Breaking Up With My Best Friend

It’s key to surround yourself with positive, helpful people. People who will propel you forward rather than pull you, or your ideas, back – fabulous, sharp minds who are creative but also savvy, who are dreamers and thinkers, but also doers, and who say “yes” more than they say “no; those who are brave and courageous.

– Lisa Messenger in Daring & Disruptive

As I got off the London Underground at Earl’s Court I was a nervous mess, unsure if I was going to throw up with anxiety or fall to pieces. An hour later, as I exited the apartment, I felt an immense weight lift off my shoulders as I heard him storm to the door and lock it. That was okay as all my things, any trace of me, was now erased from his life. And I was happy about it.

I’d come to London to break up with my best friend.

To me, friendships aren’t simply the people you hang around with to fill in periods of time. Friends are people who excite, inspire and champion you; and you, in turn, them. They’re people who make you a better person, that you can talk to seriously or have a joke with, and most of all, they’re people who are loyal and honest. At the very least, this is the type of person I try to be to my friends.

I am extremely fortunate to have such a diverse, creative bunch of people I have the privilege of  calling “friend”, but sometimes you misjudge a person and don’t realise it until you’re getting beaten down by them. Until you’re trying to be a better person and hoping that this too will pass.

Sometimes you need a good kick in the backside to walk out that door.

The person I leave behind is one of the most talented and intelligent people I know. He’s magnetic and a person you want to be around… only until you don’t.
He’s an ideas man, with new ideas that were presented to me once, twice, thrice per day. But he is a starving artist, unable to hold down a job and lacking the motivation to do anything to fix his own problems.
He was ‘the dropout King’ – every project we tried to collaborate on fell through because he wanted to lead but lacked discipline to do the work, instead wanting others to do the lion’s share and then, at the last-minute, he’d swoop in to take the credit.

We’ve travelled the world together, him and me. Through the UK, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Spain, Australia, Turkey, Germany… the list goes on; but on every trip for the last two years I’ve always ended up on a bridge crying, him storming away after something that was taken out of context or some minor transgression being turned into a grenade.

You rest the blame for the explosions on your own shoulders, reason with yourself, “It’s my fault. I’ll do better tomorrow” and begin walking on eggshells around them in hope not to disturb the sleeping beast within. But it does come out. Sometimes you provoke it just to make sure they still know you’re there, to see if they even care.

That’s no life to live. Small and hiding in amongst the shadows.

Honesty is not your best friend. It’s the fire that gets you burnt in each and every conversation. When people have grown up in a world where they are accustomed to constantly flattery and receiving praise from others – an unfortunate trademark of my generation – it’s difficult to have a person come into your life and provide a dose of realness.
Perhaps, I have too much candor within me.

It was, of course, my honesty that set flame to the bridge, already wrought with holes from all the bullets that had flown in the past, set a light with alcohol and ending one Wednesday night.

The questions from our mutual friends that asked “how do you put up with him?” should have been my first reason to seriously consider why I was still there, holding fast amongst the turbulent storm that was our friendship and the subsequent berating from our friends telling me to put distance between us after I fell into a slump, dejected by not being able to help him nor get him to see why I was upset when I’m yelled at in the middle of my favourite London restaurant.

No person is worth remaining friends with if you constantly feel sad around them. When the request to, “please can you stop playing games on your iPhone. It’s my last day in London and I want to have a proper conversation” is followed with being yelled at and having to cover up the tears falling down your face.

The problem was, like any good relationship, the good times were great and our personalities, though opposite, easily fell in sync. We acted – and bickered – like an old married couple. I could see a future filled with travel adventures, even as far as seeing myself taking his (future) children to a playground or pranking their Dad (my friend) with them.
Part of me questions if my mind was filled with these thoughts because I missed the sweet boy that I met during my first week in London. The one who cooked me dinner and showed me his mineral collection, or took me in when things went wrong as I tried to build an expat life there. Not the monster who yelled at me because I wanted to relax and work instead of eating Turkish kebab for three meals a day when we travelled to Istanbul…

I don’t want to ever feel like I have the last three-year. To have my ideas, dreams and motivation crushed because I couldn’t meet another person’s impossible expectations or because they didn’t approve. Friends don’t do that to other friends.

I want to be a positive force in the world like I used to be and raise people up instead of feeling stuck under a dark cloud of sadness. To do that, sometimes you need to take out a little bit of trash and leave it there on the curbside.

I’m one who firmly believe that the company you keep is a reflection on who you want to be and what matters to you. My circle of friends may be small, but they are some of the best people. They’re doers, thinkers, and plan makers. They’re kindhearted, adventurers, who have a sprinkle of child-like glee and imagination that refuses to grow up.
They’re creative yet analytical, and they help fan the flames of passion. They’re people who question the world and why we do what we do; they’re my type of people.

If you have people like that – that raise you up and nurture the good in you – in your life, don’t let them go. If you have ones who make you question every move you make, every syllable that passes your lips, take this as the sign that it’s time to let them go. Don’t waste another minute on people who make you feel less than what you deserve. You are too good for that.

With that, I bid goodbye to London. I will be back one day, but it won’t be for a while. I need time to heal from the scorch marks, reassess the priorities and people in my life.

And to him, to reiterate the words said as I walked out the door: Have a nice life.

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  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 10:09 am

    It is not an easy thing to do. You definitely have courage, but surely it is begginning of somethig better. Wish you all the best.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Beautifully written post. Sometimes we are blinded by the people we think we love the most. I’m glad you found the courage and the switch to see what was happening and do the right thing. A very brave thing to do.

    Gem x

  • Reply
    Nikki Vargas
    July 26, 2015 at 1:57 am

    I really appreciated this post as in the past year or so I have had a lot of transition in the friend department and have parted ways with friends who I realize now were not great influences in my life. In pursuing my passion of travel writing and blogging, I have found myself meeting people with similar passions who both support and inspire my own work. It’s tough to lose friends along the way but I do think life–especially in your twenties–has a funny way of weeding out the people that aren’t meant to stick around.


  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 2:40 am

    Hi Nicole,

    I think it’s a very brave thing to do. I’m sure you feel like a mess right now, it’s even worse than a “real” break up because friends are considered to be there forever (or maybe not?).
    If he let you down or make you feel bad, then he didn’t deserve your time and friendship.
    Enjoy the extra time you have now for your other friends and yourself!
    Great piece!

    Greetings from Antwerp,
    Joelle from World Wanderista

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you for your beautifully honest and raw post. I can only imagine how hard it was to make the decision to break up with your best friend and then carry it through. You’re very brave. Life is like a bit of a sieve and we have to let go of the people who are not good for us and keep only the good ones. I’m wishing many successful adventures and friendships for you.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Sad to hear, I am sure you have made the right decision. I traveled Europe with one of my oldest friends and ended up almost shooting her. Luckily, she was leaving back home whilst I kept traveling, any more time with her and I bet I would know exactly how you feel. Very nicely written.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    An emotionally driven post, really well written.

  • Reply
    Caroline Eubanks
    July 28, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Really sad to hear about this, especially knowing who it is. Sending love and happy vibes from one introvert to another!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    You did the right thing Nicole. And it was brave and decent of you to do a proper ‘breakup’. We all have to do this in our lives one way or another (part with friends for a slew of reasons), and I have to admit, I’m more of a ‘dropper’ meaning I will just completely cut off ties. What you did is what a mature person would do. Onwards and upwards. to meeting positive people who will enrich your life! They are out there waiting 🙂

  • Reply
    Petra Lidia
    July 28, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Dear, i am so proud of you!! 🙂
    and big thank you for writing and sharing the text!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve had very close and loving friends who one minute were the sweetest things and the next a mess of emotions. I can feel you on the part when you shared about your best friend not having the discipline to finish what is started but loving the credit so much they would take as much of it as possible even if doing little to nothing for it. I was so tired as well that I took half a year or so away from that person but not before sharing honestly and with the most respect I can for that person on how I felt on the receiving end and also how I felt they he/she was behaving in my perspective. Then 6 months later, the relationship started mending and it was the time apart which let him/her digest what I had shared. When he/she was ready, I was ready to welcome him/her back into my life. Sometimes we need time apart to see a relationship and friendship grow.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    All the love in the world for you, Nicole. Losing a friend is always tough, especially when you can still see the good times. You are absolutely right, tho’, you don’t need the toxicity in your life. I hope you’re dealing with things okay?

    Tons of virtual cuddles and love to you X

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    Such a beautiful, sad and very brave post. Sometimes you just have to move on and know that everyone comes into your life for a reason or a season as the saying goes and the thing is not to regret it, but to acknowledge how good it was when it was meant to be, and know when to move away. Well done for being just and strong.

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Hi, Nicole. Thanks for sharing this. It’s well-written–really powerful. I’m sure it will help others in similar situations, too.

    I had to break up with someone like this once, who also happened to be critical and sarcastic. It wasn’t easy, but it was the best decision.

    It sounds like you really had to close this door, and now, new/better ones will open.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2015 at 12:51 am

    I admire your courage. It takes a lot, and takes a lot out of you, to stand up for yourself in this way.

    I had a similar experience with my “best friend” two years ago. I realized that our relationship operated on a 90%/10% ratio. Guess who was always giving 90%? Needless to say I set down some new ground rules of relationship that she wasn’t able to live up to. All things have beginnings and endings.

    It sucks, and I am sorry for the pain you must be feeling at the moment. Thankfully, time does heal some wounds.

  • Reply
    Kate Swann
    August 2, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Every now and then we all need to re-evaluate our friends and make sure they meet the criteria of friendship: reciprocal, caring, and supporting. I suspect your friend was violating at least one of these criteria. And I have to wonder – it sounds like you were doing all of the heavy lifting – were you trying to rescue him? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, you can’t save people from themselves. That’s their job. Thanks for such an inspiring post, Nicole.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 11:53 am

    What a touching and inspiring post, Nicole. I, too, have broken up with friends before, and though it is a hard thing to do, it is often a necessary step to walk towards happiness – which you 100% deserve!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2015 at 6:15 am

    The hardest part about losing a relationship is losing your best friend. Everything about this post has rung true, it’s written in a way I could never express, and I really appreciate it. I do think this applies to friends as well, a lost relationship is losing a friend, but sometimes people you consider ‘friends’ grow apart from you in ways you never imagined. ‘Wasting time on people who make you feel less than what you deserve’ should be something to watch out for in all walks of life. Thank you for making this so much clearer to me 🙂

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