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Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
Whether it’s ending a romantic or a platonic relationship, breaking up is very, very hard to do.

“No! Elsa’s my favourite!”

My five-year-old niece makes it clear where her loyalties lie as we queue in line to see a movie.

At the mention of the Frozen character’s name, I am momentarily distracted. After all, it’s always the little things that cause you to remember.

God, that sounds dramatic. *cue wistful music*

Right, I’ll stop being vague and elaborate.

A woman, a friendship, a nickname.

Still too dramatic? Soz – I’m a woman in mourning.

I always thought a romantic break-up was the worst. I was wrong.

Having been through my fair share of break-ups, I always felt that the ending of a romantic relationship was by far the most difficult to deal with. That the void left by an other half was the hardest felt.

However, recently, on foot of the cessation of a friendship, I was reminded that the ending of a platonic bond can be just as difficult to swallow.

Take myself and the ex-pal’s situation.

On a daily basis myself and the girl in question would communicate. Our messages were likely the first that we read upon waking up, and the last at night.

We confided in each other, made one another laugh like two lunatics (in particular on public transport), sent each other pictures of our socks, and provided a listening ear without a moment’s hesitation.

We got each other. We clicked.

Our connection was rare and we both knew it.

Now, before anyone gets any ideas, while I am very much a gay woman, she was very much straight – and taken. So, our bond wasn’t formed or fostered with any hidden agenda or underlying feelings – on either side.

While I won’t go into the salacious details of why we fell out, it stemmed, like most arguments, from a difference of opinion. One that, unfortunately, we couldn’t seem to reconcile over.

And while I haven’t had my heart broken in a long time, the disappointment that I felt when the hopes I had had for our friendship came to nothing is still, two weeks later, very much palpable.

To be frank, I miss the woman godammit!

Friendship break-ups rarely affect two people in equal measure

Like the ending of any relationship, I also can’t help but wonder whether she’s all but forgotten about the (cringe) ‘good times’ we shared.

I’ve also found myself looking out a Dublin bus window on occasion, Ed Sheeran coincidentally playing in the background on my MP3 player, analysing whether I was in the wrong. Whether she was just being an unreasonable cow. Whether I had been a demanding child. Whether there was time to make it right.

And like any post ‘break-up’ scenario, another close friend has been encouraging me, in the background, to move on.

“Yeah, I will. Sure, she couldn’t care less.” And as I say it I believe it.

Like the ending of a romantic relationship, friendship break-ups rarely affect two people in equal measure. There is usually one party who, having made their decision, emotionally switches off. Unfortunately, this has never been my forte. Letting go takes a conscious effort on my part.

However, before I commit to fully banishing this woman from my thoughts, I decide to look more into the breakdown of female friendships. After almost two weeks spent thinking about her sporadically, I wanted to find out whether I was the only person who had ever felt feelings similar to a post break-up scenario on foot of the cessation of a close friendship.

“Research proves that female friendship can make us healthier, happier, less stressed and feel more beautiful”, says Debba Haupert, founder of Girlfriendology, an online community devoted to friendship.

No surprise, then, that losing a girlfriend can be a lonely experience says Irene S Levine, PhD and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break Up With Your Best Friend.

“One of the things that makes breaking up with a friend really difficult is that there’s no one to talk to about it. The person you’d most want to talk to is the person you’ve broken up with.”

While thankfully this doesn’t strictly apply in our case (we had yet to reach BFF status), I feel for those women whose main confidant is also the person that they have parted ways with.

Is losing a close female friend the most devastating of all break-ups?

Looking at the actual process of ‘breaking-up’, I learn that studies have also shown that the decision to ‘break-up’ with another woman is much harder to make than that of dumping a lover.

The findings were produced by a team of sociologists at Manchester University, led by Professor Carol Smart who says: “The ethics of friendship are very strong which makes it very hard to end a friendship, even when it has stopped being fun, because we feel terribly guilty about it.”

And so, there’s no two ways about it. The ending of a friendship sucks.

If you have ever truly cared about someone, whether platonically or romantically, you’re at times going to experience feelings of hurt, anger and sadness when that person is no longer in your life.

Like that day I was lining up at the Savoy, you too will randomly be hit with a memory that sends you on a mini downer for the duration of the trailers.

However, as they say, time is a healer.

Until then, well, there’s always Taylor Swifts ‘Bad Blood’ to get us through it.

Christine is 27 and has just completed a three year Information Technology course at DCU. Unlike Carrie Bradshaw, she backs up her data. She has been published with Gay Community News and DIVA magazine.  You can follow Christine on Twitter at @AllenChristine2

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