Whether you’re 15 or 52, breakups are pretty universally accepted as a difficult, crappy experience. You can find hundreds, if not thousands, of articles all about how to mend your broken heart and move on following the end of a relationship. But there is a lesser known heartache that I don’t think gets talked about enough: a friendship breakup.
The end of a friendship can be extremely painful and difficult to talk about. My senior year of high school, my best friend and I had a falling out. Other people would ask why we weren’t around each other or talking as much and I would simply deflect. I didn’t even tell my mom about what happened until several months after the fact when I really couldn’t hide it anymore. Friendship breakups are difficult to talk about because they’re not always as clean cut as romantic breakups. There wasn’t a moment where we said, “this isn’t working anymore;” rather it was a gradual process.
It can also be difficult to mourn the loss of a friendship when society seems to diminish the pain that you feel. When someone breaks up with their partner, people immediately recognize the significance and the loss they must feel. It’s not always the same with friendships, especially among women. The media likes to paint young girls as catty, immature people who make and lose friendships easily. Teen dramas love to show the angst of on-again, off-again friendships, but are less likely to show the true pain of a friendship ending for good. The media also loves to sensationalize celebrity friendship fallouts, with entire articles devoted to why certain celebrity bffs are no longer friends, like Demi and Selena or Taylor and Karlie. Articles like these tend to diminish female friendships and ignore the pain that these people are very likely feeling. I had trouble talking about the end of my friendship because it sounded immature. I tried to downplay my pain because I thought that people wouldn’t take me seriously. People understand the heartbreak of romance, but I didn’t think they would understand the pain I felt when I saw her with other friends or the sadness when I couldn’t call her to share good news. But my pain was real, and I deserved to mourn the loss of a nine year friendship.
One of the most difficult things for me to accept was that I may never get closure. The end of our relationship was abrupt and fairly messy. I didn’t really get answers that I wanted then and to this day I’m still left with questions. While that can be difficult to accept, there’s nothing that I can do. My friend also needed to cope in her own ways, and I couldn’t force her to give me answers or explanations. However, I can say that it will get easier. It’s now been almost four years since I’ve seen or spoken to my friend, and while it still makes me sad to think of how our friendship ended, I no longer have the pain. Even though I didn’t get closure from her, I was able to reach a personal closure that can really only come with time. So take the time that you need: cry, unfollow them on social media, vent, do whatever you need to do to heal.
My biggest advice is not to let the end of your friendship erase all of the good moments and wonderful memories you have. We were friends for almost a decade, and in those years are some of my fondest, happiest memories, and it would be a shame to throw all of that away because of how it ended. Now I’m not saying you should immediately pull out the scrapbook and reminisce, because that can be extremely painful for awhile. But you also shouldn’t have a bonfire and burn the past. Good friendships are often the hardest to lose. If it wasn’t such a great friendship, you probably wouldn’t feel this crappy about the loss. So remember to cherish your friendships and the good moments with them, even if not all friendships last forever.