I have always formed very close friendships with people. Maybe because I am an only child, I crave a deep connection which could resemble that of a sibling. When I started school, the teachers couldn’t believe how inseparable two four year olds could be within a matter of days.
And that’s the way I’ve always been. The majority of my friendships (and relationships) become very important, very quickly. If I feel a spark with someone, I tend to go with it and solidify my relationship with ‘best friend status’. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are built to last.
They say that if you are friends with someone for seven years, you will be friends for life. While it may be more likely that a long relationship will continue over a shorter one, people still grow apart, make mistakes or move on.
When a romantic relationship breaks down it can be heartbreaking. The intensity of the relationship makes it feel shocking when it ends as you deal with the sudden feeling of loss. Close friendships can similarly break down, minus the drama of changing your relationship status on Facebook and awkwardly asking for you favourite jumper back which you left at their house.
But just like that it can all be over.
Sometimes friendships fizzle out. Whether that’s from a build up of issues or simply growing apart. The people you went to college/uni/school often drift away perhaps because you didn’t have a lot in common in the first place, apart from your shared education. That’s not to say your friends need to have the same interests as you, but it’s harder to meet up with someone who is at a different stage of their life. Two people who were in the same English class in Year 10 could have very different paths aged 25. One could be travelling in South East Asia and the other could have a 3 month old baby and a mortgage. The previous foundations of your friendship may no longer exist.
One of the saddest ways a friendship can end is abruptly. You might feel that you are drifting apart, but you still meet up in a group regularly and assume that you will get through it. And then one day you just stop contacting one another. And no one said anything bad and nothing particularly happened.
There is almost no reason for closure like there is when a romantic relationship ends. You don’t need to end this friendship to have another one, as you already have multiple fully functioning friendships in existence. Yet is still feels like a break-up when you see them in a bar or at a train station and feel super awkward and a little sad.
Most of those friendship break-ups are fairly mutual. But there are some you have to cut off yourself. And it is horrible. Even if you know it is the right thing for both parties involved, you are nevertheless hurting someone you love. And that is never easy.
I have cut people out of my life before without much trouble, but they are people I probably didn’t really care that much about in the first place. But when I get that spark I mentioned earlier, you are more than just a friend to me; you are family. Without sounding like a six year old in the playground, the only friends I have now are my best friends. And to have to end something which meant so much isn’t easy no matter what they have done. It’s like any bad relationship. You know that ultimately you are no good together or that they have done you wrong, but you can’t just turn off your feelings like that, it’s just not how hearts work. Which is probably why people go back to bad relationships. It’s often harder to cut them out of your life then continue on with them, no matter how unhealthy they may be.
And like any break-up, the process is a rollercoaster. Just when you think it has ended on amicable terms, more things are dragged up. Drunken messages are sent. People are unfollowed on social media. It’s rough. But we need to give ourselves time to be sad and hurt, but also heal and move on in the same way we would after the end of a romantic relationship.
Today, I can honestly count my best friends on one hand. Some are old, some are new and one has been slowly formed over time. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my old friends. I still think fondly of our memories. But you’re not friends anymore for a reason. And ultimately, you have to put yourself first.