friendship breakups

at one time or another we have all been that friend, the one that is constantly asking another friend for a favor, or relying on their help, or talking their ear off about whatever personal crisis we’re going through. the friendship balance shifts during these times, and as the other friend, you know that it will eventually shift back- that this give and take is exactly what friendships are made of.  except, what happens when it doesn’t?  what do you do when you realize that things aren’t shifting, that the friendship is out of balance with no hope for change on the horizon?

or have you ever just grown apart from a friend who you thought for sure would be there with you till the end- because of distance, or different life choices, or who they fell in love with?  have you ever realized that you were in a friendship that had no common ground whatsoever, except for a shared past?

it seems inevitable in a lifetime to have friendships that don’t work out, for whatever reason.  but in my limited experience, friendship breakups can be almost as brutal as relationship breakups!  the difference is, when you break up with a friend, your other friends don’t come knocking with ice cream and comedies to distract you from your hurts… it’s kind of expected that you’ll just move on with your life, even if you’re left feeling like there’s a giant hole that friendship used to fill. 

anyway, this was random (inspired by my own life and a mtv true life episode- no shame!). i hope you all have a fantastic weekend with lots of summery fun and goodness.  see you back here next week! xx

photo by alix rose cowie

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Reader Comments

  1. Ally|

    I've so been here, more than I'd like to admit but I can never stay in a relationship, friendship or romantic, that is no longer working. It takes two and so many girlfriends forget that and stop putting in the effort in favor of their boyfriends/husbands/kids. I get life gets busy but one can always put in some effort! I recently had a lifelong friend tell me I should have called her after my recent major surgery because she was too busy to check in on my progress. I felt like I had been slapped in the face. Is this what friendship comes to? With some girls, I guess so.

    • Lynn from NC|

      Ally– What a bummer to have that layered on top of the surgery! It so hurts at the moment, but try to keep it in perspective–it’s about your friend not thinking before she spoke–not about you. I’m guilty of doing that more than I care to admit. I get emotional about something I truly care about, nervous energy takes over and something totally lame comes out of my mouth. I always feel terrible afterwards! It’s so wonderful to have an apology accepted for my offense too. Also been there-done that with having to put the husband’s selfish wants ahead of friendships and have lost many precious ones. After 40 years he walked without notice and went 2000 miles away to meet up with a HS crush he courted online for 2 years when I fell ill. Here I am–totally alone because I put him first. I am telling you this so you understand that some men put terrible pressure on their wives to “control them” and they hurt/lose good friends because of it. Perhaps what happened to you will be a deal-breaker for the friendship but I hope you two can speak about it gently later on and come to terms. If she’s truly a friend she will care enough to not want to offend you. Give yourself plenty of time to heal first. Blessings to you!

  2. liza|

    I've had two heart breaking 'friendship breakups'.
    I mourned one for almost 3 years. Seriously. Three Years.
    The other one has been just about a year now and I still feel nauseous when I think about it. Sad.
    Just like the regular old bf/gf breakups, they suck. In some ways I think it's worse since you never had to pick up their stinky undees behind the bathroom door. : )

  3. sarah yates|

    ugh liza, it's the worst! especially when you don't get closure the way you do when most lover-relationships end. i feel your pain. xx

  4. Erika ~Tiptoe Butterfly~|

    been TOTALLLLY there – it happens to everyone – you just got to end the relationship and move forward – they were in ur life for a reason, now they are leaving for a reason – it's life – it happens


  5. Sarah | Chic Sprinkles|

    I definitely appreciated this post, Sarah. I know the feeling, since I recently had a friendship slowly fizzle out due to, like you said, the realization that the friendship had no common ground whatsoever, except for a shared past. It stings a bit, and it was a tad awkward, but you just know when it's time to move on. You grow into your own adult individual and sometimes those past relationships just don't mesh the same way anymore. I like the old sayings: plenty of fish in the sea + quality over quantity + Life goes on! Cliche but so true 🙂
    Always love reading your posts, Sarah, and your wedding was truly my favorite wedding feature EVER.

    Sarah xx

  6. Krysta|

    I had a friendship break-up in college- we more or less just grew apart, went through a phase where we just weren't exactly on the same page, and didn't make any effort to remain in each others' lives. It tore me up for years. And then one day a couple years out of college, I reached out to her on facebook just to see how she was doing, apologize for any role I had in our distance and let her know that I missed her. Our friendship seemed to pick right back up where it left off and we have since been in each others' weddings and remain close to this day.

  7. Dear Life|

    I can relate. Ending friendships is hard. Especially as an adult because by this point in life you know how precious true friendships are and that they are not easy to come by. At least for me and in my experience. It stings and hurts but you grow and move on eventually.

  8. Yolie|

    I am so glad you posted this because I've been going through a friendship break-up since May. I felt like the only one experiencing this type of thing. Thanks for sharing.

  9. janna gould|

    YES! This post hits home. I think friendship "breakups" are especially hard because often things change without ever talking about it with your friend or having a proper falling out break up fight. Usually, things just shift, things go unspoken, and–before you know it–the friendship has faded away. It's weird but somehow the ambiguity makes it even harder. I never thought something could make me appreciate romantic relationship breakup drama, but it kinda does. 😉

  10. sarah yates|

    thanks everyone!

    it's true, it seems like an inevitable and painful part of life. not fun.

    @ janna, yes the drama at the end at least gives you the feeling that it meant something, that there were still feelings at least enough to fight about!

  11. Tania|

    Wow, yes I had a view of these. In the long run I realized that they were really not my friends after all. There were plenty of signs in both friendships, I just gave them way too many chances. It was only until I realized how destructive the relationships were to my well being , that I called it quits and never looked back. Now I go with my gut instinct when choosing people to be friends with. My instinct hasn't let be done yet!

  12. Linn|

    I think that friendship breakups are actually harder than relationship breakups. Why?

    Well, when breaking up from a relationship you both know that if the love isn't there anymore, you might just stop seeing each other, 'cause you only have one relationship at a time. And there's also some sort of 'recipe'. You know the phases and phrases. And – you can still be friends!

    When it comes to friendship… You can have as many friends as you want to at the same time. There are no limits. Breaking up from a friend is like telling that person that you can't stand him or her anymore. Not at all. It's like saying that you don't want to spend a single second of your life on that person. I think that's really, really painful and hard.

    I may seem like a coward, but I prefer when those friendships just fall apart. With no words at all.

  13. Cheryl|

    Actually, this is happening to me right now. A friend I thought I'd always be close to has drifted away, even with my strides to save the friendship. I don't feel like a part of her life and I'm not sure how to get back in, or if it's worth trying when she doesn't try. Thanks for sharing this. It's so true!

  14. Kelly|

    I have a friend who told me there are three types of friendships: friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for life. When I keep this in mind, it makes friendship break-ups easier because I can focus on the good things (the reason or season) and appreciate the long-term friends I do have. Also – the friends for life can withstand a couple of really good blow-out fights so don't give up on the good ones!

  15. Kate|

    I am going through a friendship break up right now, I can't believe the timing of this post. It is breaking my heart, making me second guess myself, and definitely leaving me with a big hole in my life. It's really sad and I have no one to talk me through it, so hard.

  16. sarah yates|

    thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and experiences!
    @linn- you are so right! it is worse than a relationship breakup in that way! horrible.
    @kate- hang in there! it does shake up your whole world, but like anything- time will heal. if you're able, try to focus on the other friendships you have that are good and healthy for you. and kelly's comment above was also very helpful to me! take care, you're not alone! xx

  17. Heather Marie|

    I recently "broke up" with my friend of 15 years. I was there for her 3 am phone calls and sent her flowers when a boy broke her heart, I even bought her Tiffany jewelry for graduation (to prove that you don't need a boy to buy you shiny things) but she is one of those people that is a constant complainer. The negativity got to be such a turn-off I no longer enjoyed our BFF days. I realized this is who she IS, she will not change. It was a hard decision, I thought about it for 1 1/2 years and finally put it in action a few months ago. It was the best decision for both of us, but I'm sure she disagrees.

  18. James|

    I had a gruop of friends that I hung out with religiously. And I thought we were close. But the one day my one friend accused me of stalking him because I was always where he was. It's not my fault that we work in the same area? So when he accused me of stalking him I got mad. Then I waled away.
    Then I thought about it thinking that it was a joke because they like playing pranks. So I text my one friend told him about it. He responded by telling me to fuck off and leave him alone? Then I text the friend that accused me of stalking him whats going on. His response was to leave him alone and don't bother him. That he was happy that he meet me and to say god bless. I was so dumb founded by this that I just started to cry? This is the person that said he'll be here forever? What a croch of crap! He was such a coward he didn't over text! When I run into him he would ignore me and not even look at me! That made me extremely angry!
    And now my other friends won't even talk to me or respond to mt texts?

  19. Krista Cannon|

    Thanks for sharing this and all the other stories in the comments, as well. I had a friendship break up about a year ago and I am definitely still mourning. It feels way worse than breaking up with a significant other, especially if you do have a lot of history. She was the Maid of Honor in my wedding and I still can't believe we are no longer friends. I am glad I found this and see I am not alone in feeling this way 🙂

  20. sarah yates|

    so sorry to hear that krista, what you're going through is so hard! time is a friend, that's my experience. take care!

  21. victoria|

    James. . . Yeah, it's weird. I think (now that I'm no longer in my 30's) I understand that we sometimes take people into our lives who turn out to show their deep insecurities with respect to realistically getting close to people who are not their partners/husbands/wives. Or they need a lot more space than needed for their egos, instead of sharing "personality space" with others. It's as though they need some sort of celebrity worship or something. Some folks never mature past the roles of side-kick or being center of attention. It's a controlfreak deal, more or less.

    So, when I start to notice that aspect in someone who I'm genuinely interested in getting to know better, I acknowledge their behavior (privately, to myself) and then I make sure they are doing some of the heavy lifting, as it were, in the friendship; if not then I haven't bared my soul or invested too much social time in what amounts to b.s. I've wasted enough time with fake people (it's a skill they've perfected) to not trust my gut instinct anymore.
    May you have better quality friends in your life! And stop texting those silly people – you'll be fine.

  22. karen ferguson|

    I've lost a lot of friends. I counted 7 or 8 in a span of a couple of years. I was heart-broken.
    Two friends decided to check out by their own hand. All I could do was wonder what I could have done….and realized how [appropriately] powerless I was: if one wants to commit suicide, one can. It's that simple but no less tragic.

    Thank you for posting what happens to all of us. Speaking the truth is nothing less than healing and who doesn't need help healing, sometimes?!

  23. Laurie|

    So, I basically lost all friends and ability to make new ones due to my damned drinking. After many years of drinking to blackout an average of 2 to 3 times per week (and losing many jobs, never being married or having any kids), I was able to quit 3 years ago. I’m not sure I believe in a God, but it’s a miracle that I could quit after “needing” to for so long. And I’m not “white-knuckling” it, either. I don’t do it, nor have the urge anymore. Anyway . . .

    I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to be around me back then (although, I usually liked it best when alone . . . “party for one”! . . . and no judgments, either) and most of them broke up with me by having me “take the hint” . . . by ignoring my calls, etc., which did hurt my feelings. Now that I’m not drinking, I haven’t bothered to inform any of them of this development, but I don’t wish to do so. But, I find that it’s not easy to make friends at 46 years old. Therefore, I have no friends, which I find embarrassing to admit, but, it’s a good thing I enjoy my own company, and I read voraciously, which is a good solitary activity. Of course, I do have social anxiety, but some of that is a result of “arrested development”, I do believe. All the years of drinking alone, never growing in my ability to be around people without alcohol. It seems I have a lot of work to do, if I don’t wish to remain alone. Thanks for “listening”.

  24. jennifer|

    i actually had a LOT of these UNTIL my divorce, when i had my last (so far). i was investing time in the wrong friends. its a total life-lesson chock full of growing pains. relish this time with yourself and remember what made this particular friendship toxic. you won’t ever feel that way, again <3