Losing a friend can be just as bad as breaking up with a significant other. We go through very similar things physically. Our stomachs hurt, and so we clutch things to our chest to make the ache go away. We lose our appetites, we worry, we wring our hands and stare at ceilings and think way too much about what we could have said or done to prevent the loss. We wonder how bad a person we must have been for them to so suddenly cut us out of their lives without a reason. Any reasons they may have given us often look like code, and are even harder to decipher.
One second, we think the person we’ve spent years talking with, laughing with, planning big events with, is there, and the next second they’re gone and you’re left to pick up the pieces. We bare our souls to the people we’re close to because we don’t go into friendships thinking they’re going to end. Relationships? Maybe. Friendships? Nah. So it’s a huge emotional letdown to lose someone who was held so dear.
This is perhaps the biggest shock that comes with going to university. A lot of the friends we interacted with for six hours a day, five days a week in school – what I like to term ‘fishbowl friends’ – suddenly drift away. You call and text but it feels forced, and so you either let go, or sit down and try to hash out what the problem is in order to salvage the once close friendship.
If reconciliation fails, talking it out helps to at least alleviate some of the pain by getting all of the cards out on the table. “That’s what a friendship break-up is: it’s a falling out that’s a bit more formalised”, says Curtis Chan, a third year Science/Arts student. But just as relationship break-ups differ depending on the situation, so too do friendship-breakups. There is no right or wrong way of doing them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had an official friendship break-up, but I do think that there were situations where it would have been useful”, says Felicia Addison, a fourth year Science/Arts student.
Sometimes rifts between people are over simple misunderstandings. They may still be a good person at heart, but until you can sit down and talk about it, that rift persists. If worse comes to worst, then being able to at least, as Felicia says, “close that book, fully understanding why we’re not friends anymore”, will save everyone a lot of time.
My advice is to not settle for an “I’m fine, nothing’s wrong”. Don’t settle for awkward hellos. You wouldn’t be in a relationship like that, so why would you in a friendship?
This year I lost a friend who was so close she was going to be a bridesmaid at my wedding. And though she will never read this, this is for her, and for all of you reading who have lost close friends that were special to you.