The Friendship Doctor

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The Worst Part of a Breakup: Not Knowing What Went Wrong

Sometimes we can't depend on others for closure...

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I'm finding it difficult to let go of an ex-friend. We went to school together and, by pure luck, ended up working in the same company. Things were awesome at first. We would cry, laugh and do a lot of things together. We ended up sharing a place, which I now think was a bad move for our friendship. People would often ask if we were sisters and we found that flattering.

By the time we both got involved in relationships, we were both so happy for each other. She even encouraged me to start dating after going through a bad break-up with my ex-boyfriend. We were pregnant at the same time and we were both happy then, too. After a while she started acting weird, stopped telling me about her life. I would get home from work and she would have locked herself in her bedroom, not coming out until the next day.

Whenever my current partner came over she would act up and tell me that she is uncomfortable with him there and I should not have him there. She started spreading bad rumors about me at work and I found myself losing friends. People started to stay away from me. When I found this out, I was so hurt and felt angry.

She has since stopped talking to me and even blocked me on Facebook. It hurts so much that I can't concentrate at work as well, because I think of her so often. What hurts the most is that I don't know what I did wrong and I'm still hurting to this day, even though this happened two years ago. My partner says that I must forget about her and let it go, but it's not easy. I wish to know what I did wrong and I think about her so much I even have dreams about her. We spent such good times together and I cherish them but feel that I should destroy the photos and try to erase her from my mind but I can't. Can you please help me because I can't deal with this situation?

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Signed, Annika

 

ANSWER

Dear Annika,

It is a terrible feeling when you are so close to a friend, feeling almost like sisters, and your lives are so intertwined---and then suddenly, everything unravels without explanation. Working and living together had to make the loss that much more difficult and painful.

I assume you aren't living together any more now and you are lucky to have a partner for support. Unfortunately, something happened that your friend wasn't able to talk about. It may have had nothing to do with you, per se. Also remember that she lost a friendship she once treasured, too. At this point, there is no going back. You can't rethink the decisions you made then (e.g. living together). Things were okay until they went wrong.

Try to think of the sudden breakup as something that was wrong with her rather than with you. Perhaps, she was having emotional problems or having some other personal difficulties.

You probably miss having a close female friendship as much as you miss this particular friend. It would be great if you could connect with someone else, preferably a female friend outside of your work environment, and build the type of closeness and comaraderie you miss. Resist the urge to look at your ex-friend's pictures or to delve into her Facebook connections: Just move forward. If this problem continues to interfere with your ability to perform on the job, you may need the help of a mental health counselor to get you through this.

Hope this helps a little bit.

My best, Irene

 

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog that touch on sudden breakups

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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