• Handling Breakups

Letting go of a best friend isn’t easy

Published: December 8, 2012 | Last Updated: December 8, 2012 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
It’s extremely painful to lose a best friend; it’s especially hard letting go of a best friend when the decision is one-sided.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

It was such a relief to see your book. The description matches exactly what I’ve been experiencing right now. It has been so hard to talk about losing my best friend because other people just don’t understand what a big deal it is, or they think it’s strange that I can’t simply just “get over it” and move on. I’m emailing you because I’d like to have your advice.

Over the last year, I’d become best friends with the closest friend I’ve ever had. We had met and gotten to know each other over the summer while working together on a camp team, so we spent 24 hours a day together with our team for 8 weeks straight. Then once we got back to school, we continued hanging out very often. We hit a difficult time when she moved three hours away for a music program, and we had to learn how to be friends at a distance.

We had been planning on getting an apartment together after we both graduated college in May, but she didn’t think that would be the best idea for our friendship to stay healthy. We had usually agreed on most things, so when we started disagreeing about a few things, we had to figure out how we both handled conflict the best. That was difficult too. Things were still good though, just every now and then we would have to talk about something that was difficult for us both- and that would drain us both because neither of us likes conflict. These things seemed to happen the most over the phone or text, but whenever we were together and in person, things were great and we had a lot of fun together.

A month ago, she sent me an email out of nowhere saying that she no longer wanted to be friends anymore, that this was goodbye. She said she had realized that we kept disagreeing about certain things because we had different points of view, and that that would only get worse, and that she couldn’t handle it anymore. She said a lot of things to the effect that I had been an awful friend to her, and that while we were both good people, she had realized our friendship wasn’t worth fighting for anymore. She also said that our friendship had been a “facade” for a while. What puzzles me is that she knew everything about me, and I knew everything about her and everything she said in that email went completely against everything I’ve ever known about her. She said that I could reply to her email but that she wasn’t going to respond.

Over the last few months, she had had a lot of changes. She had to move back home, and give up her dreams for a while of living in Nashville for her music career. She also needed some more space to herself to be able to adjust to all of these changes. I didn’t help that because I kept wanting to talk to her and to see how she was doing- as I look back now, I wish I could undo that. I’m sure that overwhelmed her.

She comes from an abusive background with her family, and told me that she had never had any healthy friendships before, so I was so excited that she finally had a healthy friendship in ours. A lot of her past friends (and boyfriends) had been manipulative and mistreated her, and she said she was so glad she had a friend she could finally trust. She had also had a pattern of cutting people off before when they got too close, and she told me that it meant a lot that she was still in our friendship months later after telling me things she had never told anyone else.

As I’ve thought back on everything else, I’ve realized that we had put a lot of pressure on each other, without meaning to. She had needed me to be the perfect friend for her (for our friendship to be perfect) and I had needed her to be there for me when I needed her, and those were expectations that we should not have had for our friendship. I think she was definitely feeling a lot of pressure on her from me, and I was from her. Now that I finally realized that, which was something she had been trying to fix before by our “taking a break,” I really felt like we had a good chance of being able to have better expectations from our friendship, and then she sent me that email, ending everything.

I’m writing to you because I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to give up fighting for our friendship, and I would do anything to have her back; she means so much to me. At the same time, I want to be careful and not overwhelm her either, so I’ve been trying to give her space. I told her in my reply to her email that I would be glad to give her as much space as she needed, but I’m not sure to be honest if she even read the email. I was considering writing her a letter and asking her to meet me at a bookstore near her house on a certain day, and just waiting for her there. That way, she wouldn’t feel pressured.

When it comes down to it, I just cannot lose her friendship, hers mattered to me more than anyone else’s. What would you advise me to do?

Signed, April

ANSWER

Hi April,

It’s always hard to lose a best friend. It sounds like you and your friend spent a lot of time together over the summer, sharing feelings and emotions, and working through the inevitable conflicts that pop up in relationships. It’s reasonable that you wouldn’t expect this friendship to suddenly end the way it did.

The loss you feel is especially palpable because you had no say in the decision and your friend has totally cut off all communication without giving you the opportunity to be heard. This is always very painful.

It sounds like your friend is struggling with personal issues that have more to do with her than with your friendship. Saying that you were an “awful friend” and that your friendship was a “façade” suggests that she sees things in black and white, and may be unable to maintain relationships that don’t go exactly her way. You mention that she had a pattern of cutting people off in the past.

At this point, your friend has left you no choice but to back off. Putting additional pressure on her won’t make things better and will only  make you feel worse. She has made it pretty clear that she doesn’t want to remain friends. You may have missed some of the earlier signs that she wanted out.

Don’t blame yourself for what happened and don’t put yourself in the position of waiting for her in a bookstore. You tried to be the best friend you could be. Even if she takes the initiative to resurrect the friendship at some point in the future, I would be very cautious.

Allowing yourself to get close to this friend, although it may have been the wrong person, should make you feel more positive about finding close friends in the future. It’s too bad this friendship turned out to be so disappointing but you need to seize control of your situation and try to put this one behind you. This will take some time but getting involved with other people should help it along.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Getting over getting dumped, HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (7)

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  1. Shandi says:

    I am so glad that I found this forum! This is so similar to my situation. My best friend of 5 years slowly started to find these “faults” with me and would bring them to my attention, causing some friction. For instance, my best friend and I were at a party together and I spoke to someone that I told my best friend in confidence that I didn’t like. She said later (about 2 months later) it bothered her that I was being “fake”. It got to the point where she made me feel so bad about myself and the kind of friend I was being, like I had to walk on eggshells around her, because I didn’t know what I would say or do next that would bother her. She finally ended our friendship very rudely by sending me an email stating that it she couldn’t take the pressure of being my friend anymore. I was devastated but at the same time I couldn’t help but laugh because she was the one putting all of these “rules” on our friendship. If anyone felt pressure it was me, but I kept my feelings hidden because I didn’t want to lose my best friend. I miss her everyday but I am learning that all of these issues had more to deal with her than with me. I know I am not perfect, but I know I am a good friend. I have other friendships that have been going strong for almost 20 years. I don’t have a history of best friends cutting me off, but she does have a history of cutting off friends when things are not going her way. I never thought this would happen because of how close we were, but she proved me wrong.

    April, I know you submitted your question almost a year ago, so I truly hope you are at peace with the situation now and have moved on from the hurt that your friend caused you.

    • Tamar Ghajanian says:

      Wow, I’m also happy I found this, I always thought I was weird to not be able to let go of friends. My best friend of 10 years has ended the friendship and I’m beside myself. Her sisters think I’m gay because I care about her so much, which so is not true, I just put my all into friendships.
      Tamar

  2. VERONICA says:

    Hi April,
    i totally understand what you are going thru. I’m having some major problem with my best friend she wants to let go of this friendship. But i’m still fighting to keep this relationship going. If that person means a lot to you too, keep fighting!

  3. Beth says:

    April, keep your chin up! Better friends will come along, trust me.
    My best friend of 20 years dumped me out of the blue as well, so I know how it feels.

  4. Grace Pamer says:

    Great advice Irene and I agree with Alexandra, new and amazing friendships are just around the corner. It hurts now but time will heal that. Don’t blame yourself and become self absorbed by a fault that is not your own.

    I remember when I went off to College I thought I had all the friends in the world I would ever need. Little did I know that I made the best friends of my life over the course of the coming years. Life is like that. You will keep some and lose some, it’s natural but rest assured you will find great friendship, empathy and love from the right ones and they will be with you every step of the journey.

    Big love
    Grace

  5. Bronwyn says:

    I couldn’t agree with Irene more. I think you’ve already got an explanation for what really happened and that you’re taking on too much of the responsibility. I think by doing this, you may feel there’s a way to fix this issue, but the fault is not yours, and the situation does not appear to be fixable — for now, at least.

    Many people with abusive pasts form personality disorders; the traits of these are forming intense close personal relationships, sometimes to the point of enmeshment (which really is NOT healthy; nor, arguably, is it for someone to know EVERYTHING about you. There are parts of us we must keep for ourselves) and those people tend to engage in very black & white thinking. Does this sound familiar? Things are either all good or all bad. No one likes conflict, but sometimes it arises & must be managed.

    I would also heed what Irene says about being cautious should this person decide she wants to resurrect this friendship in the future. It may even happen just as you start to think you’re ready to get past this. Some people have an uncanny knack for knowing just about when they’re time is up. Be prepared.

    The good thing is, it sounds like you’re young & will have many opportunities for forming new friendships. Don’t be poisoned by this one, but do be a bit more cautious about revealing your entire self to another person. It can make you feel extremely vulnerable.

  6. Alexandra says:

    This is such a great response to April! I wanted to add my sympathy. I lost a major friend in my life. It isn’t easy. But April new and better friends will come along as the years pass.

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