Though you don't (normally) enter into romantic relationships expecting them to end, it isn't seen as unusual that they do. Breaking up with someone is hard but at least in a romantic context we have the language and the understanding that for some people, it just won't work. Friendships, however, are a much trickier beast.
Since Sex and the City first aired in 1998, the mantra has been that while relationships come and go, friendships really matter. They ground us, uplift us, and can often be the real love stories of our lives. Which is why the demise of a friendship can be even more heartbreaking, especially as we largely don't have the language for it. We're not armed with a load of clichés to ease the transition. And friendships, unlike relationships, are rarely just between the two of you. While your partner may become great friends with your friends, it's less likely that they'll be embedded and part of a wide network. Severing ties with a friend doesn't just cut off that friend but can leave you ostracised from your whole circle.
As with relationships, friendships can end for a multitude of reasons. But unlike relationships, we're less likely to talk about the cause of their demise. Films and shows like Tuca & Bertie, Broad City and Booksmart have championed the highs and lows of female friendship. But for better or worse, it can lead us to ask too much of each other – expecting the other to plan a frankly outrageous hen do, or not wanting to admit you're fighting over a boy because it feels like a sexist betrayal to call another woman out. The reality of friendship – where a lot of us don't have one single best friend who fulfils our every need but a sprawl of interlinking people who all have different values and faults – is much harder to fit into a TV show, but can leave you feeling wanting. And trying to let someone go can feel like a betrayal.
But actually, recognising that not everyone is good for us is not a failing, it's a sign of maturity. It's also not about laying blame at the other's feet – it's not that it's entirely the other person's fault (though that is definitely the case sometimes). The heartbreaking but liberating fact is that all relationships, romantic or not, are constantly shifting like the tide. To accept that it is the end, at least for now, is to reflect on it as a whole. If it was good, celebrate it; if it wasn't, learn and grow from it. As these stories attest, the end of a friendship is hardly the end of the story.