Friends are an amazing part of life, but they also come and go. And that's okay.
We all have THAT best friend. From the "BFF" heart necklaces to friendship bracelets to being a solid wingwoman at the bar in college, your bestie has been there for you over the years through thick (waistlines) and thin.
But sometimes there comes a time when the bestie you've relied on over the past 3, 5, 10 years isn't, well, your best anymore. Maybe you've drifted. Maybe you have different priorities in life. Maybe you just straight-up don't like her anymore. It happens. Whatever the reason, at some point it's time to take stock of your friendship and make a decision: should she stay or should she go? Or rather: should YOU stay or should you go?
Recently, I was confronted with this difficult decision. My friend Jenna was my soulmate. We met through mutual friends when we were in our mid-20s and bonded immediately. We fit in every way. She would readily call me out on my bull sh*t. If I looked fat in something, she told me. If I was having a life crisis, she offered unsolicited advice. There was nothing that was off-limits with her and honestly, it was freeing to find someone who knew me so well and still liked me, despite my faults.
After a year of acting like a married couple (minus the sex), I took a job out of town. I didn't have ambitions to move to another city, but I knew it was a good move for my career. Jenna was devastated, as was I. Neither one of us wanted to lose our friendship, but we told ourselves our relationship would stay the same, as people tend to say. She was the last person I saw before I drove away. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "Promise me we'll always be besties." "Duh," I responded. I couldn't imagine her not at my wedding or sitting beside me in the nursing home when I was old. I assumed a few states in between us wouldn't change that.
For the first few months, we talked every day and texted like normal. I didn't know anyone in my new city, so it was great to maintain the connection to my "old life". But slowly, we went from talking every day to talking every few days, and then we switched strictly to texting. Before I knew it, weeks would go by and I hadn't spoken to her.
I knew things had really changed the day after I met my future husband. Before, Jenna would've been the first person on speed-dial, now she didn't even come to mind as someone I should call. I eventually shared the news through a text when I told her I was buying a house and he was moving in with me. She seemed surprised; she thought I was still single - that's how long it had been since we had really spoken.
When my husband and I married, she and her boyfriend came to our destination wedding. It was fun, like we never drifted apart. But soon after we returned to our real lives, we reverted back to our old ways and weeks turned into months without speaking. The weirdest part was: Neither of us acknowledged it - it was the elephant in the room - and when we did talk, we skirted around the issue. But in my gut, I knew. Normally, when I had an argument with my husband or when something upsetting happened at work, she was the first person I called, but after a few years of being apart I realized I didn't turn to her for those important conversations - or for anything unimportant, either. It made me sad.
As a last-ditch effort to salvage what was left of an ever-weakening friendship, I decided to call Jenna to discuss the situation and thought about potentially even surprising her for the weekend so we could re-strengthen our bond. But then something strange happened: I realized I didn't want to fix our friendship. I was strangely okay with how things were, as is.
I did a bit of serious soul-searching in attempt to answer this question: Would I really be fine saying bye-bye to my bestie? The woman who knew everything about me and accepted me unconditionally? The only one who knew about my addiction to TV shows targeted for teens? The one who knew I lied to my husband about what's really in the casserole? Cutting her loose was not something to be taken lightly - yet I always came back to the same, nagging truth that confirmed I was making the right decision: When life events happened to me, I didn't race to tell Jenna about them and quite honestly, I didn't think of her at all.
So how did I finally end it with Jenna? I'm not exactly proud my actions, but well, here goes: I took a cue from a slew of ex-boyfriends over the years and did the slow phase-out: I just stopped calling or texting. And she didn't pick up the slack, which suggests our break-up was mutual.
Would it have softened the blow if I actually called her and explicility said I didn't want to continue our friendship? What was the point? No discussion could bring make us 25 and single and on the same page again. The little bit of closure I might have gotten from a real-life conversation wasn't even worth the effort to me, which is sad because it meant our friendship wasn't worth the effort either.
It's been a few years since me and Jenna were besties, and my life has moved on. Friends are an amazing part of life, but they also come and go. And that's okay. Jenna was exactly what I needed in my 20s but she's not what I need in my 30s. I'm grateful to her for the years of fun and friendship we had.
I have a new bestie now - we've been friends for two years- and I'm quite positive we'll be forever friends, but then again, maybe we won't. Maybe life will change us, too. But if I've learned anything through my experience with Jenna, it's to enjoy the time you have with your current friends in the present moment and simply accept if and when it doesn't work out anymore.
If you're going through something similar, REMEMBER: a new best friend is out there who is perfect for your new stage of life, and you might be missing her by holding on to your old one. Don't feel bad about setting her free; you'll probably be doing both of you a favor.