We’ve all lost friends for one reason or another. Whether we’ve drifted apart, moved away, committed or been at the receiving end of unforgivable actions, or left the friendship amicably, it’s never easy to lose someone you used to call a friend – let alone a best friend.
In the age of social media, when stalking someone is a simple click away, the urge to check in on an old friendship flame is stronger than ever. When we see the lives of those lost along the way play out before our eyes, feelings of regret may start to bubble up and it can be hard to shake the feeling.
As someone who has lost more friends than I’ve had stable relationships, I often ponder what my life would be like if I worked harder at the friendships I had lost. I don’t tend to give second chances and have never believe in touching the fire twice, but what if I had?
To satisfy my curiosity, I asked four people who had broken up with their best friend whether they regretted it or not.
Eddie* and Noah*
Eddie and Noah at always had a tumultuous relationship, but it was the length of their friendship that tied them together in a seemingly unbreakable bond. “We would do anything for each other and always had each other’s backs,” Eddie says. “He was like family to me.”
But when Eddie saw Noah putting in immense amounts of effort into new relationships, leaving Eddie in the dust, he realised that Noah probably wasn’t the friend he deserved.
After years of putting others before him, Eddie could barely take it. “The final straw was Noah showing up two hours late to my birthday, with no gift, after I had spent hundreds of dollars on his only weeks earlier,” Eddie explains. “But it wasn’t the no gift that got me, it was the fact that shortly after my birthday he spent time getting a really nice gift for an acquaintance’s birthday.”
During their relationship, Eddie tried to sustain it. “I would call him every day and spend heaps of time with him,” he says, “I was the biggest supporter of his drag art and would come to every one of his shows. I sacrificed a lot of my time to help him shop, sew, paint and perform.” Eddie says that this is what he does for his friends, but with Noah, he just never saw the same amount of effort returned.
Having a one-sided friendship is enough to send anyone walking in the other direction, but I wondered whether Eddie missed what he once had with Noah.
“Not particularly,” he says. “The emotional exhaustion that the relationship caused me was horrible. It got to the point where I thought I just wasn’t worth enough to receive respect, or that there was something wrong with me that made him think that it was okay to use me like he was. But I only realised this after we stopped being friends.
“It was almost like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.”
Sara* and Bianca*
“Bianca and I had a rocky relationship from the beginning,” Sara tells me. “We were constantly falling out in primary school and that continued into high school.”
Sara and Bianca were dealing with what unfortunately happens to a lot of best friends during their coming of age – one was always looking for someone “cooler”.
“Bianca was constantly trying to make friends with ‘cooler’ girls and would stop hanging out with me and our other friends once she had made friends with them. Inevitably she would return when those friendships went sour,” Sara says, “It was like we were her back up plan.”
While Sara could deal with Bianca’s passive digs and her constant search for “cooler” friends, the final straw came in the form of a boy (as it always seems to be). “I started talking to this guy,” Sara says. “I was unsure about whether to pursue anything beyond friendship, but Bianca encouraged me too. I later found out that she was talking to him behind my back and that he was under the impression that she and him were going to start dating.
“I was devastated – not just because of the betrayal, but because she actively encouraged me to pursue a relationship, that I wasn’t even sure about in the first place.
“I felt like she was trying to humiliate me.”
Whenever Sara confronted Bianca about her behaviour, Sara says Bianca would play the victim. “I was constantly apologising and trying to fix things when they went sour. It was an exhausting cycle.”
Sara was over it and she doesn’t regret ending that friendship at all. “The circumstances in which our friendship ended was evidence of the fact that she never cared about in the same way that I cared about her,” she says. “I was the only one putting effort into the friendship and once I stopped, it was clear that she was not going to fight to save the friendship or apologise for her actions.
“Without Bianca in my life, there is no drama, stress or anxiety about when the next fight will happen.”
Jessica* and Chloe*
Jessica and Chloe had been friends since before they were even born. Their mums were neighbours and pregnant at the same time, so their friendship seemed inevitable. But when Jessica and her boyfriend broke up and Chloe saw that as a green-light to move in, Jessica’s heart was broken all over again.
“Chloe was a consistent friend,” Jessica says, “It was a low maintenance friendship in the sense that we could hang at home and still have a good time.”
Chloe always showed signs of valuing her relationship with boys over hers with Jessica, but this trait hit a nerve when Chloe prioritised her relationship with Jessica’s ex over Jessica. “I had asked her to cut ties with him, after a devastating breakup but it seemed as though she was closer with him than ever.
“She didn’t respect my feelings and continued to talk to him which made me question why I was even friends with her.”
At this point, Jessica and Chloe had been best friends for 19 years so I wondered how Jessica felt about putting all that past behind her.
“At the time of cutting our friendship, I didn’t feel like I needed to sustain it,” Jessica explains. “I’m very much that person that if you do me wrong then what’s the point in trying? By the time it came to cutting Chloe off, I was sick of trying.
“I think if you tell your friend a few times to stop doing something that hurts you and they continue to do it, it’s not worth trying to make the friendship work.
“If your ‘friend’ is doing horrible things that directly hurt you after you’ve called it out and explained it – they’re not your friend.”
Devon* and Ava*
Devon had moved from Australia to Sweden to pursue a dream-worthy Nordic lifestyle (insert jealous emotions here). It was there where she met her best friend, Ava.
Devon met Ava at dance school, where they trained six days a week together, usually for hours on end. “We were always around each other,” Devon explains. “We were in sync.
“We would ride our bikes to and from dance together, as we lived across the park from each other, we did a weekly skinny dip at the beach, which is a cultural thing, talk about our boyfriends, teachers, other friends and parental issues.”
This international friendship turned from north to south after Ava used her native language against Devon. “Our dance teacher asked in Swedish if anyone wanted a solo and if they did, they needed to message her by the end of the week,” Devon tells me, “My Swedish wasn’t very good, so I missed this.
“Ava asked me to teach her the solo, help her and perfect the section, all without telling me about the amazing opportunity. The dance was my favourite and the last one that I would ever do in Sweden.
“It was clear that Ava wasn’t saying anything on purpose so she could have the limelight.
“If we both has tried and she got it, it would’ve felt different, but she made me help her and then not mention anything about it because she knew that I didn’t understand.”
Devon explains that Ava knew exactly how to use Devon’s weaknesses against her. Ava was a master manipulator. “Ava was extremely competitive and would always point out how she was smaller than me, despite knowing I had disordered eating at the time.”
When you are far away from home, you find yourself without a physical support system. This can often cause you to settle for less than average friends.
“Sometimes I miss having such a close friend but then I remember the shell of person I was and how controlled I was by her and I’m glad I don’t have contact with her anymore,” Devon says.
Maybe it’s true what they say that sometimes we hurt the ones we love the most but it’s important to know if even if someone ‘loves’ us, we don’t have to accept or take pain.
Friendships are two-sided and they involve work – from everyone involved. What I’ve learnt on this journey is that you can miss the friendship that you had but not regret walking away. Dr Seuss was definitely onto something, when he said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” But if you’re looking for a quote from me, I’d say,
"Don’t take shit from shit. Know your worth and don’t accept less."
*names have been changed for anonymity reasons.