When Friendship Ends: A Dirty Secret

When Friendship Ends: A Dirty Secret

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By Liz Pryor

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Maggie was my closest number one girlfriend in life. We’d shared everything that mattered, every day, for what felt like forever. And then, like a bad dream in slow motion, she quietly began her exit from my life, without ever uttering a single word about it to me. It retrospect, it was the perfect recipe of avoidance, unreturned phone calls, weekly plans suddenly cancelled, e-mails silently ignored. And when I got her on the phone with a new strange distance she would say “I’m sooooo busy”.  My Lucy, my Thelma, my best friend for life, was suddenly “busy” all the time. I kept thinking, “This can’t be happening.” I kept hoping that any second the phone call would come, the one where she’d laugh and explain all the misunderstanding behind the new and crazy behavior.

And then, one ordinary day, after weeks of hopeful denial, it hit me … our friendship was over. Without ever uttering a word to me, she had methodically avoided her way right out of my life.

Losing A Friend

The feeling is dauntingly specific when it comes on; deep inside the female heart where bullshit can’t survive … it’s impossible to mistake one woman blowing off another for anything other than what it is.

It was impossible for me to make sense of the whole thing, especially while living it. I convinced myself after several months, that I was the only woman on the planet who’d ever experienced this.   Somehow everyone else in the world knew how to get to an ending with a friend, and work through it, come out the other side with some closure, or at least acknowledgement. I was defected or broken, because if the feelings I had were even kind of common, I would have heard something about them. People would have discussed them, I would have read about it, seen sad, angry and confused women on TV talk shows. I’d have read  quick fix’s somewhere … but there was nothing. What did I do wrong? How did I offend her to the point of a mutiny so awful?

Maybe everyone has a cathartic something, that forces an honest look inside themselves and their lives, this was mine. Racked with what felt like such failure, I tried to piece it together … Eventually I shoved all the questioning and obsessing as far down as possible, buried it inside where I hoped it wouldn’t surface. Some might call that denial, I saw it as survival.

I did come to realize, that women are programmed, armed and ready to expect their hearts might be broken one day by a man they love. The attention and warnings are everywhere, it permeates society almost like a law. When  women go through a break up or divorce, their entire surrounding world stops to notice. They send flowers, support, suggestions … they sit for hours to listen to our hearts on love … but when we fall out, get dumped, or are completely blind sided by a BFF no one says a word!

I ultimately came to  question the idea that other women didn’t feel this, how could that possibly be?  So quite impulsively one afternoon at a baby shower, I decided to belly up and ask. After a fairly inappropriate segue, I blurted out the question, had any one else experienced any difficulty with the ending of a friendship. After a long silence … a burst of response followed. There wasn’t a single women in that room that day who hadn’t experienced what I’d described, from one side or the other. Stories, tears, hearts, and emotions were rampant. Like flood gates opening. Once this began I couldn’t stop. I followed the water for the next couple of years. I heard and documented thousands of stories, and emotions surrounding this topic and realized this was like some sort of a silent epidemic in the underworld of female friendship. A phenomenon really, in that everyone experiences it, and no one talks about it.

The fact, that if asked, how long do we think we’ll be friends with our nearest and dearest girlfriend right now, today, at this very moment … most of us would respond in the area of “forever,”  shows we don’t think about the endings, we’re just not prepared for them. It’s beautiful, really, in its hope and faith, yet look what happens if one does ensue?

There are no guidelines to follow here. No protocol, no etiquette, not even our mothers covered this with us. We can fall off the face of the earth on a friend, and no one will say a word about it. We can quietly pick at our confidence and self-worth wondering what we might have done wrong when a friend disappears, and then never discuss it with a living soul. From both sides it’s sad and difficult.

Female Bonds

Scientist recently learned and documented (in a UCLA study) that one of the main reasons women live longer than men is directly related to the bonds they make and sustain with their female friends throughout the course of their lives. And so there we have it, scientific evidence that all our phone conversations, bickering, laughing, and living, it all holds more than just moments in time, we prolong each others lives, how much more significant can it get?

Women have the capacity to sustain anything they set their minds to. We are boundless when committed to something, that is proven every day by all of us. As much as our world has changed, our roles have shifted and responsibilities increased … the one thing that remains as it was ten, fifty, and a hundred years ago, is the value and impact our friends have on our everyday lives.

A simple reminder of what we’re all really made of, makes me think, no matter how often we look around and can find the three, five, or seven quickest easiest steps to everything from a flat stomach to a good marriage … at the end of the day, the truest source for information for any of us, is our good old fashioned woman’s intuition.  It’s the most reliable resource we have for knowing what to do in life, and it lives right there inside us. It’s in the place where the stuff we learned as kids lives. It’s where most of us go to remember who we want and don’t want to be in this world, and so often we seem to forget to call on it.

When we feel the inexplicable greatness and bounty of true friendship the right thing to do, is challenge ourselves to work from the better part of who we are. Whether at the beginning, the middle or at an ultimate ending in friendship, choosing to honor, and at the least acknowledge what is happening, could be a beginning for all of us!   

“What has once been so interwoven cannot be raveled nor the gift ungiven” May Sarton

Enjoyed this article? You would probably also enjoy these articles:

The Delicate Balance of Who to Ditch and Who to Keep
Overcoming Friendship Hurts

About the Author

Author, on-line host, and single mother of 3, Liz Pryor, founder of www.LizPryor.com, has shaped a current, growing voice on-line and in the media, with her layman, candid take on every day life. Her book, What Did I Do Wrong? ( Simon & Schuster 2007) nominated for the Books For a Better Life Award, and named People Magazines Buzz book 2008, began a platform for her following.

Member Comments

Lisa_Tandy - Jun 07, 2017 at 12:06am

I just had my closest friendship end. Something happened between us and I said my feelings were hurt. All heck broke loose. My friend became someone I have never even glimpsed. Despite using "I" statements and me self, she has yelled, hung up on me, & accused me of being everything I hate in a person. I thought we could work it out but I don't know this new her. I really tied. I feel like hamburger. So I ended it.

Catic15 - Feb 27, 2013 at 06:02am

Been there, had that done . . .  and yeah, it hurt. A lot. But what's interesting to me is that sometimes friends who drift apart like this can come back together, too. It's gone both ways for me . . . splits that never mended, and splits that eventually grow back together.  I've had to learn that sometimes it really ISN'T all about me; that sometimes it's what's going on in my friend's life that is pulling her away.

RaveonaTabu - Feb 21, 2013 at 01:02am

I'm sorry that happened to you. I wouldn't do that to someone I cared about. If you ever wanna talk I'm here.

RaveonaTabu - Feb 21, 2013 at 01:02am

This was odd & confusing because we could not understand why someone would go to so much effort . It was like processing a death for me personally after such a long time invested with another person, raising kids getting married good times and bad. It amazes me that even now I just don't know how it all went to scrap..however I am better now e optionally because even though at the time it hurt. I never knew how toxic it was until toxic is removed.

RaveonaTabu - Feb 21, 2013 at 01:02am

Trust me, I've been there. One day after 15 years it was like I didn't even know who she was anymore. It took me a long time to accept that for whatever reason our long term friendship was over. I was so overwhelmed and sad that I thought my world was ending. Turns out she had been talking badly about me for years. But tables really turned when I came into knowing a mutal friend...well needless to say we compared story's about our friend only to find out she wanted us to hate each others

coloradohappy - Feb 16, 2013 at 07:02pm

I've never even hadd a BFF so I don't know what it is like to have such a relationship come to an end in the way you describe. Plenty of men have treated me that way, though. Maybe she is getting back at you for bad treatment from a man?

srann1 - Feb 16, 2013 at 04:02pm

I have lost contact with other good friends, ie marriages, divorces etc although I miss them still. I didnt feel hurt. but for many yrs I didnt make any new close friends Ive had female friends but not a BFF . I have never been "dumped" by a friend. at first she just acted annoyed with me then she tried giving this line that I had done something wrong. etcc. but nothing spefic. I apologized etcc. i did everything i thought i could do. finally I decided Im not 16. I am not going to BEG.

eowyn0003 - Jan 13, 2013 at 04:01pm

This happened to me in high school. Much like being abandoned by a man, I don't know if I've ever trusted women since.

Trufriend84 - Dec 21, 2012 at 06:12pm

My best friend stopped talking to me after I found out I was pregnant.  We didn't have a fight or argument..it happened out of no

SPCIYHEART - Nov 26, 2012 at 02:11am

I experienced the exaxt same thing....its been 8  years and still i don't understand what i did or what happened..we have been friends since we were 14 years old.....it hurts still today....so its go to know i'm not the only one who experience this....

ethereal - Oct 14, 2012 at 07:10pm

this is a very profound article

BookLitChick - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:10pm

I experienced something very similar to this. 

jillybeans66 - Aug 25, 2012 at 05:08am

This is my exact story. My BFF for 35 years gradually cutvmecoutcof her life. We did everything together. Everything. Now all I get is unanswered or ignored calls and texts. I am going through a divorce and other hardships and I fel abandoned. Sorry for your loss.  Good luck. 

Love2love - Aug 14, 2012 at 01:08pm

Some are more committed and value ftiendship more!

coffee4char - Jul 31, 2012 at 08:07pm

Yeah, that sucks!  I have been there, too, and it hurt more than getting divorced from 1st husband! But, slowly, I am coming around again. Takes time and being open, but it is worth it!

coloradohappy - Jul 22, 2012 at 02:07am

I only wish I had a friend. I would be so honored if a wonderful woman would count me as a valuable person. I am so lonely it is painful.

Karen-Lovesallanimal - Jul 12, 2012 at 11:07pm

Glad to hear you have over come you heart break and then some!!!We all sometimes have that heartbreak my best friend slept with my boyfriend, years later another best friend passed away . Its so difficult to go through, I  have spent so many years with out any girl friends, its a lonely world.  Karen

LisaBH - Jun 23, 2012 at 08:06pm

I am the one who had to leave the friendship but she was ultimately not a good friend to me and I was the friend to her.

Leigh302 - Mar 13, 2012 at 12:03am

I could of wrote this! So glad I'm not alone! 

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