How to Cope With a BFF-Breakup Karen Belz

It’s a dark topic but it happens – sometimes best friends happen to part.

My best friend and I severed ties in 2007 and since then, the role of “best friend” has been tough to fill. Having met in 1999 (which seems like eons ago), the two of us were pretty much tied at the hip. Even though we went to college a state apart, we talked daily and seemed to know the individuals the other had met on our separate journeys based on phone and internet conversation. College was a big hurdle, but we managed! And then everything fell apart.

Despite being in the same place, I was set on having a career and moving forward. My best friend didn’t enjoy the college experience as much as I had and was on the 5-year plan. After I graduated, it seemed like we couldn’t relate on this new level. She was dead set on discussing jokes and issues from high school while I had matured from those issues and was totally freaking out over resumes and fitting a stereotypical “adult” profile. I heard from mutual friends that she was upset with me and we never managed to reach a common ground.

I hate to admit it but it still affects me to this day. Every milestone I’ve reached since the breakup makes me think of her and how I had made the promise years ago to share it with her. She was going to be my maid of honor but now she probably won’t even be invited to my future wedding.

However, I’ve managed to trudge through: Here are some tips, if you’re in a similar situation.

  1. Tell her how you feel. A few years after my BFF conundrum, I wrote her a letter to tell her my side of the story. It was an update on what I was up to and a summary on how I felt things got skewed along the way. This way, the ball was in her court: I stated my feelings and she was the one to figure out what happened next. Also, it will help you to write it out. Just make sure that if you had severe issues (she stole a boyfriend, tried to sabotage other friendships or you just think she’s pure evil), it’s not a letter of venting. Don’t attempt to badmouth or add fuel to the fire. Save that for a diary.
  2. Don’t focus on the negative. The friendship was great during the time you had it. Trying to pinpoint and add enthusiasm to all of the since-resolved fights from the past will only make you feel like the entire experience was a waste of your time. Don’t write-off the past entirely, just acknowledge that for a certain span of time, one person truly helped enhance your life.
  3. Re-evaluate the friendship: Maybe the two of you were more incompatible than you thought. If she didn’t let you grow or stifled your creativity, maybe the break was necessary. Just remember Point #2: See the re-evaluation as a way to move past it and not to destroy the good memories. It could have been a great friendship but it may not have been the healthiest
  4. Remember That People Change: It’s true. You’ve changed, too. Every life experience can make you think differently about the world and this is true with your former BFF. Sometimes you reach a point where you feel like you can’t even relate to your go-to-girl.

If your BFF takes a turn that you can’t sympathize with, talk to her. If it’s something serious, make sure she knows you’re there for her; if it’s something juvenile, try to figure out if there’s a deeper meaning behind it. If it’s continuously something juvenile, realize that her priorities may no longer be in line with yours.

5.  Remember That Your Mutuals Don’t Want To Take Sides: Nor should they. While it’s tempting to throw some gossip out there to gather the opinions of your mutual friends (or see if your ex-BFF has said anything about you), the smartest thing to do is remember that the breakup is only between the two of you. Don’t risk losing additional friends or causing problems within a larger group. If someone wants to talk it out with you, treat it like you would a job interview. Don’t badmouth your last employer but state simply why things didn’t work out. (“I wanted the chance to grow” is much better than “My last boss always hated me and all of my coworkers had it out for me!”)

Not Cool. (Funny, but. Not the best tactic.)

Even if you have complete faith in a mutual friend, realize that what you say about your best friend has a chance of getting back to her. She’s your best friend – or at one point was – so try to talk to her one-on-one before bringing up the issue with someone else. Even though she might not appreciate it till later, she’ll hopefully realize that this move is much more respectful.

Group-planning with mutuals might be a little tough for awhile if the friendship never rebounds but it can be done. As long as everyone is aware of the breakup, they’ll make sure to accommodate hanging out with the both of you – especially if you make an effort.

6.  Realize That You Still Have Time To Make Memories: Your Ex-BFF may have witnessed some key stages but a person goes through continuous growth. Make sure to surround yourself with positive, engaging people that will help remind you what you’re truly capable of.

While you shouldn’t be looking to replace her role as your best friend,  there are so many ways to meet great people these days! If you’re in college, think about joining clubs that fit your interests. About 95% of my current group of friends emerged from joining my college radio station in freshman year.

Just remember: You hurt because you care, but life will go on! It might not have been her fault or yours but rather a collaboration of two people moving in different directions.

And as the great Michael Stipe would say, “Take comfort in your friends.” Even if they were the ones who never got the chance to claim that top place.

Photo Credit: http://parlourmagazine.com, someecards.com

 

comments

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  1. thanks so much! :D
    me and my bff, well. she dosnt have a problem- but i do. it seems as if everything she says is SO annoying. im done. im actually transferring to a new school (not because of her) and starting fresh!

  2. Nice:) For the past several months, I have been contemplating the meaning of a long and extremely close friendship. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not interested in sticking around any longer, but I’ve had the most difficult time deciding how to sever ties tactfully. Your article has not only given me some ideas as far as my approach, but has also put some of my feelings about the situation into words for the first time. Thanks…just what I needed.

  3. Happened to me last fall.
    On Halloween I became violently sick due to too many alcoholic beverages and told my friend to text my boyfriend telling him to come home. Instead she told him to come home and take care of me because he hadn’t been a good boyfriend and that he needed to appreciate me more, then preceded to call him an asshole and such. I’m sure she meant well and was just looking out for me, but of all the ways to deal with it, that was the wrong one. On top of that a few days later I sent her a message explaining why I had been angry and told her as nicely as I could that she couldn’t meddle in others business like that and she sent back the bitchiest response possible explaining to me how I was somehow in the wrong. Anyway, I do miss her but I have realized since then that this isn’t the only time something juvenile like this has happened with her that maybe it was time we moved our separate ways, despite how much it sucks. Also, her bf misunderstood what was going and told me he was going to skin my cats….so that didn’t help so much either >.>

  4. this really helped me. i went through a BFF break up almost 2 years ago in september, and i still have a hard time w- it now. i feel like i should be over it by now, but reading this helped me realize it’s okay to still be hurt by it sometimes.

  5. really interesting read, i went through the same thing with a girl who was my BFF since we were babies – inseparable, did everything together, same schools same classes.. then she started going out with this really horrible guy and soon enough i had fallen by the wayside – a lot of our other friends had too, but none more so than me. then she completely stopped talking to me, and when i see her in the street she looks the other way and keeps walking. it’s really sad, and it took me the better part of two years to get over it, but i can take comfort in my old friends, the ones who have stuck with me, and my new friends, the ones who never knew me as her BFF. i do hope someday she’ll add me on facebook, or text me on my birthday, but for now she doesn’t enter my head, and that’s okay too.

    thanks for the post, it helped a lot to read :)

  6. awesome post. I couldn’t help but notice that it’s all females who can sympathize this including me. Why is that men have easier less catty friendships? I lived with my BFF and that was probably the biggest mistake especially after my bf and I set her up with her current BF. so drama, so much uglyness and sometimes I wish it could go back to the way ti used to be. I’ve realized she’s young and is discovering herself and that’s why she is probably so immature. She is still trying to figure herself out by being influenced by a lot of people including me and sometimes I wish she could just be here the real her! ( had to vent lol)
    http://www.honeyinthesun.com
    thanks again for this post.

  7. Amazing post! I’m actually on the receiving end of this post.
    My best friend of 15 years and I had a falling out over something trivial when we were 20. I’m sure if I’d followed the steps in this post we may have regained our friendship much quicker. However, after she found my sister in a car accident in the most accidental of circumstances, she reached out and we quickly became BFF’s once again. That was 2 years ago, and we’ve never been stronger. Fortunately the only significant moment in my life that she had missed was the engagement to my Fiancée. We have yet to have our wedding, but she will be, like we had always planned one of my bridesmaids.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that if it’s really meant to be, it will be! Our friendship stood still for 3 years. But in those 3 years we both got a chance to grow and shape ourselves as young woman to come together as one again. Sometimes wounds need to heal, broken hearts need to mend, and you can’t put a timer on either. In my case it was 3 years….but now we have 50 more years of memories ahead!

    Good luck to all who have lost BBF’s – there is hope. xx

  8. People are always evolving. Your choices take you down your own path, and it’s a painful lesson to realize that sometimes paths that have run parallel for many years have to diverge. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, at least not always. Life changes people, and people change their lives. It may take a little time, but eventually you’ll reach the point where you can look back on the time you spent together with your friend with fondness–while be content to leave it in the past.

    In my case, the end of my friendship with my former best friend was gradual. We had been growing apart for a year or two, and while I can say I honestly tried to keep the connection going, inviting her to grab coffee, asking if she wanted to go places with me, she was just too busy. Sure, we chatted online during the week, but the physical distance led to emotional distance, and once I had emotional distance, I was able to objectively evaluate the friendship. I came to realize how one-sided the friendship had been–for a long time–how much I had invested in it, and how little I actually got in return except hurt feelings. She’s the self-absorbed type, and I’m the overly-sensitive type. Ultimately, when I stopped to ask myself how I’d feel if I stopped talking to her completely, my only answer was “guilty–for letting her down.” Not sad. Not broken. Just guilty for being disloyal this one time. That was all the answer I needed.

    Unfortunately, I’m a wimp. I avoid confrontations like the plague. I simply stopped making an effort–I stopped making contact, I stopped sharing my feelings with her–in effect, she became an acquaintance. I’ll respond to IM’s or texts with short but polite responses. She’s noticed the change, and she’s stepped up her efforts to win me back, but that’s just not going to happen. I let it go already, and the weight off my shoulders? Well…that was heavenly.

  9. I’m going through this right now, and this article is well-timed. I have a very distinct plan, and now I have the confidence to follow through with it as I seek healthier friendships.

  10. I wish I knew how to do this. One of my best friend’s started dating my ex-boyfriend right after we broke up, and when I told her it hurt me a lot, she said I was being selfish. This was 7 and a half months ago and I still think about it daily. I live in such a small town so everywhere she goes is someplace I would go. Our mutual friends have basically sided with her out of convenience, not that I can blame them. She’s a planner and I’m passive. I’m just going to move to a new city to get away from her. It’s so, so depressing.

  11. Thank you for posting this! I went through a BFF break-up in 2007 also. My best friend of over 2 decades and I decided to part ways after a long and tearful (at my end) text conversation. She was born with Cystic Fibrosis and struggled with her health her whole life. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her disease on May 13, 2010. We only spoke once after our break-up and before her death. There are a lot of things I regret and wish I had done differently, but this blog was so incredibly encouraging. Thanks so much.

  12. or you could just email them this post (lol)

    But seriously, this is a great article. Especially focusing on the positive. If they only respond with negativity, then that just solidifies your decision.

  13. I quit drinking last year and that is when I realizes that my then-BFF was only interested in being a drinking buddy instead of a supportive friend. Whenever I wanted to hang out she always managed to drink in front of me- even at lunch time or the movies. My priorities had definitely changed from being a party girl to a more responsible adult and it turned out she couldn’t support that. It was unfortunate but I’m glad it happened because it taught mr that she wasn’t a real friend anyway, just someone who wanted someone (anyone!) to drink with. I drink occasionally now since I have some perspective, but I don’t talk t that friend anymore. I’m glad we had some fun times and I don’t regret those at all but I also do not regret moving on.

  14. I went through almost a similar situation recently. Last year, my bff and I were each going through a rough patch in our lives. In retrospect, before that our lives had started to go in different directions. She was stalled, I was moving forward. I could not talk to her like I used to. I did prob the wrong thing (I stopped speaking to her) but I know for my self preservation, I had to. She was “drowning” and I could not go with her. A few months ago, I called her and left a message, telling her I wanted to explain my side. She did not call back till over a month later and did not leave a message. I have yet to call her back. I’ve moved on. I’m pretty sure she is angry with me, but I can’t look back. I need positive people in my life to share my new adventures with and she can’t be that for me. I realized that I seem to have a pattern of choosing the wrong people to be bffs with (another friendship had soured before this), so I am more careful of who I become friends with now. It all about finding core people to enjoy things with and hopefully I can surround myself with fun, happy people.

  15. Sometimes you have to realize that people aren’t who you thought they were. I think that’s the hardest part, realizing that it’s their loss and that there are friends out there who can support and appreciate you. It still hurts though. :(

    Thank you for posting this. <3

  16. currently going through this right now….i should write her a letter to let her know why i have distanced myself from her in the last few months. she thinks its my new bf, but in reality it isnt at all.

  17. I wish I would have had such advice two and a half years ago. Having a boy bff really complicates things though. They won’t just come out and tell you what they really want to say or how they feel. It took me too long to figure out that ex-bff wanted to be friends again.

  18. I’m so glad this is getting attention. Earlier this summer I lost my best friend when she stole my boyfriend – now, too ex-bf’s. The worst part of the ordeal was her part in it, and I was hurt by and missed her so much more than him. It’s been a few months and I feel a lot freer in a million different ways – but I know I won’t have that bond with someone for a long time because, even though it ended horribly, it was unique and wonderful.

  19. Thank you for posting this Karen. I’ve been dealing with this situation where my relationship with my best friend has lessen, and it has taking me time to put all of my thoughts and emotions on how i will tell her how i feel and what will happen next. Thank you for posting this, since i’ll be taking in consideration most of the tips you have included in.

    I think part of me is really nervous on loosing her, and how she will react when i explain her how i feel about friendship for the past couple of years.

  20. this is so helpful! I just went through a BFF-breakup on Tuesday. it hurts, but I’ve already wrote a letter sharing my feelings. now I just have to work up the courage to give it to ec-BFF.

    • I mailed mine, with full hope that she’d read it based on curiosity. It’s tough! But at least the letter gave me some time to process everything that happened and maybe try to salvage the friendship to a point where we could at least coexist in the same place together.

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