Monday Notes: 3 Lessons from a BFF Breakup

I usually can’t write about something, unless I’m completely over it. That’s why I have about 6,000 notes related to breaking up with my bff and no posts about it. Ever since June, I’d try to begin my thoughts. Each time, I produced nothing.

But this time, I’m doing it.

We were friends for a decade and a half. Fifteen years is a long time. We’d friended our way through childbirth, divorce and international relocations. If you’ve been friends with someone for this long, then you know the laughs, tears, secrets, and experiences that can accumulate. There are too many to count.

That’s why breaking up was difficult. I felt its dissipation at least three years ago, but I thought it would pass. I figured if I gently expressed my new journey to her then, she would understand and join me. That’s not reality. Everyone cannot walk beside you on your path. Everyone is not supposed to.

And you know what? I’ve learned that it’s okay if they don’t. Equally important, I’ve become a little more conscious about who I am in friendships and what I want in those relationships:

I want to be the person’s friend, not her therapist. Friends listen to one another during their times of need. I get it. However, if all our phone calls include me listening to you and your problems, then that’s not a friendship. That’s a therapy session. Asking me to be your part-time counselor is not fair to me or you. Also, I’ve discovered that my tolerance level is low when it comes to this. Some people find this cold and unfeeling, but it’s quite the opposite. I empathize deeply. I take whatever you’ve revealed to me and literally feel your emotion. When it’s traumatic, it weighs heavy. Until I learn to let go of others’ issues, I need my friends to seek therapy, instead.

I want my friends to grow. Is this fair to say? You all know I’m always seeking growth, physically, spiritually, academically, whatever. If you’ve known me for any length of time, then I’m probably not the same person you first met. I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m saying I want a friend who is a mirror image of me. I don’t. But if we’re friends, then I want to know that you care about your own well-being and that maybe, you and I will help one another get there. Here’s the tricky part. Growth begins with self-reflection. And self-reflection requires looking in the mirror and being honest with oneself. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t make someone self-reflect.

I want my friends to be non-judgmental. For real. I’ve been singing the non-judgment song for about four years. Now, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I still screenshot the occasional text to a mutual friend and wonder “what in the world is wrong with her?” But not always good people. Other people’s business is not often the topic of my own conversations. That’s because I’m too busy doing #2 ^^^ self-reflecting and growing. If the purpose of you reaching out to me is to discuss when someone else is going to get her life together, then you and I probably don’t need to connect that often.

Over the years, I’ve gained and lost quite a few girlfriends. The main reason is because I’d never thought twice about who the person was when we met. It was more like, you like eating out and partying? Me too. Let’s get together and do that, and then we became friends. The end of those friendships forced me to process how or why we became close. I’ve determined the answer is usually rooted in the energy surrounding me at the time. But I’ll save that discussion for another day.

For now, I’m wondering, have you ever broken up with a friend? Did it bother you? Have you thought about what you want in a friendship? Do you have long-lasting friendships? If so, how’d that happen?



160 thoughts on “Monday Notes: 3 Lessons from a BFF Breakup

  1. Wow! This is such a true piece. I always entered friendships the same way. It easy to connect with people who have common surface level interests that are in close proximity and default into “friend” status and that is the reason these friendships tend to end. I’ve realized that this was the case for all of my friendships basically, while I did have some friendships that lasted years..they still ended and say to say I didn’t even fight for them or lose sleep. Smh
    …and I people who treat me as a therapist and those who only call to gossip. I hear you though, I received this message…and it’s time to put it all to an end! Going forward I will enter every and all relationships with intention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Those surface-level friendships always find their way out, somehow.

      Living with intention is one of the best things I’ve ever discovered. It ultimately leads to you making wiser decisions aligned with who you are, and then taking responsibility for the direction of your life, including with whom you choose to associate 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of the most powerful posts I’ve read. I had to break up with a friend of nearly 20 years. We were together through all the milestones of life- she watched my children grow up, graduate high school etc. I was hit hard one day with the reality of just how toxic she was for me and I knew in my bones when we parted that I would never see her again. It’s been almost 3 years. I’ve never been divorced, yet it felt like one. It’s still painful, but it was the right thing to do. So grateful my husband and adult children supported me during the time and opened my eyes to the reality of the situation. I’ve grown so much through this and learned many lessons. Thank you so much for your heartfelt post. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, that sure requires one to sit and reflect.
    I met a girl when i changed school when i was 10. We became best friends. when i was 13, i moved to another country and we lost contact, save for the occasional letters. Then when i was 23, i went back. We bonded as if there had neverbeen a 10 year gap in our friendship. And now, at 35, we’re still good friends, even though there’s an ocean between us again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some friendships are just like that. I have a few friends I’ve known since 1st grade and 7th grade, and we rarely talk, but when we get together, it’s like we’re 6 and 13 again. Relationships are really interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am lucky one as I’ve got a few amazing friends. However, I had to cut off through the years some of my friends from my life. Sometimes it is a necessity. Very good post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kathy, your insight into yourself and the meaning of real friendships have helped you make a tough decision. It’s as if I can hear your relief at your final decision … and you’re right, it isn’t easy but neither was it working for you before. There has to be honesty on both sides – something I’ve only learnt recently. Quite a few times I have been very hurt by friends; nowadays I am more ‘selective’, careful. Someone wrote about a ‘Friend – Ship’ boat, where friends step in and out of our lives – that seems to be exactly how many of us experience friends in our life. A very apt description. As our lives change the circumstances that brought many of us together changes accordingly and at such pivotal moments the depth and reality of the friendship is revealed. A thought-provoking post on a topic that touches us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Annika, I thought I’d responded to this, so apologies for the delay! I can relate completely to a friendship boat! Oftentimes, I’ve thought about it like a train. Some people get on and hang out, and then they implicitly see that you’re gonna keep going, but they’re ready to get off the train at the next stop…and then more people get on and keep you company during that part of the journey. Some people got on at the beginning and will continue until the end. Yes. Friendship/relationship boat or train…that’s what we’re doing here.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I do not accept abusive verbal judgement, even if someone thinks it’s for “my own good”. One lady just had to tell me what she thought of how I chose to get help for my chronic depression. She told me what she thought, and what I OUGHT to be doing and HOW I should be spending my money. It wasn’t the first time and I decided it would be the last time. I do not want my positivity interrupted.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is so good. Yes, I have lost friendships and I’m often reminded that people are in our lives for a reason, season or lifetime. The first time it happened totally caught me off guard because we’d been friends about 13 years. But, I expected that things will end with people. Not every one is expected to go to the end of the road with me. It hurt like hell but I can’t make people stay and I can’t make people grow.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I think most of us have broken up with friends at one time or another. People change and so what was once a good friendship fit becomes too difficult, or as you say, one person becomes to demanding and staying in that friendship is just draining. What I have discovered, though, is that sometimes when a friendship stops working, it helps to just distance myself a little bit rather than breaking off the relationship altogether. Because sometimes that friend and I “cycle back” into a close relationship.
    For instance, I had a good friend from childhood I stayed close to, but then we each had a child of our own. And my friend was VERY competitive about our kids, which struck me as very unhealthy for all of us, so after struggling with this issue for a while, I just backed off. Now our kids are grown and hers doesn’t live in the same town, and I find that this friend and I are able to be close again.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is sooooooo good Dr. G! Thank you for being so open. Your lessons help heal an issue that we all have to deal with. And you, my friend and mentor, dealt with it with respect and empowerment. Thank you again. Your lessons lead the way for all of us. Dr. D 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m in a process of breaking up with my 6-year-long bbf. It’s just frustrating. Because I feel guilty or manipulated into feeling guilty about it – like abandoning her in need, bringing her unnecessary suffering, proving the point that life/people sucks. I don’t even really want to have “a break up” – we could just drift apart and/or find a new framework for our relationship, because there are still some positive things between us. Overdramatic burning bridges that let her see herself as a victim was yet another trait that pissed me off in her and I so don’t want to repeat this scenario .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hear you. These things can be energy draining. I prefer to drift apart too, but sometimes people don’t get the hint that space or time away is needed. Seeing oneself as a victim is a HUGE pet peeve of mine.

      Also, I think we’re raised to believe that we have to be a part of someone’s trauma/drama or lifetime sadness; otherwise, we’re some type of bad person, and this is just not true.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, your post has struck a nerve with so many people. Friendship break ups get so little attention compared to romantic splits, yet can be as painful. I was once ‘dumped ‘ at a time I recognize I was too persistently needy – years ago, and I learnt something, but still hard to admit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know right? lol I thought I was the only person going through this. You’re right. We never talk about the totality of relationships and how to handle them. Years ago, I stopped seeing a difference between romantic relationships and platonic ones. In my mind, they’re all RELATIONSHIPS and many times need to be formed, resolved, or dissolved in similar manners.

      It’s good you can see that was the case now. There are so many people who never look in the mirror and wonder how they could’ve been part of the issue.


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