March 1, 2013

Breaking Up With A Friend Is Harder Than Breaking Up With A Significant Other

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What is the issue?
 My So-Called Life
My So-Called Life

You expect someone to break your heart. It’s understood that the person you love might one day wake up and decide they don’t love you anymore. It’s painful, yes, and you will feel like dying and you will feel like crying all of the tears but it’s a fact of life. It’s almost necessary. If you haven’t had your heart broken yet, it’s like you don’t know all there is to know yet. BRING ON THE HEARTBREAK, BABY. I want to understand.

Something you don’t expect, though, is a very important and valuable friendship coming to an end. I mean, on a basic level, you get that friendships fade and people outgrow each other but it’s sort of like getting in a drunk driving accident or having someone close to you die: it’s something you hear about all the time but you never expect it to happen to you.

This is the reason why the dissolution of a friendship can often be harder than the dissolution of a romantic relationship. In a way, it just feels more personal. Like a betrayal. People fall out of love with each other for a variety of reasons, many of which often have nothing to do with you. We know our hearts are fickle. We know that what we want today may be different than from what we want tomorrow. Best friends, however, are supposed to be the loophole. Jobs, boyfriends: those can be temporary, but best friendships are expected to transcend all of that. In a time of constant change, they’re there to remind you of the familiar.

I’ve gone through a breakup where I lost my fucking mind and did all of the crazy things you’re not supposed to do but can’t control anyway. It was awful and I thought I would never feel normal again, even though people said I would, and they eventually were right. I did feel normal again and now I can’t even access a sliver of the pain I once felt, even if I try real hard.

But a few years ago, I had a falling out with my very best friend, my number one, my life partner, and that’s pain that I can still readily access. That’s pain that never went completely away. Because I still think sometimes, “You should be here with me. I should be able to call you with this news or send you this funny YouTube video. You weren’t supposed to go away. You were supposed to survive it all.”

I don’t know, I just never felt that way about an ex. I kind of always understood the risk involved with giving someone your heart. So, although devastating, I wasn’t exactly shocked to the core when things ended.

With the loss of best friends, part of me still feels shocked because it seems like such an attack on who I am. The idea that someone could no longer want to be in my life, even though we’ve never loved each other in a romantic way, hurts. Isn’t sex the reason why things become alive and then sometimes die? I thought platonic friendships were somehow immune to strife. This was stupid wishful thinking, on my part, and now I know that it is distinctly possible for someone to no longer like who you are as a person. They don’t care about what you look like naked or if you have a wandering eye or if you can bring them breakfast in bed. They just care about your brain and whether or not awesome things can come out of it. When the friendship is over, you get the message: I DON’T LIKE WHO YOU ARE ANYMORE.

I understand that it’s more complicated than that. Like a relationship, friendships end for myriad reasons. Still, I can’t help but ignore the logic and feel the purest level of rejection. TC Mark

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