• Handling Breakups

Getting Over A Blowup With A Best Friend

Published: August 7, 2013 | Last Updated: December 1, 2021 By | 12 Replies Continue Reading

After a blowup, sometimes you just need to cut your losses and move forward.


Hi Irene,

This friend had been my best friend for the last five years. We both moved into a neighborhood at the same time and were exactly the same age. Before we knew, it we were best buds.

There were stark differences in our lives. I was married to my one and only husband for 25 years with two sons in college, a large close extended family, and we are a family that practices and lives a deep faith in Christ.

She had never been married, had not been in a romantic relationship for over 20 years, had no children, had no extended family, and no community affiliations of any kind. She was a doctor and her work was her life. She had a horrible childhood and to her credit, she was a survivor of abuse and has made her own way all by herself.

I noticed when we first became friends that she had no long-term friendships of any kind. I attributed that to her work. As I got to know her I found her to be incredibly intelligent, quick witted, creative, and I genuinely enjoyed being around her. But depression was a constant battle for her because she felt alone because of her life experiences and having no family of her own.

I welcomed her into my home and family. She spent Christmases and Thanksgiving with us and traveled with us out of town occasionally for special events or vacations. I truly felt sisterly toward her (I have two natural sisters in another state that I am close with). We would have disagreements or difference of opinions but we both seemed to enjoy talking things out and were grateful for the gift of communication.

During the course of the friendship, I noticed that she would become increasingly critical of co-workers or nurses that she worked with. She would eventually end up having a big blowup and decide she would keep that person out of her life. I noticed she even did that with people whom she seemed especially fond of. My friend seemed to feel “If you cannot meet my needs, this friendship is too draining for me and I need to let it end” (these were her exact words concerning others).

She used to say how I could make her laugh like no one else and I was her rock, and didn’t know what she would do without me. I had given her a sense of belonging she had never had.

Then she started becoming increasingly critical: of me, my family, my dog, and of silly things. I told my husband I thought my friend was in one of her downward spirals and I was concerned. Then came a really big ugly blowup, not the screaming kind but a long email full of a list of things she must have been keeping for five years, everything she did not like about me—and then some. The email was so painful to read that I had to stop mid-email. It has been several months and I still cannot read it.

But I knew what was coming. I saw the words. I was no longer meeting her needs and it was too draining for her to maintain a friendship with me.

In previous disagreements, I tended to apologize for things I wasn’t guilty of because I felt like I had such a wealth of love and family and joy in my life. It was easy for me to do so.

That is what my own sisters and I did. We would all apologize and find our way through and I took that same mindset in my relationship to this friend. I felt that the friendship was of great importance to me.

Well, I sent an email back to my friend and said that I did not agree with her assessment of me, and I felt that she was in a dark place and I would give her a few days and we would talk then. I told her that she needed to apologize for her hurtful words and we could find a way through this. That was ten months ago and I still have not heard from her.

I miss her so much. I am a teacher and I have tons of friends. I have a lot of joy in my life and many life long friends. I have friends that I shop with, have coffee with, go to church with, but I miss this friend. We still live in the same neighborhood. When I see her car, my heart stops.

I fear she is alone (which was her biggest fear) without anything but work. I know she has tendencies toward deep depression and anxiety.  She makes a great salary so I know she is more than comfortable and able to do anything she wants.

But I miss her friendship and all the “sisterliness” I felt with her. There was so much good between us (or so I thought). I honestly believe I have grieved over losing that friendship. Do I contact her after this blowup or do I just let it go?

Is it okay to move on after a friendship ends?

Signed, Janelle


Dear Janelle,

It sounds like your friend had a very difficult childhood but this doesn’t excuse the way she has treated you, especially since you did everything you could to be supportive and understanding before this blowup.

From what you describe, your friend’s only stable relationship as an adult may have been with you. But it was YOU who made it work by doing a lot of compromising and overlooking. Perhaps, because of her abusive childhood, she hasn’t been able to maintain healthy relationships with others.

Unless your friend was interested in acknowledging, changing, and seeking treatment for her problems (which doesn’t seem to be the case), this doesn’t appear to be a healthy or satisfying relationship. Were it to continue, you would always have to compromise and make apologies for things you didn’t do wrong.

I can understand how the relationship had become familiar and close, and how disturbing it is to be at loggerheads with a neighbor who once was a close friend. However, after ten months of silence, it’s unlikely you can restore the best days of the relationship you once had. Moreover, I don’t think its something you should actively pursue because this relationship probably isn’t good for you regardless of her needs.

Delete her email because it isn’t good for you to keep thinking about reading something so painful and hurtful. This will help you to move forward.  Unfortunately, not all friendships last forever.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (12)

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  1. Janelle says:


    I am so grateful for your words. I needed someone to look at this from the outside.

    I miss my friend. I emailed her once more about a month ago. She never responded. I know this friendship is over. I feel my stomach clutch as I typed those words… this friendship is over.

    I needed to hear what you had to say. I need to give myself permission to move on. Even tho she did not respond to my emails… it feels like I am abandoning her. I have never abandoned anyone and I do not know how to process all of this…

    Perhaps time will be my friend… I hope and pray.

    Thank you.

    Gratefully Yours,

  2. jcmmanuel says:

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon this blog, but the story as told by Janelle hits me right in the face. I was best friends with someone only for 5 months, but this was enough time for writing some 400.000 words together, in letters and chats. Then the friendship got broke because of one stupid mistake I made. Although she was a Christian – a very liberal and open-minded one by the way – for some reason she could not do what I (who had been atheist for a long time before I met this person) have always seen as the very essence and central axis of Christian faith: forgiveness. And, given the fact that the Bible has a wonderful verse saying that love “does not dishonor others, …is not easily angered, …keeps no record of wrongs” (1Cor 13) this is something that got me stumped really. How can this happen?

    Janelle says this was 10 months ago. I have good news for you: my disastrous defriending by my once best friend was 3 years ago and I’m nowhere over it… I’m sorry. But I hope you don’t have such a hard time. But friendship is really some kind of contract, it is full trust. I could try to offer my definition of friendship but it would fill quite some space – let’s just stick with this ‘contract’ thing and with the idea of ‘unconditional’. There are rules to friendship – but unfortunately these rules can be broken unilaterally. This may just happen – like in “shit happens”.

    Maybe just one little thought here which may already be useful. when you write “I miss her friendship and all the sisterliness I felt with her”, it would be wise to remember that whenever you suffer from these memories, it means that your loving friendship for her was real. In a certain sense it is true that we suffer because we love. And this can be a point of strength actually. One way to deal with such hurt is to become hostile and think bad of that person. This is the path towards apathy. The opposite way is by accepting the hurt and ‘knowing’ (consciously reminding yourself of it) that this hurt IS essentially your love, like the other side of the coin. If it hurts you a million times, it’s because you had a million-units big kind of love for your friend.

    I try to keep this in mind always when it hurts. It is, in my case, a remedy against the daunting feeling of guilt that one may struggle with when a mistake has become (or been made) the “turning point” of a deep friendship. In your case there may be no mistake (and no guilt) but there will still be the questions and the possibility of something which you did wrong – because if you are excluded from updates you cannot know anymore, so the whole thing keeps stinging inside. Just keep in mind that this is because of love.

    • Irene says:

      Hi JC,

      I’m glad you “stumbled” in because your very eloquent thoughts will be appreciated by many who read them. You’ve brought an interesting perspective to the pain of breaking up~

      And, yes, each of us grieves at our own pace.

      Best, Irene

    • Janelle says:

      Thank you! Your words are kind and rich in understanding. I have read it over and over again. Bless you!

  3. Elyse says:

    Last year, I wrote a list of “signs” that a friendship is on its way out that Irene reprinted, and what you describe is EXACTLY what prompted me to write it. My situation with my ex-BFF (which, oddly enough, I am STILL getting over), is exactly the same except I am the unmarried woman (with a pretty good social life) and my friend is the married one (who is very insecure).

    It was very cathartic to read this, realizing this happens all the time, though it doesn’t diminish that we need to cut our losses and move on. I am not mourning the loss of the friendship, but angry at myself for allowing her to walk all over me, put me down, hold my disability against me, tell me that any man with a job and a home is out of my league and so on. She is still very uncivil to me in public yet wonders why (via friends who report back to me) I am cold around her. Clueless.

    As hard it is, your friend is toxic and you have to move on and spend time with people who value you.

    This is a great forum to work things out and know you are among friends. We’ve all been there.

    • Janelle says:

      I am so grateful to your words and insight. I am so grateful for a place where others can read written words of a complete stranger, and offer strength and understanding…

  4. R. Davidson says:

    The disparity between your life with its many joys and hers with only
    work may have finally caused her to envy you.

    I think envy is the culprit. Also I think that you were a good friend if you could maintain a 5 year relationship with this person. Maybe she envied you your other relationships.

  5. SIster Diva says:

    Hi Janelle

    I hear and understand your pain, confusion and love. Yes, your friend maybe very difficult to love and live with at times. You mentioned that you are a lover and follower of Christ, I have come to realise that at times The Lord gives us the most unlikely assignments. He sends us to places we don’t want to go, he wants to share his love with people who are hurtful and prickly at times.

    Your friend needs that. everybody needs that. everybody wants love and validation and guidance. Prayerfully try and support your friend. You will need strength not from yourself but from God to sustain you and hold you through. Your friend is just hurting and is doing what comes naturally to her, she is defending herself. She is trying to be to herself what she needs…a safe place to fall. You are that safe place for her, don’t give up.

    Im in the same boat, and I keep resisting the urge to go over to my friend and see where we went wrong. But I know it is the right thing to do and I will do it. Love, biblical love is tough, its not about feelings, it not about what you did and what she didn’t do. It can be messy sometimes. Intimacy is messy.

    You can speak the truth to her in love and try to show her the light of Christ. Perhaps you can even go with her to church. Spend time sharing the word with her. Encourage her,challenge her at times, uplift her.

    This week I learnt that friendship is ministry.

    I’m wishing you the best and I know that you can do all things Through Christ who strengthens you.

    Lots of Love…this is just advise!

  6. Amy says:

    It sounds like your friendship with this woman was a lot of work. From what you say, you had to make more and more compromises in order to keep the peace.
    I agree with Irene’s analysis. When people haven’t had stable relationships, they sometimes don’t have the skills that someone like you, who had a solid childhood have. If she’s never had therapy, correcting this pattern is difficult. You can’t save her, fix her, or make up for that, no matter how good a friend you are.
    Your letter is mostly about your friend. It might be helpful in examining your part of the equation, to avoid the dynamic in other relationships. You’ve said that you apologized for things to pacify her. Why? How was that helpful or not helpful? How did you feel about yourself?
    I know your (and anybody’s) first instinct when you received the letter was to respond, but that might not have been the best idea. You both made demands of apologies, which stoked the anger. Resolving conflict thru email can be difficult, because of the limitations of not hearing tone of voice, see body language etc. I use the phone or in person, of possible. One time a friend in another country sent me an email similar, but she had just lost her mother and was grieving, so it was out of character. I was incredibly hurt, and also sorry because she was right about a few points. We talked it out thru instant message. I don’t think we could have if I responded defensively. Of course, my friend had relationship skills, so that made a difference. One of her points was that I sometimes monopolized the conversation. Ouch. She was right. But, I’ve been able to correct this, by paying extra attention. Of course, sometimes one person needs more time and attention than the other, but over all, there should be balance. Anything you can learn about yourself is helpful.
    You’ll never be able to have the same relationship, even if you reconciled. If you go get back together, you’ll have to do that understanding your friend’s pattern, with your eyes wide open. If you maintained more of an acquaintance type relationship, that would cut down the chances of drama. You never know what will happen. I ran into an ex-friend at a reunion last year who had ended our friendship six years before. I approached her and said hello. She ended up seeking me out and we talked for a few hours. I knew this didn’t mean a renewal of our friendship, but it was nice. We share a birthday so we email once a year, at least. That’s enough for me.
    Good luck.

    • Sparky says:

      Hi Amy and Janelle,

      I think we have all had a relationship like this as we know women are harder to get along with than men are. Men seem to blow things off easily. Women can be catty , vindictive and all seem to PMS at the same time. I would work with men in a heart beat compared to women as say most of my friends as well. I worked in Medicine for 30 yrs so this i know to be true. At least in medicine.
      Working in medicine as a doctor she most likely has alot of women employees, and also most nurses are female so are the CNA’s etc.. MA’ RNA’s…so her relationships are harder with them as she is the boss…she is the doctor and they have to listen to her.
      Since she was abused and had a hard life and tends to push people away, she sounds like she is repeating a behavior from her childhood. Sometimes people repeat childhood behaviors when they do not want to and push people away when they get too close and they are afraid.

      If I were you, I would read the email anyway…you don’t know what is all in it for sure, since you have not read it, but make sure you put a wall up around you and know that it maybe painful to read, just try not to take it personally because it feels she is attacking you. Then print it out and destroy it, burn it , but get rid of it….and do not accept anything that is not true.
      She most likely is afraid of being abandoned due to her past and is maybe waiting for someone to just be there for her and love her no matter what she is like.

      You may just have to accept this is HER and Nothing to do with you but you do not have to accept the abuse either.

      I got a letter like this once and I read the whole thing and it was all lies and yes it hurt. But she also was abused by a mother and her boyfriend for years. I stopped the relationship but as you, I thought about her for along time. It has been over 2 yrs since we spoke.

      I called her the other day and we talked for over an hour…it was nice actually and she has changed. I asked why, and she asked me why, and we really talked it out.

      I guess you can sit there wondering what is going on or you can be the better person and call her and see if you two can talk and bring the email with you. If she was in one of her moods or had a bad day at work she may have taken it out on you. And left you before you would ( in her eyes) leave her.

      If it were me, I would be the better person and call her and let her know if we could talk about what happened and see where it goes. If it does not go anywhere then you can let go and move on….if you find out she really does care, then you may have to do some research on dysfunctional families, manic depression, bi polar, borderline personality disorder to learn about things like this. So you know how to deal with her , what to accept what not to accept…behavior wise, and set your boundries and hold to them. Sometimes relationships are hard to understand , some are meant to last forever , some come and go to teach us lessons.
      I had someone who knew I was terrified of being abandoned, and she said to me she would never leave me no matter how hard I pushed…and I did. In the end we stayed friends and when she left to move to CO she called to say good by as she always promised she would never leave me without saying good by. She was awesome and it was then that I was no longer afraid of being abandoned. My issues surrounded the loss of my dad at 16 and my sister through deat at 31, she was 36….and almost the loss of another sister less than a year later. It was hard but through counseling I got through it.
      If she respects you enough maybe you can suggest some counseling to her. People who work in Medicine work in the most dysfuntional place of all, and yes they work with very needy patients and people. They are the family heros of the dysfunctional family.
      She sounds terrified of abandonment and if her email to you, she sounds like she pushed you away because she is afraid you will leave her when you find out who she really is as well.
      Just my opinion nothing more…and what I learned with my background in psych/communications. You need to follow your heart on this one….you listen to your heart and you will do the right thing. Good luck please let me know what you decide to do.

    • Janelle says:

      I have read all of your responses. I have tears running down my face and I so appreciate the gift of your words through this blog.

      Your words have helped to bring clarity and understanding.

      I always felt that I had so much to be thankful for. We are a family that values each other and respect differences of opinion and learned to talk through disagreements. because of this gift in my life — it was easy for me to absorb the difficulties that this relationship brought, because others had been willing to absorb my difficulties as I grew into the adult I am today. I thought I was showing unconditional love. In hindsight, I think I might have done myself a dis-service.

      There were times when we had spirited conversations about politics or whatever a topic of the day might be… we both seemed to enjoy the discourse.

      The words of the email were so painful… I honestly do not think I could read it. I still have it and my husband read it in its entirety. He said it would only cause more pain and he did not want me to read it.

      Before she sent me the email.. I had gone to her house to take our regular evening stroll… she did not answer the door. I text her and she said I need to read the email she sent… she never responded nor did she respond to a second email I sent.

      So here I am… comforted by words of strangers. So grateful for a place I could share my heart. A place where I could hear words that would help to heal a hurting heart.

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