Relationships are messy and break-ups are even messier. I think we can all agree on that.
I also believe that the only thing that can make the situation even more chaotic is when the break-up isn't centered around your boyfriend but, instead, your best friend. What started out looking like a little clutter, has now become a full blown disaster site.
I started writing this post because a dear friend of mine, who just turned the ripe old age of twenty-two, requested some thought on the situation. She walked into work looking frazzled and when I asked her what was wrong, she looked at me with her pretty tear-filled eyes and said,"I broke-up with my best friend today." Oh lands, here we go.
My first thought was Oh thank God I'm not twenty-two anymore, and my second was Man, that sucks. After all, we have all been there. Sometimes you and your BFF just don't see things the same through your (typically matching) rose-colored glasses. Fighting with your best friend is about as fun as getting a tooth pulled on your birthday. No one wants to do it but it is eventually going to happen.
"So? What do I do? Can you write about this on your blog or something?" This was the last thing she asked me before we had to return to slinging dinner plates & taking reservations. We never really got to talk about it but my friend's drama stayed on my mind.
I lied awake in bed that night and tried to put myself in her 22-year-old shoes. Just as I slipped those sparkly borrowed suckers on, something struck me--they fit! These shoes weren't unfamiliar at all. In fact, I had a dusty old pair of my own packed away in a closet somewhere. They were sure to be sitting right next to my high school yearbooks and old boxes of pictures. Coincidentally, both of these items were filled with faintly familiar faces I thought I'd never not always see and life-long promises that were never intended to be broken. What happened?
I had been in a very similar situation when I was around this friend's age. I thought to myself, hasn't everybody? I started thinking about all of the women (and young girls) that I know and, yes, it was true. Almost every one of them encountered a threatening BFFB (best friend forever break-up) in their early to mid twenties. So, what the hell happens in this age group that rattles so many friendships?
I have a few ideas on why this happens. Below are a few thoughts and different approaches I'd currently take in this situation. I'd also like to share what I did or wish I had done to survive and cope with the nasty realization that you are being dumped, or have to dump, your BFF.
IS IT ABOUT A BOY? So your bestie hates your boyfriend. Chicks before dicks, bros before hos. We've all heard it. But, truth is, a powerful sexual and emotional feeling for someone will win 9 times out of 10. It's unfortunate, yes, but it happens all the time. It is your job as part of the friendship to decide if the guy is worth putting your friendship on the line. Could you see yourself having a real future with this man? Is building a connection with him worth putting your current friend one on hold? Sometimes the answer is yes... and that's OK!
A true friend should want you to be happy and in a fulfilling relationship. If you feel in your heart that they do not have any good reasons, or just jealous motives, for disliking your man then you might want to reconsider the friendship. On the other hand, if they really believe they have a good reason to dislike your beau then hear them out. They might be right! If you still disagree with them then explain that you do appreciate their concern but it's ultimately your decision and you hope for their support in it. Find a balance or find the nearest exit. It's that simple.
IS IT YOUR FAULT? Before you stomp your feet and point your finger at your friend, I'd like you to really think about this. What happened that got you both to this point? Is it possible that you may have said/done a few things that could have hurt or frustrated your friend right before all of this happened? I think that one of the biggest (and most self-harmful) things young girls do is hold it all in. I don't mean that they don't voice their dramas or stresses in life because they really do. A lot. What they don't do is speak up when it really matters which leads to venting about it at the wrong times and, the worst part, to the wrong people.
For whatever reason, early twenty-somethings are terrified of hurting their friend's feelings and unplanned confrontations. What they don't realize is that that unplanned confrontation is what is almost sure to protect what is more important than a moment or two of pouting: The friendship. For instance, say your friend says something that ends up hurting your feelings. Here is a really lame example but it should suffice. Let's say you're shopping for make-up and you suggest she buys the same grey eyeshadow that you love (I warned you it was going to be lame) to which she responds,"Ew. No." and continues shopping.
You're kinda pissed, right? You immediately take the side of your precious charcoal shadow and take the comment as a personal hit. You can't believe she called you 'Ew'. Then you begin reading too much into it and decide that what she totally meant to say was that you're eyeshadow is ugly and I don't want to look ugly like you. Please stop yourself from doing this. Here are the two ways you handle this:
1. If it is just the two of you then say something as soon as it happens. Tell her you love that color and she knows it's your favorite so don't be mean to it. This gives her a chance to quickly clear the situation up. She will most likely respond by saying that she meant it wasn't right for her but great for you. The color doesn't look good with her blue eyes but it really compliments your brown. Voila! Crisis averted and you get a compliment out of it too!
2. If you are with other friends then you may want to wait till you are alone to bring it up. Some girls can tend to be bigger assholes than they intend to be when they are around other girls. We get catty. It's not a quality to be proud of but it's the truth. When it's just the two of you, casually mention that you know it is really lame BUT when she said that you kind of took it personally. This makes the situation lighter and makes it easier to laugh off and put behind you where it belongs.
The reason it's important to deal with the small dumb stuff and not hold it in, is because it is several small things that eventually become the one big thing.
Obviously it is not always going to be about something as frivolous as make-up and you should try not to be overly sensitive either. Just trust your gut, it will be your best guide for choosing your battles wisely. If these small things are dealt with when they occur, it better ensures that when a more relevant argument comes up you are not digging up old little things to throw her way. Insisting that she called you an ugly smokey-eyed wearing ho-bag three months ago at the mall is not going to solve anything.
SO YOU REALLY DON'T THINK IT'S YOUR FAULT. Okay, let's say it isn't your fault and they really did unnecessarily hurt you in a way you didn't deserve. You want that damn apology, don't you? Want my advice? Assume that you are never going to get it. It isn't the best policy for quickly mending the friendship but it is the best policy for getting on with your life. In my opinion, that is a little more important.
I'm not saying you will never get it (although it is a possibility) but if they were capable of intentionally or indirectly hurting you to your core, then my bet is that they aren't the type to show up on your doorstep with a I'm-wrong-you're-right-I'm-sorry card. You have probably known this person long enough to know whether or not they are the kind of person to admit when they're wrong or if they'd rather ignore the entire thing and act like it didn't happen.
Sometimes it takes people awhile to realize they could have handled a situation with a little more class and that's okay. You need to make the decision to continue to live your life with a joyful attitude whether they apologize next week, next year or not ever. Yeah, it hurts, but living a life that depends on another's actions for your personal happiness is going to result in a lot more hurting that can easily be avoided.
They're YOUR feelings. It is YOUR life. That means that opting for a positive life is not THEIR decision.
DON'T BASH THEIR NAME. This is a huge mistake girls make. Say the split doesn't end well, not many do! The last thing you should do, but will find yourself wanting to do, is talk crap about them every chance you get to anyone who will lend an ear. I cannot express how much this does not make them look bad (which is exactly what you want it to do) but instead it really makes YOU look bad.
Don't get me wrong, you're feelings are hurt and I get that you need to get some things off your chest. In order to do this you need to find someone that you really trust. Vent to your sister, mother, cousin, even your grandma if you'd like but do not vent within the circle. That means that if you both share a good friend then the last thing you want to do is put that friend in the middle. The middle is a terrible place to be and if every time she sees or talks with you it's about the ugly BFFB you just had with her friend then she is going to get sick of it--and fast! She has the right to stay close with both of you and you should be mature enough to accept that without throwing a tantrum.
If you know in your heart that they are not a good friend then let others find that out for themselves. It is not your job to 'save' everyone from the very same person you once gladly invited into your life as well!
LIFE GOES ON. When you are young, your friends are your life. Being a good friend is practically the only job high school girls have! And that's okay during that time because you have just that--time!
When you graduate, life not so kindly slaps you in the face with reality. Now your biggest worry isn't how you will match for the big game on Friday. Your new stresses demand a lot more attention. Between school, bills, work, love, family and what the hell you want to do with your life it is really hard to plan regular sleepovers. You end up losing touch with a lot of people that you were really involved with. It's a sad truth but it needs to be recognized.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be so tragic. Whether you broke-up, got dumped or just grew apart from each other, you can still carry on the good times. Try not to remember the nasty or fatal parts of your friendship. Focus on the fun. Dig through your old box of pictures and ticket stubs and allow yourself to reminisce.
Go back to the first time you stayed at her house when you climbed out of her bedroom window to go teepee your crushes front lawn. Laugh about the first time you got wasted and tried to be smokers for a week to impress the older boys. Hold on to the memory of her wonderful family and all the meals you ate together and laughed over. Remember the times she held you while you cried because your heart was so broken.
That is what friendship is about. You both put your hearts into it and had the best of intentions. Just because the one on your necklace is now cut in half does not mean it wasn't ever a whole. Hold on to the whole by remembering the person you were once blessed to call a friend.
You may not ever be as close as you once were. In fact, you may hardly speak to each other for awhile or never again. But that doesn't mean that something magical didn't happen. They still are a part of you, even if you'd like to deny it, the proof is in the pictures. You know, the ones with the matching tank tops, fish faces, eskimo kisses, beerbongs, peace signs, heart-shaped sunglasses and piggyback rides. Those are the memories you need to make the decision to keep.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to WISH THE BEST FOR THEM, ALWAYS. The moment you find yourself face-to-face with an old friend and your heart flutters with a familiar warmth is the moment you have ditched girl-hood and gracefully stepped out as a woman. Wishing that their life without you will only crumble over and over again will only leave you with a trail of crumbs to an empty and bitter heart.
I don't think any of us really know what to expect when we promise through bracelets, notes and late night talks. We promise that we will always be there for each other forever when we really know very little about what that means. But we are fearless and invicible and trusting when we are young so forever doesn't seem that long at all.
Maybe the next time we look at the 'forever' part that we swore to our old best friends, we can still mean it in some way.
After all, a memory has no expiration date. You really can choose to carry it with you... Forever.