Most of us have experienced a relationship break-up. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes there is relief. Some of us spent months, or years, yearning for what we once had with that person that we were so deeply in love with. Beyoncé plays a big part in these times, including her in playlists titled something to the effect of ‘Don’t Need No Man’ and once the playlist ends its back to the pang of heartbreak that feels like your heart is trying to escape your body. Sometimes you have a backup plan that turns up five minutes after the first person left that makes you ever forget they even existed and you live happily ever after. We’ve pretty much all been there, and we all know how it works. The copious hours spent on their social media profiles trying to work out if they’re fucking the girl at the end of their group photo from Saturday night, or if they’re even feeling a SHRED of what you’re going through. Then one day something snaps and you’re fine, you kind of miss what you once had but you realise you’re so much better off without them and you move on with your life. But what happens when you break up with a friend? Relationships breakups are different because you lose a friend AND someone you were intimate with. With a regular friend you generally don’t sleep with them (and if you do that’s a whole other scenario), but you share a lot of things you may not with a significant other. Friends see you when you’re most vulnerable when you’re most drunk, they protect you from the creepy people at bars, and don’t judge you if you’re rebounding and succumb to them. Best friends are sometimes infinitely better than boyfriends because you can literally climb into bed with each other and watch Jeremy Kyle and not have to worry that you haven’t shaved your legs because they haven’t either and no one is going to interrupt your Jezza flow by pestering you for sex. They’re awesome.
But one day, something changes. Maybe in one of you, or maybe both. But you start hanging out less, and there’s no airing as to why. You both know it’s different but you’re not sure how to even approach it, so you leave it until it festers. And then one day, they’re gone. People fall out all the time, and there’s always two sides of the story. But while you’re blinded by your side, it’s difficult to empathise with the person that you’ve fallen out with and realise that, shock horror, you may have been a bit of a dick, too.
Dealing with the friendship breakups that I’ve had has been difficult and a strange process to go through. With relationships, you can get closure by accepting they’re happy with their new life or partner and you can take the necessary steps to move on from it. But a friend will never have another you, and you will have another them. That person was completely unique as are you and you’ll never have the same experience with another friend. Unless you’re in the weirdest scenario in the world, you’ll probably never see photos of an ex with their latest partner getting down to it or just hanging out, people are far quieter about relationships than friendships. It is highly likely that you’ll see a Facebook post detailing your ex-friend’s latest drunken escapade that you know would’ve been SO fun, that you would’ve only added more fun too, and that will only lead to that horrible feeling in your chest where your heart is trying to escape, a la the standard break-up.
What you need to understand is, romantically involved or not, a relationship breakdown is hard but it failed for a reason. You have to evaluate why the friendship ended. If it was for an unforgivable action then it is best to leave it where it ended. If anyone in your life is poison, you need to get as far away from them as humanly possibly. Poison in a person is easy to identify; if they make you do things that make you uncomfortable, tear you down and leave you feeling empty, you need to bin them. Poison isn’t getting rid of a friend because of the way they live their life, different things make different people happy, and that should factor into why you dump a friend. Dump them because it’s a direct negative impact on your life, not because you’re super judge-y. But maybe if you are they should dump you. Everything else is a grey area, really. It’s difficult to go back to normal with a friend after you’ve fallen out, there’s no make-up sex or make-or-break holiday you can go on. It’s really just a judgement call on how serious the scenario was and how close you were before the fall out to see if it can be reconciled.
The big difference between breaking up with a significant other and breaking up with a friend is that, in a heartbeat I would be there for all the girls that have ever gone silent on me, hurt me or where circumstances have just changed. Ex-boyfriends? Nah. Sisterhood, always.
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