Breaking Up With A Best Friend Is Like A Messy Divorce

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Our relationship was shredded. After ‘The Big Blow Out’ I knew our relationship would, or could, never be the same again. I would never forgive. We would never go out for dinner or drinks again. We would never go on vacation again. We would never share any secrets about our lives to each other again.

Yes, it was like getting a divorce, except not with someone you married. (And even my separation from my daughter’s father was way less intense – and we still speak regularly.) I’m talking about a broken friendship with a girlfriend. But what got me thinking about divorce when my friend and I, for lack of better term, broke up, was that, when the fight happened, I was thinking about our children first.

My friend and I had been pregnant at the same time. My baby arrived a month after hers. We pushed strollers together down the street. As her two children and my daughter grew older, we had regular play dates and we even vacationed together a few times, without spouses, just my girlfriend and our children.

So, of course, when I realized I would or could never forgive my friend after the fight we had, nor could or would she forgive me, all I kept thinking was, “But what about the children?”

In an ideal world during divorces, both parties put the children first. I do believe that most exes try their very best to do this, but emotions do get in the way, and what one person thinks about “putting the children first,” another person just does not see it that way.

After my friend’s and mine’s major blow out – and it was a fight of epic proportions – I did mourn the loss of the friendship, as I did mourn the loss of the relationship with my daughter’s ex. I cried. I got angry. I cried. I bitched to friends. And then I accepted.

A few e-mails with my ex-friend went back and forth – after the initial “Don’t-contact-me-again” ones – with both of us agreeing that our fight should not affect the children. Yes, we were never going to talk again, but that didn’t mean our nannies couldn’t make arrangements for our children to get together after school. (And like a divorce couple that works in the same company, I was glad our children didn’t attend the same school. I certainly didn’t want to run into my ex-friend every day.)

In theory, putting the children first in a broken friendship should work, just as it should work when it comes to divorce. But, sometimes, it just doesn’t. I think, maybe, our nannies tried once to get our children together after our massive fight, but that’s it. I’m sure she told her nanny, like I told mine, that we were no longer talking. I really disliked this friend so much that, I loathe myself for admitting it, but I really didn’t want her children in my house, which would be a constant reminder to me that I was no longer a friend to her. I’m sure she felt the same about my daughter. Why should we be feeding each other’s children and watching out for them when we couldn’t stand each other? Perhaps more mature women than us could and would do it. We aren’t those women.

The worst was that our daughters attended the same gymnastic classes Sunday mornings. I dreaded these mornings, not only because I would see my ex-friend, but because I knew my daughter would run up to her children, squealing in delight upon seeing them. My ex-friend, I’m sure, dreaded it, too, when her children wanted to follow my daughter around before class started. I was so entirely grateful when her (now ex) husband would take their daughter to the gymnastic class, which I’m sure she arranged. Of course, I couldn’t ever entirely forget that I once treated my ex-friend’s child as if she were my own. When her father couldn’t do her bun, I stepped in. I could only imagine my ex-friend asking him when he got home with their daughter, “Who did her hair?” And her husband answering, “Rebecca.” She probably seethed with rage that I touched her daughter’s hair, because I no longer had any custody rights when it came to touching her daughter’s hair.

Time does heal wounds, as the saying goes. I no longer think about my ex-friend. And my own daughter, who was busy with her other friends and other extra-curricular activities, seemed to forget about my friends children entirely too. She hadn’t mentioned them in months. That is, until last week when she asked if she was ever going to see them again. I didn’t know how to answer. I did think, briefly, about e-mailing my friend about setting up a play date, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was like finally breaking up with a toxic boyfriend, taking months to get to a good place getting over it, and then making the call. For me, it would be a very big step back.

All I could say to my daughter was, “Maybe.” And I left it at that. Thankfully, she didn’t push and went on her merry way, playing on her swing set in the backyard. At least if you get separated, or divorced, you know that your child is going to see both mommy and daddy (if both parties are mature.) But when it comes to broken friendships, there’s no guarantee that your child is ever going to see their friends again. Thankfully, they are young. I have one friend now who just broke up with her boyfriend and they have 16 year-old daughters who are best friends. At 16, at least, they can make their own plans to see each other, not having to rely on their parents to make their play dates for them.

I do know that separating from my daughter’s father was way more painful than breaking up with my friend. But, at least, when it came to my father’s daughter, we really did put our child first. With my ex-friend, we did not.

Have you ever gotten into an irreversible fight with a girlfriend that affected the friendships of your children? How did you deal with it?

(Photo: BananaStock)