OyChicago blog

The friend breakup aftermath

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03/21/2011

Last night, while at my cooking club, I suggested that one of my fellow chefs try a delicious restaurant in my neighborhood.

“I can’t go there,” she said. “I might see her.”

The “her” in question is my friend’s ex-BFF. Once upon a time, in another city and another decade, they were the closest of friends. After a long story that is not mine to tell, that friendship is over. It didn’t end due to any one thing so much as an accumulation of issues that deteriorated the friendship.

The tough part though—well, one of the many tough parts—is that while they grew up together on the East Coast, they both now live in Chicago. And while there have been attempts to mend the friendship, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

Now my friend is hesitant to venture to a night out in my neighborhood, for fear of a dreaded run-in.

When I asked her if I could blog about this today, my pal was quick to point something out: “I could go there, I’d just need reinforcements.”

“Totally understand,” I said. “And if we did see her, I'd for sure shoot some angry glares in her direction.”

And then I realized I’d had this conversation before. Plenty of times. About ex-boyfriends.

I talk so much about how making friends is like dating, but I’ve never considered the reality that if friending is like dating, then the aftermath must be similar too. Bad breakups might mean avoiding a favorite lunch spot or yoga class or an entire neighborhood just to steer clear of any unplanned meetings.

It means keeping up with their whereabouts through friends or Facebook, but not calling or reaching out. It’s over, after all.

As we know, friend breakups often inspire more guilt in women than romantic breakups do. But what about after the breakup? Is there protocol for shedding that toxic relationship from your life?

From what I can tell, post romantic-breakup behavior (after the initial crying/confusion/anger) involves some combination of Facebook defriending/burning photos (or at least taking down the frames)/avoiding him/dressing up in your hottest outfit when you might see him to show him what he’s missing. Accurate? Or too romantic comedy?

So what I want to know is, is your post-BFF breakup behavior the same as the romantic kind? I’ve never broken up with a BFF that I might run into, but if I did I’m willing to admit I’d probably go through all of those phases—the picture removal, the avoidance, the extra attempt to look cute in case avoidance wasn’t an option one day.

But what about you? If your ex-best friend lives in the vicinity, how does that affect you? Do you avoid each other? Or maybe just shoot death stares at each other in response to any surprise encounter? Do you try to act civil, or just pretend you never knew each other?

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