We Broke Up

My close friend Sorrah and I broke up this past week. I wrote about him several months ago, where I described him as one of the few men I ever trusted. Despite how our friendship has ended, I still feel grateful for the time we shared together and all that we meant to each other.

I will always value his way of seeing the world beyond superficial markers of success like awards or prizes, his concern for community, his love for words and breaking down binaries. I will always cherish the support we gave one another, how he helped me find my first apartment, how I saw him grow so much into a more committed, stable person when our friendship first started at our college’s writing center. I know that we have touched each other in deep ways, and I will always care about him, like a brother I just grew away from.

We did grow apart. I want to respect his privacy, so I will just say that his needs and values shifted, and we grew less compatible. I felt afraid he would continue to deprioritize me. He did not want to shift his priorities. So, I broke up with him.

I think society reserves break ups for romantic relationships because we value those more. For friendship, people often just ghost each other, or the bonds of friendship sever more due to the slow passing of time than any overt intention. I have some of those less intense friendships too, the friendships that persist through meaningful and compassionate meetups that occur once every few weeks or months. Others, though, like the one I had with Sorrah, carry more intensity, almost akin to a romantic relationship, minus the patriarchal over-glorification, or a familial relationship. I loved him.

I feel a slight sadness that our friendship has finished. At the same time, I feel so free, like a red-headed woodpecker flying into the light. I feel free to focus on my other close friendships where the emotional labor and care feel reciprocal, to focus on my hobbies, to focus on myself. When I close my eyes and breathe, I hear the tune of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next”, and I feel immense gratitude for all Sorrah taught me. And then, I hear whispers of BlackPink’s “Ddu-du Ddu-du” and “Boombayah,” and I feel empowered to prioritize the people who will prioritize me. I feel empowered to prioritize those friends. I feel empowered to prioritize myself.

ariana grande thank u next music video shot.png

Ari and her friends in the “thank u, next” music video glowing with post-break up splendor is honestly me and my friends. Except my friends and I are more diverse.

How have you dealt with friend breakups or breakups of any kind, or the end of friendships? While this breakup feels pretty wholesome and smooth to me, I have definitely had friendships in the past that ended in messier ways like one friend who said I felt too angry toward people who voted for Donald Trump okay any way. Hope everyone who reads this is well and because I turn 24 next week – omg I feel so old yikes – I already have a posted planned for next weekend or so, so, until then.


Filed under Personal, Society

15 responses to “We Broke Up

  1. I’m sorry you two broke up. I’m glad that it was smooth and that you are ok.

    I had a friend once angrily dump me and another friend, during what was probably a depressive episode for her. She started randomly interacting with me again (we live far away so this was all online). She has apologized generally for toxic behavior but we haven’t talked about that specifically. Tbh I don’t really want to…

    I’ve also had friendships fade just from distance and people being busy.

    • Thank you so much for your support, it means a lot! Sorry to hear about that friend who sounds like treated you in a toxic way, I hope you decide to interact with her or not in whatever way feels safe and compassionate for you. Yes, I feel the whole friendships fading from distance and people being busy thing too, it’s so interesting which friendships maintain and which ones fade.

  2. Michael

    Sorry to hear of your friendship’s passing Thomas, but I’m glad you’ve recognized the dynamic’s no longer reciprocal and are doing what’s best for you.

    It feels like the first few years out of college are full of friendship “break ups,” and it hardly helps that capitalism makes it more difficult to form friendships once you’ve graduated. After a close bond ends, I find it comforting to remember that things only would’ve become more painful, and to appreciate that you had the chance to share time together at all.

    • Michael this is a late reply but thank you so much for this comment as it really does help validate my experience. I feel like capitalism does make it so hard to form and maintain friendships and also patriarchy and heteronormativity enforce a script that we have to invest in a romantic relationship above all else with little time or attention to friendship. I appreciate your point about both honoring the pain that could have come from an unfulfilling friendship continuing, as well as appreciating the time that we did spend together. You’re iconic and I hope your life outside of the books you’re reading (love your Goodreads updates (: ) is going well!

  3. Brave move to call actual time on the friendship and to move on positively. I have had one friendship end through the friend moving away and cutting all ties with everyone – I still search for him every now and again. And one I thought I’d lost I did reconnect with about 25 years later. I have one friendship that has broken up twice but we’ve both changed and we are solid friends now. But none of them had a specified and good end – so kudos to you. Also 24: not old. Think of all you’ve packed into those years and all you have to come! I was almost your age now when YOU WERE BORN! Argh!

  4. I’m sorry that you and your friend have broken up. It’s never easy and I like your approach of looking at all the good things you are grateful for from the friendship. You have your next steps and priorities already planned out – good for you.

    Happy 24th! Have a great week! (and you’re not old)

    • Part 2. I didn’t answer your question on dealing with friendship breakups earlier. I didn’t want to get into all the details. But he was a good friend and when things soured, I didn’t know how to end it. I had a job that was shift work and I used that to more or less end it. Essentially I just used work as an excuse not to see him. At that time, I didn’t have the maturity or the skills to understand what was going on and how to best handle it.

  5. Rereadergirl

    I broke up with a friend a couple of years ago. TBH, I still feel bad about it, and YET, it felt as if I couldn’t stay in the friendship, either. There was a LOT of Shadow projection that came from me. I haven’t done this many times in my life, especially not after college.

  6. Jennifer Thein

    I’m sorry you lost that relationship. I think it’s kind of you to have broken up with them rather than just ghosted them, though. My best friend since 5th grade ghosted me 8 years ago (Holy shit I can’t believe it’s been that long) during my 1st semester of college and I’m still low-key not over it. Looking back I see that we were drifting apart and that I was abusing the relationship by not being available but I didn’t see it coming and it was incredibly depressing and came during a time when I was already really struggling.

    • Thank you for your kind words and understanding about the breakup, Jennifer. I’m sorry about your friend who ghosted you, it leaves such a deep wound when you’re abandoned in that way especially when you were already going through a tough time. I’m glad you’re able to look back and reflect on your part in the relationship and I hope you also honor all the emotions that past relationship elicits within you. Sending much strength and solidarity your way.

  7. Sorry to hear about your friendship with Sorrah ending, Thomas. It sounded like you and he shared a deep bond and where there is trust, ending it all is hard. After all, it takes time to build trust. Most of my defunct friendships were the kind that petered out. There was no formal ending but rather two people growing apart and one day just didn’t speak to each other anymore. I guess after a while we just wanted different things and also preferred hanging out with different people. Happy Birthday, Thomas.

    • Hi Mabel, I appreciate your kind words about the friendship ending and you sharing your own experiences. That makes sense about how certain friendships petered out, I feel like that’s more common than not with friendship, though I’m sure there may have been a range of emotions (e.g., sadness, even if muted) at the ending of those relationships. I hope you have people who you feel connected with now. Thank you much for your birthday wish!

  8. Pingback: The State of Friendship Affairs | the quiet voice

  9. Kelly

    I like your focus on friendship. I found your blog through the link on your goodreads, and I found your goodreads because we both read Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail
    Caldwell, a beautiful memoir about friendship. I couldn’t agree more that we need to remember that friendships are vital, complex, and essential, in different ways but to the same degree as romantic relationships.

    I’ve been through two devastating friend breakups in the last three years. They were very jarring to me and I was obsessed with them for a while. Now I understand why each of the friendships ended and I am pretty much at peace with these endings. I think you are very mentally healthy to feel your feelings about your friendship ending and also to own your truth in standing up for yourself. Thanks a lot for the food for thought.

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