When Friendships Fracture, Change, or End

A few weeks ago, I was indulging in my Saturday morning ritual of reading the newspapers we subscribe to at Starbucks with my husband. I read a review about a book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend, by Irene S. Levine, PhD. It was a fascinating account of the various stages of relationships women have with each other. The book is a result a survey conducted by Levine, dealing with fractured friendships and their various outcomes. So, I ordered the book and read it, almost from cover to cover and found it to be incredibly informative, healing, and validating on so many levels.

I found myself thinking of the many significant relationships that I have had throughout my life. Yesterday, I was on the phone speaking to a woman I've known since I was 15, and whom I have been friends with for a long time - though we have gone from being incredibly close to estranged at times - somehow riding out so many changes and phases.

I have made some of my most satisfying connections in the last 10 years however - especially the last 5 - when I have had the grace and blessing to come to know a garden of beautiful souls I feel more spiritually aligned with - after having longed and searched for such connections for decades. That is not to say that previous relationships were not meaningful. But just that everything was in a different place, and circumstances and interior growth had not yet brought me to the place where I am today.

Here are some insightful excerpts from this book:

"When you lose a close female friend there isn't a single word in the dictionary to apply describe the maelstrom of feelings that envelop you: confusion, disappointment, hurt, anger, depression, blame, and even shame, all rolled together. That's because most women are brought up to believe that your best friend will always be there for you, and you for her...whatever the circumstances...

A friendship lost is viewed as a personal failure, a source of embarrassment to both parties. As such, the social and emotional cost of lost friendships run high. As we morph from girls into women, we are judged by our ability to make and maintain friends...

There are strong parallels between a friendship and a romantic relationship [but] there are few supports to draw upon when you lost a close friend...

Casual friends [are] relationships that are superficial, loosely tied, and linked to situational circumstances...Good friends are friends with whom you feel close, and with whom you choose to hang out and spend more time with. Best friends are those relationships which are solid in terms of intimacy and trust, and tend to be characterized by more frequent contact than typically occurs between good friends and casual ones. These relationships feel like they will be long-term...and cause the most pain when lost or fractured...

About nine people on average, are considered close friends who make it to the 'inner sanctum.'

Ironically, both women and men tend to see social (or casual) friends more often than the people they think of as their closest friends...

Most people have about five close friends and an extended network of 150 people they consider more distant acquaintances...

Two best friends often share common interests, or a deep sense of spirituality...One woman used the term 'soul friend' which comes from the Gaelic tradition of Anam Cara, to describe this relationship. She writes: "[This] someone makes you grow into the highest and best you [that you] are meant to be. And at its most, its joyful...She is simply part of your life in some form every day..."

When friendships fracture abruptly, the hurt is palpable - especially if you can't pinpoint exactly when, how, or why it occurred...The dumpee almost never has closure about a failed relationship...

When they realize they have been dumped by a friend, women typically experience a range of reactions that include shock and denial, loss, self-blame, embarrassment, and anger before they reach a state of acceptance and relief. Not every woman goes through every stage, nor do all women go through these stages in the same order, but eventually most will move from utter shock to reluctant acceptance..."

There is so much wisdom in this book. I will continue with another entry tomorrow highlighting the last section of the book, which most spoke to me...

"Each friend represents a world in us,
a world possibly not born until they arrive,
and it is only by this meeting
that a new world is born."
~ Anais Nin

"A bosom friend - an intimate friend,
you know - a really kindred spirit
to whom I can confide my most inmost soul.
I've dreamed of meeting you all my life."
~ Anne of the Green Gables

Comments

sarah said…
I will have to double check as I think this is one of many loss of friendship books I bought a few years ago (might be one that sold last fall)...but never made time to read - working full time, independent home owning, mothering my dog and graduate school FT put a damper on all things, including reading to find the answers to introspective questioning. Interesting as I certainly resonate with a lot of the quotes you picked out. That and just this week a woman I felt very close to and "broke up with" and I reconnected - & this makes me so happy! Look forward to reading more from you.
Olga Rasmussen said…
Hi Sarah,

This is actually a new book - although there are a few others on the topic. This book though, was helpful to me because it clarified experiences I have had.

How joyous about your re-connection!

Blessings and love,
Olga
TAP said…
:0 I am so glad I read this.. I am in a bad place with friends all around me and I have been so down about it. So I googled "When friends change" just to find something encourging or something to help me understand what phase of life I was in. This post gave me a good book and just with the comments you made it helped Thank you!
TAP said…
:) I am so glad I read this.. I am in a bad place with friends all around me and I have been so down about it. So I googled "When friends change" just to find something encourging or something to help me understand what phase of life I was in. This post gave me a good book and just with the comments you made it helped Thank you!
TAP said…
:) I am so glad I read this.. I am in a bad place with friends all around me and I have been so down about it. So I googled "When friends change" just to find something encourging or something to help me understand what phase of life I was in. This post gave me a good book and just with the comments you made it helped Thank you!
Olga Rasmussen said…
Glad you enjoyed it TAP! This book was really helpful to me. Blessings to you!
Olga

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