The pain of a friendship break up.

Best friend or foe
Frenemy - friend or foe

“I am not crying because of you; you are not worth it.  I am crying because my delusion of who you were was shattered by the truth of who you really are.”

Dr Steve Maraboli

You were in your twenties when you met your socially awkward best friend at a party.  You both reached for the same drink and laughed about it.  Later that evening, you connected in a way no one had connected to you.  You, finally, found your male version, someone who suffered sad loneliness and at the same time enjoyed solitude: you were mirror images of each other. You both had inward hatred for mediocrity and most people’s tales of misery left you homicidal.  You laughed when people cried, you cried when people laughed, and no one understood you; until he came along and validated you.

Over the next few years, you became inseparable.  You could talk for hours.  You found joy in the simple things.  The relationship was supercharged with constant companionship, love, and unwavering loyalty.  To your sceptical friends, “this was bound to end in disaster”, but you both had things under control.  You had smart and realistic ground rules.  Nothing could go wrong.  You’d be best friends forever. 

Until the love of his life came into the picture.

There’s a quiet desperation when you are dumped by someone who was not your lover.  It almost feels like losing a limb.  When you fall in love with a person for romantic reasons, you are conditioned by evolution to proceed with prudence, but with platonic relationships, there is a certain seductiveness that makes you believe it will last forever, until it doesn’t, and you are not mentally prepared.

They got engaged and the love of his life wanted you out of the picture.  Surprisingly, he agreed.  She said you were a bad influence and a distraction, and she didn’t need a third wheel in her relationship.  Your messages went unanswered.  Your calls were directed to voice mail.  You didn’t dare knock on his door in case you unleashed demons you didn’t want to meet.  Your friendship was merely a time killer for him until the love of his life came along.  It wasn’t like you never had a boyfriend, you did and kept them respectively apart.  Maybe there was a reason for that.

The most surprising thing in all this was that he agreed and didn’t fight for you.  All the promises he made were empty words.  It looks like science is right after all … falling in love will cost you 2 friends.  I wonder who else was cut off his life?

Then one day he called early in the morning.  You prayed the relationship had ended.  It hadn’t.  He had called on her orders.  To sever the last cord.  To turn the knife.  “You don’t need to worry about me anymore!” he said in a voice as cold as ice.  No, good morning or how are you.. nothing like that. It was unsettling and confirmation that your friendship meant nothing.  There was also some devious arrogance in his voice – it was like he had tickets to heaven.

You sat there contemplating how best to delete him.  You know you could delete his phone number from your phone.  You could delete his pictures from all your gadgets.  You could unfollow him on every social media platform on earth.  You could unfriend him on Facebook.  But how do you delete him from your memory?  How do you erase his image from your mind?  How do you forget all the promises that keep replaying in your mind?  Your best bet was to take long walks and howl into the wind.

When a romantic relationship ends, some things stop e.g. having sex, seeing each other naked and/or living together: there is a natural ending to things.  There is a natural unwritten protocol for when the romance ends, painful, but with a stop to things.  But when a platonic relationship ends, when there was no quarrel or disagreement, the dumped party feels cheated: and you felt like this for days.  You demanded an answer because his ‘meeting the life of my life, and falling in love,’ was not good enough.  Your Whatsapp messages never passed the one-grey-tick stage, which meant you’d been blocked. 

You lamented to your less important friends about how things turned out:  some were kind and said kind things like ‘I’m sorry but please let it go and move on’: others were mean and cruel and fired questions at you, ‘what did you expect,’ or ‘did you sleep with him?’.  The ones who asked the latter believed you had slept with him because that was the only reasonable explanation as to why you were hurting like you were.  You were not sleeping with him, neither of you was attracted to the other in that way.  But for you, the pain was worse than a lover dumping you.  Because if your lover fell out of love with you and met someone else, it makes sense to keep the hell away, but does a friendship have to end because someone met their soulmate?

You read some amazing articles and quotes about death of relationships – some relationships are not meant to last a lifetime; – everything happens for a reason; – mourn the death of a relationship to mark an end etc etc.  Your worst days were on your birthdays and a common friend’s death anniversary.  This year after being silent for a long time and because you couldn’t get him out of your mind just yet, you texted to wish him well and to stay safe in this COVID times.  You received a simple but painful reply, ‘thanks’. 

Now you are done.  

The ambiguous grief will lift.  The new reality of life without the only person outside your DNA that you wholeheartedly loved.

For you, the worst part was that unlike family, you chose to love him.  You chose him because he fulfilled something in you that no family could fill.  Maybe that’s why this relationship end appears more catastrophic than all the ones you’ve lost over the years.


Food for thought: I wonder what feminists would think of this situation where some women won’t trust other women to have meaningful platonic relationships with their men?


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Photo credit: Caique Silva –


  1. Great subject to look into. I guess it’s human nature to Be jealous of your man’s best friend if it’s a woman. But I think insecurity comes if the person themselves can not trust themselves to be friends with a man friend too.
    Also how would ‘his’ friend relate to me leaves gaps to be filled.

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