Thought Catalog

Losing A Best Friend

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When it happens, you won’t want to believe it. You’ll take their word for it when they say they’re busy, swamped at work, “just doing me.” You’ll make excuses for them, put your ringer on extra loud in case they call. But you’ll still feel the change, and because you can’t rationalize it, you’ll try to ignore it.

It’s a specific kind of loneliness that hits you like a wave of nausea. When the two of you are having a beer and you realize that you have both been staring out the same window for twenty minutes, nothing to say, the opposite of a comfortable silence. When they cancel plans consistently and stall when giving you reasons. When you scroll through your contacts and stop at their name and almost call but don’t, feeling suddenly, inexplicably, abandoned and confused.

Sometimes there’s no huge fight that marks the end of a friendship. No falling out, no major disagreement. Sometimes it just falls apart for no good reason. Distance. New relationships. Priorities. Somehow these things can become more important than your connection; they shouldn’t but they do. And as we get older we tend to downsize, prioritize. Trim the corners of our lives, keeping what’s important and discarding what isn’t. Sometimes we stop needing people in our lives and it isn’t even conscious. No one wakes up in the morning actively thinking “Hmm, I think I’ll stop being friends with so-and-so today.” It just goes out with an empty fizz, like a cigarette hitting the bottom of a Coke can.

In so many ways, losing a close friend is worse than losing a lover. Lovers are transient for the most part but friends are supposed to be there for you always, or so we like to believe. Friendship is a special kind of love that’s not supposed to fade. You never expect the one person you thought you could always depend on to disappear without saying goodbye. And when they do you feel sickeningly stupid and cheated, wondering what you meant to them all along, whether you were just convenient or in the right place at the right time. You never really know for sure.

You look through pictures from back when you were happy — holding each other up drunk and ecstatic, working on art projects on a rainy Sunday afternoon — and can’t understand what happened. Reach for the phone. Attach a photo to an email, start the subject line with some fusion of “Remember this?” and “I miss you…” Get suddenly overwhelmed by a horrible emptiness and discard the draft, leaving the phone untouched. History. So much history flushed down a dirty sink.

And the worst part is, you don’t even know how to explain yourself. You know if you bring this up with them they’ll give you a blank expression and a blank excuse. You don’t want to explain how you feel. You can’t. You just want them to get it, to read you like they used to be able to. You want to take them by the shoulders and shake them, screaming Where are you? What happened?! Until you’re blue in the face. But you can’t do that either, because you’re no longer on the same level and it’s going to make you feel crazy.

In life, it’s a given that you will lose people. People will flow in and out like curtains through an open window, sometimes for no reason at all. But losing someone important to you will feel like a suckerpunch every single time, and you’ll never see it coming. Which makes the friendships that do hold out, the ones that make it through countless breakdowns and breakthroughs and changes and years, so damn important. TC mark

image – Shutterstock
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  • lady

    Realizing that you don’t need that person and being the one who dumps the friend makes you feel exactly the same. I know. 

    • ASURAD123

      Hard for me to believe it would be the exact same feeling…

    • infinitebliss8

      I agree. This happened to me. I just had to cut off the relationship because it was no good anymore. Drifting apart deliberately would be better than arguing every time.

  • Sama

    Losing a friend is like the process of becoming their best friend, backwards. In the end, it’s as if you never met…. Oh the irony. 

  • Caine

    Relating to this one so many different levels, i want my best friend back. Help.

    • ASURAD123

      You shouldn’t want anyone who is willing to cut you out of their life. 

    • simone

      i do to im really upset what do i do i might still be able to save it i just watched a vid she made for me and instead of laughing like i did the 1st time i cried my eyes out please someone help :'(

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes you wake up and just come to the realization that you honestly don’t care anymore. It happened with me, and while I wish there was something I could do to change how I felt…I didn’t really feel an urge to try.

    • SappyFoot

      That’s just so sad for the other person, who might still care, and might always will. :(

  • Cy

    Thank you for expressing my unexpressed thoughts. Thank you so much.

  • Maddie

    Painful, but true.  I decided to try and stay friends with the man I love (but who lives thousands of miles away), thinking that maybe we were very close and maybe just meant to be really good friends, but it just feels like even as friends we are drifting apart and everything else in his life is more important.  It makes me so sad that things have come to this, that the friendship part is gone too.  It does make me appreciate my close friends here all the more – the ones who’ve really stuck by me since secondary school and are always there for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553623063 Deb Hwan

    This really spoke to me.

  • angelusgutmann

    I loved! this article. So true, so beautiful :)

  • Southernvtgal

    It is worse than a break up, how can you hate a friend like you hate a lover? All you will ever really remember when you look at there fb profile is when she tackled you in the hallway or you two used to laugh about the same things, and now you 2 look at eachother with those years behind you and know it will never be the same…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    thanks, this was a good read

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003197905700 Alix Harvey

    Just like with a romantic relationship, you guys end up wanting different things or came to different points in your life and drifts away. It’s always a terrible feeling but one I’ve gotten used to for sure

    • SATISH SHRIVASTAVA

      HI. IT.S JUST LIKE ROSE .WHEN YOU MAKE TOO.IT.S SMALE IS SOO GROWTH

  • Adrianna

    I recently ended a friendship and I can be nearly 100% positive that this is exactly how I made her feel. It almost makes me want to try and work it out, but I have to stop feeling guilty that things sometimes come to an end.

  • THANKS

    This made me cry. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone.

  • DF

    So I saw the headline and erroneously thought it was about a best friend’s passing. Having just gone through that scenario, I have to say — say what you need to say now.

  • Skye

    I really, really appreciated this article. It makes me feel just a little less alone to hear other people expressing the words that I’m drowning under.

    • Jerrand Tan

      i had a childhood friend for 12 yrs.we’ve been rolling in rumbles and mud since den.soon after his ego let the fumes out of him.ive lost not only a fren.but the entire clique.sad but true.
      fullstop.

  • guest

    I would just rather have someone tell me you don’t want to hang out anymore. Its a lot better than coming up with excuses and exasperated get togethers when you don’t seem to want to be there anyway. That saves you from being an asshole, and me the embarrassment of trying to contact someone, because I’m not picking up on the ‘”obvious” signs.

  • Frunke

    Out of curiosity: How do you even get the nerve to do something like break off a friendship for no reason? Anytime I’ve had the thought to do so, I’ve just avoided it entirely. There are many times when I wonder about the strength of my friendships, but ultimately if the person hasn’t done something catastrophic I just can’t bring myself to “cut them off”. But I do wonder if that is the only way for real growth, sometimes…to be discerning. Still, it seems as though things don’t have to be as cut and dry as “stopping being friends”. But maybe that’s just a lie I’ve been telling/will continue to tell myself. 

    • Jane A.

      Check out what wizzmaster said, i think you’re right but unfortunately some people lack the courtesy to say anything to you!

  • Daily TC Reader

    The worst part of these types of friendship deaths is that you will never know if you did anything wrong or if there was anything you could have done to stop it. There’s no lesson, no growth , no “I wish” or “I should have.” What’s done is done. Great read, Mila.

    • Wizzzmaster

      Most probably there’s something new in their lives! if you’re 100% sure you were so careful to be up to the level of the trust and friendship with your best friend and still he/she left or your relation became cold…i am so sure your best friend either replaced you for someone more “fun” or the new love line isnt so much into you having such close friend…

      Its so sad to say this…but its been happening to alot, and will continue to occur 

  • Kirk Longuski

    When things reach the end in a romantic relationship, you break up. That’s established. But how do you have that same… closure, I suppose, with a friend?

  • Kaya

    “You want to take them by the shoulders and shake them, screaming Where are you? What happened?! Until you’re blue in the face. But you can’t do that either, because you’re no longer on the same level and it’s going to make you feel crazy.”
    Exactly. I don’t know if there’s any way to approach it without feeling so helpless and misunderstood. 

  • Goblin.

    This article is upsetting. I felt like such a bitch reading it. I have ditched a “best friend” before. She wasn’t necessarily my best friend but I can only imagine she felt/feels this way. Recently she has tried to reach out to me again and after reading this I really would like to accept her back into my life but I just don’t believe I can. Wounds will heal though or so I hope.

    • sabine

      I believe she’ll be more than happy to have you accepting her back, don’t be afraid about feeling awkward. Once you get past it you’ll never regret taking this step :)

  • Jenny

    this was painful to read, but oh so true. 

  • Marley

    As time passes you are not sure anymore you want your friend -who left you- to call and say hey what’s up.. you just don’t know what could you say.. when there is no anger, frustration or anything anymore… just sad emptiness… I also wonder if after letting that much time pass will she have the courage to call? After abandoning someone I am not sure I would have..

  • mustafa

    my best friend went to school in arizona and i went to north carolina..i haven’t seen him since july and we barely talk anymore. we’ve been best friends since middle school..college fucked everything up.

  • http://itellstories.org/ Sameer Vasta

    This. This is happening right now. Today, in fact. Today, I officially “broke up” with my best friend. My heart feels like it never going to beat again, I can not breathe.

    This. This is it. This is what it feels like. And even though it will end up okay, it still will hurt for a long, long time.

    • guest

      It will never be ok. It’s been 5 years, and it’s still not okay. My best friend of 18 years walked away without a word, and I still miss him every single minute of every single day.

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