Recently, I discovered that one of my best friends had ditched me after I logged on to Facebook and found her profile had disappeared from my page. We’d been having problems that had culminated in a huge argument the day before, but I figured we’d get through it. I figured wrong.
Still, being given the heave-ho by way of a social networking site? My first reaction was to laugh. I mean, we’re adults. Unfriending me seemed tantamount to toilet-papering my locker or scribbling my phone number on the boys’ locker room wall. We had been close for well over a decade. We supported each other through parental deaths, and together we’d bitched and moaned about men for untold hours. I loved her amazing daughter—buying that little girl Christmas presents was the highlight of my holidays. Suddenly, that was all gone. Suddenly, I wasn’t laughing. I was crying.
We know what to do when boyfriends dump us: sob. We eat everything in the house or take to our beds and refuse all sustenance. Usually, there’s yelling—at least at my house. We purge them from our lives. We delete all their emails and erase their number from every electronic device we own.
But when you break up with a girlfriend, things are murkier. For one thing, people don’t feel sorry for you the way they do when a romantic relationship bites the dust. You can’t blame them; it’s not like you were in love or planning a future with your friend. (Even though you assumed she’d be part of it.) So, getting wound up about the loss seems somehow, I don’t know, less legit.
Is it? It hurts as much as any other heartbreak. Victoria Clark made a short film on the subject: “Ruminations on You and Me.” I asked her about the process of grieving a dead friendship. “As a woman, I expect men to come and go because of the nature of love,” she explained. “But your girls are supposed to be on your side, no matter what … That’s what I wanted to believe for a long time, but now I know that that’s not always reality.”
A friend of mine was saddened when her BFF excised my friend from her life after landing a boyfriend. “She hated being single, so if there was a man anywhere in the vicinity, you’d be kicked to the curb,” my pal explained wistfully. Even forewarned with this knowledge, it stung when she was dismissed from her friend’s life.
Unlike my breakup, there was no dramatic defriending. This woman utilized the passive-aggressive method of choice: the slow fade. “I remember buying her a birthday gift, but somehow she just never had the time to come collect it.”
Like any other kind of relationship, friendships end. It’s not like I’ve never dumped a pal. I’ve gotten back together with a few. Because I miss her and love her, I gave making up a shot with this one. A few weeks after I was banished from her Facebook page, I emailed her an apologetic note.
I never heard back.