The hardest break-ups are the friendship break-ups

The day after Halloween in 2011, I was completely blindsided. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. One of the most important people to me didn’t want to be in my life anymore.

No, it wasn’t a romantic break up. It was one of my best friends.

It was sophomore year in college, and this girl had been one of my closest friends since the start of freshman year, when I met her in my dorm. We clicked almost immediately, and soon we were spending every second together. That summer, I drove six hours from my little hometown in Pennsylvania to visit her in upstate New York and stayed with her for one fabulous week filled with mischief, love, and happiness.

Little did I know, by mid-fall of sophomore year, she’d be gone from my life. I don’t know why or how it happened, but I do know where. One night we were at a Halloween party together. The next day she stopped talking to me completely. I don’t know if it was something I did or said. I thought back on our past so many times that my head started spinning. Was it because she thought I was prioritizing my boyfriend over her? Did I say something to upset her? I wracked my brain and could only think of theories that I’d never be able to prove.

What was worse: she didn’t want to talk about it. All I heard, through a mutual friend, was that according to her we had “just drifted apart.”

When I think about the phrase “drift apart,” I imagine us sitting in two separate canoes in the ocean holding hands. We both let go, and the waves slowly take our canoes away from each other. A sad but peaceful separation. A mutual separation. In my mind, we hadn’t “drifted apart.” She had smashed my canoe to bits with her oar, left me precariously balancing on a piece of the wreckage in the middle of the ocean Titanic-style, and paddled away.

It was a friendship break up, and it was worse than any romantic break up I had ever experienced. I felt bitter when I saw her on campus, and, at the same time, a powerful desire to throw my arms around her and beg her to tell another classic joke. I kept saying to myself, “Good riddance,” but didn’t believe it for a second.

I had lost my best friend, and I was confused as to why. Eventually, I started to realize, maybe she just didn’t want to be my friend anymore. It was that simple.

And that’s why some friendship break-ups are so much harder than some romantic splits. It’s a lot harder to understand the reasoning, or more painful to accept.

It’s not because you two want to see any other people, or because you want to have kids and she doesn’t, or because you fell in love with someone else. It’s simply because one of you doesn’t feel the connection anymore. They’ve moved on, even if you haven’t.

It’s been three and a half years, and I still miss my old friend to this very day. It still stings when I think about her, when I see pictures of her, whenever I hear her name.

But after a friendship break-up, after you’ve tried everything to get that person back, you suddenly realize: I shouldn’t have to try so hard. This person should want to be friends with me. I shouldn’t have to beg.

If you’re going through a friendship break up, I feel for you, girl. But just remind yourself that it wasn’t meant to be. There are plenty of other people out there who would do anything to hold your hand on that big, giant ocean. Not all friendships are built to last, and it’s hard to get over losing someone when you’re not ready to let go, and especially when you don’t expect to have to let go. But you move on, you make new friends, and you keep the little memories of the special times you had together forever in your heart.

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