It’s okay to “break up” with a friend


Hey guys,

November is here and it’s finally getting colder in LA. It was starting to feel like summer would LITERALLY not end, but now we’re getting a taste of sweater weather and I’m excited! Better late than never!

Speaking of sweater weather, have you heard of cuffing season?

The idea is that people start coupling off when it gets colder. At first I was like, this is silly, but it’s…kind of true??? Maybe it’s the pressure of the holidays. All those plus-ones just looming in the distance. But people do seem to get together more in the colder months. 

In honor of cuffing season, today I wanted to talk about heartbreak. But no, not cuffing related heartbreak! Though I guess it’s normal to assume when we hear “heartbreak” it’s associated with a romantic partnership ending.

We’ve all seen couples break up. We’ve seen our friends lovesick over someone when things didn’t work out. It’s actually quite a unifying experience, heartache. Why do you think so many songs are written about it?! Because we all GET it. No matter where we’re from or who we are, we know what heartbreak is about. Taylor writes about an ex and we’re like, “YEAH GIRL! BEEN THERE!”

But heartbreak isn’t always because of a significant other. What about our platonic relationships? What about when you “break up” with a friend? How do you deal?

I had a very VERY close friend in college. It was one of the most magical friendships I ever had. We were like Will & Grace…less than lovers but more than friends. He was my GBF (gay best friend – not even sure if that is politically correct, but I think I need to give you this fact in order for you to understand the rest of the story). We cared for each other and loved each other as much as friends could. I even told him that in the future, should he ever decide to have a baby, I would donate my eggs to him and his partner.

I still can’t really explain to you why what happened next, happened, but when Sam stepped into the picture, this magical relationship broke. It just stopped working like a toy that ran out of batteries. And the sad part was, none of us knew where to find the batteries.

My GBF just didn’t talk to me in the same way anymore…he said he was happy for me…but he wouldn’t want to get to know Sam. We started hanging out less. I felt like he was abandoning me, but the truth is, looking back now, I think he felt abandoned too.

I was heart broken. Completely devastated that I was losing my best friend in the world. I was crying in my car, listening to Leona Lewis sad songs and feeling so confused. Eventually, we had a heart to heart and decided that it would be best to stop spending time with each other because it hurt him too much. So we literally and officially “broke up”.

I didn’t know friend break ups could be a thing until I experienced one. And let me tell you, it hurts just as bad as a breakup between lovers.

Losing someone is HARD. Always. No matter what context it’s in. Sometimes it’s necessary. Sometimes there are people who are creating too much toxic energy in our lives. And sometimes…you just drift apart. No one is at fault. Life happens and you simply find yourselves going down two different paths.

Relationships take WORK. They require commitment and not everything is sunshine and puppies all the time. The friendships that really matter, the ones that are meant to survive, make it through the hard moments. The friendships that you’re going to have until you’re old and wrinkly and reminiscing about the good old days will stay.

But if someone repeatedly hurts you, if “a friend” doesn’t support you or treats you poorly, that is probably not a friend you want to stick around forever. And guess what? That’s. Okay.

There’s this weird guilt that comes with friendship break ups. Because, again, we’re not used to it. We know the deal with romantic break ups. They happen. They suck. You deal. You move on. No one really talks about the process of parting ways with a friend. But it’s just as real and painful.

It’s perfectly okay to decide someone no longer serves a good purpose in your life. (Like how my GBF knew that keeping me in his life caused too much pain.) It’s perfectly okay to recognize a friendship has run its course. People change. What we want changes. What we want to be surrounded with changes.

If a friend keeps causing you heartache, take some time to reflect. Have you talked about it? Are they receptive to your feelings? Do you even enjoy spending time together anymore? Ask yourself some honest questions and let yourself sit with it for a bit. If it’s time to move forward, don’t feel bad about doing just that.

You have to protect your heart. And if you’re around people who are destroying it rather than taking care of it, you should find new people to be around. Because there are beautiful, amazing people who will give you the love you need. Those people are worth finding. Trust me.

Have you ever “broken up” with a friend? What was the reasoning? What happened?

  • Harmony

    I’m glad I found this article. Because let me tell you… friendship break ups are a real thing .. It was hard for me to tell people who know I’ve been close friends with a certain person for a long time, that I’m no longer close with them.. We became friends in the 6th grade all the way up to a little past graduation. (12th grade)… Over those years we’d had many ups and downs. And we used to become “un friends” for months at a time but ended up making up. But in the later years we kind of became platonic, or so it felt. But she was the closest thing I had for a best friend since we’ve known each other for so long. But I think ever since I transferred schools it just wasn’t the same. We kept good in contact though and visited each other multiple times per year and skyped, texted, phone calls. But this girl.. has struggled with feeling the need to be better than me or at a higher status than me. Like it was some kind of competition. She’d always have to have a boyfriend by her side and she’d come to me if something was wrong and I’d always be there for her. But the thing is…she’d never really be there for me. I was the one who would go to her house just to have her tell me she’s going to another friends house and that I’d have to leave. I don’t know. There is just so much drama that I had to constantly put up with. And her calling like 3 other people her best friends and then acting like I don’t even exist. She just had a lot of problems she had to figure out. I know I probably sound like the bad guy here, but this was toxic for me.. Just how she was treating me, and how her relationship was getting in the way of our friendship.. etc. After like idk 3-4 months of debating to end the friendship.. I finally did. It was not easy but I think the trigger point for me was when I had drove 4 hours back to where she lives, for like idk… 5 days.. and she tells me she can’t hang out at all. not even for a couple hours.. Later I see on snapchat that she was going to go get a tattoo one day while I was there. I confronted her with it and she didn’t seem to care. She is friends with other crappy people who are just low lifers. Not saying she is, but she just doesn’t have that much high expectations for herself. Anyway.. After that last incident happened.. a couple weeks later I sent her a message explaining why I didn’t want to be her friend anymore.. It’s been hard but at the same time I know I am happy with this weight lifted off my shoulders. She seems to have moved on and so have I. But it’s still been a little hard because we’ve shared so many memories. But it’s just apart of life and I just pray and hope I can find some new true friends within my lifetime.

  • randomizationme

    Yes happened to me as well and I feel it might happen in the future too but it’s okay because that is just life. And life still goes on. I really appreciated this post Cassey!

  • Cassie Novak McArtor

    I have been there a few times. Once was a best friend I had as an exchange student, we were from two different countries in another country, we bonded so well. After the years, even though we kept in touch, our lives just went very different routes and we grew apart. We’re still FB friends and I still care about her but it will never be the same. The second major one was with a friend at Uni that I was super close to for a few years and over time I started to realize that her (and one other friend that we were both close to) actually didn’t treat me very well (or our other friends). It took a while to figure that out, I didn’t realize the toxic negative energy they brought into my life. I still think they’re wonderful people but just not for me (or my other friends, we all parted ways from them). If you treat people like shit don’t be surprised when they leave you. These people were surprised and didn’t get it. I had tried talking to my “friend” about it and she seemed to understand at the time but I found out later that she complained about me behind my back and about how whiny I was being, then continued to treat me the same as before. Not cool. I think my life is much better with them out of it, but I still lament it sometimes as, like I say, generally they are good people.

  • Miss9

    Hey, Cassey, I love your post. I think about it from time to time, I have a similar situation with a friend. It’s been years and I miss him a lot … But the time passed and we grow apart … this is suck, but it happens. Glad you talked about it :D

  • Ashley

    I don’t know why but I already commented on here and for some reason it didn’t post. So here’s attempt number 2.

    Cassey thank you so much for writing about this. I’ve gone through a friend breakup as well and it was really hard on me. The friend in question was a friend I met in college. We got along really well and for a long time she was one of my best friends. The sad part was that I never really knew what happened between us, she just slowly stopped having respect for me and then wanted nothing to do with me. That was about 2 and a half years ago and I still feel a ton of guilt over all this. I wish I knew what I did but I’ve accepted that we aren’t friends and I’m trying to move on. Life is too short, I’ve learned to spend my time with people that actually care about you and want to be around you.

  • Calista

    I am actually on the verge of splitting up with a friend. We go to college together and have a class with a couple of our other friends. We have weekly reports due in this class so we made a group message where we can send in our papers and peer review them for each other. However this friend plagiarized one of my papers and we both received zeros on the assignment. I honestly feel so betrayed because all my friends know how incredibly hard i work to get good grades. And this friend didn’t even defend me when our teacher confronted us about it. I think the only solution is for me to tell our teacher what happened, but this friend said they wouldn’t be my friend anymore if i told on her. Is it bad that i’m willing to throw this friendship away to save my grades?

    • Summer

      Honestly… Tell the teacher. If your friend is really going to stop being your friend because you did the right thing, then that person was never really your friend in the first place. Always do what is right.

  • Aitana

    This is perfect timing for me to read this. My heart breaks for a friend who I’ve been best friends with since 7th grade and now I’m in college. She is a different person and it’s hard for me to connect with her anymore. She’s not who she says she is, and I have begun to be uncomfortable with her since she has chosen a guy over me which breaks my heart. I love her but she’s toxic, selfish and not loyal which I don’t need in my life. Just hard to let go of someone you know?

    Oh she lives with me. So wish me luck.

  • tayusuki

    I stuck around in just this kind of relationship for far too long. And lemme tell you, you’re just hurting yourself more. Walking away can be hard — and when you’re in that situation may not seem like the answer. But once you’re free, on your own, and it’s done… there’s a sense of relief even if it’s accompanied by different sorts of pain.

  • Ami

    Going through this right now with my best friend. It’s hard to break it off completely with her because we have so many mutual friends. Feel like I would lose all the mutual friends along with her. But at the same time, it’s pretty painful to see her being close with everyone else in the room but me. Or when I see her liking everyone else’s FB/IG posts (even if it’s the most pointless picture), and yet she likes none of mine. Or when she hangs out with my friend that I introduced her to without me. I was actually fine with that at first because they have more similar interest with each other than with me. But then I bumped into them at a local cafe “just having coffee”… What good reason is there to deliberately leave me out of a coffee run? We all like coffee. Even when we share the same interest they left me out. And no they weren’t secretly planning anything for me.

    • Ami

      I’m just so mad that all the signs point to her not wanting to be friends with me. And yet she strings me along by replying to me just enough to ensure I attend our mutual friend’s birthdays and gatherings, but never hangs out with me otherwise. Appearing like we are fine in public, so if I do break things off, it’s going to look like I’m the one responsible for breaking the relationship.

  • Genevieve

    Yeah. I feel ya. In 8th grade, me and a friend of mine broke up. I don’t like to point fingers of blame, but I think I was just as much her fault as it was mine. I used to be a crybaby. Not just any crybaby, I cried at almost anything. My friends liked joking with me though, but back then I didn’t get jokes or sarcasm. So it upset me. Then I would at least raise my voice–I have always been told I yell, but I don’t believe so–cry, and storm off. I had gotten better, it used to be all the time, but I was making slow but steady progress. At recess, after we fought about something, “Hope” came up to me and said she wanted to talk. She then preceded say,”I would like you to stop lying to me.” Me, being utterly confused, ran off crying. After about 6 laps around the play ground, I decided to talk to her again. She asked me not to run away and I said no promises. “We are all sick of you.” And you can guess what happened next. This time, I started to hyperventilate. To cut to the chase, the councilor stepped in and clearly took “Hope’s” side and did not help fix our relationship at all. “Hope’s” Mom emailed mine and told me never to talk to her again because I politely asked “Hope” if I could sit with my friends. (All of them except 2 preferred to sit with her than me.) The councilor was so horrible. When I was hyperventilating once, over all, it happened 3 times, my 2 friends came to help me, and that councilor said that I was fine.
    I am not doing this for your pity, I am just telling you to be careful. If one of your friends is doing something wrong, don’t accuse them of something as your first step. If they cry because you tease them, don’t tease them. Even though some adults are great, they can’t fix everything, you run your life. If you are sensitive, I know it is hard, but ask for help and want to change it.
    Best Wishes Guys!

  • Dana

    Sadly, yes. About 4 years ago I had to end a relationship with my oldest and closest friend. We had been friends since 2nd grade, and her family was like my seconf family growing up. We had always had our issues on and off during the span of our relationship, but after having kids I just couldn’t deal with the crazy between us anymore. We were at different places in our lives, and I felt hurt over and again when I couldn’t rely on her during very pivitol points in my life. I felt like our relationship was very one sided, and I got tired of trying to nurture a friendship that wasn’t fulfilling. So I had to cut ties to focus on what matters most in my life : my family. It’s been over 4 years and I’m still getting over the break up, but it’s getting easier, little by little.

  • Tessa Spaulding

    I became best friends with this girl all the way back in kindergarten. We were inseparable. She was so amazing and we were best friends for 11 years. But eventually she started emotionally hurting me. She would get mad at me everyday for little things like not liking her photo on Instagram or if I hung out with someone other than her for a day. She would always blame everything on me and it got to the point where I was constantly afraid that she would get mad at me or I would let her down in some way. This was happening for about a year then I had to “break up” with her because it was affecting my mental health so much. It’s so so hard to lose a best friend but sometimes you have to do it.

  • Angela King

    I had to break up with my college best friend after 6 years, because she didn’t get along with my boyfriend (now husband), and because she was stuck in this loop of getting overly stressed about a job she hated, and then crashing her car and getting more stressed. I tried so hard to help her, and after a while, I just couldn’t anymore, and it was sucking the life out of me. She also blew me off once, for religious reasons, after weeks of planning to go on a trip with my family. I get that religion is really important to some people, but if it really meant that much, wouldn’t she have remembered there was a holiday before making plans with me and then blowing me off last-minute? She couldn’t even explain why it had to be celebrated on that exact day as opposed to visiting her family on our way back, just that she was “too religious” to do that. I think that was the last time I tried to make plans with her, because I felt betrayed and left behind. Now we live far apart, and she un-friended me on facebook, so all I can see is that she’s got a boyfriend and a different job. I just hope she’s happy, and doing things for herself instead of trying to please her parents.

  • Anamaria

    Yes . I love how i am not the only one that feels this way . I had a friend in middle school we were friends for 5 years and she was my bf . but in 7th grade she starded getting into these weird suff like alcohol and cigarets and all of that i didnt like but the truth was she was acctualy showing herself cause me ans her are so different is what i relise now and i ma so glad i found friends that i love and can apriciate more

  • Merle

    I guess for me it is the other way around: my best friend has her first boyfriend right now, and they have been together for 3 months I guess. One time we invited her to go out for lunch with us, but she declined and said that she wouldn’t go without him, but he didn’t like sushi so she also didn’t come with us.
    We all go to the same school and they spent every single second in between classes together, and most days after school. I live about an hour away from her so we never hung out after school, but rather on the weekends, but now she spends them with her boyfriend. And in between classes they are making out and even if I am standing right in front of her and just want to say hello, she does not see me.
    It really annoys me that she shuts me out and almost never has time for me.
    I really miss my best friend. It is not like I hate her boyfriend, he is a good friend of mine and I am very happy for them because they really are a cute couple. It’s just sad that they always exclude themselves and that the only time we can really talk is in class (which we technically aren’t allowed at my school).

    I know that maybe “breaking up” with her would be a good idea, but I am not sure because the times she is without him are super funny and everything, and also the relationship is quite new, so I hope they might stop being joined at the hip 24/7.
    Any suggestions what I could do? Has anyone of you ever felt this?

  • Erica

    I had to cut ties with my two best friends when they reconnected ties with an ex who was emotionally abusive to me. I found that out from a text that wasn’t intended for me to receive.

    I was very angry and upset, yet they saw it as no big deal. And just like that, I cut them out of my life. I was very generous with giving them second chances, and they blew it.

  • isa4ever

    I’m right around the corner of breaking up with a very close friends. For the past three years all I do is listen to a 45 minute conversation of nonsense. For example, she will ask what did you over the weekend? I might respond well I did this activity with my kids and before I can get to the next sentence she starts to talk about a similar situation and well that is her conversation for the next 45 minutes to an hour. Once she’s finish suddenly she needs to hang up and there I am left with my concerns all to myself. This has been occurring once a week. I feel its all about her I can never express my feelings or worries. I have over a month trying to tell her I will be having a big surgery but she never stops talking for me to say anything. I have decided to let her know how I feel about this and most likely this will lead to our break up. This will be hard but I know it needs to happen in order for me to move on. Any advise??

    • Angela King

      As much as it may seem rude, I would say you should try to interrupt her before she starts off on her story. Just say something like “wait, I actually have something really important to tell you.” My mom tends to get really excited about telling me what’s going on in her life, and I often have to cut her off to get back to what I actually called to tell her. If this friend still doesn’t show any interest in what you’re saying, tell her that it feels like she doesn’t care about what’s going on in your life. If she won’t listen, then say you can’t talk to her anymore. She’ll likely listen when you say that she’s hurting your feelings, but if not, then she’s not worth your breath.

  • Kerry

    This post was so important to make! I broke up with my best friend a few years back and it devastated me. My other friend was going through a romantic break up at the time and when we would talk I could totally relate, because losing your best friend is almost the exact same, except for the physical attraction side. I felt silly for being so affected and torn apart after losing my friend, and I wish this post had been published a few years ago because it would’ve saved me from a year or more of questioning myself and feeling guilty and thinking everything was blown out of proportion and I was the only one at fault somehow. Even in friendships, the most important ones are the ones who choose to stay, who choose to make an effort, who reflect your level of investment in the friendship. I still love her and want great things for her life, and being this far removed from the ‘break up’ there are times when it still hurts but I know it was the right thing, and I can look back at our years of friendship and treasure them for how they grew me and helped shape who I am for the better, and I thank her for that.

  • calentine

    I was abandoned by every single “friend” I had when I was diagnosed with seizures and epilepsy from a bad head injury. Suddenly I am alone, unemployed and sad, and it is hard to get out of bed. I often just wish I would have another bad seizure where no one finds me, rather than complaining about how lonely and what a loser I am.

    • isa4ever

      You are not a loser…you just found out how those friends are not really your friends. If your health allows you try to be a volunteer somewhere maybe in a recreational place or at church there you will see how much of a difference once person can make. There are still good people out there. There are many beautiful things in life for leaving you just need to give yourself this opportunity. If you feel that you are falling into depression please seek help. I was once in a deep depression believe it was not fun I went to my doctor and received the support I needed.

  • Allegra

    My cousin was my best friend our whole lives. We were born a month apart and were always BFFs. We lived together after high school and eventually she started pulling away. The problem was that we always texted the same way and amount. Over the last four years that became so painful for me, bc it felt like we were divorced. Of course people grow apart and I didn’t mind that, but she would ALWAYS be busy when I invited her to do something … but yet we would text constantly. This spring it just became too painful and I stopped texting her. She stopped too. I didn’t speak to her at my sisters bday party. There’s a lot more to this story but suffice it to say it was just too painful to keep the relationship. I NEVER anticipated that we would not speak or be friends. Still painful unfortunately.

  • Riia

    I have had to overcome this issue many times in course of a very short timeline. I had two close friends, from different circles and we decided to have a hobby together. We were all very excited about it, but after a few months suddenly both of them stopped participating. Even worse they tried to come up with excuses even when I confronted them in straightforward manner, and I can´t stand when people lie trough their teeth. Then afterwards both of them started to get more clingy and selfish, and their life didn’t have room for me or my problems anymore, both of them only wanted a trashcan to stuff with their worries. So I broke up with both. Then half a year later I met this new, super funny and interesting friend and it felt like we were made for each other. I was complete again, not lonely and sad like before. I had the courage to make friends again. Sadly that person also got really jealous of my other friends and was demanding all my time. She came up with means to punish me when I didn’t give her the attention she wanted: ignoring me, yelling at me and making me feel guilty when I didn´t spend time with her. At her worst she used the story I told about the friends I broke up with against me. So I stopped seeing and messaging her which made her gossip all kinds of stuff about me to other people.

    I think breaking up with friends is lot harder than with partners. It´s not accepted and usually the circle you´re possibly both in tries to get you together over and over again. There is no absolute love or wanting the best for another person. Other people start to look at you differently when you break up with friends; they start saying things like “Hopefully you won´t break up with me soon!” or “I don´t get why you couldn’t get past that”. People want fix friendships because they´re too afraid of getting to know new people, even though they are being used or even subjected to mental violence.

    I hope everyone would start to think about friendships/platonic relationships as equal to dating – or even more important than that. That´s when people can start to see the potential in all human interaction and maybe understand each other a lot better and respect one another.

  • JeAnn Murray

    Yeah, I had a breakup with a friend. I guess we drifted apart…sounds painless, but for months I felt very alone. I had started a new program and was no longer surrounded with people everyday so the loneliness got to me. I wanted her to be my salvation but it just didn’t happen. I asked her if I did something wrong for her not to reach out to me, but she only promised to do so in the future. She wasn’t bitter or anything, I think she just grew away from me by that time. Eventually, I decided that I wasn’t going to continue like that, and to do that I had to make a clean cut from our friendship. We now contact each other if we need favours (we are in the same field of work, so sharing information can help) but that’s it. I don’t regret my decision, especially since I also decided not to make it into a bitter malice. I just made it into something concrete instead of up in the air.

  • Hi Cassey, this post touches me a lot because I had a similar experience.
    We named each other “sisters”, knew each other since we both were 6yo. 6. YEARS. OLD.
    We went through good and bad in life and came out good from all that.
    We were 28 when I met Andrea, my actual boyfriend, in 2012 (yes, here in Italy Andrea is a male name XD). And again she was getting along quite fine at the start, going out with us two, calling him “brother-in-law”. She was definitely part of the family.
    But at some time I felt there was something wrong. I discovered she wasn’t sincere with me.
    And then things got worst. Several times she planned to do something with us and our friends, and then ditch us seconds before the date with an excuse, telling us lies. I tried to talk to her, asking what was wrong. She said “nothing”, but went on with this behaviour. She also started to have arguments with our circle of friends I introduced her into, and also with me and Andrea.
    Then she started talking about a guy she was dating, and then again I suspected she was not telling the truth, since she accurately avoided us to meet.
    In a couple of month she told me she was going to move with this guy, and despite still being unfair with us she was acting like everything was ok. I put her on a test and offered to help her moving (she did that for us a year before), but she declined and said her boyfriend was handling everything with his friends. Again she avoided a meeting with him.
    I discover who he was because she tagged him on Facebook, and all her lies came to light. She told me a big bunch of lies and I still can’t figure out why she acted like that.
    It was like everything fell off in a second, it was like a waterfall: I recalled so many occasions she didn’t treat me right in the past but I just gave in because I thought they were not a big deal at that time.
    I just accepted, excused and forgave everything because I loved her too much, like you do with a sister, but eventually it was time to love ME first and part with her. And I simply told her this.
    I was exhausted and I just wanted to get out of that situation, not giving her time to answer back or try to persuade me.
    She was intoxicating me and people around me, and after I broke up I felt relieved. We all felt like that, even our friends couldn’t stand her anymore.
    I never saw or talked to her again, and it’s been almost 3 years now. From time to time I still think about all this: I’m sad I lost a person who knew so much about me, someone who was in my life since forever.
    But losing her gave me peace of mind, and this is why I know I made the right choice.
    XO, Francesca

  • Vicky Fernandes

    I broke up with my best friend two weeks before my wedding! It was devastating! That was nearly two years ago and now I have an almost one year old that he hasn’t met. And in some ways I’m glad because the way he was when we broke up wasn’t the man he’s been for the ten years before but in some ways I’m devastated that my son won’t know the man that helped me through so much. I don’t think even now I’ve had time to process it and I still have times when I dwell on how much he broke my heart! People have said it’s strange that I describe it like that, but outside of my family he was the person I loved the most.