In the event that my life becomes a best-selling biography (highly unlikely), the thickest chapter will be devoted to the best-friend breakup that significantly rocked my life. But since I only have 1.30 minutes (our data doesn’t lie) to capture your attention, I will keep this brief. Besides, there is a definite possibility that peeling back the layers from this mostly healed wound could bring up old heartbreak that may be better left buried. Let me pause here if I sound a bit melodramatic—I’m okay, really, but emotional scars can take time to mend.
Perhaps the most ironic part of this story is that I am the one who initiated the breakup. You see, our friendship had turned toxic. So let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I was a fairly new mom in a new town, and a newlywed (lots of firsts). Our young family moved to Melbourne in hopes of finding thrilling careers, experiencing cultural diversity, and making friendships with people from all walks of life. And that’s when I met her. She was magazine-cover beautiful, with blonde tresses and clear blue eyes. But beyond the physical, she captured my attention with her animated personality, her enthusiasm, and our shared passion. We were both retail assistants in a high-end designer boutique with dreams of working in fashion someday—her as a photographer, me as a writer.
One day, after another quiet, uneventful shift, I came up with an idea for a new website that she loved. We jumped into it full speed, with nary a business plan or a contract in sight. In our case, the old adage “friends and business don’t mix” rang true. (Except the alarm bells didn’t ring until it was too late.) She pushed for us to turn our website into a company and make it official. She was seven years my junior and willing to take financial risks; I was a mom with a child to feed. To this day, I don’t know if she ever understood my hesitations.
She felt betrayed, and I felt trapped. Things got messy until eventually, I had to say, “I think we need to take a break.”
There is something binding about female friendships. They are deep, intimate, cherished connections, and incredibly important. Breaking up with her was probably one of the most devastating moments of my life, but I got through it. It took months (and a few steps), but I’m ready to share it all with you. Here it goes.
For anyone reading this who has been through a similar friendship breakup, you’ll know that at the time of the split, your mind is clouded with emotional baggage that can weigh you down. It’s a roller coaster, from anger to bitterness, fear, and sadness. There is definitely a grieving process, and you need to give yourself that time to heal, but when the irrational fog has shifted, take a moment to review the situation without all the feels.
When my friend and I parted ways, it was my husband who made me realize the positives. I’ve come to understand that friends rarely last forever. We meet people at different times in our lives for various reasons: They can help nourish your soul, expand your personality, enhance your understanding of the world, and, in my case, introduce you to new creative interests. I gained so much from this friendship and have grown into a stronger and more determined person because of it—despite it ending.
WRITE A LIST OF THE PROS AND CONS
If that doesn’t work, start quantifying the cons. It might sound negative, but really it’s to help remind you why this was the right choice. Think about what she failed to do, why she became toxic, and any other realizations that caused the end. Place the pros and cons side by side, and evaluate which side is heavier. You might find that they balance each other out, but more often than not, the reason you’ve broken up is because the cons far outweigh the pros.
UNDERSTAND WHY YOU BROKE UP
If the pros-and-cons list didn’t give you the clarity you need, then you have to dig deeper. I know now that while breaking up with my best friend was tough, making that decision helped me regain my power—something I felt I had lost during our friendship. She was very assertive, in control, and authoritative, someone who loved to give directives but wasn’t always willing to listen. And I didn’t speak up enough. I’ve since taught myself to develop a thicker skin, become more confident, and be more assertive.
I realized that we had to break up because I needed to develop these traits.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO HEAL AND REFLECT
It took me months to get over our breakup. I was devastated. I know I made the decision to end it, but my soul ached, and the hole that was left felt deep, dark, and lonely. We did everything together (we even went platinum blond at the same time) and shared intimate details of our lives, both past and present. She was the first friend I made in that new city, and I’d never met anyone like her. Filling that void takes time, so you owe it to yourself to take it. There is no time limit.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
If there is one major positive from all of this melancholy, it’s the considerable personal benefits I gained from this experience. I know I deserve better, and quite frankly, I’m proud of myself for taking a stand and cutting negative people out of my life; it’s not easy. If you need some assistance getting to that brave place, try turning to self-help books or family and friendly colleagues who can lend an ear.
SEE THE SILVER LINING AND MOVE ON
Now the hardest but most important final step is getting back out there and meeting new people. Just think about how much you’ve grown from this experience and the amazing people you’ll attract into your life because of it. Life is full of ups and downs, but it’s how we handle those lows that really defines us and determines the path we take next. So hold your head up high, and honor yourself with new friendships that will carry you into the next stage of your wonderful existence. It’s an amazing world out there, so trust the process and be open to sharing it with someone new.
Need a little guidance through your first best friend break up too? Get the help you need with our friendship book selection below.
Up Next: An Expert Explains the Psychology Behind Toxic Friendships.
This post was originally published on April 7, 2016, and has since been updated.