Beyond the Pages: Friend Breakups

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe. But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe. For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

friend breakups, how friends grow apart, how friendships change over the years

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I think when I was younger I thought one of the most painful experiences you could go through was a unrequited love or a breakup with your 6th grade boyfriend but it wasn’t until I hit high school and beyond that I realized two of the most heart-wrenching things in my life would be friend breakups, shifts in friendships and growing apart from friends to the point where you they feel like strangers to you.

I think that’s one of the things A Sense of the Infinite did so well — it chronicled these shifts and that slow drifting apart we can have with even our best friend. It showed how sometimes you realize that a friendship doesn’t quite fit anymore but nobody wants to make a move. I think it was poignant in how the rose colored glasses come off when you recognize the first real crack and how you see things for what they really are. I have definitely experienced all that.

When I was in middle school I had just moved to a new school and new town and I met my best friend in 8th grade. We were THOSE type of best friends who did everything together and preferred to be with each other to everyone else. We had the most inside jokes and it was like a head over heels love affair those 2 years of our friendship. And then I went to high school and she was still a year behind in middle school and, even though we lived 6 houses down, everything slowly shifted to the point that when she finally came to the high school the cracks were far too large. It ended with her dating a boy I knew was trouble and her doing things we swore we would never do — differences I couldn’t get over at the time. That friend breakup was the hardest. SHE WAS MY EVERYTHING. My partner in crime. We were ~friendly~ the rest of high school but it was SO different and that was almost the hardest part. We’ve since seen each other once as adults and we are cool. I’d love to rekindle that friendship but we live so far apart now it doesn’t make sense. I’m happy that she’s happy and I can look at our good memories with fondness rather than bitterness.

More recently as an adult I did a friend breakup with a whole group of people that were a mix of a core group from high school and then some college friends we met and brought into the group. I still get sad about it sometimes but honestly I’m more relieved than everything despite the fact my former bff and college roomie and I have drifted so far apart as a result of me not being part of the GROUP anymore. It was one of those things where they were sole people that I hung out with. It was a mix of guys and girls and I had the most fun with them. But there were THINGS that I think I always recognized even in the height of my friendship with them but just ignored for years and years. After we graduated the drifting really happened even though we all still mostly lived near each other and hung out pretty much every weekend.

I just slowly started to realize that a) I wasn’t having as much fun anymore b) I didn’t have that much in common with them c) there were some toxic elements within the group that would have me come home crying or feeling like crap and d) sometimes I dreaded it more than I enjoyed it and felt like I was walking on eggshells. I still adored quite a few people in that group (especially my bff despite our drifting that had happened) but I just overall wasn’t happy. But I kept just going along with it. Because I liked some of them. Because they are a HUGE part of my history (seriously some of these people I’ve been friends with since high school and they were HUGE parts of how I got through everything with my mom). Because I didn’t have any other friends. Because I was afraid. Because it was comfortable and “breaking up” with them would be one of the biggest upheavals ever.

But I did it. Because of this book that really was a book I needed to read at that time. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I could have probably done better in how I went about it and how I went about even trying to maintain relationships with those I wanted but…it is what it is. It was what I needed to do. I learned. I did what was best for me. I’m in a way better place and am so much happier.

But honestly, each friend breakup was an emotionally devastating thing that I think I wasn’t equipped for. There’s something about a friendship breakup where it doesn’t seem as ~normal~ to mourn it like you would a romantic breakup. There’s a lot of things you lose in a friend breakup that were harder to get back compared to a romantic relationship. With my friends I always had that FOREVER feel whereas with romantic relationships I knew most of them would eventually end.

But I think the hardest thing about the mutual driftings or the friend breakups–whether you are the dumpee or the dumper — is that absence you really do have and that nostalgia that can be so overwhelming. I don’t feel it as much with my 8th grade bff obviously but my friends I had for 10 years? Sometimes the rush of nostalgia hits me so hard when I think about all the good times and the jokes and the things we did and I want to go running back to them. It’s that song I’ll hear or that picture of one of those crazy college nights we had and I’m just transported back so vividly that, in in the present, I can’t comprehend how I’m not friends with them or how it got to the way it was. It makes me so sad sometimes to not be a part of their lives but I also know that a lot of this is fueled by nostalgia where everything looks better. And maybe one day I will be more a part of some of their lives in some capacity but I know for now this is the way it is.

Semi-related note: At this point of my life, one of the many reasons I have a hard time with Facebook, is that I start to miss friendships I had. I feel so much nostalgia and sadness for friendships that are basically just mutually liking of statuses and pictures at this point. People who were so BIG in a part of my life and now they are barely a footnote. WHERE IS THE CLASS ON HOW TO DEAL WITH THAT?

So talk to me about friend breakups or drifting away from friends! Tell me your worst friend breakups and we can commiserate! Why do you think friend breakups sometimes feel worse than romantic breakups?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve been desperately searching for a book that deals with friendship breakups because it’s something that I’m starting to deal with. I think it’s hard to deal with friendship breakups because you make promises of always being there, and that’s what friends are supposed to do. They’re supposed to be there when you’re down and it hurts a lot more when they cause the fall.

  2. I really like this post. Growing up, I had always been a little bit more okay with friend breakups (more like mutual drifting apart) because I lived in a Japanese community where most of the people who lived around me or went to school with me were Japanese and would move back to Japan after a couple of years. When I got into high school, I was totally okay when my friends wanted to move along after our differences started causing more problems. By the time senior year rolled around, I had an entirely different group of friends that I felt more accepted in, which was good. But even with that – I totally get the huge feeling of nostalgia. Even with the friends that we both weren’t good for each other, I still think about them a lot and what happened to them.

  3. Friend breakups are really hard. I went through one my senior year of high school with my best friend of 7 years and our friend group. We had a large group (10 girls) and were close, but there was still a sense of cliquishness within the group, and it took me years to realize that they weren’t necessarily good friends. There was a lot of toxicity and excluding people and talking behind people’s backs, and I finally chose to distance myself from them after almost a year of drama within the group during and after our senior year. It just became too stressful to hang out with them. I don’t regret moving on, but I still feel nostalgic now and then and wonder how things could’ve been if we had all stuck together, especially when I see pictures of them on Facebook. The group has dwindled in the years since high school and only a few of the girls still hang out, but it can still be weird running into them because, like you said, they were a big part of my life and now they’re not.

    Even with the friends I have now I feel like we’re drifting apart. My fiance and I have a group of mutual friends (mostly guys) who we’ve hung out with regularly for the past 5 years, but we’re the only couple, and sometimes we feel like we’re at a different point in life than everyone else…like, we’re in the wedding planning/house hunting/”adult stuff” stage, whereas they’re more into drinking and partying and all that. Different priorities, I guess. They’re good people but there’s still drama (I feel like you can never escape it, sigh) and lately it feels like there are more differences than similarities.

    Wow, sorry for the long comment! Your post just really resonated with me, and friend breakups are something I’ve been thinking about more lately. I’m definitely going to check out this book though. It sounds like something I could maybe use in my life.

  4. OMG YES! Jamie, I relate so much to this post, I can’t even tell you.
    I think you’re right about why breaking up with friends is so much harder: you think it’s gonna last forever, with most of your highschool romances, you know it’s probably not, but your friends will be there to get you through that and every other thing that comes your way.
    The worst friend break-up I went through is my best friend from high school, after high school I went to college and she dropped out because she got pregnant. I tried keeping in touch, but it always felt like I was just giving and she would take it but never put any effort into maintaining our friendship and then just stopped responding to my calls/texts/emails all together. She somehow rejoined our group of friends for a short while a couple of years ago and that was just so stressfull that I decided to just stop pretending I was ok with it.
    Anyway, what I was trying to say is: I feel your pain and while it’s heartbreaking to let go of people who’ve been through a lot with you, it sometimes has to happen, but it still hurts.

  5. I really need to read this book and Just One Day (it’s going to happen in September). I’ve had many friend breakups throughout my life, and I totally agree about Facebook. It’s so hard to see your once close friend posting things online. Do you just like? Or comment? I want to do some much more. It’s weird, but I don’t want to completely disconnect either.

    My worst friend breakup was my twin sister. We went through a rough patch in college and shortly after. She wanted more independence from me. I felt abandoned. Then later I felt like her life always worked out better than mine. There was jealousy and judgment. It wasn’t pretty. Thankfully, because we’re twin sisters, we had to work through it, and we’re super close again now. We live far apart from each other, so we don’t see each other often. But that works very well for us. We talk on the phone once a week or so, but it’s easier if we keep our distance. It’s just too hard to not feel like we’re in competition with each other if our lives are too similar.

  6. While I agreed completely with everything you said in the entire post, the last bit about how going on Facebook makes you said is SO true. I had this immensely long conversation with one of my friends because going on Facebook made me sad and upset and wistful. It also made me think that I was the one to blame for the friendships for ending. What I had to come to terms with was that not everyone is always going to be friends and that we do grow out of friendships. It happens and it’s sad and hard to understand at times but something I think we all go through. But I understand this pain. In elementary school I had this best friend who I hung out with all the time. Then she moved away for middle school and I rarely saw her again. I see her on Facebook on occasion but I miss that relationship so, so, so much.

    But as much as friendship ending hurts, I try to think of other friendships I’ve made. I’ve found some amazing friends in college and surprisingly, I grow closer to my high school best friend every day. I think that in times of friendships breaking, we’re given friendships that last. Friendships that we know will be there forever. I’ve recently gotten close to my young brother and even though it’s not the same thing, I still think people can and can’t be friends with their siblings!

  7. This sounds bad, but most friendship break-ups I’ve put into action myself. I’ve noticed where people are trouble, and either drain me emotionally or are just generally horrible and I’ve extracted myself when and where appropriate to save myself hurt. In college, I went through 2 different friend groups and pulled myself out because I knew they were no good. It hurt, but I knew it was for the best in the long run. I’d always rather be lonely and happy than surrounded by people and miserable. Over the years, there are a few friendships I’ve been sad to see go, but most of them have been for good reason.

  8. I just recently broke up with a friend of several years due to a betrayal. Not a relationship betrayal or anything like that, but a betrayal surrounding respect more than anything. I (shamefully) tend to lump people into categories: the cordials, the acquaintances, the frienemies, the friends, and the best friends. Sadly, my breakup was with a best friend. It’s hard to cut those ties but sometimes, it just has to be done. You’re right about growing apart – that is so sad when it happens but as people grow and go their separate ways, it happens.

  9. I’ve had several very bad friend breakups. One was brought on by me because the friendship was too toxic, but I’ve been the one being dumped a few times too without knowing why, or because the other person assumed some things that weren’t true. It took me YEARS to get over losing a college best friend, but she also ditched another mutual friend at the same time so the two of us went through it together and now we’re best friends. 🙂 All of my closest friends have had at least 2 bad friend breakups. Not to mention countless driftings that aren’t necessarily due to conflict. I think it’s very natural for friends to come and go at different times of life, especially in younger years because life is constantly changing.

    I’ve been looking for a good book exploring friendships, I’ll have to check this one out. Is this a case of the main character’s problems all being solved when she meets a love interest? Lol. I’d love a friendship book that has zero romance in it!

  10. I really needed to read something like this lately. Been going through the same thing and feeling very guilty and very alone so thank you for opening up to us and writing this. I’ve drifted from a group of friends the past few years because they’ve moved away and I had some hard things happen in my life and kind of distanced myself. No one ever tells us how hard it is to transition with friends from college/high school. Because in our 20’s we’re different people than we were in school. And it’s like sometimes we don’t grow together as we grow into ourselves. But like you said it’s so hard to make the decision to move on because of that nostalgia. I’ve also been through some crazy stuff with my friends that bonded us forever. How do you give that up? I always thought we’d be in rocking chairs together in a nursing home some day. My mom was telling me how her best friend from high school and her drifted apart for a few years and eventually found their way back to each other so I think it’s good to think of it like that. Not goodbye for ever, but see you later kind of thing. Ugh I’m just rambling. Basically just wanted to say thank you.

  11. I had the same group of friends for forever. I met my former best friend on the first day of first grade, and we went through grade school and middle school together adding people to our group. In eighth grade I started to notice that I didn’t really have anything in common with most of my friends. At the beginning of my freshman year of high school I started to grow apart from most of them because I realized that a lot of them were just not very nice people and I didn’t like the way I acted when I was with them. It was weird because we never really “broke up.” There was never a big scene, we just spent less and less time together until I was out of the group completely. It was not fun at all, especially because leaving the group meant I had to stop being friends with all of them, even the friends I had that had similar interests as me who probably could have been some of my closest friends under different circumstances. I’m about to start my senior year of high school, and it still feels weird seeing some of them in the halls at school and remembering how close we used to be.

  12. Ohhh I understand how you feel! I have had my fair shares of friend breakups seeing that I had a new group of friends every year back in elementary school. I’ve had the same group of friends for awhile now and the one thing I fear the most is drifting apart. I just become so accustomed to the same group of people and it’s just scary to think about the fact that they could drift apart. This is a great post Jamie, great job! (also I really enjoyed this book :D)

    ~Kaitlin

  13. Oh man…I’ve had so many friend breakups I don’t know where to begin. My best friend in the 4th grade declared I was weird and by 6th grade I had no girl friends because all the girls in my grade were friends with her. It SUCKED!! I’ve also been the breaker of friendships, too, which sucks as well but needed to be done. Then there are tons of “friends” I’ve tried to keep in touch with but nobody wants to? Blegh. My best friend is basically my critique partner (found on Twitter) for my writing and she lives in Seattle. I think girl-friendships are FASCINATING – some of my favorite YAs that deal with it are A SENSE OF THE INFINITE, MAYBE ONE DAY, THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS, SLOPPY FIRSTS/SECOND HELPINGS/CHARMED THIRDS/FOURTH COMINGS (how do you deal with a BFF moving away and your circle changing…also I just love that series in general – sadly the 5th book doesn’t deal w/friendship lol), BASS ACKWARDS AND BELLY UP, etc.

    (I also loved INFINITE because of the way it handled *SPOILER*abortion*SPOILER*. I haven’t seen that much in YA and appreciated Smith for portraying it honestly and realistically.)

  14. I love this post, it’s so relatable in all aspects in life. My best friend is actually moving to England in a few days and she’s the friend that I fangirl with and the friend that really does mean a lot to me. And unfortunately my other friends at school, we’ve drifted apart and they are friends that I have known since like grade 3 and to be honest I’ve never actually dealt with it, and now I have to cause the friend that I hang out with all the time isn’t going to be here anymore. GOSH life is so hard sometimes! *facepalm* Great post! 😀

  15. This post is amazing. I’m moving on from school to sixth form and I can already feel myself drifting from the ‘group’, though it’s definitely a conscious decision. Whilst they’re all lovely people and I will miss them (some more than most), the past few months in that group have just been so toxic for me. I feel like I had nothing in common with them, and that when I hung around them I was just being a nuisance. At some points I dreaded hanging out with them so much that I’d fake meeting up with family just so I wouldn’t have to pretend to not notice that I’ve been left out for so long. It got to the point where it drastically affected my self confidence and now I’m pretty certain that leaving that group is the best decision for me.

    Another thing that kind of broke my heart at the time was when I ended up drifting from this girl I was best friends with from the ages of about 12 to 15. At one point I was still calling her my best friend when I clearly wasn’t hers, and instead of telling me straight when I confronted her she denied that she didn’t feel the same (probably to conserve my feelings, though in reality it made it far worse). That ‘best’ friendship got dragged out and it was so toxic, especially when she could’ve just been honest. That way I would have had a bad day, rather than an awful few months. We’re still friends now but when I look at her it’s like seeing a stranger stare back at me.

  16. Oh man, friendship break-ups are the worst! I honestly feel like my life is always upended after going through a friendship break-up, or even just feel lost after a friend and I who were SO close drift apart. It’s one of the toughest experiences in life for sure, particularly because you chose these people and to spend time with them and they will always be a part of your history. I still have times when I look back at the friendships I’ve lost or that have altered with time, and it makes me nostalgic in a happy and sad way. I try to look at the good times, versus the sad/bad ones, and keep those memories in my heart <3

  17. Your review has convinced me on this book. I love romance and all that, but a book about friendship is my favourite, so a book about a friendship breakup will be interesting to say the least. It is heartbreaking when you have a friendship breakup but sometimes it is inevitable, you are not always the same people as when you first met and whilst sometimes with friends you grow together, that is not always the case. Even after friendships have ended they help define you, and it’s great when occasionally a friendship begins again later one, that happened with some friends I haven’t seen since school, I moved back home and you may not be the same people but you have managed to reach the same place together and can be friends that way.

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