Friendship is a wonderful thing. Having friends around to support you can turn a rough day into the best day of your life. It is a connection where you get to be the most authentic version of yourself. Yes, sometimes you may disagree, but we’ve all seen the movies; you’ll make up in the end! Your friends are always there for you no matter what. Well…what happens when a friendship ends? The movies don’t cover that. You never see or hear about that happening, but it happens constantly. Long story short: it sucks. Long story long: well, let’s take a look at why that might happen.
First let’s take a look at the comparison between romantic and platonic relationships - why are they so different? They are all with people that you care about and love, you enjoy spending time with these people, and whether you realize it or not, you have made a commitment to having this person in your life. Though similar, our society always puts romantic relationships first. Friendships aren’t valued in the same way, which I believe has led us to misunderstanding the significance of how we feel when they end. The truth is, these ‘friendship breakups’ can hurt just as much, if not more, than a romantic breakup.
When we are young, most of our friendships are created out of convenience. We meet a kid on the playground = instant friends. Our parents set up a playdate, we’re on the same soccer team, etc. This continues basically through our entire lives with classmates, co-workers, and again the list goes on. These friendships tend to end out of convenience when you switch schools or jobs and I feel like we all understand the nature of those friendships. But then you meet someone or a group of people that feels like a whole new level. We like to label these people as our ‘best friends.’
These best friend relationships start to form when we are still young and learning about ourselves. Our personalities, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so on, all continue to solidify and change as we’re moving through grade school. Sometimes, while on your journey, you end up on separate paths than your friends. Or your paths just pull you further apart. It doesn’t mean you have done anything wrong. It also doesn’t mean that it is a bad thing to end a friendship if you feel that it is no longer serving you. A couple of personal examples: When I was in high school (well, always) I was quite bossy. I had a strong opinion and I often shared it. As one of my best friends started gaining confidence in their own voice, we started butting heads. They didn’t want to listen to me anymore and I couldn’t understand what had changed. A couple of years beforehand, a friend announced that I was “too sad for her” and phased me out.
In both cases our friendship was no longer serving them. One friend needed space to grow and become their own person. The other friend simply wasn’t at a place in their life where they could support someone battling depression; most 15 year olds aren’t! Both of these situations hurt a lot and took some time to heal, but looking back now, I get it. I do not blame them and I have a better understanding of what they were going through. However, I still wish that at the time, I knew how to process that loss. I was heartbroken and no one seemed to know why. I was told “it happens,” “move on,” “you can still be acquaintances.” All of these phrases were pushing me to get over my sadness and get over it quickly. Well if you’re ever feeling this way, I want you to know that it is absolutely okay.
Your sadness is valid. You have lost probably one of the closest relationships you’ve had at your age. Or you’ve had to be brave enough to step away from someone that is negatively affecting you. That is hard and you should be proud of yourself. So let yourself feel whatever you need to. Be sad! Do the stereotypical things and eat ice cream, watch cheesy movies, do whatever you need to do to comfort yourself. But continue to remind yourself that this is not a permanent feeling and this is not every friendship will end that way. A friendship ending does not need to diminish the great adventures and memories you once had. The theatre nerd in me wants to tell you to go and listen to the song “For Good” from Wicked. It sums it up quite nicely.
It is a hard concept to wrap your mind around, but not everything in your life is going to be everlasting, and that’s a good thing! It means that YOU get the opportunity to continue to grow, explore, and make space for yourself in this world. If you value your loved ones, you will end up with the right friends, I can guarantee it. Those “right friends” may change over the years, but as long as you continue exploring, they’ll be the right ones for what you need at that time in your life.
Originally from Vancouver, BC, Lyndsey Britten is a Chinese-Canadian performer, dance instructor, choreographer, and puzzle lover! Now residing in Toronto, ON, Lyndsey has continued pursuing her passions as well as creating an online dance company: LVB Workshops. Her company focuses on inclusivity and accessibility, as dance should be for anyone and everyone! On her journey into the arts, Lyndsey has experienced many different work environments. From working in retail, restaurants, office jobs, management, personal assistance, and more, she has gained an understanding of how different work conditions and people can affect your day to day life. With that experience, she has become an advocate for mental health and surrounding yourself with people that support and push you to be the best version of yourself.