Friend breakups are undoubtedly just as heartbreaking as romantic ones. And whether your friendship ends because they were toxic, or you were betrayed, getting over it takes time. And it can make you feel very lonely indeed.
Here, 8 women who experienced 'friendship heartbreak' explain what happened, and how they coped.
1. "We gave it time and we figured out a new way to be friends"
"I had a best friend in college and after, we lived together and we were totally inseparable. Then, I had to move away. She got engaged a few months later. She didn't ask me to be a bridesmaid. She asked her new, near-stranger roommate instead. I was really hurt - clearly she meant more to me than I did to her - but I understood she wanted someone who was close by, and I was still planning on attending the wedding. Then, I found out she had been in the city I lived in, spent time with a mutual friend, and never told me. I decided not to spend the money on a plane ticket/wedding gift, didn't go, and basically stopped speaking to her. She never reached out to me again, and I missed her SO MUCH. But I thought she was pretty much out of my life forever.
"Fast forward two years: I went to visit her and basically said, 'I don't know what happened to us, I'm sure it was both of our faults, but your friendship is valuable to me and I'd like us to be friends again'. And she said she felt the same way. She's married with a toddler, living in the suburbs and I'm single, living a typical mid-20s life in the city. It's been a challenge to navigate that friendship when we're both in such different places, but she's still so important to me. Losing her was really hard, harder than almost any breakup I've had. But we gave it time and we figured out a new way to be friends and I'm really grateful for that."
2. "I never really dealt with it"
"Met this guy at college, supported him when he came out to his family, welcomed him into my family, just absolute inseparable best friends for like two or three years. Inseparable meaning, he kept clothes at my house, [he was] Facebook friends with my whole family, came on family [holidays] with us, the whole shebang. After two years, he joined a chorus and began hanging out with guys who, for no apparent reason, hated me. A few months after he joined, we planned a holiday to Seattle together. A month before, he let me know he wouldn't be able to reimburse me for the plane ticket for a while. I said it was totally cool, whatevs, family and all that. Instead, he just never spoke to me again. Deleted me on Facebook, then blocked me, blocked my mum too. Four months after that, I called him crying at midnight because my dog got really sick all of a sudden, and had to be put down - and I was having a tumour removed the next day. I left him a voicemail, but he never called me back. I never really dealt with it. I still wonder what I did wrong. I just wish I knew why he cut me out."
3. "I never spoke to her again"
"My boyfriend when I was at university cheated on me with my then-best friend. She told me it was my fault for making everyone miserable and getting in their way, because I didn’t love him like she did. So yeah. I dealt with it like a lot of people would deal with the actual break up... I dropped a box of her things at her door, moved out and never spoke to her again. I felt 100 times more betrayed by her than by him. I still chatted to him on occasion even afterwards. I literally never spoke to her again."
4. "I developed new hobbies, new interests, new self-care routines"
I had a best friend at [university] who I genuinely thought I would know for the rest of my life. We seemed to be really kindred, I loved her. We had a fight and she never spoke to me again. I apologised over and over, nothing was enough. She developed a narrative with the rest of our friends that I was manipulative and not safe as a friend. Nothing was ever the same after that. It was all horrible obviously, but I ended up nurturing friendships that I had neglected during the time I fell in with her clique. I had to hear over and over that I'm not toxic, not a monster, that I'm just a human person and what was happening to me wasn't right. I rediscovered those old, true friendships that last forever because they develop and grow stronger after adversity. I developed new hobbies, new interests, new self-care routines, because I was spending so much more time alone."
5. I had issues trusting female friendships for a while
"I met these two girls who lived in the same neighbourhood and had been friends for a while. They were great, we hung out all the time during high school, and during the summer before university. Then the first day of uni, they acted as if they didn’t know me. It was awful. I had issues trusting female friendships for a while, and thought that the issue was me... that some how I just was unable to make or maintain a friend. Then I went on a trip overseas as an an ambassador with a bunch of other kids and the friends came easily, and I realised it wasn’t me. It took about six years post-incident for me to finally feel comfortable creating friendships and trusting girls again."
6. "I learned to accept that some people just aren't meant to be in your life"
"I had a friend who was really close to me. Things aren't always perfect, so we had our ups and down. But it was always me who would reach out and fix things when it really wasn't my fault to begin with. One day, out of the [blue], she just completely cut me off out of nowhere and blocked me on social media. I was confused, angry. She managed her way out of my life with no reasons or explanation. It's been years. Idk if I would say [I've been] 'dealing with it'. I think it's only because I never got closure. But I've learned to accept that some people just aren't meant to be in your life, even if you wanted them to [be]. At least with them leaving, it gives you space for better people who will appreciate you and your friendship more."
7. "I couldn't eat. I cried a lot"
"My best friend and I had a falling out about five years ago. Both our feelings were hurt, and we were too stubborn to do anything about it. I was devastated. Seriously, I think I would have handled divorce from my husband better. I lost ten pounds. I couldn't eat. I cried a lot. I slowly started to heal and about a month later she grew the cojones to pick up the phone and call me. I am so grateful for that. Still best friends. Better communicators."
8. "I spent lots of time reflecting on what happened"
"I've gone through a few friendship heartbreaks, though some were a lot more intense and difficult than others. Generally I deal with it the same way I would deal with any other loss, e.g. a romantic breakup, the loss of a pet, etc. I listened to sad songs a lot, talked to my friends about how I felt, spent lots of time reflecting on what happened, prayed about it, journaled about it, and tried to let my emotions flow as best I could. I also read some books and articles about friendship breakups that helped me feel less alone."