Whenever I write about friendship breakups, I hear from a number of readers who’ve been on the receiving end. My posts, unintentionally, have largely been about the breakers rather than the breakees. I’ve discussed the ensuing guilt, the need to explain yourself, and even how to handle the post-relationship run-in. But what about the unwitting participants on the other end? The friends who thought everything was fine until their supposed BFF pulled the rug out from under them?
Usually, these women are heartbroken. Confused. Angry. All those feelings you struggled with the last time your boyfriend dumped you? Insert them here.
But even worse than the feeling of betrayal is the effect the breakup has on other potential friendships. Women often admit to being so hurt after a friend breakup that they have trouble trusting any other potential BFFs. Or maybe it’s simply that they’re hesitant to let a new friendship escalate to true BFF status, scared said friends could have an unexpected change of heart. These ladies have experienced just how rough women can be on each other and they want to protect themselves. Understandable.
But I’d say to them the same thing I say to a friend who’s been dumped by a boyfriend and never wants to date again: They won’t all be like that. You need to find a way to get back out there, and be willing to trust people.
One mean girl does not represent the whole lot.
And yet I hear stories of women avoiding close friendships more often than I do women avoiding another shot at romance. It’s as if we are more scarred by friendships gone wrong than romances. My theory is that women go into romantic relationships with the knowledge that it could end–it could even end badly–so they’re ready for it. They come armed with the knowledge that if this one doesn’t work out, they’ll keep truckin’. We don’t embark upon friendships with that same understanding. We assume friendships will be in tact for the long haul, so when we’re wrong we’re not only surprised but we’re pretty beat up. The bruises take longer to heal, and we’re more hesitant to try again.
At least, that’s my theory. So to those of you readers who are holding out on your best friend search because you’re wary of getting too close, hear this: Go forth and prosper. For every bitchy girl who made you feel like an insecure seventh grader, there are dozens of women like you, ready for a new pal.
This I know. I’ve been there.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a friend breakup? Did it scare you away from trusting friends for a while? How’d you get back in the game?