Why do we expect the end of a true friendship to be any easier than losing a true love?
The saying “best friends forever” implies an intrinsic endlessness, a bond that knows no boundaries and has no time limit. Friendships are often entered into less cautiously than romantic relationships, because there is largely no precedent for the ending of friendships. Female friendships are portrayed in movies and television shows as safe places to work out all of the drama that romantic relationships can bring. There are songs and movies about the heartbreak and devastation that results from a romantic relationship ending, but what is never addressed is how the pain from the disintegration of a friendship can be deeper and longer lasting than even the end of love.
We often hear about “mean girls” and bullying, but female friendships are much more complicated and difficult than we allow ourselves to admit. With the male brain still largely an enigma to us, women allow a sense of ease with our friends because of assumed innate similarities. But allowing ourselves to open up to someone as a best friend takes just as much trust as doing the same in the name of love, so when a friendship break up is one-sided, the wounds are just as raw.
I experienced a betrayal by someone I thought was a best friend that was every bit as confusing and devastating as any romantic break-up. There was suddenly a hole in my life and a space in my heart that for a long time was reserved for one person, and the confusion and sense of loss was paralyzing. Any relationship, friendship or otherwise has intricacies, and the demise of a years-long friendship proved to be quicker and blunter than the slow unraveling of a romantic involvement of the same amount of time. There were more questions than answers, regrets of wasted time and emotional involvement, and a treasured amount of memories that no longer had a shared home.
Friendship break-ups are real and very rarely involve the ever-elusive “closure.”
Years after I made peace with eliminating my ex-friend from my life, I decided to extend an olive branch, which was instantly rebuffed without a second thought, filling me with regret and hurt all over again. Even though in this case I was the one that was wronged, I still had the urge to try again and make things right, just like with an old boyfriend. And just like an old boyfriend, time is the only thing that ever takes that pain away.
Best friends are harder to replace than romantic interests, but in the end, we need to believe that the break-ups lead to who you are truly meant to be (friends) with.
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