Breaking Up With My BFF

Dr. Deb would love to answer your burning relationship questions.

Today’s Advice Highlights:

  • Why is losing a friend as painful as a romantic break-up?
  • What can a single friend do to maintain a friendship when her friend becomes too preoccupied with the new relationship?
  • How can BFFs stay strong through the many changes in life?

Dear Dr. Deb,

Can someone be broken-hearted from losing a best friend?

Kim and I have been BFFs since we were six years old. We’re an odd couple and the unlikeliest of friends, but from the beginning, we just clicked and became kindred spirits.

Even in our twenties, we constantly texted each other about each other’s day. I would wake up every morning with a text from her, and she was the last person I spoke to before I went to sleep.

It felt more like a sisterhood with a bond so strong, it felt like it would last forever.

Then it happened. Kim got into a serious romantic relationship, and everything changed. She went all-in and I felt pushed out.

Of course, I’m really happy for her and her boyfriend. He’s a great guy and he seems to make her very happy. But overnight, all she wants to do is spend time with him. Lately, I was always the one to text first, and she’ll reply a few times, and then disappear again.

When we do speak, it’s always about him. The last time I reached out to her, we got on a video call. She apologized for not getting in touch sooner. I was excited to finally have a chance to catch up. But in the middle of talking, with absolutely nothing to do with what we were talking about, she interrupted to say she was sending me a screenshot of a very funny text from her boyfriend. That was when it finally hit me: I’ve lost my best friend.

It feels like my world is crashing down. Maybe I’m a little envious of the fact that she found someone, and I still haven’t—but I truly am very happy for her. I feel abandoned. Does having a new relationship mean there’s no room for me and our friendship in her life anymore?

I thought deep friendships like ours stood the test of time, but it seems she’s given up. Should I just give up? Where do I go from here?

Desperate and Discarded

From The Desk of Dr.Deb
Dear Discarded,

A female friendship is one of the most meaningful and worthwhile relationships women have in their lives. To have a BFF makes us feel worthy, loved and understood in ways that a Mom, sister, or partner can’t.

You feel like you were tossed aside by your best friend who was caught up in the excitement of a new love—a change that’s just as painful as being dumped by a boyfriend or lover. It brings up similar feelings of confusion, disappointment, anger, and betrayal all rolled into one.

Unlike divorce or couple breakups, however, outgrowing friendships aren’t given enough attention in public discourse or the media. So it’s no surprise that you feel lost and don’t know how to deal with this.

It might help to remember that like any close relationship, friendships are not exempt from changes and ups and downs. As hard it is to accept, outgrowing friends is sometimes just a natural part of life. While most of us find friends who seem to be on the same page, only a few stay as best friends for a lifetime. Things change, people change. Life happens. And the transitions of life can be extremely challenging for friendships.

Some of my own friendships changed after my divorce. Suddenly single, I was often excluded from couples’ events that my friends and I used to attend. I felt like I was a leper with the way they steered away. I was no longer a member of the “couple elite,” so I was no longer respected enough to be considered a friend.

Friendships, like romantic relationships, are made up of two different individuals with their own personalities, both of whom will keep growing and changing over time. No one can know for sure that two friends, however close they once were, will grow in the same direction or remain compatible.

Close friendships are also rooted in honesty. It might help if you speak to Kim, telling her how you truly feel, and how you’re mourning the friendship you used to have. Tell her that you’re happy for her and that you miss her.

It’s natural to feel upset and even a bit envious of Kim’s new situation. My advice is, after you let her know how you feel, the best thing may be for you to step back and give her some space. It doesn’t seem like her neglect was meant to be deliberately mean. It sounds like she’s just caught up in the excitement of a new romantic relationship.

If there’s any comfort I can give you, it’s this: romantic relationships come and go. If you’re patient, your deep friendship with Kim doesn’t need to slip through the cracks.

Dr. Deb

< It’s a Relationship, Not a DIY Project

The Look of Love: Staying in Love Through the Physical Changes >

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