A lot of things to do with heartbreak, both on social media and in TV shows and movies, gear towards the good old fashioned relationship. Often, heartbreak is spoken about in relation to a break up between two people, and how hard it can be to get over someone. But, to my disappointment, there is little spoken about how a friend can break your heart too. It is well known universally that friends argue and fall out, and, sometimes, they never recover from that. It can be just as hard losing a friend as it is losing a girlfriend/boyfriend.
Like a relationship break up, there are often stages that you go through when losing a close friend. The first is anger. It doesn’t matter how you guys got into a fight, it doesn’t matter who started it, it doesn’t matter who said what. The likelihood is that you are angry at them, either for the argument itself, or for previous things leading up to the argument. You cannot help it. They’re probably angry at you too. It is natural after an argument has just taken place. Things are still raw.
The second stage is usually pretending that you don’t need them. You saunter past them in the school hallway like you don’t have a care in the world. You pretend you don’t need them. People ask about what happened to you two and you shrug and tell them that you ‘just stopped talking.’ At this point, you’re still angry. You want them to miss you, more than you miss them.
Stage three usually follows the second stage pretty quickly, and presents itself as a form of grief. It stings when people say ‘didn’t you guys used to be best friends?’ When you hear their name it’s like a dagger has plunged its way through your lungs. You look at their social media profiles and see that they’ve started to move on. It’s no longer you that suanters past them in the corridor, it’s the other way round. You miss them, no matter how much you try to say you’re better off without them. Sometimes you get up all your old messages and read through them, remembering how happy you were a few months ago. You go to type an apology message asking if you can put all this behind you both. You delete it and lock your phone. You carry on pretending like you’re fine.
The next stage occurs usually after everything has settled. You’ve got new friends now, but it still stings walking past them having to act like you’re strangers. You still know when their birthday is, what their favourite band is, their like and dislikes. But you’ve managed to push all this information to the back of your mind, to a place where it doesn’t hurt you. You’re starting to think that maybe you are better off as strangers than you were anything else. Maybe you were meant to fall out so that you could find better people.
The last stage is acceptance. You are now sure that this is the path you were supposed to take. You have a new best friend now, and it’s different than the friendship with the last one. When you’re with them, it’s like a breath of fresh air. You’d probably never have met them if it wasn’t for the heartbreak you went through losing someone. This doesn’t mean to say you’re 100% over what happened though. Some nights you look through your photos together and tears form, because somewhere, you feel what’s missing. The hole that they left isn’t quite so big now, but it hasn’t closed completely, and can be opened wider by the smallest thing. But you’re recovering. You’ve surrounded yourself with good, kind people. You wish your ex-best friend the best. You still check their profile from time to time, but nowhere near as much as you did in the beginning. You realise that the only way to go is forward, but that doesn’t mean forgetting what happened. It just means that it doesn’t rule you now. And, for the first time in what seems like forever, you feel okay. You are okay.
I went through all these stages a few years ago when me and my best friend fell out. We never recovered from the argument we had - we haven’t spoken since then. It didn’t just hurt; it was like a constant burning in my chest. I cried, I screamed, I felt hollow for months on end. And then, I found new people. They took my hand and guided me through the depression that the platonic break up caused. They showed me that there are better people in this world who will make you happier than you’ve ever been. They helped me save myself.
If you’re going through a platonic break up, it’s okay. It’s perfectly valid to go through the motions as though you have just broken up with a partner. You don’t have to just ‘get over it’ quickly, nor do you have to forget it once it’s all over and you’ve finished grieving them. You are and have been going through a trauma, and it is only natural to react like you’ve lost someone. A lot of the time, you don’t just lose the person, you lose yourself, too.
Just know that you will come back from this. You will get better. I know it really doesn’t seem like it now, but you will. You are more resilient than you give yourself credit for. It can be truly hard losing a friend, but, just like a break up, it will get to a point where you move on. It took me two years to get back on my feet after my fight with my best friend. It takes time. But time truly is the healer of all wounds, and now I can honestly say that I am okay. And, someday, you will be, too.
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