everything to you. At first I was horrified because I thought she meant use people, but now I realize she was telling me to accept other people's limitations whether they're emotional, physical, or interests. So enjoy someone's company, call them a friend, yet maybe never go to them when you're in need of a shoulder to cry on.

    5) Break up in person and be succinct about it. One thing I learned too late was to approach them when you're in a good mood. My mentality has since become, "I feel that we're both very different people and at an impasse. However, I loved our time together and wish you the best in life!" When you're the dumped and it's clear that they're breaking up, or asking for an unreasonable change, it hurts like hell. And as much as it hurts you'll feel worse for prolonging it.

    • I second many parts of this.

      I'm a busy woman. My friends are from all areas of my life, and I don't necessarily have time to hang out with all of them separately, so they need to mesh together well.

      About once or twice a year, I go through what I call a "friends cleaning". I evaluate my friendships and decide if my interactions with that person are awesome (or even desirable) 50% of the time or more. If the answer is no, I send an email.

      I recommend email over face-to-face because email can help you organize your thoughts, remove any emotional stuff regarding the facts or e-yelling you might want to do, and can easily set the tone for (or request) an in-person conversation to deal with the issues at hand.

      My emails are to-the-point. Here's a quick and easy example:

      "Hi [person],

      I'm in the middle of doing this thing called "friends cleaning". I've looked at our friendship over the last [length of time], and I realized it's not going as well as it used to.

      Although I know that both of us are responsible for a friendship, I've experienced certain things that [make me uncomfortable, hurt me, hurt my other friends, make me feel like we have drifted apart]. I regret not saying something earlier, but I think now is a good opportunity to have a conversation about it.

      It bothers me when [you make racist comments, you joke about my financial situation, you don't tell me about new partners in your life I'd love to hear about, etc. Full list here, everything that has even been a slight nagging on your brain. Do make it clear which are deal-breakers- such as the racism- and which are just annoyances].

      I totally realize that some of this might be a surprise to you, and other parts of it might bring up things you are uncomfortable with that I do. I would be happy to hear what I can do on my end as well. This could be a really great opportunity for us to deepen our friendship and for each of us to grow.

      On the other hand, I understand that some of the deal-breakers I've listed may be outside of the things you desire to change. I understand that, but that does mean I can't continue our friendship [list why, if you feel like it- for instance, "you're hurting my other friends and I need my circle to be fully supportive of itself"].

      My goal is to continue this friendship as a completely new and amazing entity, so please take some time to read and digest this. I'd love to have a conversation about it whenever you're ready!

      And thank you for the past [x years, months, etc.] of friendship. You have been great to have in my life, which is why I think it's worth it to try to figure this out."

      And if your intent is not really to salvage the friendship but you think there is an outside chance he/she might respond well, still send this. You'll notice your own opinions changing as you write it, particularly the positive parts.

      And if that person responds with a bunch of crazy or mean or whatever, you will definitively KNOW you did the right thing. His/her true colors will immediately show. And honestly, a high percentage of these will end in a dramatic reply, or a non-response. However, that small percentage who respond with "OMG I had no idea- let's work on this!" will be SO worth it.

      • I think this could come off as cold and hurtful to a friend- possibly creating some bad blood even for people who are generally even-tempered.

        Emailing with a list of things you don't like about a person/ stuff they did that you don't like generally won't make someone feel good. It will probably start a fight, or at the very least cause some quiet resentment.

        Maybe there could be another possibility here to address someone in a way that would start a conversation (perhaps talk – or even think- about what you value in that person, and what they value in you) that would lead to a healthier relationship/ end of relationship.

        • I didn't post the full lengthy thing I would write, which of course does include a request for a convo about it. However, as the recipient of something like this, I would so totally love to see the thingsthat had bothered the other person so clearly and logically laid out so we could deal with it.

          Remember, this is something that is sent when I feel it's pretty much been over or is about to be over. Therefore, it's a last ditch effort to address those hidden issues rather than letting them lie dormant and not say anything about them.

          So maybe those 20% who respond positively are just the kind of people I can speak honestly with and openly with about things that don't work in our friendship and do work in our friendship…. And those are the ones I want!

      • I realize that the sentiments behind this are all good, and that a "friend cleaning" might be brilliant (?), but for me — and I am a classic email-person-phone-hater-to-the-max — I would be hurt to receive something so personal that reads as so… calculating. That kind of immediate hurt would probably cause me to react with either a "dramatic reply, or a non-response."

        I don't write this to attack you Morgan, at all. I am just pretty sure people are reading these responses looking for answers and ideas, and I want anyone considering doing something like the above to also consider how they'd feel if they received that email.

        • I know you aren't attacking me 🙂 and I'm just not as good at delivering a message in person without getting activated by it (I.e. upset, crying, angry), especially if it has been there for a while. I'm not as able to easily think on my feet and say all the things that are there without getting sidetracked.

          For me, it is important to give the other person an opportunity to absorb and think of a response…and of course send back any things about the friendship that haven't worked for him/her. At that point it is all on the table and we can choose to deal with those issues or walk away with irreconcilable differences. It's just bringing it all to light.

          Sure, not everyone likes to hear about things that aren't working. But those who can and who are willing to have a conversation about it are the only ones I have time to spend my verrrrrry little free time with !

        • I don't know, if I received an email that made it sound like someone was prioritizing their friendships and I didn't make the cut, I don't think I would feel inclined to try to save that friendship (or even respond nicely). Something about specifically saying "I'm in the middle of doing this thing called a 'friends cleaning.' I've looked at our friendship over the last [length of time], and I realized it's not going as well as it used to" makes it sound a little too much like a systematic culling of friends who don't make the grade. At least, that's how it sounds to me.

          I totally understand and support sending an email to broach the subject–I know I can express my thoughts/feelings very clearly in writing but tend to get flustered and confused during a face-to-face conflict–but I'd maybe suggest some gentler wording? Something that sounds a little more personal and a little less like it's time for the annual friendship quality review? Just a thought.

      • I can see where that would be a good exercise to help me sort out my feelings for a person . . . I actually have one in mind and it might provide me with some clarity.

    • I totally agree with Claire's comment, however it is important to keep in mind that if you are dealing with a friend who is mentally ill or violent you may need to take different routes than if dealing with a reasonable individual.

      For instance, in these cases, using email could be a good way to help "filter" verbal abuse. Hopefully since it is in writing, the person could also eventually go back and read it if/when they get to a more reasonable mental state.

      From personal experience, having the ability filter a mentally ill/verbally abusive friend's emails by way of marking their email address as junk email (goes directly to trash) was a godsend. Although the break-up was painful, this helped me to cut the ties mentally and keep myself from being bullied by this person.

      Sorry about the grim nature of this response.

    • I remember my own mom trying to get me to realize #4 once after a particularly painful romantic break-up, and later, my trying to instill this in my step-sister after her going through a particularly difficult non-romantic break-up. I will still insist on telling this to my son when he goes through difficult times, but I'm pretty sure it's one of those events that must be lived to understand.

  38. I can't believe that this is posted today, since I am in the midst of a "friend downgrade," that I'm suspecting might be the start of a friend "breakup."

    My adult best friend is getting married in the fall. We were the single buddies and "wing women" for each other as all of our other friends paired up. I moved out of state about 2 years ago. We fly to see each other 1-2 times a year now.

    When she called to share news of her proposal I just knew I was going to be in the wedding party. We had talked about it for years. She even joked that she was going to be my maid-of-honor one day.

    I waited for the call to ask if I would be a bridesmaid, and waited, and waited. I called and to ask about planning. She answered all of the questions and made no mention of bridal party. I stated to think that maybe she wasn't having one, or maybe just her sister and cousins.

    I finally asked her who her wedding party was yesterday. She is having a bridesmaids and even including one friend she lost touch with for years, just not me.

    What hurts most is that she didn't feel like we were even good enough friends that she needed to tell me I wasn't going to be in the wedding. If roles were reversed, and I was the one getting married now, she would have been one of my brides maids, no question. Now when I get married next year I guess she won't be in my wedding.

    I am incredibly hurt and I don't know what to do. I don't want to ask her to justify her wedding decisions, I'm sure she has to do enough of that already. At the same time, I feel like she does not get a pass to be a crappy friend just because she is planning a wedding.

    For there to be any hope of saving the friendship, from my side at least, I need to express how hurt and confused I am. I'm trying to decide how best to do that now. The immature part of me want to write her off, not address it, and just let the friendship die.

    I know this comment is buried deep down, but if anyone has advice, I'd love to hear it.

    • Just like in any relationship, sometimes there is the capability for person A to be more into it than person B. Sounds like you're both just not on the same level of friendship anymore.

      Absolutely express your hurt. Chances are she has no idea you're hurt and that she just assumed it was the same for you as she felt a drift apart. Just make sure that you express what you feel only, and the events that made you feel like that- say them as facts. Until you can detach enough from the events to state things as facts, you have a large chance of having the whole thing blow up.

      I suggest writing it out: "I felt [really abandoned/hurt/angry] because [list all the things]. Because our friendship has been so important to me, I want to make sure I'm being totally honest with you and not hiding these feelings." When you can read what you wrote and not get activated by it (i.e. not start crying, balling up fists, etc.), send it.

      And there's no reason you can't have her in your wedding but not be in hers. People do that all the time! You may not understand her reasoning for choosing the people she did, but you don't need to make similar decisions. If you want her in the wedding party, have her. That's it. 🙂

    • Morgan Culture,
      I can't tell by your post, but this sounds more like a fight then a breakup. You haven't mentioned any long-standing fights or major problems with your friend, and you guys don't seem to be incompatible.

      How big is her wedding party? If say, she is only having a MOH and the sister of her husband or something, that is one thing. If she's having 5 girlfriends, it is another, I think.

      Something admirable that I saw in my life was actually my BFF's situation with another friend in college. My BFF did not have this girl in her wedding party, despite them being BF's all through college. They had talked about being in each other's wedding, etc all through college. When the time came, though, my BFF mentioned this but said that they just hadn't talked as much since they both returned to their home town. So she didn't invite her to be in her party, but did invite her to the wedding. The friend came, no drama, etc.

      HOWEVER, that girl got married a year later and still had my BFF in her wedding. I thought that was pretty cool, that she didn't begrudge my friend for not having her in her wedding party.

      Sometimes the numbers just don't work out for bridal members, or whatever. Either way, though, I would tell her you are hurt by it but don't let it be a deal-breaker if your relationship is otherwise worth saving. It is up to you to decide how much this friendship is worth to you, and whether she is a good friend that just can't fit you in the wedding party or whatever. I don't know the situation, but its worth having a frank talk with her and letting her know your feelings are hurt.

      • It's also a possibility that she's going to want the bridesmaids to do Tons of Stuff locally and doesn't think that it's practical to have one who would have to fly in. I just had my out of state Maid of Awesome, but all I expected her to do was show up wearing a dress of her choice, but what people think the job of the wedding party is varies. You don't say where the people she picked live in comparison to her. But yes, talk to her and let her know that since you'd talked about being in each other's wedding parties for years you were hurt, especially because she didn't talk to you about it. But there may be reasons why you aren't in the bridal party other than having been downgraded, or at least significantly downgraded.

        • I suspect that this is the case, since all the other women live in/around her city. I feel that is a fully rational decision. As you said, I just wish she had addressed it rather than ignoring it.

          I am so used to reading these lovely, rational wedding blogs like OBB that drive home the point that no one has to justify their wedding choices. I was seriously questioning if I could even bring this up with her. Thank you for the reinforcement!

          • I think you can ask.
            I have a very very few girl friends. The girl who was my designated "Best Friend" in high school appointed herself maid-of-honor, based on the fantasy wedding she created in her head. I never corrected her because our friendship would not have survived.
            Maybe try a:
            "Hey, I know you're doing a lot with the whole wedding thing. I was a little hurt that you didn't choose me for your wedding party. Is it something that I did, or did it just not work out that way?"
            If her reasoning is that it just didn't work out, then just give her some love.

          • I think it's a matter of walking a line. Being "Hey why aren't I in your wedding?" in a way that sounds like you're asking to be in it would be crossing a line in making her justify her choices. A calm "hey, I thought we had been planning to have each other in our weddings, could you let me know if there's something wrong between us that changed that or if it was just a matter of logistics?" followed by acceptance of her answer but acknowledging that you wished she had told you up front seems non-offensive between friends to me.

  39. I'm generally the dump-er in friendships. In my defence, it's usually been because the friendships I've ended were stressful and/or one sided or in one case coinciding with severe depression on my part.

  40. Thank you for this post (and subsequent comments)! I had a bestfriend "breakup" about a year ago. It was the right thing to do but still hurt a lot. It didn't start out as a breakup but as me sharing some hurt feelings, then having to actually evaluate the friendship after some dialog occurred. I knew the decision to end the friendship was right, but it still hurt a lot. I now feel at peace with the decision, and I am able to look at old photos and just appreciate the friendship for what it was when it was still thriving. I have been surprised by my ability to do this but really grateful! I have been trying to appreciate that not all good things in life have to last forever, and good things can end badly, but they can still be good experiences overall.

  41. Man, I've had a lot of friend break-ups for different reasons and each one hurt. I'm very non-confrontational, so I let these "drift apart" rather than just come out and tell each person why we shouldn't be friends. That's my regret, but I'm a better person now without most of them in my life.

    That being said, I think that romantic love and platonic love are remarkably similar. Maybe you would hold back something in a romantic relationship that you would not from a platonic one because you are expecting the hurt from a romance gone sour. I know I've broken up with plenty of romantic partners with few hard feelings.

    Of course I married my very best friend that was one of those "always a friend, never a suitor" types, so there's a lot to be said of sharing everything with a person and having it work out right!

  42. I remember a painful childhood breakup where the parents of my best friend from 1-6th grade told her she needed to find "better" friends and I felt abandoned at a time when I needed her the most. it was awful. Most recently I was the dumper and it's feeling really great. I had a friend who has recently divorced. She and I went to the bar one night and she was babbling incoherently about something "truly awful" that she did. She led me to the direct conclusion she was sleeping with a mutual friend's husband and it was shameful and she was in love with him. A few days later she told me the truth and it was NOT what I thought. The realization that I wouldn't put it past her to make such a bad choice led me to avoiding her (later she flounced on a group of people so I guess it was a mutual breakup) and I have to say it was cleansing and I feel confident that I made the right decision.

  43. A couple of years ago, I moved to a a new city with my husband and knew nobody. I ended up at a Unitarian Church one Sunday and there I met two girls who would be my best friends for a few years. We did everything together, we drank, we smoked, we partied and just couldn't get enough of being with each other.

    About a year ago, one of those friends moved in with the other and started living together. This was the point I started seeing things I never noticed before. They always wanted me to take sides, and I just wouldn't. About seven months after the one friend moved in, she moved out. She just needed some place that was her own. When she told the gal she was living with, the gal flipped her lid. She would call her names, accuse her of things and was just particularly nasty. This made me sad.

    I then noticed I was friends with the one who moved out much more. I tried to keep up with the other gal, but she became more and more negative with hardly anything nice to say. At one point, I said something about how much I love my husband on FB and she said "That is the drug I hate to see my friends on" (LOVE). I realized she wasn't there because she wanted a happy friendship, she was there for co-dependency, and I didn't want that. Since that time we have slowly been drifting apart, and I'm okay with that. Sad, but okay.

  44. My freshman year of high school, Apple (not her real name), had practically invited herself to be my friend, since we had 6/8 of our class periods together (except gym and elective). I was a shy kid and had none of my former classmates from junior high in most of my class periods, so I was eager to be making a new friend. I was even more excited when she told me she also had a xanga (remember those?).
    Skip forward a year. I made a light-hearted joke about the performance of the band and flag team, knowing that my friends who were on the team and read my blog would get a laugh. Apple did not get the joke and had gone so far as to print out the pages of my online blog and go around showing a ton of our mutual friends, trying to insist that I had typed this mean, horrible thing with tons of malice. Instead of getting mad at me, a lot of them got mad with her, because she was known for starting drama for fun (probably living out her own Lizzie McGuire fantasy).
    I later apologized and we made up. However, I quickly dropped her like a hot pan less than a few months later, as she was proving to be a total pain in the butt and lying to everyone about all sorts of things just to make their lives more miserable than hers. At least she taught me not to waste my time on friendships that only serve to try to drag me down.

    That was probably the most drama-filled friend break-up I ever had. My friendships with a lot of the people I grew up with have mostly fizzled, with the exception of a few. However, what I find interesting, is that even if I have not talked to some friends in months, I feel like I can easily reconnect with most of them. Some I no longer have anything in common with, and those kind of slowly die off, but others just come back together like a couple of old puzzle pieces. I talked to my mom about this once, and she said that maybe it's because of the kind of person that I am, and it makes me someone people feel they can always come back to (although she might be biased). I try to keep out those who have let a lot of negative things into their lives. I still care about them, but I can't let their negativity consume me. Sometimes I feel like that's a bit mean. :-/

  45. My best friend and I were Will and Grace for over six years in late high school and early college. He called me his soul mate, and even though we both had boyfriends, our relationship was the closest. I studied abroad in Europe, and when I came home for Christmas, we hung out twice and all of a sudden he hated me. He had gotten a new boyfriend recently whom I didn't like much, but I tried to just ignore my feelings… I don't even know what happened. To this day, six years since that time, I still have no idea why he called me out of the blue and said it was over and why he started flaking out on me. I've tried to open the lines of communication a few times since then, and what always happens is we meet for coffee, spend 8 hours together, say we miss each other and we need to hang out, and then he flakes out and hates me again. I have no idea what went wrong. I hope that we might be able to mend things in the future… I can't imagine that he doesn't miss me as much as I miss him. Ugh. It still makes me depressed and haunts my dreams on a weekly basis.

  46. I was always the weird kid in our area and clung to whatever friends I could get. This was back in the days before Internet access was common and living in a tiny semi rural community I didn't know that other people like me existed (goth, fandom orientated,artistic). Chances are if I'd been born a decade later I probably wouldn't have bothered with a large proportion of my real life friends. But in those days it felt like friends came in packs of 5 and you had to like all of them as a unit, you couldn't just pick an individual.
    Midway through comprehensive (high school) I was on a shopping trip to another city when terrorists planted a bomb in the shopping centre. We were evacuated just in time but many people were injured and the store we had been in was totally destroyed. Had it happened now we probably would have had counselling and proper support but we had to deal with PTSD and shock by ourselves. Sadly some people at my school thought this whole thing was hilarious and tormented me with explosions and tried to trigger flashbacks. I started to withdraw to protect myself and those in my friends group who weren't that close to me decided that defending me and putting up with delicate reactions was too much work. And told me so to my face. Eventually the whole group drifted away from me. The friends I developed at school after that was based on musical tastes or being fellow outcasts, rather than anything deep or especially meaningful. In the end it gave me the freedom to follow my own tastes and become comfortable with who I am in myself, but the last 4 years of school without a proper support network was pretty hard.
    The good news is there are some friendships that ruined by peer pressure that can be salvaged later on, once you both accept that 'teenage you' isn't always the same as 'now you'. If they are the same then probably best not to bother.

  47. I've never had a big, "official" friend breakup. Whenever friendships have ended for me, it's been more of a gradual parting of ways that happens fairly naturally and without a lot of drama. More like "growing apart" than "breaking up," really.

    Which is nice and, at least in my mind, preferable, because I can still occasionally catch up with those people without a whole lot of awkwardness between us. Fortunately, I've never found myself in a friendship with someone who I felt a need to suddenly and completely cut off contact with, but I imagine that would be a much more difficult situation.

  48. I've broken up with an adult friend. We were best friends all throughout high school and college. I won't bore you with the details but we were so close it was almost stupid; we would spend most every free day together just hanging out. We loved the same things and we even had plans to move in together.

    Now enter a new man, she fell head over heels and I was happy for them he seemed like a perfect fit not just for her but for out circle of friends. Then little things started to come up, things I was not ok with (his controlling nature, in inability to apologize, his apparent disregard for the feelings of others)and I tried to communicate this with her but she would not listen. It ended up in him and I having a huge fight while of a camping trip together. I tried to do the right thing and fix it afterward but he would not help me fix the chasm that sprang up between us.

    I tried to just stay friends with her, but when someone is in a serious relationship you cannot have serious problems with their significant other and expect the relationship to work. Little things she said or did became bigger and bigger until I could not take it anymore. The straw that broke the camel's back, so to say, was finding out that she had moved in with her boyfriend. It wasn't the move its self that did it, more like her neglect to even tell me she was thinking about it or that they were looking for a place. I found out because of her Facebook status stating that the move was over. It was the clear sign that we were done, she was no longer telling me about big events in her life, and frankly I didn't want to share mine with her.

    I actually took the first step and messaged her explaining how I was feeling in a very lengthy letter and my reason for 'breaking-up' with her. In return I basically got a not saying "sorry you feel that way". Fine, whatever. It's done. Right? Wrong.

    The problem was we had been friends for so long we also had a very tight knit group of friends and while I would have loved to tell them all that she was black listed and we should never speak to her again I knew I could not. But in truth a lot of them were feeling the same way about her as I was. So I did the adult thing. I sent her another message, trying to help her. Our friendship might be over but she could still save those she had with our other friend's, but she needs to try again at those relationships or she was going to lose them too. I told her I was not going to stand in the way of her retaining friendships with those people. She never responded to that, but her choice was obvious enough. Though some of my friends' still talk to her ever few months in a random Facebook comment no one has seen or heard from her in person in a long long time.

    I hurt, they was most people do when they lose a loved one. Hole in the chest, sobbing non-stop; I still can't watch certain movie or listen to certain CD's because they are just to fully of memories of her. The casual mention of her or a memory shared with her instantly bringing me down. It was bad. Watching TV/movie friendships while eating ice cream out of the carton and yelling at the TV "don't get attached! She will only hurt you!" kind of bad.

    It's been a few years now, mostly I am over her. Ultimately, now, I try to hope that she is very happy with her (now) husband and that her life is exactly everything she ever wished for. But some of the time I still can't help but feel bitter about the whole thing and wonder how she could just give up so many friendships and history for a man.

  49. Thank you for writing that article and for all the great people who commented with their experiences!

    I have a friendship that is in a weird place. We were friends in high school and even parts of college but it seems we are better friends when we are far apart or on more casual terms. We had a falling out which was both of our faults, but I don't think she accepts responsibility. When I speak with her now she doesn't initiate conversation so it feels more on sided friendship or fake. It feels odd and uncomfortable to walk around the issues instead of stating the truth and speaking with genuine honesty.

    One of the things that caused me to take a step away from our friendship was when I noticed there was a heavy feeling of competition the year we both got married. She wanted to know what I was doing and compare it to what she was doing. It was uncomfortable so I stopped talking to her. It feels odd to think that life is a race, it's probably not a healthy head space.

    it is sad. I still dream about having lunch with her or catching up occasionally. However I remember the anxiety and drama I felt after our falling out and her competitiveness. I"m glad to have closed the chapter and adopted a no drama approach with her.

  50. this is my poem called 'frenemy'

    the anniversaries we'd shared had faded together until our entwined existence seemed obvious.
    habitual and comforting; my interpretation of you had failed to grow according to the waves and rocks that indeed shaped and shoved you.
    your image remained thirteen forever;
    earnest in innocence and passionate loyalty unbreakable by those apart.
    our truth was the unspoken certainty of 'forever'.
    yet now in this flash of recognition i see you for the imperfection you have bloomed and bled and burrowed into – far less than my love had let me see.

  51. I too have had this experience, however I didn't have a clue that the friendship had ended for a couple of months.

    She was one of my best friends in community college. We met in a play we were in together. She was new to the area and very much was introverted and quiet when it came to socializing (which I found odd, being in theatre). Later I found out that she had just been through a really bad time in her life, and her best friend had taken her trust and betrayed it rather harshly. So she was very leery of making ANY friends because she was so hurt from this prior friendship.

    I always have thought of myself as a very good friend. I tend to be the caretaker in all my relationships (romantic and otherwise). I absolutely would describe some of my past relationships as me being a doormat for a person that was both self-centered and unhealthy for me (and ultimately I would know this while still trying hard to maintain the friendship). I thought it was my duty to help these people become better by giving them my friendship that was true, unbiased, and accepting of who they were. More often than not this would backfire on me, and since I was the one investing more than 80% of the effort to maintain the relationship I would end up being the one hurt in the end.

    Prior to this experience with this college friend, I had an extremely hard breakup with a friend that I met in Junior High School. We stayed friends until just before college, and literally she left on a plane to visit family, and never contacted me again. That was my first lesson in becoming a stronger person for myself. I was tired of being the doormat, and discarded when the "friend" was done with me. So when I met this gal in college I found an opportunity to not fall into old patterns, or so I hoped.

    After multiple attempts to get her to come out after rehearsal with the cast, I finally got her to agree. The rest, as they say, is history. A short time later we became best friends, bonded over shared experiences, and were inseparable with her practically living with me at one point. The first indication that this wasn't the perfect situation was when she fell in love with my cousin. Who at the time didn't even see her in that light. Between him, my friend, and another theatre gal they became the three musketeers. Now I typically have good intuition about people, and this third wheel as it were, was a gal that I didn't like, didn't trust, and thought was a total bi%#ch. However, my cousin and friend thought I was overreacting. This escalated to the point that my best friend and I got into a fairly stupid but heated fight over the situation. We didn't talk, and avoided eachother for 3 weeks. Then the s*%t hit the fan, my best friend found out that my cousin and this other gal had been secretly dating for over a month, not telling her because they were both aware of her feelings and thought it would be less hurtful to keep the secret. Obviously this is never the case. Frantic, angry, and hurt she turned to me for support. In my quest to "show her what true friends do" I let bygones be bygones, and gave her my support unflinchingly. The experience made our relationship stronger and we went along for nearly 10 years happily. Going on vacation together, road trips, spending holidays at eachother's family's houses. We both moved away for school, came back to the town we met in, moved away again and through all of it we stayed very close.

    However, as life does, I found my soon to be husband, and though she had been in and out of several relationships while we were close, I was an extreme anti-boyfriend, scared of co-dependency, kind of gal up to this point. Never having an adult relationship. My soon to be husband moved to the city I lived in, where she was living again looking for work after her masters. The first time they met there was some awkwardness, but I didn't think anything of it. Then the second time they met we were having drinks for happy hour, and they started talking politics. (Never a good thing). My husband is very vocal about disliking people who ignore facts, of history, of current events, of anything that can be proven to be untrue. Like a lot of political rhetoric, it stretches the truth, or warps it so much its unrecognizable. After asking them to stop more than once, not taking a side either way, knowing this isn't a subject one can "win". I left them to it and went outside. When I came back in they had stopped and I thought it was over. Good, great. However over the next few weeks she wouldn't pick up her phone when I called, didn't answer text messages, and then I went to message her on Facebook and realized that she had deleted me as a friend and blocked me access to her page.

    For weeks I kept trying to get a hold of her to no avail. I couldn't understand what I had done, and had gone over every moment for months of interaction with her to find something that would constitute this kind of silent anger as a reaction. Finally I got a response via email. This is what it said " i get mad every time i think of explaining anything to you. it makes me madder that you are in the dark. here it is: I am selfish and spending time with you is tiring. i have chosen myself over you. there, done. "

    That's IT!!!! Nothing more, two simple horribly hurtful sentences. She had broken up with me and I didn't even know why! Months went by I got engaged, married, and still was extremely hurt by her anger over something I supposedly did and didn't have a clue about. Slowly her entire family stopped talking to me. I was devastated, so hurt, and so angry because I couldn't figure out what I had done. Eventually I was able to talk to her sister-in-law and discovered that at least part of her anger was because I didn't side with her that night at happy hour. Petty, selfish, and downright childish if you ask me.

    To this day I don't really know the whole truth of the matter. From the grapevine I know she is now married too. I still think about her, we did so much together, and I won't delete her from my mind, but if she were to ever come crawling back with apologies I don't know that I could ever forgive her. The friend that betrayed her prior to us meeting eventually contacted her during our friendship and they were on good terms after that. She has a pattern of years later, weather from feeling of guilt, or maturity, of contacting those she has wronged and trying to forge a new friendship with them. So I expect this to happen at some point. I just don't know how I would react when that time comes.

  52. Oh man, I had a friend break-up in college and it was BIZARRE. It was one of those things where apparently we had a fight, but I didn't know we were even fighting. And then she apparently went INSANE. Looking back on it is super odd, in retrospect, but it was pretty upsetting at the time.

    Like, it wasn't that weird at first, just distancing herself, not inviting me to things, being really rude when others weren't around. I tried to ask her about it, and got a bullshit response. Okay, I thought, weird, but I guess we're moving on from this friendship. I was a little bummed (and confused!) but realized if she didn't want to be friends anymore, it was time to move on.

    Then, after summer break, things went bananas. Like, getting strange emails in my inbox, and she kept randomly showing up in places she knew I'd be, like the lounge on my floor when she lived off campus. I had to go to campus police to get that shit to stop. (The officer I worked with was actually super good about it) And apparently a middle-school style ploy to try to steal my friends. (When I realized she was doing this, it was really interesting to pretend to be way closer to someone then I actually was in her presence, and watch her try to become besties with them. I wasn't doing it to random people or anything, just having more conversations with people I was normally just friendly with. And I got some good conversations with people I hadn't really talked to a ton before, so.)

    We did have some mutual friends, so it wasn't that weird at first. She'd have these huge drunken ragers that she never used to before, but I didn't think too much of it. Until my friends were like "Yeah, she gets drunk and goes on crazy rants about you. Like, really crazy ones. And makes up stuff too. No worries, no one believes it because she's drunk and crazy." Eventually our mutual friends had to LIE about when they were hanging out with me to her so she wouldn't lose her damn mind. Like if they were with her and had to meet me for plans they had to not tell her where they were going. (Apparently, her apartment was very convenient for people to hang out and get hammered at though, so they still usually went when she had giant parties. I tried not to begrudge them this, lol.)

    It honestly… it was got pretty creepy. I've never had someone so… I don't wanna say obsessed, but obsessed? I think she has like, her own group of friends now, or at least our mutual friends don't talk to her much. I've tried as much as I can to cut her out of my life, but its hard when you know some of the same people.

    So yeah, friend breakups are super awkward and strange sometimes. Yep.

  53. Late to the party, but this friendship breakup just happened.

    We were friends since middle school. We started having issues in high school, when I would have to force her to do homework or write her essays for her to ensure she passed because she refused to work for several teachers she insist had slighted her in the past. (We shared teachers, the slights were them telling her to do her work, not sit there and do nothing.)

    Then came college, I attended a two year program and kept working, as I had since I turned 16. She ignored all of her parents warnings that she would have to live elsewhere if she did not attend school, or work to pay rent. And those times they made her leave to look for work, and she chose to visit me, I made her apply for jobs online, which usually resulted in her leaving sooner than expected because she 'Got enough of that crap at home'.

    She ended up moving out of state to live with another family member because she never did get a job or attend school. This was the start of the end.

    As it turns our, she has Borderline Personality Disorder, with anxiety and depression and other underlining issues.

    It manifested itself in disastrous arguments with her relative, that ended in tearful calls to me that I know have learned were exaggerated to gain support for herself.
    She ended up moving back in state, with my own family, for two long years.

    After the honeymoon period, she never did any chores, she never found a job, she never attended school. She started to pick fights with my brothers, and badmouthed my parents to mutual friends, when they had been nothing but kind to her, and began to act like she owned the house. She went to a psychologist about six times before refusing to go, because it was a hassle to call to make appointments. She stopped taking her medicine more than once, leading to relapses where she became volatile and sought out arguments with friends and family. That was when I knew we had to change our relationship, or it would tear my own mental health apart.

    We had her move out, she went to her grandfathers. In the few weeks I kept tabs on her after she moved, I learned that the drug habit I suspected she had, existed in full swing now. The one time she called to ask for someone's number she was clearly inebriated. She was still my friend at that point in time.

    Then, she lied about the events that led her to miss a group event with many of our friends. She blamed me and a few others, who were not involved with the issue, and she apparently has made it seem so bad, her parents tried to attack us through a mutual friend.

    That is when I cut off all ties. I do not regret her living with my family, I do regret her refusal to seek treatment for the issues that have now lost her more than just my friendship. I wish her all the best in life, but I know I can no longer be a part of it if I want to keep my own mental health and other relationships from deteriorating.

  54. Loved this post. Breaking up with my best friend of 20+ years has been more painful than any loss I've ever had. I often think it would have been better if she had died, as it is easier to work through feelings of grief than feelings of grief AND anger/resentment. In short, circumstances were not great in her life and over time she began to blame me for them, while simultaneously disregarding my feelings and needs. She became extremely selfish and short-sighted, and I was tired of having to hear how I was never good enough for her. On top of that, she became outright jealous of my relationships with other people…and I decided that just as jealousy has no place in a romantic relationship, it also does not belong in a platonic one. At the end, her demands of me were bordering on emotional abuse. I'm glad it ended because of what it became, but I wish she had been better emotionally equipped to deal with stresses in her life instead of taking it out on me.

  55. I am so happy to see this post since I'm fast approaching the 1 year mark of my breakup with my BFF of almost 15 years. Its sad and I miss her constantly but knowing that I'm not the only one that this has happened to and that the sadness and sorrow I feel isn't just in my head makes me feel like I can get through this.

  56. My best friend and I "broke up" in our senior year of high school. It was coming. We had different lives. I had a boyfriend that she hated. She was chasing a friend of mine who had no interest in her. She loved high school and all it entailed. I couldn't wait to gtfo of there. Being the late 80's we were both huge fans of "hair metal" and Bon Jovi was her favorite. They were coming in concert. She wanted to get us tickets. I knew my report card was questionable and if my parents punished me I didn't want her to waste her money on my ticket. So I told her I couldn't go. Report cards came out. I didn't do too badly. My parents didn't punish me. My boyfriend's aunt had an extra ticket for the concert so I went. A few mutual friends were at the concert, too, and in true high school fashion ran right to my best friend the next day to let her know they saw me at the concert. We had a class together and we sat next to each other. She kept her back to me. She wouldn't let me explain and once I did have a chance to say my peace, it wasn't good enough. So after about two weeks I told her I was done with her immature crap. We didn't speak to each other again. Fast forward 20+ years. She's found me on FB. She is no different than she was in high school. Because of that, I have no desire to rekindle the friendship.

  57. Loooong yet hopefully meaningful story (I'll be brief): I worked at a very socially conservative university and felt isolated, judged, and out-of-place. A new employee (who was part of that religious organization) started yet seemed cool and confident. She was also a single female and agreed with me about some of the bizarre attitudes among others who worked there. I became her ambassador to the nearby big city, and she became my shoulder to cry on when my workplace became more tumultuous than I could have imagined.

    Then, I got a new job. She became possessive of my free time and wanted to schedule a once-weekly get-together. I was commuting 3 hours a day round trip to my new job, and I was often left exhausted and financially drained due to buying so much fuel for my car. Eventually, she befriended some acquaintences of mine I'd met through karaoke at a local bar. They started a weekly cribbage club, but I wasn't interested in playing cards until the wee hours of the morning on a Monday/Tuesday.

    So, the rift began, and my acquaintences became her best friends. She started drinking excessively and driving on the freeway and started hooking up with guys she met through them or at the bar. Keep in mind that she is a called church worker for a very conservative faith… Who am I to judge? Yet, I felt conflicted–I'd worked there and felt judged for just being single and female, let alone signing a statement of values that I agreed to abide by (like she did).

    Eventually, every interaction became laced with her Facebooking and texting the men she was chasing. I just became an accessory. Even on my birthday, she spent the entire evening on her phone with these men (one of which was married) while I sat and stared at the wall.

    I moved across the metro area to be closer to my job, and she disapproved. I moved in with my long-term boyfriend, who she always hated and encouraged me to break up with (even though we're married now). Once I found out that she was blocking information from me on Facebook–this, from the social media queen who only took a break from it while sleeping–I defriended her as a way to send her a message. She acted wounded and shocked, but I said that she shouldn't be.

    After a few months, I wrote her a heartfelt, not accusatory letter. I pointed out examples of how her behavior hurt me. I also acknowledged that I sometimes projected my anger about my old job on her, and that wasn't fair. We had lunch once and caught up, but our friendship really can't be revived.

    I miss the good old days, but I guess that I got tired of feeling like an accessory rather than a companion, and she didn't feel connected to me anymore (even though my life is dramatically better professionally and personally with the changes I have made).

  58. I know. it really sucks. it really is the most painful realization in life; atleast for me it was. I am a boy, and considerably..people think boy BFF's are very awkward like. But I looked at that things for a different perspective. i had a BFF, he had recently looked at me from a whole new angle from the other classmates. we shared advices, me specially on his GF relationships. Time came when I accidently made the worst act of my life, that a certain advice caused a breakup in his relationship. i was 14 and he was 14 too, we had a lot of good times. he understood me so much other than the others. never looked at me differently. The day the breakup happened, my heart collapsed. i couldn't stop thinking about him. weeks, months, went on but he was still in my deepest thoughts. but I once read a line somewhere from Lord Buddha, "Everything happens for a reason. It is natural". once I read this, I knew it was time to move on in life. And I did. but I still regret the breakup. he was equally heartbroken as well. I will advise my close relatives and other people to never let a tweak in their friendship. It does hurt bad but we all…must move on with life. don't we? 🙂

  59. I had been best friends with this person since 3rd grade, friends for 20 years. We did pretty much everything together. We lived really close to each other. Sleep overs, outings with the others families, the whole nine yards. Then a year and a half ago, she cut me off. Wouldn't answer texts, phone calls, nothing. Found out through mutual friends that she had cut them off too. I also found out from them that she had used really odd reasons to do the cutting off. Her reason for me was that I talked about sex too much. When I only brought it up when she brought up something similar to that topic (I'm not like Samantha in Sex in the City, lol). The only thing I discovered was that she had gotten back together with her ex. And I liked him as a person. We were friends on Facebook. I've known him as long as she has. She joined his religion previously, before they broke up, even though she didn't believe in it. I can only guess that is why she broke up with me, and our other friends. Because we weren't happy she was forcing herself into a strict religion that wouldn't let her be herself. I still haven't talked to her, or seen her. I found out from her aunt that she got married. Heh, we were going to be each other's bridesmaids when we were growing up. What a joke.

  60. I started reading through the comments looking for insight into a bad friendship breakup in my own not-so-distant past. I found it, but not in the way I expected. I also inadvertently posted this as a reply originally, because it was in typing that reply that I had this little epiphany and changed my tune entirely.

    Growing up–well, all my life, really–I've found myself part of a pack. In some ways, it's odd that I'd use that term because I no longer speak to the person who termed our social group that growing up, but I've found myself in a group that self-identifies as a pack for other reasons… Circles, man. Anyway, all along, although some faces changed, there used to be a central core of sorts, friends that were a part of the group from 5th or 6th grade all the way through graduation. As most of these stories do, ours fragmented post-high school. We scattered enough– not truly to the four winds, but enough–that hanging out in person was challenging for a while. Not all of us had cars at school, heck, if memory serves, NONE of us did, but one of the group was living both off-campus and away from home, and fairly regularly threw parties. Between crippling social anxiety and lack of vehicle, I probably missed an order of magnitude more than I attended. For a while, we fought the social atrophy, but reflecting on it now? It WASN'T some horrible, messy, hate-filled breakup. We just drifted apart. The reason I always took it so hard is that what drove it home was finding out about a friend's wedding from the photos afterward. It's not that I'd expected to warrant an invite, we weren't THAT close anymore, but I'd thought I'd at least know it was coming up. Finding out that way stung, but it wasn't some big messy dramatic thing, we just quietly stopped talking because we no longer share common interests or experiences.

    Thanks for helping me figure that out, Offbeat Homies.

  61. Absolutely, the worst broken heart ever was the breakup with my childhood best friend. In the long run, it was a good thing as our relationship was very very emotionally abusive, and both the relationship and it's end left me so scarred. I could relate to this post so much! We did ballet together, and while I don't think there was so much of a competitive aspect, the in it together aspect absolutely was. And leaving ballet shortly after she dumped me, not exactly for that reason, but it maybe contributed. And about the same age, 12. It left me broken hearted for so long (I cried myself to sleep about it for years and years, and didn't learn how to make healthy friendships for nearly a decade.)

  62. I may be in the midst of a breakup now. We have been friends for 23 years, since 7th grade. Ever since my dad died in 2011, she's been weird. We used to be together all the time, now I haven't seen her at all this year . . . and we live in the same town. But we don't have a lot in common anymore – I'm fixin to get married, she's never had a serious relationship. I have kids. She hates kids. She works corporate; I take care of my mom. – I don't know how to fix this. I don't know if I want to fix this. I've messaged her on fb, in her email, on her blog and I get no response. I've texted her to meet up – she's working the days I'm free. And she's been making these snarky little comments "Sorry I have to work the only day you can meet up – I have to work for a living." That sort of thing.

    • That kind of snarky comment is insane. I had a friend (a new friend; someone I liked a lot but hadn't known long) who did that and other similar, unpleasant things. We stopped doing things together, and the friendship ended.

      In retrospect I wish I had sat down and talked to her about it. But I'm not sure that would have worked. I think my friend's comments and attitudes were motivated by jealousy. When people have problems with jealousy (which is an incredibly painful state to be in), there's nothing you–the person they're jabbing at–can do to resolve the situation.

      Did you inherit money or property when your dad died? It sounds like this woman has a jealousy-inspired beef with you, and it sounds like at least part of it is about money. If your new husband well off?

      One thing, though. You could examine your own attitudes carefully. When you say "she's never had a serious relationship" instead of "she hasn't met the right guy yet," or "she's had some bad luck with men," or "she loves her single lifestyle," to me that makes you sound condescending or negative. Ditto for, "she hates kids." Does she really hate kids? Or does she just not want them for herself? Or maybe she might like kids but hasn't been married or had the opportunity to have them, and is focusing on the good points of the childfree lifestyle. Or are you hurt because she doesn't show as much interest in your kids as you wish she did? I don't think I've ever met anyone who legitimately "hates kids."

      It doesn't sound like her friendship means much to you (beyond the history of it), so that would be a reason to let it go. But if her friendship does mean a lot to you, if you really like being in her life and having her in your life, it would be worth sitting down and talking. But examine your own attitudes first. Really think about how you see her before you make an attempt to reconnect.

  63. I had a friend in college that I became close to in the last 2 years. We shared mutual friends and worked together in the same student organization. At first, we were quite close and hung out a lot. After a few months though, I had begun to notice some really immature tendencies about him. He was often jealous if I didn't invite him to outings and always wanted to be a part of everything socially. Granted, it's nice to be invited to things but it isn't always going to happen. The downfall started when there was a school event and he power tripped on me in front of many other students. A few hours later, he laughed it off and acted like our friendship was the same. To me though, there was suddenly a dramatic shift that would never change. If that had been the only time something happened, I probably would have let it go too as mistakes happen and things can get heated sometimes. However, he never addressed the situation and continued to treat me poorly for the rest of the year. Because of that incident, a lot of our friends quickly sided with me and began to dislike him because of his personality. I didn't ask them to side with me or anything, it was just a big enough of an incident that showed his true colors. It was very strange but it also seemed like he wanted me to follow him and look up to him, which I didn't because I am not that type of person. This always amounted to some friction in the friendship.

    After graduating, I began to distance myself more from him. He always wanted to gossip a lot and compare who got jobs and who didn't, something I didn't want to participate in since I was having quite a bit of trouble finding a job. I distanced myself from a lot of people during my job search and I am not sorry for that, as it can be a difficult process and I know my true friends are the kind that I can still contact later on and pick up where we left off- they were off starting their own lives too. However, he kept whining that I didn't hang out with him but in all honesty, I just didn't have the energy to. The ultimate breaking point came when he promised that he would forward my resume to a friend of his but didn't. He only forwarded his girlfriend's resume (who ended up getting a phone interview) and not mine because: "I didn't invite him to a recent Vegas trip (I hadn't planned the trip) and I didn't hang out with him." At that point, I told a few of our mutual friends and resolved not to talk to him ever again. I decided not to send an email or message to reach out to him about it because he is immature and wouldn't understand anyways. I don't need those kinds of negative, whiny people in my life. As you get older, it's a known thing that friendships that you can come back to at any time are the ones that are worth keeping anyways.

  64. When I was 13 my parents got divorced and my mom and I moved to another town. I had only really ever had one good friend up to that point, but she had moved away when we were 7 and we didn't see each other often. I started to make friends bit by bit, until I had integrated into a group of kids who always hung out during lunch. Three of us starting spending more and more time together outside of school, until we started referring to ourselves as the triumvirate. When high school started, two of us went to the same school and the third went to an alternative school in town.

    I began to fall in with a different group of kids. Not bad necessarily, but much more typical teenagers than we triumvirate had been. I started seeing an older boy, he was kind of a jerk, but nothing terrible came of it (thankfully). The triumvirate member who went to school with me took exception to my new found group and made a point of yelling at me in front of them one day. We had a nasty fight and didn't speak for a few a while. Then, he rode his bike over to my house after school, and confronted me while crying on the patio of our townhouse. You have to understand what a huge thing this was, this guy was as level-headed and calm as they come. You rarely ever saw a rise out of him, we used to joke he must be a Vulcan, so to have him show up unannounced, crying, was extremely out of the ordinary.

    But I was an asshole teenager. I just wanted to have friends, I didn't see anything wrong with these people, we were just having a good time. I didn't end up pregnant at 15 or a drug addict or anything. We had a very painful conversation where I did not empathize or even really try to see his side. He cared about me and was just trying to protect me, in his own way. He was forceful about it, but I basically dismissed him. Our friendship dissolved right after. I still speak to the other third of our triumvirate, who said some time after that that there was no repairing the damage I had done.

    It took me years, admittedly, to realize what an asshole I'd been. I haven't spoken to him in 12 years, and the thing that hurts my heart the most (which I'm sure I'll never get over) is that I'll never be able to tell him how sorry I am. But that's the burden I bear for being such a terrible friend.

    • It may be too late to save the friendship, but it's never too late to say you're sorry and own up to your role in its having ended. I'm sure it would be appreciated, even if not well received. Do it for his sake if not for your own.

  65. This hits home SO much for me. I've had several friend breakups, unfortunately, but the hardest was in middle school where my best friend since 2nd grade suddenly, and seemingly without any justification dropped me like a hot potato. I just remember she started acting really bitchy to me so I responded the same. Then after a few days I wrote a note (yes, this was back in the actual physical note-writing days) trying to reach out and said I don't even know why we're fighting. She wrote back, "you're an annoying little bitch and I'm not the only one who thinks that." I still remember those exact, EXACT words all these years later. That was the end of our friendship and the last time we talked, even though I had to see her every day in school. Since all of my friends were mutual friends of hers too, I felt like my entire world had turned on me. I never knew who was still my friend or not, and I was too afraid and proud to ask. There were months I felt like everyone was laughing at me and talking about me behind my back. I had no friends at all. I would stand in the cafeteria line and smile & wave at "someone" in the back of the crowd who wasn't there, just so I wouldn't look so pathetic standing all by myself. I scouted the different tables & groups of friends and wondered who might be a good option to take a chance on & insert myself into their circles, because that's what it felt like I was doing, even though I had to act cool and nonchalant… but, little by little I got to make some new friends and moved on without any of my old close friends. I'm over it by now, of course, and even accepted a facebook "friendship" with my ex best friend all these years later. I never did get an apology or explanation, but it's funny that online we now have so many of the same interests and passions that we support, she's always liking my posts & commenting as if we've always been on the same page. I've long since forgiven her; although she's not a friend in any real sense now, at least there's no animosity. But I have to admit it stung when she posted about her "best friend since elementary school" the other day and it was one of our mutual friends who I had thought was my friend too. How come they remained but kicked me out? I'll never know but I have to think it was for the best. I never would have made the true lifelong friends I have now if it weren't for being lost during that time when I met them.

    In my adult life the 2 dramatic friend breakups were both completely baffling to me, but in hindsight I think I'd always been drawn to the crazy-fun, life-of-the-party girls and felt special for being allowed into their inner circle… and they would inevitably implode and turn on me. One was a college roommate who turned out to be a pathological liar; when her stories became just too unbelievable to swallow and I asked her about all the things that just didn't add up, instead of an explanation or apology I got anger and accusations of not being her friend. She ended up leaving (and taking some of my things) without my knowledge when we were home on a break, and I only discovered it when I returned to the apartment. Years later I was still finding out the extent of the ridiculous lies she spun.

    The other I became fast friends with as a young professional in my first position out of college, and we were close for several years. Then when she decided she had to leave her husband and was going through a rough divorce, despite my support and help with whatever she said she needed, she simply cut me off one day with no explanation. After several unanswered emails and phone calls I tried to take the hint, and left her one more email saying I'm sorry for what she's going through, and I'm here when she's ready to talk. Over 2 years went by with not a word. The only thing I could think of was that my marriage was healthy and happy, and maybe seeing my life compared to what hers had been was too much for her to handle. Then out of the blue she contacted me and asked if I wanted to get together. By then I was (mostly) over the hurt, but still confused and not willing to open myself up to be treated so badly again, and I said as much. I would have liked to meet with her but I made it clear that I wasn't going to simply pick up where we had left off and pretend none of this had ever happened… she apparently wasn't okay with that and we left it at that. I said I forgave her and wished her well.

    It's still somewhat shocking to me that we still have to deal with this sort of thing as grown adults. I hope I never have to go through it again, but at least now I feel like I can be a little more wary of the warning signs of Crazy, and be a little more prepared with how to get through it too.

  66. I am going through this with 2 friends at the same time. One I have been friends with since the start of high school. We were long distance best friends till now. She was there for me during high school when I was sick and all my other friends ditched me. She was in my wedding. The other friend and I went on a mission together on a team for 2 years in Miami and he took care of me the whole time. If I needed anything I would call him up and he would take me on surprise trips and take me out all the time. My boyfriend (now husband) was in a timezone that was 8 hours off and my friend supported me the whole time. We came into conflict because of something they did at my wedding. Both ignored all of my messages for a month. When my girl friend answered she told me off and said I was making her feel guilty and that I was being a baby. I have still yet to hear from my other friend. I started to send them daily messages that just are casual and update them on my life and ask about theirs. Neither has responded. I know they have been looking at them. I started doing that on Nov. 2nd and decided I'm going to give myself a deadline of Dec. 2nd so I can learn to let go. It breaks my heart so much. That is why I looked up this article on here to figure out how to deal.

  67. Oh wow glad I'm not alone in this, I think friendship breakups can be so much harder than real breakups because often you can't really talk to the person about it in direct honest terms. I had this problem in my sophomore year of college.
    I had a friend who I met right at the start of freshman year, it was from the very start that we clicked and became good mates. So we ended up living together in sophomore year. It was then that the friendship really deteriorated. My friend started hanging out with a new crowd and having what I perceived as more fun with them. Of course this was just jealousy on my part and in my rational head I knew I meant more to her than her new group of friends and if I could let it go and embrace the new friends our friendship would be just fine. But I just couldn't shake off the dejection of feeling replaceable.
    Now this is where I think friendships are harder than relationships. Coz in a relationship I would have talked about this, but I felt I couldn't with this friendship- be it pride or embarrassment – I just couldn't. So instead I used passive aggression to vent my feelings- snide comments when my friend returned home from a big night out with her new mates, not laughing when she said something funny, basically giving her the silent treatment. In my head I was like 'that'll teach her' but really it was entirely detrimental to me. Of course my friend sensed something was up and tried to ask me about it many times, but I felt stupid telling her so I just said I was fine. To cut a long story short by the end of that year we did not speak at all, in fact we strongly disliked each other and have not spoken since.
    I did actually speak to a mutual friend of ours and heard that she had been upset by my behaviour but that she no longer thought the friendship worth her time and effort. I can totally appreciate her viewpoint as I handled the friendship so badly and really gave up a friendship for my insecurities. I have to say this friendship breakup was far more difficult for me than any relationship I've ever had- and it probably taught me the biggest lesson- which is that communication- even if its the most awkward and humiliating conversation – is always key.

    • From a male Perspective…
      I am turning 50 in a couple days.(so you might be reading this after my b-day. four years ago, I met this woman, much younger than me.
      We started dating. I found that as a relationship we didn't work. but we stayed on as friends. there was no feelings remaining on her end and none from mine as far as lovers. So we actually became very close. One of my friends once remarked that we were joined at the hip, and literally we did everything together, we lived together, we moved to different areas together, slept together, as a weird type of fwb's. I did not want that tho…yes its true. I just wanted friendship. anyway on Jnne 11th of 2016 after four years of being "joined at the hip" she departed. she later told me she did not want any contact. It was so sudden that I went into a depression. I locked myself in my apt. I didn't eat, I just sat there feeling stranger than ever, utterly empty. that's the only word I can describe is a feeling of total emptiness. I lost all ego. everything I was interested in previously, just seemed pointless.
      I started to come out of my depression about 2 months later toward the end of summer. but the twitches of pain from going to places and doing things we both had done still haunts me. I had been through so many romantic breakups, but this was so different. usually I'm over it within a couple weeks, after a GF breakup. but I am still hurting. So I'm perplexed. why am I not oer this yet? I was thinking of heading out west like I had done the previous two winters, but she had come with me. and now I gte this ugly sick feeling in my stomach when I think about doing that. not sadness, or ager, but a feeling of grief maybe? something like melancholia…I don't have words for this feeling. I am much better, but I am perplexed that I am still not over it, and now I wonder…will I ever be fully over this? will the feelings ever get back to normal?

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