Friendship breakups are a thing, but here's how I survived one

September 28, 2015
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I read a quote once that said, “Friendship is so weird… You just pick a human you’ve just met and you’re like, ‘Yep, I like this one,’ and you just do stuff with them.”

It’s true. We go through life incidentally selecting the people we spend our time with. It just happens as we grow, learn and live and morph together like human Play Doh.

Friends are the Band-Aids and the warm blankets, the tequila shots and the belly laughs. They’re everything you want and need, and we wouldn’t be the people we are today without them.

Yet, we also know that with any sunshine, there’s bound to be a little rain. Heck, there could even be the brutal tornado that comes and obliterates everything: the friendship breakup.

Breakups in relationships are normal. You meet, hook up, date, and then you might decide to continue the relationship. You either stay together for the happily ever after, or you don’t, parting ways only to see each other’s faces in the occasional Facebook stalk and the one-time-drunken-night kiss.

Friendship breakups aren’t so easy. Yet, as psychologist Dr Andrea Bonior points out, similar to relationship breakups, they’re often a significant and painful period in our lives. “Friend breakups can pack just as severe [an] emotional punch,” she says.

In some instances, we simply drift away from people by not keeping in contact or going down different life paths, and we’re left singing Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’.  But what happens if you get to know someone and don’t want them to be in your life anymore? And what if the reverse happens? What if you’re friends with someone and suddenly, out of nowhere, they break up with you?

How would I know? I’ve recently been dumped. And it stung like a little yellow bee had just flown down and landed on my heart.

It started off swimmingly like all good friendships do: he made me droolworthy cocktails and serviette roses, and I was at my most witty and hilarious all the time. We enjoyed each other’s banter, which would’ve given Jimmy Kimmel a run for his money.  I liked his mind and he liked mine, and we decided to be pals.

I did what a lot of people do when they’re dumped: I went batshit crazy. I called and messaged, called some more, and wrote sweet heartfelt poems (which, in hindsight, scream ‘desperate’ rather than ‘beautifully crafted’).

So what happened?

One day - like the end of a bad movie - it halted with no response, no explanation, no understanding. Not even a reply. Enter tumbleweed.

And although I wasn’t craving the intimacy you get in a romantic relationship, I missed the laughs, the understanding and the companionship. I was mourning the loss of a friendship - and a great one at that.

So what did I do? Well, what a lot of people do when they’re dumped: I went batshit crazy.

I called and messaged, called some more, and wrote sweet heartfelt poems (which, in hindsight, scream ‘desperate’ rather than ‘beautifully crafted’). I was hurt, though - and truthfully, I still am.

But post-dumping, I picked myself up off the carpet bit by bit. I found my self-worth and self-love crumpled in a ball in the corner of the room, and tucked it back in my pocket.

I came to understand and accept that not everyone is going to (or has to) like you, and that’s OK. This mirrors Dr Bonior’s advice, which says that endings are natural in life and most friendships have a shelf life. That’s because as people change and transition, so too do our values, likes and dislikes.

I wrote lots and saw other people who valued my company and reminded me that I’m a good friend. I then looked at my buddies still around me, and loved them even more because they loved me back.

I learnt that people are like rocks. Some are brown or grey, and you may not like them. In turn, some rocks may not like the big black dot sitting smack-bang in the centre of your smooth surface, and that’s OK, too. And some rocks you find will be a rare green or purple, and you’ll love them for all their quirks and flaws, and they’ll love you right back in return. Those rocks - your best buds - they’re the ones to treasure.

Friendships breakups are hard, but it pays to be prepared with popcorn and Netflix, because they can and will happen. However don’t forget that your biggest assets to get you through the bad times are all the other friends that surround you - they really are as strong as rocks. 

Avril Treasure

Avril studies Journalism at Notre Dame in Sydney. In her spare time she enjoys playing cards with her grandfather, drinking one too many margaritas and pondering hypothetical questions.

Image: Bailey Weaver, Flickr Creative Commons license