Friend breakups are incredibly painful, yet highly underrated. A lot of people don’t realize that losing a friend can hurt just as badly as losing a significant other.
In my experience, friendship breakups typically happen in one of two ways. There’s either a falling out, where harsh words are exchanged and both parties walk away or you simply grow apart, which can happen for a number of reasons.
Having experienced both kinds of friend breakups, I can honestly say that the former is easier to deal with. At least you know it’s over. Growing apart from someone you care about is a different kind of torture. It’s a long, drawn-out process of canceled plans, unanswered text messages, and wondering what the other person is up to without knowing how to ask.
I often think back to my sophomore year of high school, when I began to grow apart from my middle school best friend, Abigail. We never fought. We just started heading in different directions until it was too late to turn around and go back to how it used to be. I still think of her sometimes and I hope she thinks of me.
Then, I think back to my senior year of high school, when a petty fight led to me losing some of my best friends. We hurt each other and it was intentional. I don’t think of them so much.
That’s not to say that every fight will eventually lead to friend breakup. Sometimes, fights can even make a friendship stronger. I’ve learned that these are the kinds of friendships that are worth holding on to. It is only when we expose the darkest parts of ourselves to people that we truly learn who is willing to stay in our lives. To meet someone who can see your flaws and forgive your mistakes is a gift and should be treated as such. But just a fair warning: too many fights can be a sign of a toxic relationship and only you can decide when enough is enough.
I honestly thought that friend breakups would happen less as I got older. But the truth is, they will never really stop. After high school, I realized that the best way to learn who your real friends are is to see who makes an effort to spend time with you when they’re not forced to see you in class. As adults, we have our own schedules, our own jobs, new friends, different hobbies, and so on. But those who genuinely care will make time to see you.
As you get older, though, friend breakups happen more quietly. People walk away without letting the other know. We stop answering each other’s phone calls. We cancel plans. We forget to catch up. And then one day, you realize that the person you used to call your friend doesn’t exist anymore. You have become entirely different people and there is too much time and space between you to try and bridge the gap.
I’ve learned that although it hurts to lose these people, it’s also a blessing to have had them in the first place. But, if you lost them at all, then they really weren’t meant to stay in your life because relationships (platonic or otherwise) are a two-way street. They cannot thrive if one person gives more than they receive. As with romantic relationships, self-love should always come first and staying in someone’s life when they don’t value you the way you deserve is a heartbreak in itself.
I’ve learned to be at peace with losing certain friends because I realize that some people just don’t have room for me in their life or vice versa. What’s important is tending to the relationships that you do have that are worth fighting for. In the long run, those are the ones that will serve you best.
So to the friends I’ve lost, I hope you’re doing well. Maybe we can catch up someday.