How to get over breaking up with your best friend

We asked an expert


There seems to be an epidemic going around people in their twenties: best friends breaking up. Your best friend is supposed to be the one person who loves you unconditionally and will have your back, no matter what, and when that breaks down it can have devastating effects.

I hadn’t considered how huge the ramifications of a friendship breakup could be until it happened to me, when I fell out with a friend of 12 years on my birthday last month. I spoke to Ales Zivkovic, a relationship therapist, to explain how to cope. Ales said: “The reason why we experience so many friendship break ups in our twenties is because the friendships we have then were formed at school or university and our twenties are a turbulent time.

“We get jobs, we expand our social circle and crucially, we change. As we change, we see that our relationships with others are not what they once were. When friends get into a conflict in their twenties, they see it as a personal attack on them rather than just a difference of opinion. This creates a rupture in the friendship that cannot be mended unless actively addressed or discussed.”

Ales

Ales

When I spoke to people about their own friendship break-ups, Ales’ explanation seemed to make sense. Julia, 20, told me:  “I’d been best friends with this girl since I was 13. For some reason, things turned sour. One night at university, we went to a mutual friend’s house and played ‘Never Have I Ever’.

“My best friend asked all of these personal, sexual questions — stuff only she knew I’d done. She even mentioned how many people I’d slept with, the men I’d slept with and any other sexcapades she could think of. All of our mutual friends sided with her. Not only did I lose my best friend, but I lost a lot of other friends in the process.

“Unfortunately, one of the mutual friends I lost died last year.I can’t get over the fact that she died thinking I was an awful friend. My ex-best friend then proceeded upload pictures of herself with our mutual friend and our other mutual friends, which made me feel incredibly left out and made me think about all those memories and all of the friends I’d lost, one way or another.

“It’s really knocked my self-confidence and I still have trust issues because of it.”

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Ales’ advice for getting over the scenario shows there’s no quick fix. He explained: “A grieving process needs to take place and needs to end properly. There is no way to avoid this process and there is no need to avoid it. If the process is too long or the impact is too strong, the best thing to do is to seek counselling”.