I have had my share of breakups — they’re just a part of life and the older you get, the more breakups you’ll experience (sorry, I’m jaded). However, I think some of the most hard-hitting breakups I’ve had in my life have been best friend breakups.
They tear me apart and it takes me months, if not years, to get over them. I’m a lover by nature, thus I’m intense AF when it comes to the relationships in my life (it’s my Gemini sun, babe).
I give my all to anyone who is in my life and that includes my friends. And when that person is suddenly no longer in my life — for whatever reason — I feel the gaping hole they once filled as an important person to me.
Kylie* and I had been best friends since middle school when one day in 7th grade she asked me to come over to jump on her trampoline and make a video project. She was one of those ~cool girls~ who had friends from every circle because she was just so versatile. I was a theater-geek so of course, I said yes. This was the beginning of an intense friendship, filled with high highs and low lows. We went through times of being inseparable to droughts made up of horrible fights that permeated throughout our whole friend group in high school.
Our friendship lasted for years, well into our 20s. But through the years, we evolved and our relationship evolved too.
The more politically minded I became, the more aware I was of people around me who didn’t really want to call out the injustices they saw. I found Kylie was one of those people.
We just didn’t see eye-to-eye on so many different things and these differences caused for a serious tension between us. The crux came for me when I was calling out racism within our friend group and she not only sat by and said nothing — but told me to be quieter and stop calling people racist. I found her beliefs to be very damaging. Especially when she wasn’t even willing to stick up for me against someone who was promoting racial profiling.
It got to a point where I just couldn’t take our differences anymore and our friendship was causing me more pain than good. Every time we talked, it was strained. She visited me and we had literally, nothing to talk about. And so I did what I do best — I wrote to her. I sent an email reminiscing on our friendship while also letting her know that I just couldn’t see how we could continue to call ourselves “best friends” when we had absolutely nothing to talk about anymore.
While I know I made the best decision for us both in ending a friendship that had already been crumbling, it broke my heart at the same time. I still have moments where I remember something we shared in high school and feel a soft spot in my heart, for this friendship that we cultivated. Especially at that in our teen years; the bonds we have are so strong and vital to our growth as human beings in this wild world. But a lot of these young friendships don’t withstand the test of time because we all change so much and with that, our relationships change. It’s a part of the ebb and flow that is life. Sometimes that ~flow~ means a loss of a best friendship.
The hardest part about best friend breakups is that they aren’t really talked about as an important thing. Like there are 200 gazillion articles online for processing every different kind of romantic breakup, but friends aren’t seen as valuable as romantic partners in society, so it’s like we don’t even acknowledge how hard it is when these platonic relationships change or end.
So I would love to offer you some sage advice about getting through these tough times of losing a bestie. The heartbreak is real but healing is within reach, babes!
1. Give yourself time to mourn
When you’re going through a romantic breakup, psychologists say that it takes half the time of the length of the relationship to truly feel over that person. But when you’re going through a romantic breakup, you have the support of your bestie. One of the reasons platonic breakups are so challenging is often because you’re left feeling isolated without your truest confidant. Take time to mourn this loss. We aren’t meant to just wake up and get over a loss in our lives; platonic, romantic, familial, or sexual.
Even though Kylie and I stopped being friends years ago, I still occasionally have a pang of memory about our friendship. I wonder what she’s up to in life and how everything is going for her. The same way you sometimes get that little rush of memory about an ex-girlfriend — this will happen after the end of a friendship. Process your feels, babes. Don’t just plow through and pretend it wasn’t a big deal. It was and that’s okay. Give yourself time to feel through your grief.
2. Don’t get caught up in the drama
There can be ~a lot~ of drama when friendships end because there might be mutual friends or shared spaces in common. I was lucky in this regard because Kylie and I lived in completely different cities at the time. So there wasn’t a tangled web to tend to after our ending.
But if you have a little tending to when a friendship is over, be sure to not allow it to get to the point of messy drama (if possible). Try to talk to your mutual friends in a mature way (i.e. without bashing said ex-bestie) and navigate different ways they can still remain friendships with you both — if that’s what they want to do. Give these mutual friends the space and ability to make their own decisions about how to best work through their relationships. (That is, unless your ex-bestie ended up being horrible to you and did something unforgivable. In that scenario, mutual friends should pick sides as to not cause you more pain.)
3. Vent it out in a healthy way
Don’t go off everyday in a long Facebook rant about how an ~anonymous~ person totally f*cked you over and you’re so done with the world. It will be obvious who it’s about and it’s just not the best look for you, babes.
Take to your journal. Write it all down. The anger, the hurt, the sadness, the heartbreak, the memories, the loss. Let it pour out of you onto the page. Sometimes it comes out in a raw and messy way. Other times, it’s helpful to process in the form of a letter to your ex-bestie that you probably will never send. Allow the release to come to you in whatever way feels cathartic.
4. Create a balance in your schedule
When you have a bestie that you spend all your time with, it can feel so grave when that person is no longer in your life. Like who do you get boozy brunch with? Who will help you with all your weird beauty routines? Who is going to drink trash wine and watch reality TV with you now?
I know it feels like you’ll never find a sense of normalcy again. This person was your sense of normal. But you will and creating a balance in your schedule is going to help. Don’t overload yourself with too many plans — just enough to feel busy and not get caught up in your loneliness. You want to ensure there is some quality ~solo time~ added in there too.
5. Create new rituals
The last thing you want to do is go out and repeat one of your duo rituals, but solo. Maybe you always went to Applebee’s and ordered dessert to go and snuck it into the movie theater. Don’t go off and do that by yourself. You’ll end up in tears and leaving the movie early (not that I know from personal experience or anything…). Create new rituals either by yourself or with different friends!
6. Keep the memories
I’m a nostalgic gal. I can’t help it. I keep mementos from romantic breakups. I keep memories and photos from platonic breakups. I just love looking back at all the memories. I think they’re important to keep because they help give you a sense of the growth and process you’ve had. The moments you shared with this now ex-bestie are no less important just because they’re no longer in your life. They hold so much importance in the person you are today — our friends play such a huge role in our growth and in our process. Keeping these memories gives you an allowance to look back at these times with a fondness that they deserve.
Don’t let whatever happened between the two of you taint the times you shared and the vital role those times likely played in your life.
Friendships will come and go. They often give us so many amazing life lessons. Be gentle with yourself, babes, and make sure you are taking care of yourself after any type of breakup.
*Names have been changed.