Friends, Relationships

At What Point Does A Friendship Die? – Deborah Tan

It is one of the hardest things to face up to: the death of a friendship.

We would like to believe that friends are for forever, right? But, more often than not, friends outgrow each other. When one person falls in love and starts spending time with their new boyfriend/girlfriend, when one person starts a family, when one person begins a new job … there are so many things in life that lead to the demise of a friendship. No matter how strong the bond may be, how much time you used to spend in the company of one another … friendships are fragile and, in many cases, fleeting.

While many do an extremely good job at keeping their friendships alive, some of us struggle with it. I belong to the latter group.

In my 30 plus years on this planet, I’ve had several “best friends”, each marking a specific phase of my life. And each time a phase ended, so too would my friendship with a certain best friend. It’s not so much like a break up; neither of us went, “Right, I guess this is it, eh?” We just slowly drifted apart until one day, we no longer saw it necessary to hang out.

friendsexcludedI do keep in touch with some of my “best friends” but we only meet up for special occasions like birthdays, weddings, and maybe at the occasional funeral.

Some times, you accept the death of a friendship. Some times, you see it happening right in front of you and a sense of helplessness begins to overwhelm you – like seeing a beloved pet drowning in a sea so choppy you can’t wade out to rescue it. It is dying in front of you and no matter how much you try to reach out to it, you can’t save it.

I’m not a heartless or a callous person. In fact, I do think back of my days with my best friends. Like how I used to call my secondary school best friend so often that I’d write her phone number down as my IC number (they both begin with “79”), like how my university best friend and I used to go clubbing almost every day of the week … so many memories, and each so painful in their own way.

facebooksadI think the prevalence of Facebook has made it even more painful for us to deal with a dying (or a dead) friendship. Facebook makes it possible for you to witness your very own friendship-death in untold number of ways. Alienation – like how the group you used to be close to no longer invites you to their gatherings; exclusion – like how the marrieds and the mothers no longer have time for the single you; division – the group has split, which side are you on …

When your old best friends declare to the world that they now have new best friends, the feeling is much like reading about an ex finding a new love before you could. It’s not so much that I see friendship as a competition but it’s more because no one wants to be the one left behind.

The ironic thing about Facebook is that while it is suppose to bring people closer, it tends to amplify the feeling of loneliness instead. Just when you think you are now privy to your friends’ every thought and everyday life, you are also subjected to the cruel reality of exclusion and isolation. We can’t be part of everyone’s everyday life but we still want to be included, to be thought about, to be sought after. We can’t possibly be at every party but we want to be invited, asked, and given the option to decline. We can’t be everyone’s best friend but we feel hurt when we are not asked to be someone’s newborn’s godmother, someone’s bridesmaid, and someone’s workout buddy.

Friendships die every day but with Facebook, it feels as if these deaths are so much harder to accept. And, unless you unfriend your friends, Facebook makes it harder for you to move on too.

At what point does a friendship die? I would say that when a friend’s status updates start to hurt more than they give you joy, that’s when a friendship is ready to be buried and forgotten.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She would like all her former best friends to know that she still thinks of them every now and then. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.


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2 thoughts on “At What Point Does A Friendship Die? – Deborah Tan

  1. It is admirable that you are able to keep your friendship alive but there is a degree of truth in this post too. I myself have lost friends not cos we weren’t committed but more because life is sometimes out of control. I think it is rather sad when friends are lost. This is merely a reflection, I don’t think the writer was blaming anyone.


  2. clementinegoesusa says:

    What the hell is this. Friendships, like any relationship, are about hard work and commitment to each other. Keeping a friendship “alive” takes work, forgiveness and good will. It won’t just naturally live forever, and if it “dies” like you say, you probably never really were committed to it in the first place. My best friend and I had completely different lives at one point, and sometimes that’s been hard. She’s a product manager and I was a student, she often couldn’t come out when I wanted her to. But I didn’t hold that against her, and sometimes we just went out to eat something and talk. Sometimes we didn’t see each other for a month. But one of us would always call the other back up.
    If dying friendship is a recurring pattern for you, I think you need to look at the way you handle them…


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