Bad Advice Club: My friendship breakup has gotten messy
Chanté Joseph answers a difficult question on a tough life milestone – the BFF breakup
image Team Woo
words Chanté Joseph
I’m Chanté – writer, presenter, internet addict. I write a lot about relationships, internet trends and being the best, most delusional version of yourself. So welcome to the Bad Advice Club: I’m here to give you some loving advice on your life problems. Listen, I am by no means perfect, but I think that makes me ideal to assist you in navigating tricky issues because nine times out of 10, I’ve been there! Bad advice, bad decisions – these are the twists and turns that make life sweet. So let’s ride it out together: I have some gems to drop, so don’t be shy and send in your stories, woes, dilemmas.
I went through the worst breakup of my life two years ago – with my best friend. We had fought many times over the years, but mostly in a sisterly way and always made up. The last argument felt pretty low-key compared to ones we've ever had in the past, but she sent me a super formal message that basically said she wanted to cut all ties. I felt very spun out by it, but I respected it. She liked an Instagram post of mine recently where I was celebrating a new job. I am desperate to reach out and try to make amends. What should I do?
Friendship breakups are indescribably painful; in a world that fixates on romantic relationships, we don’t always have the space or language to even explain the heaviness that comes with losing a friend. Sometimes, we don’t really know how to feel or mourn the loss of someone that once felt so permanent in our lives. Even though your last argument felt ‘low key’ compared to previous ones, I don’t believe a friendship ending is always linear. Endings can happen continuously over time; every argument can be an ending of some sort that culminates in completely cutting ties. Alternatively, friendships can run their natural course, and through no fault of those involved, people grow apart and out of the relationship.
On to the matter at hand, I can see why you’re confused about how to respond to your friend liking your post – reading social cues on social media can be very difficult. For example, what does this 'like' really mean? Does this emoji make me seem less annoyed? How quickly should I respond to this message? These are all questions I ask myself all the time because social media interactions are an entirely new language to learn.
Could this random ‘like’ be your friend extending an olive branch? It’s possible, given that two whole years have passed and a lot can happen in that time; people reflect, grow, and change. Where we can, we should give people grace and understanding. However, if she wants to connect with you, she has to do the difficult and brave thing of starting a conversation with you and explaining how she feels. It is very easy to get wrapped up in the what-ifs of social media engagement; we begin to psychoanalyse and project meanings onto relatively innocuous interactions.
Because of this fear of misinterpretation, I am advising you to wait for her to communicate; she cut off the relationship, so honour her space, and I’m sure if feelings have changed, she will reach out. Maybe you want to signal that there is no hostility from your side by liking a few of her pictures back, which can act as a cue that you’re open to reconciliation.
If she does come back, be open and listen to what she has to say but remember that two years have passed, and you’ve also changed as a person. When we reconcile relationships after a significant amount of time, sometimes it just doesn’t hit like it used to, not because you’re all equally invested, but because you have just grown up a lot. I don’t believe that people are above forgiveness or redemption, but you have to ask yourself: how will it make me feel if my friend is once again in and out of your life?
You are a person, you are not disposable, and if you bring anyone back into your life, you must set clear boundaries about what you expect from the friendship. Be frank about how the relationship ending affected you emotionally and explain how you would have liked things to go. Unfortunately, you also have to be prepared for things not to go your way. Maybe she doesn't reach out, or perhaps you have the conversation, and the differences between you cannot be managed; you could also fall into having those constant arguments again, but that’s OK. Most importantly, you’ve been honest with yourself and got some closure from the sudden ending.
Best of luck in what you decide to do, and just know that as long as you're honest with yourself, you will be OK.