“It’s not you, it’s me.” Sound familiar? Probably because it is one of the more clichéd ways to dump that boyfriend or girlfriend you’re just not into anymore. But have you ever thought about what to say to break up with your best friend? “We just don’t click anymore,” or “We don’t spend enough time together.” Regardless, breakups are tough, and the breakup with your BFF can be just as devastating as one with your BF or GF.
Known as “The Friendship Doctor,” Dr. Irene Levine recently published a book called “Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend” about the most effective ways to evaluate the different friendships in your life.
“We’re brought up with this romanticized myth that you’re supposed to keep your best friends forever… We hear things in the media that we should try to stay friends, which makes it very uncomfortable. We only have a finite period of time and we have to focus our time and intention on the friendships that are rewarding,” said Levine, a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine.
Many students experience losing high school friends as they start college – you make new friends, you don’t have as much time to pick up the phone, you basically create a new life for yourself that may or may not include your once ‘long lost sister.’ While friendships are sometimes destroyed by unavoidable forces such as distance, they can also end because of relationship problems brought on by one or both of the friends.
Freshman Lara Drazin said that a best friend breakup can be just as emotional as one with a boyfriend because of the withdrawals and feelings people go through.
Two years ago, Drazin’s best friend went away to college and the two lost contact, she said.
“It felt like a breakup. It was almost like I was in a relationship with her even though I wasn’t. It was a friendship but it was like a breakup when she went away,” Drazin said.
To cope, Drazin said she really put herself out there to try and hang out with as many different people as she could.
“I think people underestimate the capability to make new friends, but it’s really not that hard to do. They think that people already have their cliques established, but if it is a good friendship, it is not going to matter,” Drazin said.
Levine said people need to accept the fact that friendships change over time, and that you shouldn’t blame the other person for the friendship’s demise.
“You have to accept that friendships aren’t perfect and they have their ups and downs and we become better friends because we can make better choices,” Levine said.
Four years ago, when junior Jessica Scheer was in high school, she found out that her best friend would frequently lie to her and constantly favored other people over her best friends.
“We got in a fight, and I said, ‘Listen you’re a pathological liar and you always choose your boyfriends over your girlfriends and I’m not interested in being friends with someone like that.’ It was an emotional time and I was just really sad,” Scheer said.
The relationship ended, and Scheer said she kept reminding herself of how unhealthy that relationship was as a mechanism for recovering from the loss.
“I think that whenever things like this happen in a friendship, it always makes you rethink about what went wrong and makes you re-appreciate certain qualities in people. And also, [it] helps you understand what you like and what you don’t like in friends,” Scheer said.
Like with Scheer’s situation, Levine said you need to be aware of when a friendship becomes toxic.
“If [the friendship is] consistently making you feel badly about yourself… you dread seeing her e-mail or text message, then you have to listen to those cues if there is something wrong with the friendship,” Levine said.
Men go through BFF breakups as well, but Levine said it is not the same for them. The two sexes are wired differently, and women tend to be more invested in a relationship.
Alexandre Hassan, a freshman, said that his friendship with his best friend has slowly been deteriorating over the past couple of months due to their different schedules as college freshmen.
“It is kind of upsetting that we don’t talk as much. When something funny happens, I think about her, but not all the time. Not talking doesn’t kill the friendship, it is just put on hold because we both are busy,” Hassan said.
While Levine said it is very important to keep your old friends because they are like scrapbooks of your lives, college freshmen should not hold themselves back from branching out.
“College is a very unique time in life – never in your life will you be in a place with so many opportunities to make so many different types of friends… It would be a shame if someone kept looking backwards instead of participating in the present,” Levine said.