Why Ending A Friendship Is So Much Harder Than Ending A Romantic Relationship

I wouldn't wish having to end a friendship with a close female friend upon my worst enemy. Losing a best friend is infinitely more difficult than ending a romantic relationship: it's often unexpected, completely derailing, and difficult to navigate the lonely aftermath of. We have recipes for dealing with breakups from our romantic partners: put your freakum dress on, hit the vodka, be with your girls at all times. That last one is the clincher, isn't it? Being with your girls at all times. It's a lifesaver when you break up with significant other – but when a friendship ends, that perfect little nugget of wisdom that's imparted upon those in crisis is totally useless. It's the one time you can't be with your girls, and the one time you need to more than anything.

Over time, all relationships change. Friends come and go, most of them without much ceremony. One minute you're partying with Irina, and the next minute you're brunching with Georgia. There's no hard feelings, but rather a recognition that as you grow up, schedules fill quickly, and long absences from friends aren't necessarily earth shattering or revelatory. It's the circle of social life. But what happens when you consciously and dramatically de-friend someone that was especially close to you is absolutely cataclysmic. When that one person, your BFF perhaps, to whom you text every mundanity of your every day life, who knows you inside and out, whose side you are always by, betrays you, hurts you, or otherwise removes themselves from your life in some very obvious capacity, it can be more destructive that the loss of any romantic partner you've ever experienced. Here's why:

YOU NEVER ANTICIPATE IT

This might be a nihilistic approach to romance, but often when we start out in relationships there's always a sense of "this might not work". Indeed, as a relationship unfolds, we consciously ask ourselves questions like "Does this make me happy?" and "Is this what I'm looking for?" People in functioning relationships work very hard at maintaining equilibrium together. There's romance, sure, but a relationship is also a practical task. I don't believe there is the same calculated approach to friendships. We meet someone, they make us laugh, and the rest is history. We throw ourselves in and give and take as giving and taking comes and goes, and worry less about things that we worry about in relationships, like sexual politics and domestic functionality. I think that's because you never expect your friendship is going to end in the same way a relationship might: with pain. Your best friends are like sisters to you, sometimes annoying your brains out, but your love is unconditional and reliable, and neither of you would ever do anything devastatingly malicious to the other.

YOU GAVE YOUR WHOLE, TRUE SELF TO IT

In relationships, there are often things we don't divulge, and that doesn't mean anything negative about the relationship, it's just that we probably that we don't need our romantic partners to have an encyclopedic knowledge of our most heinously irrational feelings, sexual pasts, or even our frustrations with them. That's why we have friends. Our friends are the people who know our truest, most intimate selves. Once a friend betrays you, the vulnerability you feel at having shared what you've shared can be overwhelming.

IT WAS A CONSTANT IN YOUR LIFE

Relationships come and go and change and adapt. Things happen. Your friend was the one who was always there when those things happened, whom you reported back to. Whether you did a poop that was so long you're not quite sure how it fit inside you or you're having a family crisis, your friend was the person you relied on to share any and all information with. 

IT'S MUCH HARDER TO EXPLAIN

When you tell people your relationship ended, it's always easy to rationalize. He cheated on me; I was bored; We're just not compatible. Explaining it in easy-to-digest logic is often cathartic for you as well. Being asked to define just why a friendship ended by a third party is terrifying and confusing. Even if your friend did something hurtful, it's hard to rationalize exactly why you needed to cut them out. People often expect your pain to be transient in friendship, and it can be hard to justify out loud exactly what it was that made you pull the plug on a BFF.

THERE ARE NO HAPPY PLATITUDES TO EASE THE PAIN

"There are plenty more fish in the sea!"

"You have to kiss many toads before you find your prince!"

"Love like you've never been hurt!" 

There are so many stupid lines people have to make themselves feel better about the end of a relationship, and for the most part, they work. If you hear certain positive mantras enough, they eventually start to sink in. Unfortunately, there are no such convenient sayings to couple with the end of a friendship.

STARTING AGAIN SEEMS MORE DAUNTING

At the end of a relationship, "getting back on the horse" is one of the best and most helpful things you can do. Starting to date again can be scary, but it's also wildly fun and at least very distracting. Finding a new friend is not that easy. People just don't prioritize "new friends" the way they did when they were younger, so between existing friends, personal relationships and careers, it can be very difficult to meet a new potential BFF. There's no OKCupid for friendship.

THERE'S NO ONE TO HELP YOU GET THROUGH IT

The worst part is that the person who was there for you through thick and thin, the person you would call when your heart was broken, the one person who could make you laugh no matter how broken you felt inside, that person isn't there to help you get through this horrible experience of losing a friend, because they're the friend you've lost.

Images: The CW; Giphy(4)

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