Breaking Cupid’s (platonic) arrow

Breaking up with your partner hurts, but so does splitting up with your best friend


Victoria Williamson | The DePaulia

Yazmin Dominguez , Online Editor

We met in fifth grade. She was a Sagittarius, and I was a Leo. It was an inside joke that we were so compatible because our zodiacs were both fire signs. We both had the same passionate ‘Lana Del Rey’ esque outlook on life. We would cruise down the streets of our hometown in her black Jeep Liberty windows down blasting radio WXRT, flicking our cigarettes out her rolled-down windows.

We were best friends for eleven years. She would come over for Christmas. My parents loved her. I had my first sleepover at her house. My first musical festival was spent with her. We both skipped prom together, and instead we hung out in her room, ate Doritos and talked about how much we hated “everybody that was at prom right now.”

We both moved to Chicago in 2013. She went to Columbia College, and I came to DePaul. We continued our friendship by taking the Red Line from Fullerton to Harrison almost every weekend of our freshman year.

The summer after that year, she moved back home, and I stayed in Chicago. She went through something traumatizing while I was living my new life. She said I wasn’t there for her, so she cut me off. A year passed with no communication when I received a call from an unsaved number. It was her. I had the pattern of those 10 digits ingrained in my head from the hundreds of times I had dialed that number from my house phone.

She was in a panic and said she needed someone to be there for her because none of her other friends could understand her like I did. I was at her apartment in less than an hour. But, even after reconciliation, the friendship was never the same. It was the start of an ending.

Romantic breakups hurt, but have you ever “broken up” with a life-long best friend?

Although Valentine’s Day is the Hallmark holiday meant to celebrate love and appreciation for the people in your life. Break ups and loss are an undeniable part of love and they apply to friendships as well.

The emotional effects of a platonic break up can be even more confusing or troubling than a romantic break up. Part of this is because our social scripts for platonic and romantic relationships differ,” ”

— Kendra Knight, associate professor of communication studies

It is difficult to meet someone who hasn’t had fights with friends or walked away from a platonic relationship. Ending a close relationship with an individual, despite the reasoning, is jarring. The pain of terminating a friendship can be as painful as romantic breakups.

“Individuals who are experiencing either kind of break up may think about how much they have invested in the relationship, and their likelihood of having a similarly satisfying relationship with another relational partner,” Knight said. “In friendships, it can be very difficult for people who have been friends for a very long time, or who have seen each other through very difficult times, to recognize that the relationship has become untenable.”

And it was difficult. Fewer texts were exchanged between her and I, laughs became replaced with passive aggressive comments which were justified with the phrase, “it’s tough love.” I was feeling the same anxiety I felt when I knew my romantic relationships were ending as I was with my life-long, childhood friend.

Losing friendships can be seen as a part of growing pains. In a survey conducted by  Not4Dating, a website meant for users to form strictly platonic relationships states that more than two-thirds of Americans have lost 90 percent their friends in the last decade

“We have always said to each other within our friendship that we loved each other very dearly and if we were away from each other for more than 48 hours, we would call or Facetime even during winter or summer break,” senior Kamila Zaremba said. “If we didn’t see each other, we did miss each other since we were both vital part of each other’s lives.”

Zaremba has recently begun to feel the emotions of breaking off her friendship with who she considered to be her college best friend. After having been roommates for a year, their friendship began to unravel, which ended with feelings of betrayal on her friend’s behalf.

“I missed her a bit but not to the extreme that I felt after something had happened between my partner and I. She was the first person I wanted to tell and figure out how to deal with everything that was happening,” Zaremba said. “It’s been a very recent process I’ve known all along, but I wasn’t allowing myself to feel all the emotions of missing her until very recently.”

Yet, the pain of a platonic breakup comes as a surprise to many because the termination of the relationship is not expected, versus engaging in a romantic relationship, where an ending is always a possibility.

“When we break up from a romantic partner, there may be more finality associated with it. And there may be an accompanying sense that a better romantic relationship will be made possible because the previous romantic relationship has terminated,” Knight said. “That reasoning doesn’t translate well to platonic break ups. 

Because our social scripts allow for multiple platonic relationships simultaneously, it may feel more like an irrevocable loss to undergo a platonic break up, no matter which side you are on.”

“I wish I could still be friends with my old roommate, I feel like that is no longer a thing for her. It’s not a possibility,”  Zaremba said. “We had gone through a lot of growing pains.”

Ending my relationship with a person who knew me better than anybody else was a difficult decision. The memory of two 10 year-olds playing in their neighborhood park was replaced with two 21-year-olds who had gotten into a fight at a bar.

Our friendship of over a decade ended in a curt, thirty-second exchange.

“I guess I’ll see you around,” she said.

“No. You won’t.” I slammed my car door and drove away. I haven’t seen my best friend since and I most likely never will again. It was a platonic breakup, and just as love is a major part of life, so are breakups.