When Friendships Aren't Forever
How to Handle a BFF Break-Up
BFF break-ups can break your heart, too.Norman Smith/Getty Images
By Natasha Burton
Google “break-up” and you'll see, among mentions of the 2006 romcom starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, a slew of websites and articles devoted to getting over an ex-lover. What you won't easily find, however, is information on a type of split that experts say can be just as devastating, maybe even more so, than the dissolving of a romantic relationship — the best friend break-up.
Whether your gal pal moved away and you lost touch, or the two of you had a falling out, a best friend break-up can really take its toll — mainly because these relationships are much more impactful than we realize.
“Research proves that female friendship can make us healthier, happier, less stressed and feel more beautiful," says Debba Hauper, founder of Girlfriendology, an online community devoted to friendship. She notes that bonds with our friends can also be vital to our overall longevity: While studies show that single men don't live as long as married men (because the latter have wives taking care of them), for women, female friends impact their longevity more so than whether or not they're married.
Thus, losing a girlfriend can be an extremely lonely experience, says Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break-Up With Your Best Friend. “One of the things that makes [a friend break-up] really difficult is that there is no one to talk to about it. The person you'd most want to talk to is the person you broke up with.”
The impact is devastating not just because of the break-up itself, but because women lose much more than a friend in this situation. “Women are raised with the idea that friendship is supposed to be forever, and they are often judged by their ability to stay friends, so there is a lot of stigma involved with friends who break up,” Levine says.