“Two people who were once very close can without blame or grand betrayal become strangers. Perhaps this is the saddest thing in the world.” – Warsan Shire
One of the worst parts about getting older, besides the inability to bounce back from a night of drinking, is the loss of a friendship.
Think of the longest relationship you’ve had. I bet it’s probably not with a boyfriend or a girlfriend but rather with a friend. The relationships you have with your friends are some of the most intense you’ll ever experience. They know your deepest, darkest secrets, your weird habits and all of your most embarrassing stories. So when you lose a friend, for whatever reason, it’s always particularly painful and, unlike a romantic relationship, finding another friend doesn’t help fill that gap in your heart that the old one left. I generally find that the hardest thing to do as a transitioning adult is to break up with a friend, toxic or non-toxic.
Losing the connection with a non-toxic friend
What I mean by non-toxic is someone who just isn’t adding any substance to your life and helping to fulfill your needs as a friend. You just come to a point where you both realize it’s not working out for either of you and you kind of phase each other out.
When you naturally just grow apart, it can be sad, but it’s not devastating.
Maybe you went to different colleges and the time zones were different, or you ended up moving to different cities after graduation. Regardless, you are both busy with your new lives and the once-a-week phone calls become once a month, which slowly turn into emails, and then they stop altogether.
There’s no hard feelings, no animosity, no bad blood — just a natural progression of time. And then one day you realize you haven’t spoken to this person since 2010. If you really wanted to, you could be besties again, but catching up after all this lost time is not really worth it and you both move on without hesitation. This is the best-case scenario.
The hard breakup with a toxic friend
When you have an uncivilized breakup, it’s usually with someone who’s been by your side for a while, someone who you think is growing with you as you grow. They’ve supported you and you’ve supported them, and while others may question your relationship, you’ve turned the other cheek.
Though, eventually, you guys have some sort of falling out. You get into a small scuffle, which is nothing major – you’ve had a million of these before, but this time they react differently – they take it too far, respond too severely, say too many hurtful things and something just clicks.
You realize how toxic the friendship has been all along.
This person who’s been your ride or die for so long is not the same person who you just grabbed mimosas with last Saturday. They never used to act like this…or did they and you just never noticed before? You wonder how you went along with this friendship for so long, how many excuses you made for them, and think, “How did I not see this before?”
It’s a devastating experience because time will pass but nothing remains the same. And while they’ll try and act like nothing’s transpired, you know deep down that the end is near.
The hard thing about this toxic separation is that unlike a non-toxic breakup where you both agree that you are done with each other, only one of you sees how poisonous the other one is. You realize that this person never was and never will be a good fit for your life and you want out. It’s a tough decision to cut ties, but trust that your life will be much better without them.