friendship

'I broke up with my best friend after six years. It hurt more than a romantic breakup.'

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I recently ended a six-year relationship with someone I thought would grow old alongside. 

Contrary to the narrative so often portrayed by blockbuster rom coms, there was no girls' trip to save me from going full Bridget Jones in my living room. 

There was no emergency breakup kit delivered to my door from well-meaning friends, packed to the brim with novelty cookies and tissues. And there were no courtesy check ins to make sure that I was doing okay.

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It was for this reason that I felt my grief had been undue and so I hit cruise control on feeling the feels. 

I didn’t listen to sad music, instead fighting off the primal urge to play Adele’s albums on loop. I didn’t binge eat ice cream, a staple intrinsic to the stages of grief. And I didn’t call in sick to work simply because I just couldn’t peel the tracksuit off that had become my second skin. 

There was no sympathy given to me, because this breakup was not a romantic one. The relationship that I had ended was not with my prospective husband, but with the maid of honour.

I’d broken up with my best friend, and yet the loss was just as palpable.

I found myself morphing into the stereotypical crazy ex-girlfriend shortly after the breakup, the symptoms of which are absolutely not exclusive to romantic relationships. I’d obsessively check her social media accounts, quietly cut up to see that she wasn’t too sad to pass up a wine at a restaurant with another friend.

I’d subtly weave her name into conversation with mutual friends, trying to squeeze any information out of them that I could while also acting blasé about their answers. I was being a certified drainer, but I couldn’t stop.

I hadn’t myself been surprised by the emotional ramifications of the breakup. 

We had travelled the world together – she’d seen me at my Bali belly and had even booked a flight to hold my hand as I made the move to New York City. 

She had been there for the many peaks and pits of my mental health struggles, and I hers. We’d even bought a kitten together that went back and forth between our homes like a child of divorce. 

What I had been surprised by was the lack of validation I received. 

To take a leaf from Carrie Bradshaw’s pondering - I couldn’t help but wonder, why is it that we are so quick to dismiss the intimacy of platonic relationships? Why are our sympathies reserved only for the loss of romantic relationships?

There are various studies out there on the importance of having close female friendships. 

They’ve been found to add years to your life, boost serotonin levels, help you recover from trauma, give you a leg up in your career, and even protect you from a myriad of illnesses.  

Despite these friendships being some of the most enriching and long-standing relationships you will have in your life, they have not been awarded the same importance as that of romantic counterparts. 

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In a lot of ways, I can attest that the breakup of my best friend and I was a greater loss than that of any romantic relationship I’ve had. 

And yet, sat around the table at Christmas time I can assure you no nosy family member will ask about the demise of the friendship, or offer their condolences. 

They won’t encourage me to get back out there and find myself a new best friend; that talk will be reserved for my cousin and the end of her three-month fling with her personal trainer. 

Leading up to the grand finale of our relationship (an email spewing out two years of pent-up frustrations in one messy word document), there had been signs that our relationship had veered off course. 

She had become unbearably possessive and whenever her name lit up my phone, I became nauseous. 

I felt like I was being emotionally manipulated and used and when I had expressed this to my friends, I was met with nonchalant sighs and shrugs. In a similar situation with a guy I’d been hung up on, these same friends had done everything short of creating a PowerPoint presentation on why I needed to ditch him. 

I knew I was in a toxic relationship, but I couldn’t work out how to leave it. It had been rooted in me that friendships weren’t things to be broken up with, and if I wasn’t breaking up with her, how could I call it quits? 

I would come to learn an important lesson from The Real Housewives of New York (where all important lessons should be learnt) and that is that you can break up with your friends. 

More so, you can and should grieve those relationships. Jill Zarin and Bethenny Frankel paved the way for us to understand that there is real heartbreak in ending a friendship and it should be treated as such. 

It’s time that we acknowledge that friendship breakups are still breakups, and that when it comes to losing friends your feelings are valid. 

So, to those of you going through your own friendship breakups right now, I implore you to let yourself be sad. 

Reach for the ice cream. Reach out to your friends about how you’re feeling. It may be weeks, or months, but one day you’ll wake up and be tired of Adele’s album. 

Cue Lizzo, because you’re 100 per cent that bitch who survived the infamous friendship breakup. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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