When a Friendship Ends

By Nicole Jacobs

The arrival of Spring always gets me thinking about ways I can make my life better. It’s a time for cleaning, renewal, and, if you let it, for introspection.

About a year ago, I parted ways with a friend I had been close to for fifteen years. We’d been together through university, weddings, pregnancies, and the births of our babies, and were both raising little girls who loved to play together.

It’s hard to say exactly what went wrong—because, really, there were so many things—but I suppose that neither of us could really handle the strain that many years of moving in different directions had put on our relationship.

Never really settling on a career, she opted to stay home with her two girls. I was, at the time of our breakup, a pregnant, full-time working mommy of two. Our husbands worked in different industries and didn’t have much in common, so we rarely socialized as couples. We had developed different ideas about everything from the types of books we read, to how we were raising our kids. Perhaps she needed more of me than I could give, and maybe I took a little too much from her.

Whatever it was, things did not end well. I have regrets and take responsibility for my part in the whole, messy matter, but wonder why we couldn’t have just civilly drifted from each other, rather than have an explosive “breakup”. Couldn’t we have comported ourselves with a little more adult decorum? Were we simply living the hyper-emotional, female-friendship stereotype that’s fodder for many an article and blog?

The whole ordeal got me thinking about the importance of good friendships. This was renewed when I happened upon a recent segment on the CBS show, Sunday Morning. The segment had some astonishing evidence from research done by a University of Virginia professor, who found that people with close friends tend to be healthier, live longer, and handle both emotional and physical stresses better than people who don’t have close friendships.

But what happens when a close friendship breaks up got me considering how women are with our relationships, and if there’s a difference between us and men when it comes to ending them. Anecdotally, I’ve not known of men who’ve ended their guy friendships with such an unabashed firestorm. What’s the difference?

Psychologist Irene Levine has devoted her work to the topic of friendships, and has written books and a blog on the matter. In this CBS interview, she says “I hate to put people into boxes, however, in general women have more intimate relationships with their friends, so they’re more intense, they’re more important to them.” I suppose this means that the end of these friendships is often just as intense as the friendships themselves.

The end of any relationship is an unfortunate thing, particularly if it’s left unresolved. This is where I’m at with my own lost friendship, a year later. I’ve since had my third daughter, and still have the challenges of being a working mother, albeit for now from home. If things had not ended between us then, they’d probably not be great now. Nevertheless, I do miss her and having her to talk to about our one main thing in common—raising daughters.

And maybe it’s a bit strange that one of the first things I felt in the aftermath was sorry for my little girls to lose hers as friends. Perhaps they would have made a better go of it than we did.

Nicole Jacobs is a former college Sociology/Women’s Studies instructor turned interior designer/stylist, mortgage agent, and writer, with an enthusiasm for real estate and expertise in budget renovations. 

She is the mother of three little girls, and wife to a writer/advertising husband who indulges her interests in a great many things, as well as her tendency to reinvent herself every other year (usually as often as they move house). 

Nicole’s family is fortunate to live on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, and she finds her balance in walking her daughter to school in the morning, pausing—alone—at the lookout point, and absorbing the glorious view of the city and lake below.

She can be found at www.nicolejacobsmortgage.com, and on Twitter @NJacobsmtg 

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