• Keeping Friends


Published: May 14, 2007 | Last Updated: February 27, 2023 By | Reply Continue Reading

Friendships with other women are integral to our sense of happiness, health, and emotional well-being. At their best, these relationships fill our lives with love and laughter—but they can just as easily lead to intense feelings of sadness, hurt, loss, and shame that are as painful to get over as a breakup with a husband or lover.

What happens to our friendships? Why do some grow richer with time, others disappear, and others come to a crashing, often unanticipated, end? How do you tell the difference between the ones that are keepers that are definitely worth saving and the ones that should be discarded?

In an effort to understand the natural course of our friendships, I surveyed more than 1500 women of all ages, from all walks of life, to learn about their friendships, why some succeed and others fail, and how women can use every friendship, whatever the outcome, to emerge more whole.

With rapid changes in technology and the evolving roles of women, female friendships are more dynamic than ever before. Almost every woman has experienced a fractured friendship: either because she lost contact with someone who once was important to her; because she actively decided to step back from a friendship that changed; because she was unexpectedly dumped by someone else, because she decided she didn’t have time for the hassles of a frenemy or toxic friendship, or because she and a friend both agreed their relationship was no longer worth saving.

I was always curious about the complexities of friendship. What made some friendships stick and others fall apart? How did my friendships compare to those of other women?

My publisher, Overlook Press, recognized the importance of these issues to women and commissioned a book that turned out to be a perfect match for my background and interests. Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend (Overlook Press), published on September 20th, 2009 (coinciding with International Women’s Friendship Day), is now widely available in brick-and-mortar bookstores and online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Powell’s.



Reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly – 7/27/09

Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend Irene S. Levine. Overlook, (256p) ISBN 978-1-59020-040-7

Levine’s first book is a formidable resource for negotiating the ending of women’s friendships. The author, a journalist, psychologist and professor at NYU Medical School, affirms that the grief of ending a close friendship can be as potent as that of a dying romantic relationship. But the former rarely garners the same social support as a divorce or romantic breakup. Levine cites studies indicating that women’s friendships are more intense than men’s, nurtured through
shared intimacy and reciprocity. But friendships are not static, she explains—over time, they can wax and wane and end. Levine’s seven stages of grief are loosely reminiscent of the Kübler-Ross grief model but include new elements: “Self Blame,” “Embarrassment and Shame” and “Relief. “Full of hints for being a consistently thoughtful friend, for
resuscitating your closest friendship or knowing when to end it, this book is part etiquette guide, part grief manual. Whether your friendship sputtered because of physical distance or your best friend slept with your boyfriend, Levine deftly assures us that although the pain can be strong, the sorrow will pass. (Sept.)

Reviewed in Library Journal – 7/15/09

Levine, Irene S. Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. Overlook, dist. by Penguin Group (USA). Sept. 2009. c.256p. ISBN 978-1-59020-040-7

Psychologist Levine (NYU Medical Sch.) takes on the devastating loss of a friendship by drawing from personal testimonials of women who have been there and who can provide solace and suggestions for healing. Levine offers tools for personal assessment and actionable advice for helping readers use the experience to become stronger and handle future relationships better.

MORE ADVANCE PRAISE for Best Friends Forever

“For anyone who has ever had a friend, but especially for those who’ve ended close relationships, Irene Levine has written a beautiful guide to recovery and healing. It’s a book filled with honest reflections and heartfelt advice.”

—Jeffrey Zaslow, New York Times bestselling author of The Girls from Ames and co-author of The Last Lecture

“Finally, a book that helps you get through the other type of breakup.”

—Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, authors of Friend or Frenemy?

“The end of a friendship is painful and sad, regardless of the circumstances. Dr. Irene Levine explores this difficult subject with insight and heart, plus a look at the latest research. Her guidance is especially interesting and helpful regarding Facebook and other new developments that are changing the meaning of friendship in today’s world.”

—Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends and What Do You Say When…

“Dr. Irene Levine’s Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend should be every woman’s BFF! Written in a breezy yet thoughtful style and peppered with stories from real-life best friends, this guide shows that female friendships are rich, life-affirming, joyful—but often very complicated too. We women love our friends, but we feel completely alone and confused when those friendships get troubled or even disappear. In her unique self-help guide, Dr Levine gives essential
advice and tips for navigating the ups and downs of female friendship.”

—Joanne Rendell, author of The Professors’ Wives’ Club and Crossing Washington Square

Best Friends Forever explodes the myths about female friendships and is a readable, entertaining survival manual filled with practical advice for girls and women of all ages. The book reminds us that it is the nature of relationships to change over time, and helps us understand and cope with those changes. We don’t expect to marry our elementary school
sweethearts, and it is equally rare for our best friends from childhood to be there for us forever. This book will help you navigate the choppy waters that complicate friendships, advise you on how to salvage the friendships that can and should be saved, and guide you to move on when necessary.”

—Diana Zuckerman, PhD, Psychologist, President, National Research Center for Women & Families

“A fractured friendship can be as painful as any other break-up, whether you’ve been jilted by a friend or been the one to do the jilting. Irene S. Levine understands the complications of friendship—the lulls, the obstacles, and yes, the dissolutions, and offers kind, practical and realistic tools to recover from a break-up and emerge strong, healthy and complete.”

Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of Time of My Life

“Friendship is one of the great joys of life, but, like most good things, it often comes to an end. Best Friends Forever shows us how to accept, learn from, and even celebrate this fact of life. In cleaning up your toxic friendships, you’ll have all the more time for the art of making and maintaining the meaningful ones.”

Roger Horchow & Sally Horchow, The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections


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