Romantic breakups aren't the only kind that sting.
Earlier this month, after writer and editor Natalie Kon-yu shared her experience severing ties with a best friend in a piece for the Guardian, we started wondering if the best friend breakup was a common occurrence.
We asked our readers to weigh in and we received stories from women all over the country, from age 22 to 57. The only common theme? No matter how invested you are in a relationship, things sometimes don't work out. Here are five heartbreaking tales of female friendships that didn't make it.
"I understand that the closeness she shared with me was a disguise for survival"
My best friend Andy and I were inseparable in high school. We finished each other’s sentences, wore each other’s clothes, shared a diary, and at one point, lived together. Our intense chemistry was comparable to a romantic relationship, but more powerful because of its plutonic nature.
When Andy was young, her father had committed suicide. Her mother was barely competent and Andy had to parent herself at a young age. She was dangerously close to being outright narcissistic, but I chalked it up to her overcompensating for lost attention and love.
When she met her first boyfriend, I knew our friendship was ending. Eerily, she began to cut and dye her hair to resemble him and wore his clothes. She was becoming him, sharing and losing identity in him, and simultaneously, displaying her recovery of male attention in full force. It was insurance preventing another important man from leaving her.
Her transformation signaled to me that our friendship was also mimicry. Looking back, I understand that the closeness she shared with me was a disguise for survival. She did everything in her power to attract me as a best friend. I was a substitute for the solid foundation she lacked and craved. We played out the parent-teen rebellion, since she couldn’t with her mother. I wish I had had the maturity in high school to step back from the situation, to let go in healthy doses, and to realize that she wasn’t abandoning me. She couldn’t help herself. The relationships she fabricated in high school were mad attempts at family creation. Today she’s living far away with her boyfriend. I hope she’s happy and that the distance removes her enough from anything familiar, giving her the opportunity to start from scratch and to give up the mime.
-- age 22, Los Angeles
"It hurt more to lose her friendship than it did to lose my marriage"
I can relate to the pain of losing a girlfriend. As a child, my friends and I would drift apart. But often that was a result of family moves or institutionally-motivated separations into different classes or schools. We were too little to control these situations and too young to let our sorrow linger. Soon new friends were on the horizon, and those friends from the past became pleasant memories.
But a number of years ago I began to socialize with a woman I met at work. We both were starting careers at the same university. We usually met each other after work to run together in the neighborhood park. And we shared our frustrations about our work, our goals and our hopes as we ran. She introduced me to ice hockey games; I invited her to concerts. We attended conferences together and shared hotel rooms to cut down on costs. Occasionally our travels took us overseas. We were best friends and we were also supportive colleagues. A few years ahead of her in the system, I stood up for her on a number of occasions -- trying to help smooth processes and expectations so that her advancement would be easier than had mine. I was outspoken in my concern for her, and it wasn't always without risk. But it seemed the right thing to do.
And then... she stopped meeting me after work for our usual runs. We stopped attending conferences together. I tried to talk to her about the way things were changing between us, but she was not responsive. She brushed my concerns aside by telling me she was just getting very busy. And she was also working on a new relationship. At the same time, my marriage was collapsing.
I remember one day -- after she had snubbed me -- walking to my car and realizing that it hurt more to lose her friendship than it did to lose my marriage. In many ways there's something more intimate about a friendship with a woman. I trusted her implicitly. And when she just faded away, I felt horribly betrayed. It really hurt.
She left my university and took a job elsewhere. Occasionally we see each other at conferences. And we are politely professional.
I have other wonderful female friends -- some I have maintained relationships with since high school, others I've made more recently. I am lucky to have such good friendships. But occasionally I still feel a twinge of hurt.
-- age 57, Missouri
"I'm not entirely sure who or what went wrong"
Rosie and I had been best friends since freshman year of high school. We carpooled and had virtually every class together. We were absolute opposites. She the quiet introvert and I the opinionated free spirit. I think "opposites attract" was definitely true here. When we were young, my boisterous nature helped protect Rosie through some pretty tough times. We stayed friends through some pretty dark stuff.
When Rosie met her husband she settled down young and very quickly. I, on the other hand, lived life to the fullest. Travelling, moving, jumping jobs, you name it I probably did it. And I was terrible with money. I think she thought she had to mother me through those years. I remember one time she showed up with a bag of groceries because she was worried I wouldn't eat. In return, I listened and supported her through the first years of marriage, navigating living with a boy, in-laws, her new, settled life.
Finally I started to settle down with the birth of my son. Not long after, I moved about three hours away. When my second son was born, Rosie told me she was three months along with her own baby. I couldn't have been more thrilled. However, living so far away and now with a toddler and an infant, my life had changed drastically and I couldn't be the support I wanted or I think she hoped I could be.
The end came because of her baby shower. I mixed up dates. Even then I didn't go on the day I thought because I had a family thing come up. But still, I missed it. I called that Monday to apologize.
After talking to her and thinking everything was OK, I got a text saying "I saw your Facebook post on Sunday. You lied. Don't call me. I'll call you when I'm ready." I had posted that I was spending time with my kids. I never got the chance to explain. She wouldn't answer calls or texts and eventually I respected her wishes not for me to contact her. We haven't spoken in three years. She emailed me about a year ago telling me she saw my family on Facebook and they were lovely, but I didn't respond. I couldn't. I'm not entirely sure who or what went wrong, but I was so broken by her flat out cutting me off and walking away that I could not even muster a "thank you."
-- age 31, Cincinnati
"I truly am thankful to her for ending the friendship"
My best friend of 10 years “broke up” with me in a text. I knew something was wrong for months, but I kept convincing myself it was selfish to take her often irritated and snappy treatment of me personally when she was dealing with some serious troubles. Turns out she felt I was one of the things “draining” and “exhausting” her. Her two texts to me said she thought I was a “good friend,” a “loving person,” and that I “didn't do anything bad,” but that she couldn't stop focusing on my "negatives" and that she wasn't her best self around me, because I “irritated her” and made her “loose her cool.” She said she knew she wasn't being a good friend and was hurting my feelings, but "there is nothing to fix, you are you," she said.
I know in my heart that I gave at least as much as I took from the friendship and I was not a toxic friend by any definition of the term. I feel ashamed, like the girl who is overly understanding, giving, loving and loyal to a mean, self-centered guy who eventually dumps her because she is “too needy”. Along with the “I was a doormat” shame is also the embarrassment that other people who find out will think there is something wrong with me or that I must have done something to deserve this treatment. To add to all this is the burden of not being able to share how I’m feeling with most of my friends, or to completely cut ties, because I still have to work with her, and I don’t want our many mutual friends to feel uncomfortably stuck in the middle.
I’ll never agree with the mean and immature way she chose to do it, but I truly am thankful to her for ending the friendship. If being around me at the happiest, most confident, most successful and fulfilled point in my life so far is irritating for her, then her final true act of kindness was letting me go.
-- age 28, Los Angeles
"I never got a reason or closure"
Approximately two years ago a friend that I had for about 15+ years decided to no longer be friends with me. I wouldn't say she was my best friend, but we had definitely been there for one another's major life events (good and bad).
She went through a horrible storm in her hometown so I suggested she move to the city I was in because the college transfer process would be seamless. I helped find and secure an apartment for her, set up work contacts, introduced her to my friends and generally set her up in my network that I had established in this city.
The way the end of the relationship happened was that she wrote me a letter stating that I had my friends and she had her friends, and they were to no longer mix. At the time I was confused as to why she was asking this, but acquiesced because I didn't think it was that serious and I didn't want any confrontation. A month later I decided that I was not OK with her friend-separation request and asked to meet for dinner. I was open and honest with why I thought the division of friends was an odd request, and was not pleased with being put in that position. She then told me she could no longer be my friend. I asked why and she said she couldn't give me a reason. I think I was in shock at the time and didn't fully realize the change that would be occurring. During the months that followed, I no longer talked to her on the phone or texted or saw her in person. She requested that if she were invited to an event that I not be invited as well. This was especially hard since some of the people she would spend time with were people I had introduced her to.
I am still rather angry, sad, confused and annoyed with the whole situation, but am trying to surround myself with people that are supportive and positive. I never got a reason or closure and I still have no idea what I would say if I were to be in the same room with her.
-- age 34, the Midwest