Losing a friendship can feel as traumatic as the breakup between a loving, long-term couple. Sometimes it’s almost more devastating, because we expect our best friendships to stand the test of time. We’re taught that romantic relationships come and go, but that our friendships last, especially friendships between women.
In my twenties, I went through a few close friend breakups. At the time, I couldn’t understand why, and that made me feel ashamed. I thought to myself – am I a fundamentally flawed human being who’s incapable of sustaining friendships? Am I an awful person who people don’t want to be friends with? Am I too selfish, flakey, etc.? Over time, I came to realize it’s actually quite normal to lose friends, especially when you’re in your twenties.
I had a falling out with one very close friend in particular that devastated me. We met in junior high school and stayed friends until our early 20s. She was a soul mate level friend, the kind of friend that comes around a few times in your life. Everyone else could see it, how close we were – we spoke the same language without speaking. I loved how smart and funny she was. She thought about deep things in the world – why we were here on the planet, what kinds of people we wanted to be, our deepest fears, and all those sorts of things.
Long story short, we fought and we didn’t recover. In hindsight, I would fight harder for the friendship. At the time, I was scared of her, of hurting her more than I already had, and since I’m a non-confrontational person generally, I tried to repair the friendship in small ways. But, looking back, I realize I didn’t try hard enough.
I can honestly say it’s taken me years to get over it, and I still don’t think I am fully over it. I hadn’t thought about being in touch with her again until last week, when almost a decade later, I got an email from her. I was so excited/scared/hopeful/nervous that it took me several days to even OPEN the email. When I did, I immediately started bawling my eyes out. I could hear her voice through the email and I was flooded with memories. It wasn’t an angry or ‘bad’ email; I cried because I missed her and I didn’t realize how profoundly I did until I read the email.
I’m not sure what’s next for us. I wonder if there’s any way for us to get that friendship back. There are so many barriers to even getting back a new ‘starter’ friendship. We don’t even live in the same city anymore. We both lead very different lives.
Have you ever experienced a best friend breakup? Did you ever reconnect with that friend?
PS – For anyone interested in exploring the phenomenon of friendships ending and how to deal, check out Dr. Irene Levine’s The Friendship Blog. It’s a great resource for all things friendship.