It has been a while since I have consistently written here, and the main reason why is I keep contemplating this article. Several months ago a friendship I thought would last into old age crumbled.
Losing a friendship, like a best friend, honestly hurts more than losing a partner or significant other. They probably aren’t the person you thought to marry or raise children with, but they were the person who played “wedding” with you when you were five. They were the person who dialed prank calls to your crush for you, or who put together your 21st birthday party. This friend is the one who was on your wedding party list and who you envisioned seeing for multigenerational play dates, and hopefully, the person you would play Bridge with in your final years.
When a foundation like that, that seems so sturdy having lasted through various seasons and built on your favorite memories, is simply no longer there, you are also broken.
Growing up I was always the type of person to have no more than one or two good friends at a time. Groups were rarely my thing, friendships usually took their time to grow, but I like to say I always mated for life. When I moved for college, I set out on a mission to have a well rounded social life with friends corresponding to whatever group or activity I liked. I have mentioned this in previous blog posts but long story short the desire to do everything and meet everyone led me to stretch myself way too thin and it ultimately affected my overall experience.
So back to the whole “mating for life” thing: I got that phrase from an episode of Greys Anatomy describing Cristina Yang, and for anyone who knows Sandra Oh’s character, that is how I am as a close friend. I do not need many friends, I serve a more supporting role, and I show respect by simply being there. (Or so I think.)
Maybe this is why friendship breakups hit me the way that they do. I am the type of person who takes relationships seriously and is very deliberate in expressing my energy and when that is not matched I feel lost.
Years ago, the first time I saw a friendship end, this person cut contact with me and many other people they knew citing “toxicity” as their only reason. At first I was deeply offended to be considered “toxic” but later I realized that “toxicity” in a friendship does not necessarily one or both parties is “bad,” it can simply mean the relationship is not beneficial to at least one of them. So, with that in mind, I went on a mini journey last year to detox my life and that led me to the breakup I think about now.
There were elements of the relationship I knew were hurting me, but I struggled to address them with myself and within the relationship. Before the end I wondered if boundaries would help what I was feeling, or maybe I could accept the relationship as a friendship only meant to last a certain season, and that would be ok. We all have those kinds of friendships, that did not end negatively, where you simply live different lives but still care about each other from afar. So that is what hurt the most: the fact that I saw this friendship developing into Christmas Cards and Facebook likes rather than pretending to be strangers.
If you got anything out of this article, cherish your friends, accept when a relationship only lasts a season or two, do not ghost, and stay tuned for an upcoming article on healthy friendships!