• Keeping Friends

The sadness of moving on and leaving a BFF behind

Published: April 16, 2010 | Last Updated: April 2, 2016 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

Over the course of my life I’ve had two or three best friends, relationships that ended for one reason or another. Although I have a good marriage with a wonderful man, I’ve always felt incomplete without a best friend. Four years ago I bonded with someone who had been an acquaintance for years, and we are BFFs today (we are both 60). We spend every Monday together, from noon till 3AM or later, and share so much. It’s like being roommates for that one day, and she has my full attention.

 

Two years into our BFF-hood, my friend showed rapidly worsening symptoms that turned out to be non-remitting (progressive) multiple sclerosis. We have coped with that together and still do so every week. My dilemma is this. Years ago my husband and I used to travel around in an RV and loved it. In a couple of years he will be in a position to take larger chunks of time off again and we want to buy another motor home and travel. Even though this isn’t going to happen immediately, I already feel guilt about leaving my BFF for long periods. She has come to depend on me for so many things, not just physical but emotional. I really worry that she will spiral downward when the time comes for me to spend 100% of my time with my husband.

 

BFF has acquaintances but no other close friends. Her family is far-flung and not close, and her MS has caused most people to cultivate an arms-length relationship with her. I don’t think this is a common situation but if you have any insights or advice I would be receptive to hearing them. How can I prepare myself and BFF for the changes that are to come? I can’t stand the thought of losing another best friend.

Thanks,
Lisa

 

ANSWER

Dear Lisa,

You are anticipating the loss of—or, at minimum, major changes in a very special friendship. Your anxiety is understandable because whatever the circumstances, it’s always hard to move on and leave close friends behind. You’re also beginning a new phase of your life, one outside of your own comfort zone, which is somewhat akin emotionally to an adolescent leaving the nest.

 

Perhaps, you and your BFF will no longer be Monday "roommates" but there is no reason why you can’t still remain friends. You can stay connected through emails and phone calls, and you can schedule face-time together when you come home between your periods of travel. You can even send your BFF picture postcards (remember them?) so she can experience your travels vicariously.

 

Have you already spoken to your BFF about your impending travels? If you haven’t, you should openly share your concerns and anxieties with her. I’m sure that she will understand that there are many twists and turns in relationships as our lives change, and you’ll both feel better after having the talk.

 

While your BFF won’t be able to depend on you in the same way, let her know that you’ll be there for her. Perhaps you can also help her line up supports (either in-person or virtual ones) through a local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society or other community organizations. You’re right: Having a chronic illness or disability is challenging and making friends under those circumstances can be difficult. But I suspect others will see the same person whose strengths you have grown to admire.

 

At the same time, begin to think about the adventures you’ll have on your trips and all the new friends you’ll meet on the road.

Hope these thoughts are helpful.

My best,
Irene

 

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (7)

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  1. RVs says:

    Wow, that must be crazy hard. 🙁 I wish you the best. Speaking to the RV part, I know that the idea of RVing could be exciting though.

  2. Anonymous says:

    my Beat freind Eileen die in the Hospital and never see again
    she passes away it’s really Hard of me in sos and freinds aways fighing with me when i was in st joseph’s traning ceter and I don’t with be freinds with jenny Keavenaey I really miss my freinds Eileen boly we want to school together i was so close to her it’s is very emotional pain of me i want to her funeral cry with all my tears and feelings i Have of her

  3. cosie says:

    AT work I have 2 closed friends. We’re like brother and sisters (that’s the way we treat each other). In my stay at my work, i can say that i become dependent on them. It’s like my life revolves around them. We went at different places together. We walked together after office hrs and we hang out to the mall. Being with them i forgot my problems.

    Suddenly, things changed. They became intimate. They have been honest to me about their feelings for each other. I have to accept even it hurts. I don’t know the reason why i feel hurt… maybe, I had anticipated that everything will change in the future. I can feel that they have gone too far from just being friends.

    I was right. after a month, we no longer go out like we used to do. We no longer walked home nor eat together. I feel the barrier between the three of us. I can no longer play jokes on him. I have to be cautious cause she might misinterpret my actions. He used to tell me his non sense jokes. she used to tell me her activities when we’ll have our offs. Now, I’m no longer included in thier small little world. I felt I was kicked out. WE still talk but the warmth and genuine friendship is no longer there. Maybe they talk to me once in a \while out of pity. That’s all. I miss them but I can’t do anything anymore. The only thing that i can do to move on to this painful reality is to go away. They are the reason why I want to leave my job right now.

    Nevertheless, I learn new painful lesson, to walk alone. -cosie

  4. Irene says:

    Hi Cricket,

    You are not alone. Friendship comes in as many flavors as there are people. The trick is to find friends that want the same type of casual relationships that you do—so that no one is disappointed.

    You are fortunate to have family that you you can turn to for social supports when you need them. While you clearly don’t want entanglements with high-drama friends, you may want to keep in mind that some of your friends may be turning to you because they aren’t as lucky when it comes to family.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts and contributing to the conversation.

    Best,

    Irene

     

     

     

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Irene

    Reading that article from the Daily Mail and browsing through the numerous reader comments… it makes me realize why I have always preferred casual friendships over the intimate BFF variety.

    Not only do I NOT like having people leaning heavily on me and using me as their personal psychologist or even crutch… but I think my preference for casual friendships stems from the fact, that I am a very private person who lives a relatively drama-free life and during those few times I do have issues in my life, I prefer to work out problems on my own or turn to my family members for help, rather than confiding in and leaning on my friends for emotional support.

    So with that being said… is having a preference for casual friendships unusual or do most women prefer to have close BFF style friendships?

    I am just wondering because some of my friends have gotten quite angry with me because I turn to my family rather than rely on them for much of anything other than sharing in fun activities.

    Cricket

  6. Irene says:

    “Too easily” is subjective. Each situation is different and it seems like the author couldn’t take it any more—it may have been similar to your situation but not the same.

    Best,
    Irene

  7. Anonymous says:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1266044/Why-breaking-hard–especially-best-friend.html

    Hi Irene article from UK press. What are your thoughts, some of the comments are interesting. I agree with those who think she dumped her friend too easily. My freidn did the same to me.

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