What I Learned From Being Dumped By My Best Friend

seventh grade picture
eighth grade picture

We lived in a small town/semi-rural area when I grew up and I was fairly isolated from other kids except for school. The first picture was of me in seventh grade…one of my happiest years of late childhood. I had a close friend, Mary, who was interested in the same things I was, and I was always excited to get to school.

What a difference a year makes. One morning in eighth grade I went up to her in the school yard, happy to see her, and she cut me dead. She made it clear she never wanted to talk to me again and wouldn’t say why. I figured it was because I was such a mess…I mean my body was changing, I had gained a lot of weight, and I hated that part of life. Yeah, yeah, it would have helped a lot if I had combed my hair….

Anyway, it still hurts to think about it. I knew the standard reaction…”If you don’t like me, then I don’t like you, so there. If you’re going to be mean to me, I can be mean to you too.” That didn’t work for me. I was hurt and I still liked her. I wasn’t going to deny it. So I made other friends, and I didn’t push myself on Mary but didn’t avoid her either. I was in that horrible self-conscious stage, but I forced myself to be kind and polite whenever we saw one another. It was hard at first, but like anything else, it got easier with practice.

That went on for two years. Then in high school, in tenth grade, she started thawing out and we became best friends again, a friendship that lasted until she died of cancer a few years ago. One night in 11th grade we had gone to a meeting and she drove me home. She told me why she had done it…it was because her mother had died when she was in sixth grade and her father was an Italian immigrant. He was 50 years old when she was born, and he spoke little English. They had nothing in common so she felt lonely and alienated. She was jealous that I had loving parents, and she had hated me more when I was so nice to her.

Talk about life-long lessons… I cried, of course, when I got home…what a stupid waste…but I learned two valuable lessons from the experience:

  1. Don’t take other people’s reactions personally. It hurts to be rejected, but we’re all acting out of our own needs. If it’s not a good match, it’s not a good match. Of course, if combing your hair and keeping your body healthy is an issue then by all means do it, for your own sake if nothing else.
  3. Get your ego out of the way…get in touch with your deepest values and try to live them. Life is too short to be petty. Life will still hurt at times, but if you handle situations well you can make the pain worthwhile.

That’s when I first started learning the traits of stress-hardy, resilient people. That list comes from hard-earned experience, and the traits were an integral part of my life before I tried to articulate them. They work for me.

What about you? Have you ever been rejected? What did you learn from the experience?

This post is a contribution to Robert Hruzek’s writing challenge What I Learned From Friends.
Thanks to rummuser and bikehikebabe for commenting on last week’s post.


This entry was posted in Lifelong Learning, Love and Compassion, Stress Trap. Bookmark the permalink.

78 Responses to What I Learned From Being Dumped By My Best Friend

  1. Jean says:

    I just now found your comment…the system misplaced it. See the response I gave to Angela. You’re not alone. Good luck!

  2. Wendy says:

    Jean It’s a great post…
    I don’t know my comment is appropriate for this article but I felt like sharing because that’s all I can do now. And apologies for less professional English.
    I had an issue with my best male friend. I treated him so good, cared for him more than myself and was always there for him. I love him too much.
    We were so great together. But I’m a girl and he sometimes makes things really complicating. He sometimes acts and says things to me as if I’m his lover. It hurts me a lot. I was not able to ask him to stop these things because I thought he might get really hurt. But two weeks ago I just couldn’t take it and burst out. I told him that I’m sorry. I don’t know and can’t figure out what he felt. He just told me he won’t talk to me again. After so many apologies he said “no worries, because we are good friends”. But, I’ve been trying to contact him thereafter. He never answers the phone or text messages I send. But on last week he did text me and when I asked him why he is angry he said that he was not. But that’s all; he won’t tell me anything more.
    He was having a big project and maybe there are some problems with his family. Even though I was his best friend he never shares his family issues with me (but I did).
    I miss him too much and it’s hard for me to bear and crying won’t just help. I thought its better to wait and see if he contacts me again. But every day I wake up and I just can’t huddle the change. I feel like he has dumped me for good and I wonder why this happened. I don’t know how things be the same again.
    I need to move on. But it’s just too hard. Maybe I should leave the country and stay with my aunty since my family wants me to go. Maybe it’ll help me…

    • Jean says:

      You clearly wanted more out of the relationship than he did. You’re right that you need to move on. Years ago I read a book called How to Break Your Addiction to a Person. I don’t remember exactly what it said but I remember it had some great advice for situations like this. It was more for lovers than friends, as I recall, but the basic advice for becoming more emotionally self-reliant was sound. You might find it has some ideas that work for you. Good luck! Please let me know how it goes. And realize you’re not alone…this problem has been encountered gazillions of times and if you do some inner work you may very well eventually be glad it happened.

  3. bikehikebabe says:

    This guy wants more than friendship, if you get my drift. All men do—want it. If you don’t, dump him. (Read the book Jean suggested.)

  4. Wendy says:

    Hey Jean and bikehikebabe I’m so grateful for your reply. He has finally replied to me today. He told me… (I know I love him)
    That he knows I love him.
    He is too far away and I’m too far away.. And that we can’t be together and he doesn’t like to keep hopes and loose everything later. Because if he needs something somehow he needs it! I guess it’s because we both are in different religions.
    So that’s it I guess. I got my answer and I’m happy that I know it. I’ll move on… I’ll be ok.. Thanks so much. World is blessed to have people like you who care about how other feels. It was nice to share my story with you…
    I’ll read the book :)

  5. bikehikebabe says:

    I might have married a Catholic & I’m not, among other things. I waited & got ***THE BEST***. Be choosey. When you find what is best for you, go for him!

    Nice to read your story. We’ve all been there.

  6. Been Left says:

    God Bless All!

  7. Wendy says:

    Hello again Jean and all, I just got to know that I’m really dumped by my huh “best friend”! He doesn’t need my friendship even now.. Not because of anything, he has found someone else to flirt with now! I found out that he has been texting someone a lot. Such long texts.. He never text me that way.. Now he is avoiding my texts and calls.. I trusted him completely for 2 and half years, treated him with my best, cared and was there for him always.. and what do you know? he is a game player!!! I don’t mind he don’t love me but, he was my best friend! i treated him same as my family..
    OMG! i can’t even believe it. :'(
    and i’m unable to find that book jean.. It’s not available in my area..

  8. Jean says:

    Unfortunately your experience isn’t unique, some people do use others. About the book, here’s a link to an excerpt from it: http://www.enotalone.com/article/6077.html. I’m sure there must be other material about personal growth that can help. The trick is to be determined to learn and grow from the experience and wind up in a better place than you were in before you met him. Thanks for keeping us posted and good luck!

  9. bikehikebabe says:

    Aren’t you lucky you found out NOW so you can get him out of your life & mind.

    I know you don’t feel lucky right now. It’s like you breaking an arm while skiing & are told. ‘You’re lucky. It could have been a leg or running into a tree & killing yourself.’

  10. Wendy says:

    Yes bikehikebabe, and thanx to both of you…
    One truth I have learned in my life is, world is a lot harder for the kind people who care, love truly…
    Yes, I think I’m lucky and he is the one who is so unlucky to lose a friend like me. I’m sure that one day soon he will realize that!
    I’m not going to waste my valuable time on a loser who never loved or care for me like I did!!! I doubted he ever knew the meaning of “love”. Because I know the way he did abused that meaning all the time!
    I’m actually glad it happened this way. Now I’m free from him. No more heart breaks because of him.
    And I’m determined to acquire a better position than he is, he ever will, from profession, well being etc.
    I know I can do that!!!
    – let him see what I’m capable of!!! :)
    Take care you all…

  11. Been left says:

    Dear Wendy,,

    Your strength, will and words has found it’s way in our hearts…. I am “really” glad & happy to read that u r standing again….

    And u”re right… (he is the so unlucky to lose a friend like u). …I am sure too he will regret loosing u ; when life teaches him a lesson…

    best of luck to all of u ..
    God bless

  12. Jessica says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I just wanted to share something with a group of people who I feel a connection with having read all of your comments. I feel like nobody else understands. I am still dealing with the break up of a friendship. I had been best friends with a girl for three years. We shared everything. Spoke constantly. I was always there for her when she had issues with her boyfriend (which was a regular occurrence). Last year I suffered a bout of depression and she completely abandoned me. Told me to snap out of it and said I was looking for attention. I am so shocked to this day at how she behaved. Sometimes I feel like a fool because the reality is that I still miss her and think of the good times. It actually feels like someone in my life has died because I no longer have any contact with her. My family think it is strange how much I miss the friendship. Nobody understands.

  13. Jean says:

    You are mourning a big loss, and it’s okay. As far as your family not understanding, I think some of us long for closer, more intimate relationships than other people do. The book that helped me a lot was How to Break Your Addiction to a Person. That was years ago. I notice that another book, which I haven’t looked at, gets 5 stars from Amazon reviewers: Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You. The main thing is you can gain a lot from the experience if you handle it well. And plenty of people have gone through it and are willing to share their ideas. Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.

  14. Wendy says:

    Hi Jessica.
    I understand completely how you feel. Because I also felt and still do sometimes the pain of what I went though. See the friend I had talked about months ago was the worst person I have ever met. He did many unfair things to me and treated me like a very badly. I was fooled. We shared many memories. I was there for him for everything for his sorrows, pains, and for happy moments. But at the end no one had hurt me like he did. One thing I know is that he was NEVER the friend I was to him. And he will NEVER find anyone like me again. As I believe a lost of a friend can hurt as much as or even more than a brake of a romantic relationship. Because friends are for everything… But now I’m ok. I never had the chance to read the book because I couldn’t find it at my area. I still remember things and I’m still healing but I feel better everyday passing and I’m over him. One day you will be ok too. If you can read that book it will help you as Jean and bikehikebabe said. Pain is not forever because it will change too. Jessica, you show her who you really are… move on and live a better life than she do. Show her what is to lose a friend like you by directing your life into a better path and winning your challenges. But anyhow I know one thing, no matter how long it talks one day she will realize her fault and she will regret losing you. For me to heal, my religion and time helped. I hope this book and every other thing will help you too.

  15. Jessica says:

    Thank you Jean and Wendy for the good wishes. It is good to know there are other people who feel that the loss of a friendship can be as hurtful sometimes as the loss of a romantic relationship. I will look for this book. Thank you for the recommendation Jean.

  16. Marley says:

    I am going through a horrible friendship breakup right now as well, and it’s the most painful thing I have ever been through. The situtation is leading to an almost debilitating depression for me, as this issue and the regrets around it pretty much consume my every waking second. I have no idea how I am going to get through it — the feelings of shame, humiliation and deep sadness are so profound. How can I stop the obsessing?

  17. bikehikebabe says:

    Marley, Anyone who makes you feel like that is NO FRIEND. If you need professional help get it. But otherwise you’ll get over it & realize later that nobody is worth suffering over. (Easy for me to say.)

  18. Jean says:

    Please keep in mind a lot of people have gone through the same thing and wind up stronger and happier than before. If you work it right that can be true for you too. As bikehikebabe says, don’t be afraid to get some professional help if you need it. It can speed your growth and recovery.

  19. I lost my best friend last night.. He slowly over time replaced it and I barely noticed it. It hurt so bad.. I don’t even know how to deal with this kind of pain. He was like a brother that knew me more than anyone in the world.. Things change and people forget you and that’s life..

  20. Alexandra says:

    I just lost my best friend, we started spending a lot of time together in november last year and have been seeing each other 3 or 4 times a week since then, we share a group of friends so this time wasn’t spent always just me and him.

    I’ve always had a degree of trouble keeping platonic male friends but really thought this would work out, he told me in the beginning he wasn’t attracted to me and i felt and still feel the same even though i value him hugely as a friend.

    Tonight he told me he was upset and didn’t want to see me when we had plans the next day. He told me it wasn’t my fault, i couldn’t fix it or make it up to him and that I didn’t want to know why he didn’t want to be friends anymore. He insisted I didn’t want to know. I think maybe he has developed feelings for me more than friendship but I have a boyfriend who I’ve been with for more than four years and don’t want to explore that option with my friend, i just don’t feel that way about him.

    I want to know if people think there could be any other reason why he suddenly doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore, we never had an argument and i’ve never said anything behind his back and this has come really out of the blue for me. I don’t want to lose him as a friend but I also don’t want to push him to tell me something he doesn’t want to or possibly something i don’t want to hear because that could well make things worse (if he has feelings for me). How can I get my best friend back?

  21. Jean says:

    It sounds as if you have to respect his wishes and move on. Life does hurt at times, and sometimes the best we can do is to keep learning and growing.

  22. Kathleen says:

    I just got dumped by my friend of 27 years. She is someone I always walked on eggshells around and you could never disagree with her so I just didn’t. I am stable and she goes from one job to the next, usually because her boss is “an idiot”. I have lent her thousands of dollars, never really expecting to be repaid, although i did go into debt to do it (stupid me but they really needed it). First i would offer and then she would “reluctantly” ask. I did so many things and never expected anything in return. I paid for almost every vacation her family has taken. She rarely made time for me. Another friend of mine needed someone to work for her and both of my friends pushed me to meet as they thought it would work. I was worried as felt their personalities may clash. I told them both about my concerns that if it didn’t work out my friendship with one or both of them would be changed. My long time friend assured me it wouldn’t. So she started work and things were great for awhile. Then suddenly she is telling me how terrible things are with my other friend, her boss. I made the mistake of not taking her side. She became short and we agreed to not discuss her work again as I found it awkward. Shortly after she goes in and quits. I don’t call her and three days later she sends me an email saying I should have called her and I was now never to contact her or her family again. I immediately wrote back saying I was giving her time as felt she was angry with me. I told her I was sorry about my misjudgement and wanted to support her and would like to call her if she would let me. She has not answered. I am sad about not being able to contact her parents as we are close. Not sure if I should leave it. I know her and she can be very nasty and confrontational.

  23. Jean says:

    It sounds as if it was a very one-sided relationship. Why are you having so much trouble letting go?

  24. Kasper says:

    I doubt it makes much difference whether the relationship was one-sided or really equal. It is the wealth and intensity of emotions harbored and invested that makes it hard to let go and get over any relationship.

    My experience was one of a fairly one-sided friendship in many regards. Maybe part of what makes it extra difficult to cope with, is that exact non equal relation in which some of us have taken on a role of “the helper” without being fully aware or even meaning to fall into this role. Simply because we cared so much about his person and saw a lot of positive and destructive potential.

    It get´s easier to live with. It certainly is getting easier for me. How ever I still find it absurd that our friendship had to end and in such a infantile fashion. 5 years later, it´s almost OK. Not quite there yet. I continue to have good and bad dreams about our friendship, but frequency is a lot lower.

    Make sure you understand that you gave her all the chances in the world to have your friendship. And that she ultimately rejected it on a whim. I think you have to be very focused on taking care of yourself in this. I´d recommend against getting dragged into this relation again, though I have a very very limited understanding of your relationship. Just talking from personal experience here.

  25. bikehikebabe says:

    My take on this is that you knew you are a nice person & people like you. You thought you’d make her like you too. A challenge. And she used you to vent her anger, not caused by you but anything & everything else.

    I’ve been there, know that.

  26. bikehikebabe says:

    P.S. I won’t be friends with anyone that treats me badly–now.

    If your friend dumped You after giving you a rough time, YOU are the kind, tolerant, loving Good Guy. You know you are. Now don’t you feel better 😀

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