Welcome back! Last week, we talked about the Top 10 Misdiagnoses of 2023. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
My husband and I have been watching reruns of Friends on nights we’re too exhausted to think. We’ve come to love the characters and empathize with their plights on levels we probably wouldn’t have been able to reach when we were younger. Yes, it’s true, we were “Friends virgins”!
But never fear, we are deep into the series now and there’s no going back. Chandler and Joey have just ended their friendship and Joey has moved out of the apartment they shared. The last episode ended on a very sad note, with both of them, living in their separate apartments, sitting in their window seats (actually Joey is sitting behind a water fountain), the rain falling outside, while strains of “All By Myself” play in the background. Poor buddies!
In case you’ve never seen Friends (hey, it happens) or you need a refresher cause hey, it’s been a while, here’s the 50-second clip.
This got me thinking…is it harder to divorce a spouse, or break up with a good friend?
From the time we are young, we are taught to make friends. Our teachers encourage it, our parents arrange it via play dates, we have buddy systems to go to the bathroom in Scouts, and we learn the importance of friendships watching our family navigate their relationships with their besties. What they don’t teach us to do, is end things on a good note. This can be problematic.
As children, friendships become even more important as we age. There comes a day when we choose friends over family events. *Gasp* we become independent.
Our friends become our everything. We talk to them on the phone (sometimes watching the same TV shows together over the phone), we dive into the dating game alongside our best friends, we join sports, cheerleading, band, debate team, musicals, and chess tournaments with our number one by our side, cheering us on. Ah, youth.
By the time we graduate from High School, most of us have been burned by at least one friend. You remember the one, right? They stole our romantic interest away from us…they blamed us for cheating when it was them copying our work…they stuck a knife so far into our backs that the tip broke off when we pulled it out. Those times felt like the end of times, didn’t they? And yet, as adults, we found our way and brought along new friends. “More mature” friends. People we met at work, for instance.
By our early 20s, many of us have settled into relationships, and our idea of friendship takes on a new meaning. We start to share experiences again, just like we did in high school, only this time it’s birthing babies, buying houses, getting that first car, and pondering quitting our job for a better one. We share our lives with each other because we can relate and empathize without feeling like we have to have the answers.
These friendships usually stand the test of time and many will see these friends to the grave. Unfortunately, some of these new friends never got the maturity memo, and they will still engage in high school behaviors. It’s a serious betrayal when you’re a teen, but it’s unforgivable when you’re in your 40s.
So what happens when an adult friendship ends? For some, it will be a no-brainer. Let’s say they engaged in an affair with your significant other. Easy peasy. It’s done. Nobody should or would have any expectation that this friendship will survive.
But what if you just grow apart? What if you choose not to have children, but your friend has children and now you have nothing in common? What if one of you gets a job promotion in another state? What if you or your friend don’t like the same things anymore? People change, you know? Then what do you do?
When couples divorce, there are classes to take, mediation to attend, our best friend encouraging us to “let it go, they were no good for you” and the classic parental response, “you can do better”.
When we break up with a friend, it’s a little deeper. A little darker.
Some choose to simply disappear or “ghost” their friends. This leaves everyone feeling bad. There is confusion (what did I do?) and anger (you’d think they’d at least let me know it’s over). It’s a really poor way to end things and it can cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, like stalk their friends, or obsessively leave them messages.
The older we get, the more we believe that we should have it all together. We think that we should be able to hold on to all of our friendships. On some level, we expect marriages to end, because, well, look at the divorce rate. But friends? Nah…buddies for life, right? It leaves us feeling off-centered when a friendship ends, almost like we’re broken or something is wrong with us. The loneliness is stifling when you are used to simply picking up the phone and having an instant confidante on the other end.
After a friendship breakup, it’s common to feel anger, sadness, loneliness, and anxiety about seeing the person and fear of mutual friends picking sides. You may stop going to parties and events if you think your friend might be there as well. Your social life can really take a hit.
Breaking up with a spouse and breaking up with a friend each carry their own share of personal trauma, and both will trigger a cycle of grief. We valued this friendship and relationship, or it wouldn’t have happened in the first place, right? The pain of losing a spouse or a good friend isn’t mutually exclusive. Both can hurt.
While I haven’t seen the next episode of Friends just yet, I’d like to think that Joey and Chandler find their way back to each other. In fact, I assume they do. Friends like that don’t come along every day, and well…the show’s name is Friends, not Ex-Friends. Am I right?
Here’s hoping that any friends you’ve lost along the way can be found again. Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff…but I’ll tell you one other thing, if they did you wrong, then move on, because life’s also too short for that.
As always, this blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice. I am not a doctor. Please make an appointment to see your healthcare provider and put a good plan in place that works for you and the needs of your body.
That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.
Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!