The Best Friend Dvorce, A Guest Post From Bruce Provda

Posted on October 13, 2015


Two little girls are arguing for Grandma's dress

Bruce Provda is a New York-based family law attorney. Having more than 40 years of professional experience, Bruce is a frequent media contributor and community leader. To contact him, reach out to Provda Law Firm, 40 Wall Street 11 Floor, New York, NY 10005

 (212) 671-0936


For years Sarah and Joan carefully chose Christmas gifts for each other. Not this year. There won’t be any exchanging of beautifully wrapped gifts. The empty spot under the tree will be matched by the breach on the mantelpiece where a witty card, overloaded with best wishes, usually stood. 

By the time most women are in their thirties and forties, they’ve met a large number of people, a small percentage of which consists of people they call friends. Within this inner circle is the best friend. 

It’s estimated that around 50% of all marriages end up with a divorce. Experts assert that breaking up with a close friend may be as distressing as divorce. What should someone do when their best friend decides to call an end to the relationship? First, understand what a best friend divorce is. 

Definition  A “best friend divorce” doesn’t include a formal statement, but instead is the end of a friendship between who people who thought of each other as “best friends.”  A best friend divorce often feels surprisingly similar to a marital divorce. Often, an individual’s approach to future friendships can be affected following the hurt of a best friend divorce. 

Custody of Mutual Friends As in a marital divorce, a best friend divorce can leave friends of, either person, choosing sides. Often, one of the “best friends” may feel hurt if mutual friends choose the other side and leave them behind. 

How to Heal Following the Cold Shoulder 

  1.  Avoid knee-jerk Responses. 

   2. Think about the situation before getting distressed or angry. Ask if the connection is indeed worth saving. 

   3. Apologize — If Necessary.  If you know you’ve done something incorrect, ask for forgiveness quickly. If left too long, their negative feelings may intensify and become entrenched. 

   4. Don’t slip into the idea of thinking you comprehend your friend’s motives. Understand that you need to speak to her to find out what is happening. 

   5. Respect Boundaries  If things can’t be fixed up with your friend, then respect her new boundaries — and move on. Often your friend’s actions have less to do with you than with other things going on in her life. 

   6. Don’t Brood. Instead, keep busy and you may find that some of your other friends start to become important in your life. 

Why It Hurts 

Women — and yes, this phenomenon affects women more than men — tend have very close and intense friendships with other women. Women often see their bonds as a measure of their worth, and a woman may feel like a failure for the inability to maintain a friendship. 

Women enjoy introducing their friends to one another, sharing shopping trips, joining the same gym and visit the same restaurants. If the women have children, they typically do a lot of family things together as well. If the relationship goes bad, all of these intricate links and reminders can make a friendship breakup more problematic and emotionally cutting. 

If You’re the One Seeking a “Divorce” 

It’s a big step, but once a person has settled on doing it, there are a few points to remember that will help navigate through a painful and difficult process: 

1. Be direct. Your friend may not hear what you are saying. They may understand that you need some space or will catch back up next summer. Since a lot of thinking has gone into this, make sure to be clear that the friendship is ending. 

2. Expect sadness and maybe anger. Endings stir up strong feelings. Just because you’ve put a lot of thought into the decision doesn’t mean you will be thanked at the finish. Don’t try to take away their feelings, but allow them to express their feelings. 

3. Be concrete. If there are particular reasons, this is a good time to point to them. 

4. Let them know you’re sorry to lose them. This conversation should not turn into an “it’s not you — it’s me” conversation. They were your friend for a season and there was a reason for that. You may have to dig deep, but don’t leave the person feeling that you never cared for them at all. 

5. Share limits. Be sure to establish precise boundaries. Letting them know not to all you or be included on invitations will help them understand the change in the relationship.

 Saying goodbye, even under the best of circumstances is challenging. A “best friend divorce” is not the best of circumstances.  With time, you understand better how precious time is and will want to spend it with people whom you enjoy being around. Make sure those people are the ones you wish to add to your life. 

Posted in: friendship