Exploring the very painful world of friendship breakups

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.

Comments on Exploring the very painful world of friendship breakups

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

  8. 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? 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.)

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

Read more comments

Join the Conversation