When You Break Up With Your Best Friend
06.08.17
Collage by Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

Hello and welcome to our advice column, “Ask MR,” where we answer your burning questions in the hopes of being the ointment to your life rash. Ask us questions by emailing write@manrepeller.com with the subject line “ASK MR A QUESTION,” or leave yours in the comments.

Help MR: How do you deal with a best-friend breakup? It’s been one week since my best friend and I “ended it.” The decision was mutual and I think it’s a mature one given that things will never go back to the way they were, but this sucks so much. It’s worse than a breakup-breakup. I feel lost.

It’s a rare and enlightened human who takes actual comfort in being told “time heals all wounds,” that “you’ll get over it eventually” and “you’ll meet someone new.” One of the few things my 29 years on this planet have taught me is that all of those things have proven to be true, and yet they don’t make reality any better when you’re slogging through the end of something that was wonderful. They don’t soothe aching hearts.

This hurts so badly because the person you used to call anytime literally anything happened to you — promotions, confrontations, big loves, awful awkward moments, bowel movements — is no longer your person to call. The protector and harborer of your deepest secrets, she who was tasked with clearing your reputation-damning search history should you die in a freak accident, the one who has seen you do (and has done with you) weird, weird things is now, instead, just another human on this planet. You have armfuls of emotional belongings and no place to put them. You have so many punchlines stored that no one else could possible get. You two used to say how you hated everyone except for one another, and now what?

It sounds like you have already mourned. If you haven’t mourned, let yourself do so for one more night with arms flopped and the lights out and ugly cries galore. Then, in the morning, shower to an upbeat playlist (full of artists you’ve never heard before so as to avoid what was once “your song”). Scrub. Rinse. Lotion. Buff yourself shiny like a bow-wrapped birthday bicycle and greet yourself as a naked, solo entity in the mirror. Then ask: How long has it been since you’ve not been a half of something? How long has it been since you’ve given yourself the opportunity to finish your own sentences? How long has it been since you’ve made decisions without the consultation of your former counterpart? Eat alone. Shop alone. Remember how it feels to turn left without a tug to the right. Do these things in small steps all day, all week, all month, and relish in them. You are rebuilding, and you are growing, and you are setting yourself up to be the next stage of you.

This part is scary because it’s lonely, especially when one of those thoughts pops into your head that you’re sure no one else could ever possibly “get,” or when you pass by a stupid sign that makes you laugh and you’ve no one to send a photo of it to. Take some comfort in knowing that you get it; that you laughed. Best friendship lets us take pressure off our knees and share the weight of the world. It lets us know we can love and that we are loved in a way we don’t always believe is possible. Best friends are immensely important nutritious supplements that ameliorate our lives, but sometimes I think we forget that we are whole foods on our own.

What you don’t need to do right now is to seek out “a new best friend.” No casting calls for a person who meets X requirements your ex-best friend either had and you loved or lacked and wanted. Try, if you can, to exist for awhile in the world in which you already live. Do things with your other very good friends — either one-on-one or in a group, with clear communication that this time is about you and them and not your ex-best. (Read: no shit talking, no side-taking, no Parent Trap-style reunions.) Spend time with your family. No joke, see if you can walk a neighbor’s dog. And start one thing that’s for you and you alone, whether it be a podcast, a drawing class or a new show.

None of this will fix the break nor manifest a new soulmate. Your favorite bagel place will still remind you of the times you two sat outside and split halves while laughing about the absolute dumbest shit. Keep that memory. Kiss it like it’s the half of a best-friend necklace hanging from your neck. Slowly, I promise, you will find that you’re excellent without a co-star. I guarantee that in due time, you will find a new keeper of your heart and freaky internet history.

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  • Aydan

    Agreed! Had to break up with a friend several years ago and honestly those wounds take a long time to heal. That person hurt me so bad and it took running into her three years later (this past weekend) to realize I’m okay without her friendship. I was able to learn from the good in her and chuck the bad and by moving forward have found myself with the life I want surrounded by people who love me and won’t hurt me and THAT is important. I’ll always remember her, but I don’t ever want to be friends with her and that is okay because that is my decision!

  • cici

    My best friend of 20+ years told me out of the blue that she no longer wanted to be my friend. It was devastating. Ran into her 10 years later and she told me I abandoned her and that she never said she didn’t want to be my friend. That was even more devastating. Looking back it was a very toxic friendship so in the long run it was actually a good thing that it ended. My life has changes so much for the better since. However I still wonder if what she said was the case how come she didn’t reach out in the 10 years and why she would put all the blame on me. Very bothered by that.

  • Ashley Spears

    I recently had to end a friendship that really deteriorated quickly and out of nowhere. I had a co-worker who I always had a really fun and chill friendship with for about 5 years but in the last two we got insanely close. We both grew up in tough households and had similar relationship issues because of it so having someone you can talk to about some deep shit is amazing. I know that she helped me through so much and I was always there when she needed it. But a few months ago I realized that we were probably too codependent and that I needed to figure out a way to draw some boundaries because I was def taking on way too much of her issues. What really made it click for me that the relationship was no longer healthy is when I was on a romantic weekend getaway with my BF posting pics and snaps about our vacation and the entire time she was sending me texts about her anxiety and stress and how everything was miserable. It may seem like a silly example but I realized that she didn’t respect my boundaries and was insisting on emotional support at an inappropriate time. After that I tried to slow down the cadence of our communication and tried to change the subject when she wanted to talk about her emotional issues. I thought I could find a way to get back to some of the less intense parts of our relationship. However, she could immediately tell I was pulling away and I told her that I needed a break from talking but that I’d reach out once I felt better. After I sent her that message she sent me texts and emails, called several times and even went to lunch with a mutual friend (who she hasn’t tried to make plans with in over a year) to get more information about the situation. Every 48 hrs I’d get a message from her through one of those avenues even though I asked for space. It made me furious that again, she wasn’t respecting my boundaries. I just thought if I had a break for a week or two I’d realize our relationship was important to me and miss her. But I didn’t. I realized that the relationship was over and I was happier not having someone else’s emotional issues in my brain taking up space or always feeling like i was on call for the next break down. I felt guilty for a while for not being able to get back into the friendship but I’m ultimately SO MUCH HAPPIER without it.

    • Sam

      This is so sad. 🙁 It’s hard when you realize you don’t really miss that person. It makes you think the time leading up to the “end” wasn’t really worthwhile, either. Like, there’s *nothing* worth looking back on, and that can really sting. I am glad you’re feeling better (lighter?) without the relationship though.

    • Olivia AP

      Sometimes you just have to cut a person for life and that’s sad. The same just happened to me with a 12 YEAR OLD friendship. You are right, codependence in friendships is real. We wrote every single day and she called me whenever she had a problem which started to be way too frequently, she called me while I was at work and needed at least half an hour to solve a very tiny problem. It got to the point where it was driving me crazy because I felt a negative vibe every time I talked to her and had to cheer her up. And as you did, I tried to slow the cadence of our conversations but she reached out every time a new “problem” came out without caring much what was going on with my life. But I finally had it when my dad got sick and she barely cared, at that point I felt that I never wanted to talk to her again. At the beginning I was so mad that I didn’t miss the relationship at all and felt quite relived. When I miss talking to someone about dumb daily stuff I remember how one-sided our friendship was and I feel a little better

  • Bridget

    I had to break up with a best friend of 13 years and it sucked more than I liked to admit, but the advice given here is bound to work. When you realize you’ve been putting yourself and your needs second for so long it feels good to be in the spotlight of your life again.

  • jukeboxxrequiem

    I went through this last year with my sister (B), lots of ugly crying later I realized the fallout was forcing me to talk to friends that I had let fall by the wayside because of the convenience factor. Turns out I have a lot of friends that like being tagged in cat videos.

  • Lindsay D

    Try an infrared sauna, it’s my go to a on a sad day. Something about the lights or the sweating I swear it helps.

    • Ciccollina

      Lol, this is so random yet practical, I love it.

  • Andrea Raymer

    MARIA. This is my favorite ever collage you have made.

    • kay

      agree!! it really stands out

  • Amelia, this is beautiful.

  • Sage

    Best friend breakups are worse than romantic breakups in a way. It’s been almost three years since mine and I’m still heart broken and trying to move on. Keeps me awake at night some time. I probably sound overly dramatic but the pain is real, especially when adult friendships are so hard to build and maintain.

    • Emily

      complete agree! so upsetting, i care so much. probably too much.

    • Ciccollina

      Best friends are SO much harder to find than a new boyfriend, and rarer, because best-friendships are often life-long relationships. There just aren’t that many single besties available!

      I’ll be honest, and I don’t want to scare the person that wrote the letter, but after my best friend and I broke up about 8 years ago I never found a new bestie. I have focussed much more on dispersing my affection and attention across multiple other friendships, which makes me sad all the time. I just never found anyone to be my bestie again 🙁

    • Agree!

  • Basil

    I broke up with my best friend about ten years ago, and I still miss her. It was for the best – so much was going wrong we couldn’t have moved past it but that doesn’t make it any better.
    I think this break up was harder than one I had with a serious ex boyfriend. I don’t miss him or want to hang out with him, but I do her

  • This is beautiful and heartbreaking and very very relatable.
    Also, this is possibly the best sentence I’ve ever read: “Buff yourself shiny like a bow-wrapped birthday bicycle and greet yourself as a naked, solo entity in the mirror.”

  • myvoice

    Love this. So much.
    It’s been about a year since my best friend and I parted ways. We were so inseparable and whenever I see something funny, have good news, or hear a great pun, it saddens me that I can no longer share it with her. I usually take the Eat Pray Love approach – I miss her, send her a little light & love, and then drop it. The worst part was that we never really “broke up” or had any closure. I was bawling when I saw the beginning of episode 12 on Girl Boss. I really wanted a moment like this but it never happened. Our break up was so confusingly messy and I should’ve seen it coming but despite it all, I hope she’s doing alright. It’s really made me value other friendships and for that I am grateful.

  • gracesface

    I feel like I’m on the other side of this and may be able to offer some perspective. Two years ago my best friend and I broke up – I ended it. Mostly radio silence on my end since then, she called/texted/emailed me relentlessly. It was hard. A few months ago we started emailing again (I was comfortable enough to respond) and then I added her on Facebook and now we skype. We don’t discuss how we ended the friendship or any of that. I still feel very protective of my privacy. This friendship looks almost nothing like our previous 12-year-old one. We talk about light things – fashion, hum drum details of our lives, our pets, etc. It’s nice. After years of feeling obligation towards this person now I feel nothing but well wishes and an ease that comes from knowing someone a very long time. It’s not bad.

    • my best friend deleted me on all social media last year with no explanation (I know why, but it was never talked about). Your comment gives me hope that we can be cordial someday soon! Neither of us has made an effort to reach out so I mostly feel tension.

      • gracesface

        Yea I did the same (though I’ll admit – I stalked her tumblr for a long while) and especially on Facebook it felt like closure. If I didn’t want to reply to her texts or emails I didn’t. Sometimes I did just to let her know I was doing okay. Our friendship really ended over some bad habits between the two of us and I really lost a lot of respect for her. It’s allowed me to focus more on my other friendships and also cool off a lot in how I interact with people. I hope you and your ex-friend come to a place you’re happy with. 🙂

  • Alexis Thomolaris

    Amelia, you have a freaking way with words!! Although my best friend and I are far from breaking up, tomorrow marks one whole week since we were sharing one giant mega-bed along with many other things (souls, favorite foods, shampoo and conditioner). Having your “friend-love” move away feels very much like a breakup. The transition to long distance best-friendship is just too strange when all you’ve ever known is an unbreakable bond, both in the emotional and proximity departments. Thanks for making me feel like I can still be me without my bff and that one day I will feel whole again.

  • Jeanie

    I went through a Best friend breakup over a year ago. I gotta say you got it pretty much right. Letting myself be alone and start noticing how fun it can be was the best thing for me. It actually can really validate the reasons why you shouldn’t be friends too. You start to notice more of the pros vs cons.

    • Hazel

      So true! I noticed I had a lot more faith in my own opinions. I think we wanted to attain this level of sameness, to see eye to eye on everything, to create our own little world because we were disillusioned with our surroundings. But we are very different, and it was unfair to ourselves to be so invisibly possessive and dominating over the other. I also feel so much better two years out. We actually talk now, and it’s nice!

  • Rosie

    I’m a year and a half on from a BF break-up. At the time it was really hard, especially because at the time I was suffering from anxiety and having panic attacks (which she didn’t know about) and I felt like she just ditched me. Now, I look back and realise that she never paid me back the money she owed me, was selfish and aloof, and used our friendship to hide things from her fiance, like infidelity.
    There’s nothing I can say that will stop you feeling cut now, but it really does get better.
    Focus on loving yourself, and cherish the memories you have – you will build new ones, and new people will edge closer into your life if you let them – and now you can focus on letting in positive, caring, creative people.
    xx

  • 🙁
    I couldn’t imagine this, but wow this was a powerful read.

    Aesthetic Mind | Fashion & Personal Style Blog
    http://aestheticmind.co

  • Beasliee

    I have been through a couple of BF break ups as an adult. Maybe 3?
    They’re tough, especially when it’s not really clear why it might have happened and after you shared such a tight bond and happy memories.
    I was once receiving counselling for something separate and brought up the ‘failure’ of these friendships. The counselor essentially told me to get over it, that you have friends for specific periods of your life, there’s no reason for them to last forever and to try and keep some perspective. It finally clicked and I haven’t worried about them since!
    It’s easier said than done but we’re all constantly changing. We grow out of romantic relationships, there’s no rule that friendships can’t also end for the same or similar reasons. I think Amelia’s advice is excellent.

  • Janet

    Its been 3 years since my best friend and I broke up. We actually went to therapy together for 6 months to try to heal our relationship and then to say good bye in a loving way to one another. Taking the time to try to really understand one another and listen to one another and then say good bye with love is something that brings me a lot of comfort. What we did was extreme but it makes me feel good about the way we treated each other even when things went so wrong. We see each other occasionally through work now and have very casual conversations. I know we’ll never be as close as we once were but I also know that she love me and I love her and we both know we can’t be best friends. Best of luck; its such a hard thing to go through.

  • Lovely advice, I agree 100%! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂
    Meg @ its.meg-ramsay.com

  • I’ve had I think 3 or 4 breakups with best friends – though one might have just been a good friend, I’m not sure if we spent enough time together to say BF (saw each other once a week!).

    The one that hurt me the most was my best friend in college who lived across the hall. We spent everyday together through junior year and well into senior year when she developed a crush on a professor at a nearby university (not the one we attended). She wanted to resolve the crush, see if he felt the same way and I encouraged and supported her. She had been speculating for months and while I felt it was a really unhealthy obsession that she was fixated on, I was there for her. I was very patient and talked constantly to her about him, but when the night came for her to speak to him, she went to dinner and I never heard anything. I texted her that night and called the next morning and never heard back. A week went by and she avoided my texts and phone calls, where I asked what happened, if she was okay, and if she needed anything or to talk about it. I assumed because she was avoiding me that it didn’t go the way she had hoped, but I wanted to be there for her no matter what. A few more days went by after that and I had a sudden and horrible encounter with a professor. She was unhappy that I chose another professor as my advisor, then chewed into me in the middle of a small playwriting class in front of the other students. I had never had an encounter like that and was distraught, desperately needing a friend’s support. Immediately after class I called my friend, leaving a message in tears, telling her what happened and if she could meet up. She never called me back. Ever. When I finally saw her randomly somewhere weeks later, I told her I had really needed her support at that time and I was really disappointed she wasn’t there for me after all the months we spent together. She never gave me an answer to what happened and never made any attempt to mend, or show she even cared, about the friendship. We had watched so many movies together, had many dinners, supported each other and I even went to her house for Easter and met her family. I really valued her friendship, so it made me sad, but at the same time I moved on and learned that the good friends will stick around.

    I was really sad at the last friend who ditched me, never made time to grab drinks, dinner or coffee, even though she lived a block away from my office. I went from seeing her weekly, when she was unhappy in her job and I was there for her, to her new job when she was happy again and didn’t have time for me for 4-5 months at a time. Then I moved across the country, started planning my wedding and heard from her a whole year later, asking about my wedding plans. I think maybe she realized she wasn’t invited (I had a small wedding, and didn’t want anyone there who didn’t make me sublimely happy) and she was making an effort to reach out. It was too late and I felt like there was no point in continuing to talk to her. Anyway, that was disappointing too.

    Writing this, I’m realizing I was available for these two people when they were in a bad state, and I wonder if they just took advantage of my support, but were less interested in having a real friendship with me? Maybe I created some bad habits where they felt like I could be used as a shoulder, more than for fun. Who knows. All I know is now I barely think of them, but occasionally wonder what happened so that I can avoid friendships like that in the future.

    http://www.shessobright.com

    • Dofchick

      I think there is a pattern . I recognise it in some of my recent “friendships”.

      Selfish people attach themselves to caring people and leach them for support. But when the support is not needed, they renegade on the friendship.

      • Ugh, that makes me feel awful but you’re so right. That seems to be the common thread of what my experience has been. Thanks for the input!

        http://www.shessobright.com

      • dontpokeweebie

        Omg thankyou! You hit the nail on the head. Im suffering now but realize you just described the friendship! Still miss him though.

        • Dofchick

          So glad I could help. I still hurt too and I had to end my friendship in July. And if you are like me, then you start doubting if it is you at fault and if maybe it was a bit harsh breaking it off, and and and…
          But at the end of the day, unless WE put a stop to it,, people will carry on hurting/using us.
          Stay strong 😀

        • I’m so sorry you’re going through that! 🙁 It’s hard to deal with the disappointment and confusion, but you’ll get through it and will come out with much better friendships in the end. @Dofchick:disqus is spot on, we have to be the one to stop it! Sending you happy thoughts <3

  • Sandra Smith

    My fiance and i had some problem (Trust issues) few months back, we gave each other a little bit of space, Yet she was still acting strange, keeping secrets and hardly go out on a date with me. Then i asked a friends of mine for advice, she then introduce me to computer(dot)surgeon(at)outlook(dot)com to help track his movement and hack his phone so i can be sure he’s 100% loyal and faithful before i proceed with marriage plans. To my greatest surprise he’s been cheating on me a year after i met him till now, Thank God for computer surgeon if not for him i would have married a cheat…. y’all can contact him too if you need to do a background check on your spouse

  • Willa Konefał Davis

    3 years since since I “broke up” with the closest friend I ever had. I still miss her and think of her often. As someone who devotes most of my time to one very close friend, it left me with a huge hole in my life. I want more than anything for that kind of friendship again. I empathize with all of you who are going through this

  • Dofchick

    My best friend lied to me and tricked me – she told me that ( while I was away) she needed a place for her and a mutual friend to sleep as they were escaping boyfriend troubles for the weekend. I told her where my spare key was hidden.

    Turns out, it was only the mutual friend staying in my flat. My best friend had only told me she was also staying in order to get the mutual friend ( who I would not have allowed to stay alone in my flat) a place to stay. The mutual friend then drank 3 bottles of my champagne I had won in a race, smoked out the window and invited a stranger around with whom she had sex on my bed (leaving a huge semen stain).

    My best friend, when I spoke to her, apologised and asked for a second chance.

    Months later, after training her for a mountain race and looking forward to the weekend away together, she dropped me unceremoniously.

    We were meant to travel the 4.5hour journey to the Dolomites together. I had been looking forward to the journey despite being exhausted for the drive.

    While sitting at work, an hour before we were due to leave she says :” my boyfriend has hired a car. I am going with him!” She didn’t even think of offering me a lift so that I didn’t have to travel alone.

    The following week, I asked if she would join me for coffee for work so we could talk, as I was very hurt at being dropped. Instead she decided to go out for drinks with other members of staff to welcome a teacher who is replacing her, and she will probably never see again.

    I called off the friendship a few days ago and keep doubting myself – if I have done the right thing.

    But I no longer trust her and do not think she actually values the friendship anyway if this is how she behaves. I do not want to be taken advantage of, lied to and dropped so unceremoniously again. It hurt too much. She thinks I am being unreasonable and thinks I am only upset because she didn’t offer a lift. She does not get that being dropped at the last minute makes someone feel unappreciated and rejected

    Am I doing the right thing?

  • Bradlei

    My best friend just told me that I’m bossy and she doesn’t want to come over to my house anymore and she never did. I took her so many places and everything. It broke my heart and I couldn’t stop crying. I’m still crying now 😢

  • May

    I can relate so much on this right now. My bf and I broke up just like week ago just out of the blue in very painfull way. She betrayed me and left me heartbroken. It seems to me like some awfull nightmare….as she decided to start date with my ex boyfriend. He broke up with me one year ago and it was devastating for me, even now it is still hurts, I havent been over him yet ans she knew. As bf she knew very well. And even though she did this. She chose him over me even she claimed I am much more important to her. Well aparently not. Last time I spoke with her she seemed even mad that I was bit mean and angry with her for first time she approached with this big thing. She told me she knows that this is not wuite right thing to do to me but she doesnt feel like she has something to apologize about to me. That was like stabbing my heart really. I feel lost. It hurt so much. I trusted her more than anyone and now I am not even sure if I really knew her. I will miss her, every memory seems painful and I am not sure how I can deal with that. The worst seems to me her lack of understanding of how bad what she did is. Some other friends told me I am being overdramatic but to me this is huge deal and the pain is almost unbereable. This feel like it cant be even real….

  • bee

    Best friend breakups are the absolute WORST. Being a teenager, caught up in the midst of school, doesn’t help much either. Well, of course, every girl is going to go through some petty girl-drama at some point in her life, but that doesn’t made BFF breakups any less painful. My best friend of around 4 years has never really treated me like she appreciates me. I tell her when she hurts me, she says she will change it, but she never follows through. However, when I hurt her feelings, I feel so incredibly bad. I feel so trapped, because:
    1.) She doesn’t have anybody else
    2.) I don’t know how to NOT be her friend
    3.) One minute she’s fine, and the next she’s upset with me.

  • Julianne Seiller

    My boyfriend of 2yrs broke up with me coz we were arguing a lot and not getting along and I was already 30 weeks pregnant. He was right we’ve been arguing alot during the pregnancy. After the break up I kept ringing him and telling him I will change. I’m in love with this guy and he has been the best guy in my life. He texts me now and then mainly to check up on how I was with the pregnancy. He is very supportive but it’s not fair on me, him texting and not being there for both me and the unborn baby. I was really upset and needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr. Philip can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. I contacted his email address (drphilipspelltemple@gmail. com) and he told me what to do. Two days later, my bf came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promised never to leave again and we’ve been going ever since.

  • That person

    I have been friends with someone for 9 years straight, we were so close. Today we had a huge disagreement. She just ditched me
    and left me. I cried and cried non stop until this moment, I realize that 9 years HAVE to mean something to her as well. we never really discussed calmly with each other. I realize now that tomorrow I should go and talk to her