Friends Forever?
Credit: Morguefile photo by impure with memory

My best friend was my soul mate. We were always on the same page. Spending time with her was special. There was no one else on earth like her and I knew she felt the same way about me.

Then I introduced her to someone else. I wish I had listened to an inner voice telling me this wasn't a good idea.

But my friend has small children. She expressed a desire to meet other young mothers. Some of this woman's children were around the same age, so I thought it would be a perfect match.

It was.

Soon the two of them were spending a lot of time together. Their families became inseparable. The woman I brought to my friend's house quickly got to know her entire extended family. Everyone had become so intertwined so there was no turning back.

Then I found myself in an odd spot. This woman and my best friend were forging a close bond. Almost simultaneously, the same woman stopped talking to me, even though I'd known her for years.

My best friend's schedule was suddenly consumed with helping this woman and looking after her children. She had little time for me or for anyone else. Although it was clear she still valued our friendship, our relationship needed to change, dictated by the circumstances.

The Friendship Blog

My grandmother, God rest her soul, had always said, “Three is a bad number.” She meant that three children playing together often meant trouble, because one child was always left out. Only the three of us were adults.

 Even though I'm middle aged, and had assumed this sort of drama ended in high school, apparently that's not the case, according to Dr. Irene Levine, who runs The Friendship Blog, a forum for women navigating the choppy waters of female connections.

 She also written a book called Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, which shreds the myth that lifelong platonic bonds are the norm.

 Oftentimes this doesn't happen, because people change and evolve. Dr. Levine's book explains why friendships flounder, when it's time to call it quits or whether you should try to work it out.

Her online forum is busy, so, obviously, a lot of other women struggle with similar issues. There's a section for “problems and heartaches” and well as a thread on cutting ties.

It's clear all posters experience a certain amount of pain and many are in distress. (I know because I've been there.)

Dr. Levine's blog stresses that it's normal to be be sad and upset, because we have invested a lot of emotional energy into a friendship.

Then it's Time to Move On

In my situation, maintaining the same level of emotional intensity was uncomfortable, since there was a divisive element in the mix. Usually, expanding your social circle is a good thing. But I began to feel as if I was competing too hard for my friend's attention, and it was a role I no longer wanted to play.

The new relationship still occupied much of her free time.

Clearly, my friend was torn between our long-standing history and this other person. I totally understood, to a point.

Both women have young children, live in the same community and have the same religious beliefs. Their children get along well. Under normal circumstances, this would have made perfect sense. I'd be perfectly happy to “share” my friend if the situation was healthy. But it wasn't.

Since the other woman would barely speak to me, getting together for a cup of tea as a threesome was out of the question.

Because I know a fair bit about personality disorders, I began to suspect this is why I was being shunned. Well-adjusted individuals don't suddenly drop people. Nor do they move at lightening speed to spend so much time with someone they've just met.

After telling my friend I needed more space, and the reason why, and then deciding to actually follow through, I began to feel a sense peace and calm I hadn't felt in a long time.

Because I really care about my best friend, I'll continue to see her. But it won't be as often. I'm now a lot more detached and I don't share as much with her as I did in the past. In other words, things have changed, but not ended.

I'm no longer hurt or angry, and I don't wish to go back in time and undo the fateful introduction. People make their own decisions, and they are free to spend as much time as they wish with anyone they choose. My choice, though, is that I'm not going to be a leg in this wobbly triangle.

The bulk of my energies now flow in a more positive direction. I see this situation as an opportunity to meet new people and to do new things, and I look foward to all of the interesting folks who will eventually cross my path.