As a single girl, I’ve had a few breakups.
They are never fun. Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of a breakup, it hurts. You think if you are the dumped, the other person is fine. But you know, if you’ve ever been the dumper, that’s never the case.
I sat across the table from one of my best guy friends a few months ago as he planned to breakup with a girl who was madly in love with him. I knew she’d be busted up for a long time, but I saw he would be too.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
Breakups are gross. And we can talk through every side until there is not one detail he said or she said left, actual or fabricated.
But you know what we don’t talk about enough?
When friendships break up.
Of all the romantic breakups in my life, none have come close to hurting the way a breakup with a best friend hurt. I didn’t know a feeling like that could exist. It was breathtaking, but in an absolutely terrible way.
It all fell apart over a two-day period and because the story isn’t just mine, I won’t go into it. But years of deep friendship ended and the ripping apart felt the way a sheet looks when it is torn in two. Shredded. Loud. Sudden. Jagged.
And after the dust settled, I didn’t know who to talk with and I didn’t know what to feel and I didn’t know what to call what had just happened.
Isn’t your person the one you talk to when things are broken? What do you do when things are broken with your person?
The fear I had, and the fear we have as women, is that we’ll be judged for being brokenhearted over an ended friendship. How do you tell the other friends that a central friendship in your life is over without being gossipy? How do you process the hurt and pain without seeming overly invested and needy?
How do you heal from a breakup that no one labels as a breakup?
It’s all very hard. There are not good answers. I bet Paul and Barnabas would say the same. Breakups are hard, whether you were IN LOVE or just LOVED. But even that Dr. Luke, who recorded the story in the book of Acts, shows us one thing we really really need to know: tell the truth, even when things break.
Tell the truth. Even when things break. Even when things are ripped to shreds.
And I will tell you this, years later, I needed the ripping. While I hate how things ended (and they ended), I don’t regret what came of it. What it revealed in me when that friendship was stripped away was not healthy and Jesus needed a wide path in to heal some things in me. To make beauty from those ashes.
The more I say out loud, “the hardest breakup of my life was with a friend,” the more nods and teary-eyes I see from other women. More of us have walked through this than you probably know. You are not alone if your heart is broken over a friendship. And you should talk about it.
I cannot fix it for you, but I’ll tell you this:
Call it by name: a breakup.
Tell the truth, even when things break.
Let Jesus into the ripped places. He will show you a tapestry you could not see before.
And somehow, in ways we don’t get, it will be beautiful.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I guess I’m pretty fortunate that, even though I’ve had falling outs with girlfriends, we’ve usually been able to patch it back together over time. I do, however, know the deep pain you’re talking about when you can’t go to your “go to” person and talk. It’s like a gaping hole in the center of your heart. As the saying goes, “guys will come and go, but girlfriends are there for life.” That’s why I guard those relationships ever so tightly. Thank you for the reminder of just what a blessing those friendships are and to not take them for granted.
Yes, yes, yes. I still feel the pain of losing my best friend in this way four years ago. But my Jesus knows all things and I, like you, needed the ripping. I couldn’t see it then and as painful as it was, when I finally accepted the new tapestry He was creating, it became something beautiful. Still painful? Yes. But sometimes we have to be torn a bit to grow. Thank you for your words this morning…coffee for the soul!
Sarah S says
Ugh. Yes. And But. Even after six years I’m not sure I see the good or the healing or the purpose. It’s still just a dirty rotten mess that doesn’t make any sense to me. I love my friends. Even when they are done loving me. I can’t seem to help it. Loyal to a fault. My hearts cry is simply, I forgive. I forgive. I forgive. Can’t we move on now? Can’t we all just get along?
Penny Doremus says
Oh Annie, I’ve never heard anybody talk about this before. Thank you for giving me the permission to grieve that lost relationship for the important one it was. It has been almost six years, and I still hurt. My heart so resonated with the idea of what do you do when things are broken with your person? I still miss her, and more than that, the relationship we shared. Thank you for talking about such a difficult subject, and for doing it with such grace and beauty.
This is so right on! I lost a church and some friends at the same time. Crazy. But you are right about the needed ripping. The beauty from ashes. Thanks for writing this!
Yes…. this echoes me
This resonated with me so, so deeply this morning. I am in process of a breakup with a friend. It’s a slow tearing, where the distance just grows by the day, and it is hard. You made a wonderful point when you said women fear being judged about a friendship with a girlfriend, how people think you care too much about that friend for the amount of pain consuming your heart. The pain is real, and the transparency of your post struck a chord in my heart. Thank you for writing.
I have been going through the same thing, Christina, “a slow tearing, where the distance just grows by the day, and it is hard.” I needed this post AND your comment. I don’t feel so alone now. I await the beautiful tapestry God is creating.
LaDonna English says
Thanks for writing on oh such a tender subject. Nodding yes here with just as much emotion as I felt three years ago over a friendship breakup. Yes, we let God use it as best we can. We walk away and try to recalculate forward, but with a limp. My heart wasn’t meant for giving up, but sometimes it’s just not my choice.
It’s true, sometimes it’s hard to call a breakup by its name. The after effects are present, regardless which person initiated it.
Sometimes the break frees the soul to move forward and healthier friendships can follow. But it is never easy.
Mary@The Calm of His Presence says
Oh I wish I didn’t know the pain you shared but unfortunately I do! When you lose a friendship that felt more like family than friends the pain can catch you so off guard. I’ve lost a friendship like that. I saw it happening but as hard as I tried I couldn’t prevent it. I realize years later that God needed to rip out room to open my eyes to things that needed to change in my life. Thank you for these words!
Thank you so much for your message that has really hit home for me this week. I have chosen to end a friendship with someone that I feel has taken advantage of me. I am sad in some ways, but in another way, I feel free. Free to form more positive relationships. The sad thing with friendships sometimes, is that it takes a lot of time before you realize that a particular friendship may not be good. I found that out after 5 years. I am blessed that God opened my eyes to see His truth. I pray for anyone else who is going through the lose of a friendship.
Thank you for this. This happened to me a few years ago, and although it was just as you described it, I’ve never before thought about it in terms of being a breakup. It even has some of the same adjustments as a male-female breakup, in that you have to learn to be comfortable with each other when you have become “just friends.” That adjustment is indeed made much for difficult when you no longer have that go-to person to share your feelings with!
Rindra Rt says
Praise the Lord for how He guided you to this testimony. I’ve been so hurt by people that I told myself no more friends. But now I have close ones and when you feel the rejection and hurt. I just want to go into my free zone again. Been there this week and God through your testimony showing me that He is the first true friend and to cling to Him. I will still be hurt some how yet if my best friend is Jesus I would always have someone to talk to, to get comfort from! ! Thank you Annie and God bless you all.
Annie, I’ve been through a friendship breakup. They hurt. Oh, how they hurt. Being misunderstood and accused of untrue things . . . that time imprinted deep wounds into my heart. I went through the grieving process, eventually coming to the point where I could forgive the hurt and move forward.
The entire post was beautiful, but the words that spoke to me the most? Tell the truth, even when things break. Such great wisdom.
The hardest part of my life was working with women for 17 years and thinking they were my true friends. I quit my job and realized that I only had one friend that stood by my side. I often feel that she uses me. I am learning to go out to meet new friends at bible study and at college. Where ever I go….God will lead me.
Love this and love you. Break ups are hard no matter how you label them.
Laura Risser Moss says
These next several weeks are anniversaries of the breakup my two more-family-than-friend friends and I am so grateful for each word here. And I’m grateful that God knows I still struggle (even after just about five years) and and that He desires to continue healing me using brutal beauty like this post.
After high school my bff and I broke up and I grieved that loss for more years than I want to admit. I tried reaching out to her a number of times, but she remained politely distant…..Fast forward to our mid-forties, I learned through a mutual friend that she had cancer. Unbeknown to her, I had gone through cancer myself, twice, 10 years earlier. I reached out to her during those last several months of her life. Although we lived in other states, we forged a new relationship as the Lord used my previous cancer experiences to support her. We joyfully shared our fondest memories of growing up together through school, and catching up on our lives. My own cancer gave me the blessing of knowing things that would bless her through her own. Joy from the ashes….It was one of the biggest blessings God has ever done for me. She and I never had any ” hashing things out” conversations….but it all felt good and right again…..The week before she passed away, she told me she believed God ordained me to be in her life again at that time, and she really loved me.
Since then, I’ve learned through that and other relationships to hold my relationships more loosely and to pray that the Lord give and take people from my life as He sees fit. It has been a liberating prayer. He is faithful and can absolutely be trusted with that prayer. In seasons of loneliness, He prooves Himself enough. What strength He gives. What wonderous means He brings about relationships, too.
Sarah S says
Beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.
Judy morgan says
Love your heart and the way you pray. Our Father really does know best. Thank you. Judy
Sarah and Judy,
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement….So sweet of of you both.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for the loss of your friend. Praying for the family and you right now. May God give you all the peace and contentment you need to grieve.
Gina Kemp says
This is so good and so worth talking about. Everyone is comfortable talking about breakups with significant others but breakups with friends are complicated…Several years ago I had a breakup with my best friend…it was awkward, hard to fix, hard to understand. I feel as though we had taken one another for granted, got complacent, major life changes affected us and we just didn’t know how to do the friend thing anymore because we were both in such difficult spaces. It was hard to talk about to other people, I didn’t want to trash her, I loved her like a sister but I also didn’t know how to talk about it, I was just as confused by it as she likely was. After 5 years of the Lord working on both of us we are now friends again, it’s not the same because we are now different people…many lessons were learned…God can heal broken friendships too.
Amy M says
Oh, yes. This got right to the heart of one of my most painful memories. As in your case, the friendship was an unhealthy one, but losing my best female friend at the time was a truly wrenching experience. God has ultimately used this for good in my life and I know He grew me in areas of my life that I didn’t even know to examine at that time. Still, it was a hard and painful time.
I had two friendships breakups… One of them, we reconciled and are now friends again. But it still affects my current friendships and my level of trust. I am working through these fears and insecurities with God. Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone.
Jessica Kon says
Wow, I love this. Unfortunately I know this pain too. I never had many friends, even less after high school. So I made a friend in 2013 in the university. I couldn’t believe I’d found a nice, christian friend. We had high “peaks”, we went to several places together, used to have lunch and coffee together, used to chat on Skype pretty much everyday while at our jobs, I remember being there for her when she was dealing with a rude, stupid boyfriend and posterior breakup. We even travelled to another country together, her first air plane trip. I honestly feel a lump in my throat when I remember that, specially because something she never clearly told me about that trip ended our friendship. But today, somehow, I trust God and I’m sure He knows better. It might look nice and pretty from the outside, but I think our friendship had hidden envy, comparison, and other not that nice things that maybe would lead to an even uglier “breakup”. But I do miss having a friend to share daily things with, to lift a friend up and be lifted up by a friend. We met in March 2013, had a nice year til that trip in April 2014. I remember going to school in 2014 (we weren’t classmates anymore) and dreading seeing her around, I even took different routes to avoid seeing her. Once or twice we did see each other from a distance, I just remember waving hello to an apathetic faced person who used to be my best friend. I thought somehow this would lead to me and my sister being closer. Unfortunately pretty much a year went by and we still aren’t that close. But I trust the Lord.
Beth Price says
I lost my best friend because my husband(ex husband now) was jealous and put my friend in a position that was really bad. She told me about it and I sided with my husband.
Even today, when I think of her, my heart breaks. See, I didn’t realize that the man I trusted and had a spent so much time loving, could be so calculating. He knew that if he could work things into what he wanted me to believe was a ‘cheating’ situation, I would almost certainly throw away my best friend instead of my husband. That is a exactly what I did. There are no words to describe the brokenness I still feel over that decision.
Wow! This is just beautiful and yet painfully true! I do know this pain, and it hurts! And most don’t even get why – you are so sad about ” breaking up” with a female friend.
I also lost a dear friendship for speaking up and telling her how I felt. But I’ve learned – that the ripping I needed, the unresolved forginess in my heart that is so hard to let go from so many years of living with abusive parents- mainly my father. You see how The Lord wants to heal us, and it took this friendship brake up for me to look within. So I’ve learned to be happy and greAtful about the people The Lord chooses to place in my life to wAlk the journey side by side with me, and trusting that they may be here for a season and then others will be brought in for the journey as others are meant to leave. Gods plans are higher than mine!
My heart hurts. So much I could say about this. So much. These words spill out my heart, and make the cracks wider; but you are right, there is purpose for it. Though it hurts and scars and changes me. I have come to understand only this. I depended on other people where I should have depended on Him. And, He brought me to a solitary place where all I have is my husband, my children, and a scattered-in-the-world few who are in the place where I am at. We are a broken bunch trying to encourage each other even through the swollen aching places.
How I love Jesus. For He has proven that He IS sufficient for my every need. Psalm 27: 13, 14 is a verse my heart clings to… and Psalm 31: 14, 15… HE IS!!!!
Beth Williams says
Breakups are never ever easy. We must trust God that He knows best. He will bring beauty from ashes and give us better friends.
Crystal P says
Thank you for saying this. It’s been years and I feel like the wound is still fresh some days, I thought it was just me, that I was overly sensitive. Sometimes I feel the worst part is I can forgive, but I don’t want to forget, I wish we could put it all aside and be friends again. I think I just can’t accept the change. History like that is irreplaceable and it’s just so heartbreaking.
How do you move forward with healing when you go to church with the “friend”? The “friend” is determined to stay because their children/grandchild attend. I can’t go because my husband is pastor. I’ve extended forgiveness, but there’s been no room for to “just let the Lord work it all out.” This “friend” is now angry with me because I’m not doing what she thinks I should be doing. It is so bad that she has started reacting to my grown children in very negative ways. I’m tired!!!! I’ve begged the Lord to move this “friend” or move me…nothing. This has been going on now for two years.
I’m almost a year and a half into the breakup of a dear and long term friendship. You’re right. It was so awkward to talk about in the beginning for those very reasons you mentioned. I remember thinking in the beginning, “I can’t talk about this because this isn’t a thing, is it?” But is a thing. It’s a thing a lot of women go through and we don’t talk about it. I’m so thankful for the handful of women I have been able to bear my heart to who have listened compassionately and affirmed me. It’s really messed with my self esteem, and I needed solid women to speak truth to me over and over. This is the biggest hurt I have been through. But I already see God doing such big things in my life through it. Indeed I am thankful that He has done what was necessary to bring health and wholeness to my life. Thank you so much for writing this post. It has hit the spot with me, nd God has used you to encourage and strengthen me.
When the breakup is your best friend/ sister…it is so painful. In my experience, I realized the toxicity of the relationship. God moved me from a comfort zone into finding new friends…facilitating bible studies and a women’s life group…I can’t say I have a best friend, but better friendships.
This is awesome, Annie! I’ve been the breaker-upper, and I’ve been the breakee…both are very hard. Like you said, it’s hard to explain to others what happened, without sounding gossipy. Or bitter. And it’s hard to know what to do about the friendships that were shared, because while you might not do it, people will take sides. I ended a friendship that was years and years long…because God asked me to. I fought it. I cried about it. I hated it. I couldn’t explain it. If I didn’t understand it, how could SHE? I didn’t see WHY…until much later. God had to do a work in me to make me more dependent on HIM…to make HIM the priority in my life. Years later, I am making my way back to friendship with this girl. No, it won’t ever be the same…it doesn’t need to be.
Elisa K. says
What I learned from the most hurtful break up of a friendship that happened in 2012. Was that I needed to because it was a healthy boundary that God asked me to take. I talked it over with my christian counselor.
Before the meeting I cried out to God for about an hour and half to help me let go because I did not want let go.
It was clear that we both were too co-dependant on each other emotionally. Basically another form of idolatry. Spending too much time together. And sharing too much. And it was not edifying. It held us both back from growing in Christ.
It started out a great friendship. People always noticed we were best friends. We did not have to say it. It was obvious.
Then each other’s issues got too heavy for each of us. And with my counselor I was trying to keep the friendship via healthy boundaries. Then I gave up the boundaries because I was afraid to loose my best friend.
So, in the end we had a huge fight, she wanted me to stay and finish the argument, but she was not aware that her anger at one of her issues was bleeding into our frienship. I was the dumper in the situation, because I was getting really angry in my resentment of her but since I don’t like conflict, it was hard to talk to her. Especially because in the end I gave in. And my boundaries were not fully spoken.
I met my supervisor, since we were co-workers as well. And my pastor. Since the job was inside the church building. My supervisor left after I explained why the meeting was necessary. We had an ok meeting. But again, I speak up for myself enough. So when she tried to contact me again twice. I finished saying everything I needed to get off my chest via an e-mail to her and the pastor, so that she would feel accountable.
It hurt so much for a year after the friendship break up. I also left my job, so that was another loss to deal with. Because I lived with my parents, but she was a single mom, plus I did not want to burden my boss, because obviously, it would have created a lot of stressful extra work to keep me employed.
I was tempted to contact her again. But I always remember that we both have issues to grow out of.
And I can tell I am not yet completely free of co-dependancy. I struggle with it in various degrees with different types of relationships.
Saying no and taking time to rest and be renewed emotionally is my key thing to bring me back to a Christ-centred sense of healthy balance. Keeping that balance is not always easy.
Also, other issues related to co-dependancy, all relational issues really. I am in a healing, refining and freedom journey in Christ. My hope in in Him to become who I am in Him. Old sin nature cruxified, new nature in Him growing more and more.
Elisa, Thank you for sharing your story! I too, feel like I am in a period of *re*learning a lot. Friendship can definitely be an idol. It took me a while to see that. 🙂 Blessings on your journey!
Elisa K. says
Thanks, Heather^^* Yes, I am re-learning as well =] Blessings on your journey, as well!
A terrible thing happened to me and a friend several years ago, lies and gossip and deceit and hidden sins suddenly blew up and as quickly as it began, our friendship was over…..but the pain of it…..I still feel it…..the betrayal and the misunderstandings–they linger. I’m vowing to let Jesus in, to that ripped part of my heart, to sew it back together, and heal it, and let me trust again, and to hopefully find a beautiful friendship again…..this *not trusting anyone* is hard…..I want to trust again, and to share again, and not be so on guard…..Jesus Lead the Way!!!