The pain from friendship break-ups is real.
Society doesn’t give them the same weight as romantic break-ups, but sometimes they can leave you even more broken. When I had my own friendship break-up, I cried myself to sleep multiple nights a week for almost a year.
Today’s guest is Patrice Poltzer, whose friendship break-up was with a high school friend who she remained close with until the birth of her first child. She describes their parting as one of the greatest tragedies and mysteries of her life.
Patrice and I are not alone in feeling this way. The friendship break-up is one of this show’s most requested topics. We need to normalize the fact that not all friendships last forever. They have highs, lows, and some end very painfully. But, as Patrice says, maybe this is okay – it allows us more room to expand our hearts and let other people in.
In this episode you’ll hear about:
- The story of Patrice’s friendship break-up and the repercussions it had on her life for years afterward
- How sometimes with deep friendship break-ups, you can’t move to being surface-level friends
- “Best friends” in pop culture vs. real life, and how, as adults, the term “best friend” is too all-encompassing
- Part of what makes some friendship break-ups so hard is that these friends knew us during important moments in our lives – potentially when nobody else knew us
- How even after a friendship break-up, the history is always there; it’s like walking into a room you’ve been in before and being flooded with memories
- The need to normalize that friendships have highs and lows, and not all friendships are meant to last forever
Have you ever had a friendship break-up? Did it fizzle out or was it dramatic? What was it that made this friendship break-up difficult?
Notable Quotes from Patrice:
“People play different roles in your life. They shape you, and it’s really great. And sometimes, maybe that’s just enough. However long they are in your life, that’s okay. Because it’s making room potentially for you to expand your heart to other people.”
“I swear to God, the pain of losing a female friend that, for all intensive purposes, was my best friend, and was so prevalent in my life, my family’s life, my children’s life – and then just to have that go poof? It’s like part of your part of your soul – I don’t wanna say it died because it rebirths – but part of it is gone permanently. Permanently gone because that’s not replaceable.”
Resources & Links
Follow Patrice at patricepoltzercreative.com or on her Instagram.
Leave Alex a voicemail!
Let’s Talk the Real Pain of Friendship Breakups
@itsalexalexander #stitch with @msrachelforlittles Trying to figure out how to make friends as an adult? #friendshipcoach #friendshipadvice #makefriends #howtomakefriends #makenewfriends #adultfriendship #howtokeepfriends ♬ original sound – Alex | Community + Friendship
@itsalexalexander I firmly believe that the best self care is a healthy support system. Society has convinced us that we have to be able to care for ourselves, and if we can't we have failed…. Don't believe the lie. Follow along if you want to see how one builds a support system from scratch. #makefriends #buildavillage #friendshipadvice ♬ original sound – Layde_Shy
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Podcast Intro 00:02
Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!
Podcast Intro 00:18
Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 00:50
Today, I have one of my most requested topics. This is also probably the hardest topic for me to figure out how to bring to the podcast. However, my new friend, good friend, Patrice Poltzer is willing to tackle friendship breakups with me. Now, this name might sound familiar, if you follow me on Instagram. Patrice is a business coach? Patrice, I’m sorry, I should figure out what your formal title is. But Patrice is somebody who teaches business owners, the art of storytelling and specifically how to tell their story. She believes that everyone has a Netflix documentary inside of them. And that your story is what is going to differentiate you out in this world. I was lucky enough to go through her Founder’s Fire program. That’s how I met her. And now we’re doing some other programs together, we just stay connected. She is one of those people who has very quickly become a business friend for me and who knows where else our friendship will go. We have a lot of fun connecting. So when she mentioned this friendship breakup to me, and I asked her to come on here, she’s a brave soul, and she agreed to do it. Now, this is just one friendship breakup. Story. I’m sure there will be many more on the podcast. But what I want to call attention to is that I have struggled so hard with how to bring Friendship Breakups to the podcast. And that is because this is only one perspective. All of us only know our side, our experience. And that’s been hard because there’s two people in any friendship, maybe more. And that means that lots of dynamicsare at play. We have no idea of what the other person’s perspective is, what things happened. But no matter what, what I want to say is that the experience of a friendship breakup is hard. That’s what I’m trying to showcase here. Not what could have been, should have been, who’s at fault, who did what, it doesn’t matter. The point is, this is hard to navigate. And it’s an experience that isn’t given much attention in our lives, you know? If somebody tells you that they broke up with a friend, only recently is that starting to get any attention, or empathy from the people around us. But when you tell somebody that you broke up with your romantic partner, it’s okay to take the day off or be a sloth on the couch. And I think that’s because there is a goal quite often, like we see the trajectory of a romantic partnership, you know, commitment, potentially a family, life partners, like there’s a very strong societal expectation of where this is going. And when that all crumbles to the ground, people understand why you’re upset. However, friendship doesn’t really have a trajectory in society. And we don’t give much weight to the roles these people are filling in our lives, the areas they’re supporting the intensity of our love for each other. So when it comes crumbling down, it’s kind of like, okay, well, that’s unfortunate. But we’re not really thinking about all the grief that comes with the visions we had for our friends being there for big life moments or the experiences we would have or heck, sitting around when we’re old and retelling our stories that we have to grieve that experience no longer happening. And this whole thing is tricky, because life just keeps moving on. So thank you, Patrice for coming on here and tackling one of the topics people are most curious to hear about. With that, let’s get to the episode. Hi, Patrice.
Patrice Poltzer 04:57
Alex Alexander 04:59
Which I’m saying to you, we already hang out multiple times a week.
Patrice Poltzer 05:04
It’s like you came into my life and like now it’s like, yes, I can’t get rid of you. It’s just everywhere.
Alex Alexander 05:10
You can get rid of me. You know, I told someone the other day, I was like, oh, my friend that lives in Brooklyn. And then I had to go back and be like, well, we only exchanged phone numbers a couple of weeks ago, but we’ve known each other for a while.
Patrice Poltzer 05:24
We have like a supernova rocket ship into friendship territory in a short period of time.
Alex Alexander 05:30
I mean, it’s been the most enjoyable of times.
Patrice Poltzer 05:34
It has. Next stop is…
Alex Alexander 05:38
we will see each other in person. Maybe you’ll discover I don’t know. I’m shorter than you thought or something. I’m not that short. I’m like 5’5″.
Patrice Poltzer 05:47
People always think I’m taller. I will be shorter than you think. People are always like, “I thought you’d be taller.” I’m like, oh, God. Got to stop using those filters on Instagram.
Alex Alexander 05:57
… something. And you know what? In true friendship status, you have agreed to talk today about one of the most requested topics I get.
Patrice Poltzer 06:10
I’m nervous. I actually am. I’m like, wait a minute. This is usually my role to be on the other side of this not to like be in this seat. I’m like, oh, God, what did I agree to?
Alex Alexander 06:19
I’m going to share too, but we’re going to talk about Friendship Breakups, which is truly what… I get so many messages about this, which I think is funny, but it’s fine. We’re doing it. I don’t know about you. I’m going to share about a friendship breakup too. So, you’re not alone. But mine was kind of a slow fizzle. And then it just kind of, at a certain point went I mean, no contact, I guess. Like, there were a bunch of moments where I was like, this feels off. This feels weird. This feels different. And then she moved. And that was kind of just the end. We never really followed up.
Patrice Poltzer 06:59
Like, was this a friend from childhood? Was this high school? Was this college?
Alex Alexander 07:03
College friend, but one of my closest friends. And it was probably we’ve been friends for like over a decade. Saw each other multiple times a week. One of my bridesmaids, you know, which we can talk about that. The whole honestly, concept of bridal party, I think is fascinating. Because who’s gonna be in our life for how long?
Patrice Poltzer 07:27
Yeah. I can’t even put like a bridesmaid picture up because I’m like, oh, disappeared, disappeared. Like, I don’t talk to a chunk of people in my wedding. I had a small wedding party, too. So…
Alex Alexander [Narration] 07:40
I actually have some episodes in the works for this. But talking about this whole wedding party thing, it seems like there’s a lot of societal pressure to prove that you have all these friends that are going to stand up there beside you. I mean, there are people out there who now have businesses. If you haven’t heard of this, there’s people who have businesses to like hire a bridesmaid, to pretend you have all this history and stand up there. If that isn’t a sign that there are some wild societal pressures here, I don’t know what is. So I just think this is a great call out in this episode about those pressures. And if you feel them, this goes back to that idea that friendship is never celebrated more in our life than when we’re young, in our teens and our 20s. And then there’s this societal milestone, which is marriage, and then the most celebrated thing is romantic partnership. But we never know at what age we’re going to make certain friends. We never know if our closest friends will be in our lives forever. We just… we don’t know. All of it is unknown. And yet, there’s all this pressure to have it seem like it’s known. So I’ll wait for some more episodes to talk about this. But that’s all I got. It’s wild. It’s wild. Was your friendship breakup like a slow fizzle? Or was there some big end fight event?
PODCAST EPISODE! Navigating Big Life Changes with Friends. Listen here!
Patrice Poltzer 09:18
No, it’s one of the biggest tragedies of my life. And it’s one of the biggest mysteries of my life. It’s one of these experiences where even though I haven’t talked to her now, and probably seven years, I mean, she was the love of my life, like she truly was. She was my high school friend in high school, and she always marched to the beat of her own drum. I went to like, you know, pretty much like a Catholic school in the suburbs of Chicago which is like, you know, very you know, people are… kind of come from similar backgrounds and you know, very… there’s not a lot of room for originality, or like, you know, showing different colors. Let’s just put that, you know, in my… she was in my homeroom and I remember being a freshman and this woman, this girl, I mean, she was like 13, whatever. She walks in and she had like a full on power lady suit with heels and a briefcase and I’m thinking like, what is going on? I’m like 13 and I think I was probably wearing you know, something from you know, Limited Express, like something bad.
Alex Alexander 10:22
I would have been friends with her too. I would have been immediately…
Patrice Poltzer 10:24
She locked in that homeroom and she sat down in a chair. And I remember just being utter all of her… I had no idea who she was. I remember thinking like, this chick is just… she’s mesmerizing, and she’s dropped it beautiful. I mean, she’s half Japanese half Irish. Like, she was like, larger than life, like gorgeous hair. She was just like a force, always a force. And so we became friends, the best of friends, you know? I mean, like it was… I’m really tight with my high school crew to this day, which is actually pretty rare. I find like, but like, I’m like, ten people strong and I just went on a big trip with all of them like two months ago and then another trip with all of them two months before that with their spouses. So like we had… like we, we are a crew and she was kind of part of like a different crew. You know, in high school, you have like different crews. But even though I was still tight with like, all my girls, she was always like mine, like me and my always had like the most special friendship and the most like, if anything was going bad in my life, like it didn’t matter because I had Maya. She was like, she was like my security blanket. We were friends in college. She was living in LA, the birth of my first son. She flew from LA to be in the hospital like, no one, not my family, not my mom, not my no one. Not anyone. The first person that literally saw my… I have three kids now, but my oldest who’s nine was with Maya. It was like, I held my son, then Maya, then my husband. I mean, it was literally like, that was the rank. And my husband… like my husband always joked. He’s like, Oh my god, I’m like, you know, are you to two poeple? Like it’s…
Alex Alexander 12:03
Oh, yeah, my husband’s… a lot of people. Yep.
Patrice Poltzer 12:06
I mean, they have their own friendship. You know, they talked all the time. And I mean, it’s one of these things I still… and I know that your viewers don’t know who I am. So I feel like sometimes natural instinct is, you know, when you hear people say, “I don’t know what happened.” You’re like, alright, alright, bitch. Stop lying. Why, like, what did you do? Like, have some introspection. but I’ll kind of give a little bit of context. So, nothing happened. Okay? If anything, she had tendencies. Now that I look back, you know, I think there was probably some depressive tendencies that maybe ran with her. You know, she was super, super, super creative. And then she could like, hold herself up and like write a book in a novel and like, emerge, but you wouldn’t hear from her for months. And I remember there was one particular moment when I was living in New York. This was before I had kids. It was, I remember, I probably called her like three times a day, for two or three weeks. And she just did not pick up the phone. And I remember it had never happened. We talked like every day. And I remember when she flew out on her birthday, her birthday is July, July 22. I remember she visited me in New York on birthday. And I remember, I was so mad at her. I was like, what happened? Like, why didn’t you pick up? Like, did I do something like what? And she’s just like, “No, no, I just, I just didn’t feel like talking to you.” And I remember where she said that. It was like, because it was so direct and like, honest. Yeah, it was honest. But it was just so… I remember be like, what are you talking about? I was like, “Never do that again.” Like, I remember like, being in my old apartment and the feeling and her being in my apartment. And then you know, when it kind of came out, like she stayed the weekend, she, without saying the words depressed, like it’s essentially what happened. Because there was also one other girl we had, there was a trio. It was me, her and my other friend, Buffy, who I’m still… me and her are still like, very, very, very tight. But the three of us were a trio. So, we would always travel together. And I remember I’d be like, “Buffy, like, what’s going on my end, Buffy? Like, I don’t know.” So I think there was when I look back, there were moments and flashes of like, oh, wow. Like she’s maybe dealing with stuff that were just beyond my comprehension, like mental health also wasn’t something that you necessarily talked about. This was back in like 2010, maybe 2010, 2011, kind of like that, you know, like 10 years ago, basically, where that type of stuff like, I’m feeling low or… anyway, so I remember like, there were some red flags. Like she had this ability I had never met anyone in my whole life. She could see someone every day for a year. And then it’s like, when she was done, she was done and she could like pull the shade down. And that was it. And I remember I would always be like, “Well, what do you mean you’re not talking to insert the name anymore? Like you want… ? That’s like… she does not. I’m done with her. I’m done. I remember joking with her one day like, “Don’t you ever do that to me?” She’s like, “I would never. I could never I could never do that to you.” It was almost like when I look back, and if I’m getting a little bit like outside of a situation, it was almost like the seeds were being planted for this to happen. And you have to understand too, and I’m sure you get it like there’s that age to where everyone starts getting married. And that does real weird things to women. I was one of the late ones. Like I’ve left Chicago, so I left the Midwest, and the Midwest, like my friends were like, popping out. Some of them were like popping out kids like in their 20s. Like, very rare, but a few of them were like pregnant in their 20s. Like, are you…? I didn’t even have a normal job. I was interning at 28. Like, are you kidding me? Like getting married? Who? To what? How?
Alex Alexander 15:37
Life was like so different for everybody. It starts to just divert in so many paths really suddenly.
PODCAST EPISODE! Your late 20s/early 30s are full of all sorts of life changes. People are making big decisions that send us all down different paths. Let’s talk about how to move through that time in life. Listen here.
Patrice Poltzer 15:44
I feel like 27 or 30-31 is like a strange age because you have people like myself who are like, still an intern, not married, like not even thinking about it, so like living in couches in New York. And then I’m like, going to baby showers back in the Midwest for some of my high school friends. Me and Maya are always a cruise. So we were always like, and even if I was dating, like… my now husband, like, she was always like a trio. It was never like she’d come to London with us or like we would travel together as a free solid. I mean, it wasn’t weird.
Alex Alexander 16:14
We do that with friends. Yeah.
Patrice Poltzer 16:16
Yeah. And so I guess I just never thought like, she cared, that she never wanted to get married or have babies or like, I never, that was not what we did.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 16:28
So as you listen to the episode, I don’t think, I don’t know. This friendship breakup doesn’t seem like it’s because of these diverging paths. But who knows? Nobody will ever know. But what I do want to call out here is that there are a lot of friendship breakups that happen because of diverging paths. So if you’ve gone back, and you’ve listened to my episode about the three types of roots, the way that I explained this is basically, there were shared interests and experiences that you have with your friends. You would go out on the weekends, or you would get brunch on Sundays, you would go shopping, play football on Sunday mornings, whatever it is. And when life changes happen such as marriage, romantic partnership, having kids, family, whatever it is. Those shift priorities. We all know that, okay? But what happens, I think, is we didn’t really have a variety of ways to connect. So the only things you did with your friends were brunch, and then flag football. And suddenly, your weekend mornings are taken up by kids, you can’t do those things anymore. So you have to choose to build new ways to spend time together and things to connect over. Or you’re not going to spend time together. And that’s going to lead to a friendship breakup. Now, when these life changes happen, one person chose to get married, have kids, whatever the choice is, move, get a new job. The other person didn’t choose this. But it affects the connection for both people. But one person didn’t choose the change. So if you don’t understand this, I think what happens is a lot of people get mad at their friends. And they don’t understand how to fix it. They just want it to go back to the way it was. And that leads to a lot of animosity, a lot of friendship breakups, a lot of frustration, a lot of blame. A lot of you know, shame, honestly wondering, where we just not good enough friends? It’s like, no, you are good friends. Life changes have happened. And now we got to figure out how to adjust around those life changes. So, keep listening. I don’t think… like we’ll never know. We’ll never know exactly why this friendship breakup happened. Patrice will keep talking. But I did just want to stop there. Because I think that is a huge reason people go through friendship breakups.
Patrice Poltzer 19:20
Then, I remember she moved to LA and I remember like, she always had these big dreams of becoming an author and like, you know, publishing a book. But there were sort of like this disconnect where like, yeah, because she wrote a book. And then I think it was kind of that naive, like, okay, I wrote this book. It’s here. Everyone come and buy it. And it’s like, no, that’s not how it works. Like you got to put yourself out there. So Alex, you know me a little bit like what I do now. I mean, you know, that’s been my whole life. I was with my friends. I mean, you gotta put yourself out there and you got to like, tell people about it.
Alex Alexander 19:53
Got to tell your story.
Patrice Poltzer 19:54
You got to like tell your story. And so I would always be taught like, you got to start a blog, like you got to start a Tumblr. This is like, you know, Tumblr is like, you gotta get like, you know…
Alex Alexander 20:03
Yeah, you see all the routes they can go, yeah.
Patrice Poltzer 20:05
It’s always on her. I’m like, “You got to get this out there, you’re so brilliant, but like you have to…” And she would always like to slave. She just like, didn’t want to hear any of that. And so I got married, and then I had my first baby. And I feel like after, like, she flew out for the birth, and she was like, so present. And then something happened in between having my first baby and getting pregnant with my second baby, which was, I had my first baby in 2013 and I was pregnant again, in 2015. Something shifted. And I remember the last time I’ve ever seen her. Every year, me, her and my friend, Buffy would take a trip together. So, we all went out to LA on Valentine’s Day weekend 2015. I remember it was like… I had a new baby still, like I wasn’t pregnant yet. Like I wasn’t pregnant later that year. But I remember it was like the best we were in LA, we were like hanging in her house. And it was amazing. And I had like an amazing time. And I remember there was one conversation we had because she was… she likes to date older, rich men. And at some point, that’s good. But also, the older rich men she would date would never leave her in a good state. So every time the older rich dude would leave, it was like, I just felt like her esteem was just like, crushed into a million pieces. But there was never a connection that like, well, maybe we need to like, not be attracting like men that are just not available to you in the way that you know you just are. And I remember she was dating this Malibu mark. I’ll never forget it. And I remember, I was asking all these questions. And remember, she got so angry at me. She’s like, why are you being so judging? And I remember I was like, oh my god, I’m not being judging. Like, I’m just asking you questions. I was like, because… I never said to her, I go, because I care about you so much. And I want you to be happy. And I just like don’t know if this is the… like, I just don’t know if this is going to end well. I’m like her best friend. Like, I’m not here to like coddle at some level, in my mind, definition of friends. It’s not blind loyalty, it’s not blind loyalty to the point where like, whatever you do, whatever decisions you make, I am going to support you because I am your friend. Like, I’m your friend. And I love you. And I want you to do amazing things. And I want you to like feel good. And if I feel like something is going on that I…
Alex Alexander 22:32
yeah, you’re like watching this pattern repeat the pattern and you’re just like, hey, do you see the pattern? Because I see the pattern. Is this what you want? Is this pattern what you want?
Patrice Poltzer 22:42
Yeah, we had that relationship where I mean, it went both ways. I did so many dumb things. And things that were like, probably like I wouldn’t do now, right? And she’d always call me out. So, it was not like this. I was always the friend calling her out. It was like that was like, that’s why our friendship in my reign was so special because I felt total and utter freedom to be exactly who I was. And I felt that that was received without judgment on her end. And I remember that LA trip. And our friend Buffy was there too. So I always have like someone to back all this up. There was just like a shift a little bit. I didn’t think anything of it, because I was just honest. I was just like, yeah, all right. I’ve asked you some questions that maybe were uncomfortable, but I’m your friend and I love you. That’s the last time I ever have seen her. And that was in 2015. That whole year was… I could like get choked up thinking about it. Because it was like, that was it. I left LA and we had a great time, the three of us. And I remember like, again, that we got home. I like call her and she wouldn’t pick up. Then I call her again and she wouldn’t pick up. I remember this went on for like, a month and a half. We’re texting her one day and be like, “What is going on? Like, why aren’t you picking up the phone? Like what’s up? I want to catch up. Like, how are you?” And she just wrote… I don’t remember exactly what the text message says. But it was basically like, I don’t want to talk to you. And there was nothing. There was no like, why or how or… and I remember I was like… talk. I thought she was joking and I call her again. I was like…
Alex Alexander 24:14
The confusion is so real.
Patrice Poltzer 24:16
I was like, “Can you pick up your phone? Like, what do you mean, you don’t want to talk to me? I don’t understand.” And she goes, “Yes, you do.” I was just like, “I actually don’t.” And I remember that was the start. That was… I’ll never forget that was in April. I went to LA in February. And I remember in April, I went to a wedding in Paris with someone that she knew. So I was like so excited to like catch up with her because like there were some like funny stories that happened and like people were asking about her at the wedding. And I remember that text message that was just like, “I don’t want to talk to you.” And I remember my husband was playing soccer. And I just… he came home and I remember he walked in the apartment and he’s like, “What is going on?” I’m like, “I don’t know. Maya just doesn’t want to talk to me anymore.” And he’s just like, “What are you talking about? Like, what?” And for the next year, her birthday is July. I mean, when I say like, I sent letters, I remember her birthday, I got something made for he, like a piece of jewelry. And it was just like, I mean, I look back, I like look pathetic, but I almost was like, I just had no idea.
Alex Alexander 25:24
I mean, I don’t think it looks pathetic. I get why you’re saying that because that’s the mainstream view of it. But like, if you think about it, right, you had all these beliefs about your friendship, that suddenly it’s not even like they dwindle, it’s not even like there was a bunch of, I call it, evidence. Like evidence that said, you shouldn’t believe that you care about each other and you’re always there for each other and all these things. It’s just like, somebody took a pair of scissors and cut it. And you don’t have anything to prove not to believe that and you spent all this time believing it. And you’re just like, what’s happening here?
READ MORE: If you have friends, but find yourself feeling lonely, give this article a read.
Patrice Poltzer 26:04
I can’t even explain it. And I kept asking, like, “Can you just tell me what I did? Like, so I can at least, like, reflect on it. Or I can like, holy cow”, because I kept telling her like, I don’t know what I did to you. And she never would respond. On any occasion that she would respond, it’s like, “Yes, you do. You know.” And it was like this. It was almost psychological abuse in a way, like now that I look back because I really did it. And like anyone who knows me, like, I cannot hide how I feel. Like I’m really bad at that. It’s like my best quality also is… could be my worst quality. And so it’s like, I can’t lie. Like I’m not a good liar. Like because I just… I’m so like bought to direct. It’s like, I’d rather just like say it. And so this whole time, it was like driving me crazy. I felt crazy. I remember like… and Buffy, our friend who was a third party, she was in a horrible position because she was now in the middle of this. I’d be like, “Buffy. What is going on?” She’s like, “Patrice, I don’t know. Like, I can’t get anything out of her. Like I have asked her like, you know, I know Patrice can be like a bit much and Patrice can like say things like she doesn’t mean. Maybe it comes out wrong, but like this is like your best friend from when you’ve been 13. Like what is going on? Like, let’s fix this.” Anyway, I remember, so July was her birthday, I made her this piece of jewelry. And it was just like this message like, “I love you. I know you think I know what’s going on. I really do not.” Like I swear on my children, like my firstborn baby. Like, I’m pregnant again. Like I let this privacy be… like I was literally like, just like, I don’t know. And then my grandpa died. So I had to go back to Chicago. Like, so this was July, my grandpa died the day that Trump got sworn in. And I always say he couldn’t handle a world where Trump was president. So, he died the day that Trump was president. My grandparents loved Maya… like, my grandparents had to have a place in Florida and like, everyone knows Maya. She’s part of my family. And so, my grandpa died. And I remember I spoke at my grandpa’s funeral. He was like the love of my life. Oh my god, Alex.
Alex Alexander 28:10
It’s so real. It’s so real. We do not talk enough about how painful friendship breakups are. Right? When you break up with a romantic partner, for months, people, you know, tell you to eat ice cream and lay on the couch and do all these things. When I had my friendship breakup, I cried myself to sleep multiple nights a week for almost a year.
Patrice Poltzer 28:34
Oh, yes. Same.
Alex Alexander 28:35
Because I’d get in bed and my brain would start wandering and I would wonder what I had done and what was wrong. And I would think about all the things I missed about our friendship, and it just was gone. All of a sudden, it was gone.
Patrice Poltzer 28:48
I felt like I didn’t even know how to be anymore as a human because like she was so… it was like the safety net, but in the most beautiful way. It was like the safety net where like, it doesn’t matter what happens because I have Maya. Like, it was like, anyone who knew me, it was like, well, you know, I’m friends with Patrice, but like, Maya is the person. And so I remember she… this funeral. And we were outside like after, you know, everyone was like gathered because like all my high school… you know, everyone from my high school, my college, like they all showed up. And I haven’t seen her since February and haven’t even talked to her since LA. I remember… and it wasn’t the right place, but it was just like, she was crying. And so like, I kind of thought like, oh, well maybe this was like the first step and it just wasn’t. And so honestly, like, fast forward a year like to the next summer, I now have another baby. My second baby was born in April of 2016. And I remember he was five weeks old because my husband’s parents are… and I remember like I was in that newborn and it has been over a year now really since she caught me off. It’s been since February. I have gone through a total death. Like, whatever the stages are, you know, the grief, the denial, I was in the acceptance stage at that point because I had to. Like I had… I was like not able to function as a mom, it sounds crazy. But like I was so depressed.
Alex Alexander 30:16
No, it’s real.
Patrice Poltzer 30:17
This is probably like, the closest year I ever… I don’t have depressive tendencies, or I don’t have clinical depression or anything. Like, I can imagine that how I felt that year is, if that is just even a sliver of how depression feels, I have so much empathy because I couldn’t like function. Everything made me cry, like even my poor husband was always just like, can you try to on my behalf like, you know, my wife is like… please like…
Alex Alexander 30:45
No, he was friends with her too. That ended too.
Patrice Poltzer 30:48
And then I remember one day, she called me out of the blue. I was at home. And I couldn’t even believe it. You know, it was like her phone number. I thought it was a joke. It actually didn’t… I actually didn’t pick up. And then it ran like five minutes later. And I wasn’t gonna pick it up. But I was like, I have to pick it up. I remember I picked it up and I got no closure. It was one of those experiences where it was like surreal. It was like you wait for this moment for so long. And I finally had her on the phone. And I was expecting like… actually, I wasn’t even expecting anything because I was like… also I was postpartum five weeks. So I also was in like a totally different, just like mental headspace. Actually, I was so… I love having babies. I love being postpartum. It’s like, I’m always the happiest I’ve ever been after I have my baby. So I wasn’t postpartum like, oh. I was like, loving life and happy.
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Alex Alexander 31:42
You feel like you can take this on. You’re like, sure, yeah. Okay, here we go.
Patrice Poltzer 31:45
I was content. I had my beautiful like newborn like cuddling with me. And I remember like, she called me and she never gave me… she… I kept saying like, “What did I do to deserve this?” I said like, “You have no idea.” Like, I go, “I need to know what I did. Because I couldn’t even like rectify.” She just is like, “You know what you did.” She kept saying that… it was… I’m like, “Is this from like, high school stuff? Did I like sleep with your…? What did I do? Like, tell me.” And she could never give me a real explanation. It was more like, you know, it was just, yeah, it kind of came back like, you know, you’re just like, were really judgey with me. And I kind of stood my ground. And I said to her, “I’m judging with you because if you perceive it as judging you, it’s like because I love you. And I can’t be something different.” I go, “I don’t trust you anymore because I didn’t act different. Like, I’ve always been the same to you. But you rejected that. So even if we were to, like, do this, I don’t know how to be with you anymore. Because I don’t know what I did that triggered this year and a half of not speaking. So, how can I even like go back?” And it was one of those moments where she’s like, “Well, you know, I want you in my life.” And I go, “So do I.” I go, “But I don’t know what rules to play by anymore. Because it’s changed.”
Alex Alexander 33:07
All your beliefs are gone. Right? It shattered all those beliefs. So now you’re like, anything we did before, like we’d have to start from ground zero. Except that then we’d be walking on eggshells being like, oh, well, we used to do this, but we don’t do that anymore. Now I feel like, try it as new friends. Yeah,
Patrice Poltzer 33:26
it’s like if she tells me something and in the past, I would be like, “What the fuck you talking about?” Or like, “What do you mean? What did you do?” Like, yeah, can I not like, that’s not allowed anymore. So if I can’t, like be who I am, like with you and have just like, that was the most beautiful part. What I thought of our relationship was like, I felt so myself with you, that is so rare to like, truly feel like your full self with someone, like the good, the bad, and feel like that was still okay. And that was still like accepted. I go, “But you change that rule on me.” And I said, “I don’t know what elements of myself you don’t want, and what parts of myself that are cool with you. So I don’t have the time to even like, analyze, like, I have a baby and a toddler. Like, it wasn’t even about to be with a toddler.” I’m like…I said, “You literally like… I’ve never felt pain like this from another human like ever than I have this past year with you.” And that’s also for me now to deal with. Like, someone that I trusted is capable of like, causing that much emotional pain and then just sort of like, I’m back, but I don’t… I can’t really tell you like why that happened. Like so, that was it. And I have not talked to her since. So, it’s 2016. What is that, like seven years. It’s funny because you know, I’m the third girl in our little trio. And I’m still super tight with the third girl. It’s totally been devastating for her because the three of us had a very special thing. Like every year since we’ve been 13, we’ve always done a trip even if it was, we called it, you know, a holiday where we call in sick to work when we were like, you know, in our early 20s, or not early 20s. But like, when we were living in Chicago, we were like, 25. And we have like, I mean, I barely had a job like, whatever. You know, we’d have like a holiday, right, where we would just like, sit and eat and watch movies and drink wine. And so, it was also very devastating for her because she lost out as well, because the dynamic of the three of us just worked. And now me and her have a friendship and her, this girl, Maya, it’s so depressing. I was gonna say my friend, Maya, and I actually, I stopped. I said Maya, like, I can’t even say that word. But Maya and Buffy, they’re still friends. And I see Buffy every time I’m in Chicago, like she just had a baby daughter. Like, we talk. And in the beginning, it used to be a lot of like, can you help me get this back? And Buffy was like, “I’m trying, but I don’t understand it either.” And now it’s like, you know, there are times where Buffy said that she does bring me up still. And Buffy’s like, I don’t think Patrice is thinking like… so it’s just one of those things where I don’t know why it ended. I can theorize, like we can analyze, but at the end of the day it’s… it for whatever reason in her brain, for her life, like our friendship expired, it was like that was it, she did not want… there’s no one else in her circle, especially that I knew of in her life that like… I did probably challenge her in a way that was uncomfortable, like, but because I like wanted more for her. But that’s also like, she doesn’t want that type of a friendship. If that’s not something she’s interested in, then yeah, I guess it was never bound to be everlasting. Was it?
Alex Alexander [Narration] 36:44
I didn’t want to interrupt that. There was too much good stuff, though, for me, to not pop in at some point. We’re going back to the roots. So basically, what I see here, right, is the three kinds of roots as a refresher, shared interest and experience, emotional intimacy, which are kind of the information we collect and use in our interactions when we’re together. And those actions and the way we act, I think we collect those as evidence, those confirm our beliefs. Our beliefs are what I call our story roots. So what happens I think sometimes in these friendship breakups is whatever beliefs we had. And Patrice listed a bunch of them, like, I trust you, I can be myself with you. We have been friends for decades. All these beliefs, suddenly the actions don’t support the beliefs. And it’s not like a slow fizzle necessarily. For some friendship breakups, I think it is. And those are the times where we’re like, oh, you know, I should have seen it coming. I ignored it. Right, we chose the belief. We chose the story roots. But maybe the actions didn’t align all the time. And that doesn’t always mean there’s gonna be a friendship breakup. But it can. So there’s no hard answer here. It’s not like, oh, well, if they start doing that, then they’re for sure gonna break up. It might just be a time in their life, they might be going through some other things. Conversation and communication might illuminate why this is happening. But sometimes somebody just chooses to be done. And that, like I said, is like a cutting, like straight up taking a pair of scissors and cutting the root off. And that hurts. That hurts because you have all this evidence that brought you to the belief that says, I trust them. And now you’re sitting there thinking, oh, my gosh, was all that evidence real? How did we get here where I trusted you so deeply? And now your actions don’t support that, like this is hard to reconcile. And then we have all the secondary routes that are cut. The things that you did together, the memories that you have, the visions you had about the future, right? In this story, Patrice’s friend came out for the birth of her first child. Like she probably envisioned her being this aunt and role model in her kid’s life forever. That’s something you envision and then you have to mourn that that’s not going to be the reality anymore. A lot of things happen simultaneously in a friendship breakup. That’s all I’m trying to eliminate here. It’s not just like, oh, you and a friend ended. It’s layers and layers of things that are changing. very suddenly. There are so many parallels. I’m not going to tell my whole story right now because it would be a long episode, but there’s so many parallels the… like, you know what you did, the lack of willingness to have a conversation and then the asking about you to mutual friends afterwards, all happened to me as well. And the thing that I think is really interesting is this person, the other people, not us, chose, I don’t know if it’s to end the friendship or just to like, control the friendship, or something. Like they made a choice that we did not choose, we have to deal with it. But because we didn’t choose it, and they’re not willing to have any sort of conversation, there’s no communication, the lack of communication to me, because every friendship breakup is going to be different. And when I listen to these things, obviously, I’m thinking of other people and listeners, like the lack of communication to me is the real red flag indicator. Like I have lots of friends where we’ve had fights and breaks and pauses, and like honest, hard, crying conversations. The lack of communication is like the problem. And when you and I, when we realized that that was going to be a stone wall, we move on. We grieve. We put up boundaries. We ask, like, I don’t know about you, but at a certain point, I asked mutual friends, like, “Please stop telling me about her life. Please don’t tell her about my life. If she wants to know about my life, she has my phone number. Like she can reach out, and then we can have a conversation.” But they don’t grieve, I don’t think. They just think that it’s going to keep going. And then when they like, insert themselves in these moments, it was like, all right, they think they’re historic friend. And we’ve just taken some sort of pause. And you and I are over here like, okay, well, it seemed like there was a brick wall. So now you’re in my past friendships, like I’ve moved on. And then they’re mad.
Patrice Poltzer 41:54
I think too as I’ve gotten older than this kind of comes more with age, but if she were in a different bucket, like we all have peripherial friends we have friends that we go for cocktails with, we have friends that we know we have a lot of fun with. But like we’re going to keep it kind of surface because we have different types of friends. And every friend is going to be like soul friend, let me bear my inner soul. Because that’s just I… that’s hard to do. Right? Some people can do that easier. So she was a soulful friend. So it was like if she were a different type of friend where, yeah, it was more superficial. Like I, we could just laugh at stories, and you could tell me stuff. And I’d laugh and haha, and I don’t… sure, maybe I have an opinion, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t care that much. So, but that was never it. And so I think when like, you know, you have these different types of friends in your life, and you view them as such. And then it turns out that they’re not and this could work the opposite way too, right? So, superficial friends can become very deep friends. But it’s obviously painful when it’s the other way around. I can’t exist in a superficial friendship with her. Like we’ve already hit like soul level. So I mean, you like you’re my maid of honor. Like you like held my son basically before his dad, like, that’s so deep and that you see me my worse. Like, you know, my family history, like, you know, all the skeletons. And so you can’t go from that to like, okay, let’s just go like laugh and like, go get a cocktail and, and I think she knows that. But I think the… and this is probably different for other people. But I personally think that there’s just probably a lot more stuff going on with her. I was like, this closest person to her. But there’s obviously so much of herself that she kept buried and probably didn’t release to me. And so, that is just a battle. I mean, that’s not my journey, right? That’s her journey. And you know, sometimes I wonder like God, because I know bits and pieces about what she’s doing, like I know she’s still in Chicago and, you know, different things, but what a shame because like, I know that like if for some reason, like we were to probably see each other, like bump into each other in New York, take out the awkwardness, like I still love her.
Alex Alexander 44:09
Oh, yeah. All that history is still there. It’ll never go away. Yeah. It’s like you could walk into a room, a place you’d been before right? And it would flood you with all these memories of you and her.
Patrice Poltzer 44:21
Yeah, so much that you pick up back in a weird way. Like I’m already… I’m still like if I have to think about it or like analyze it because I… there’s no like closure to it. So you know human beings, like we kind of crave that closed loop or we crave like, okay, let me tie the bow on it and like put the period. This really doesn’t have a period and I have no interest. I think at this stage in my life unless it was total if she was coming to me and being like, I want to be in your life and like I went through a bad time and I didn’t make the right choices, but like I know we can’t start fresh but it would have to be like from that place.
Alex Alexander 44:58
Like I’ve done these things to work through my issues. This is what was going on with me. Yeah, like a lot of explanation…
Patrice Poltzer 45:05
It would have to be some introspection. And I just don’t know how much the… I don’t know her anymore. Like, I know her what I did until seven years ago. So I just don’t know how much she wants to do that are willing to do that. And I think that’s the only way that we could actually probably go forward. It’d be a new friendship, but it still could be a meaningful one still. It would just be like not the same as it was, but it would have to be her and I said that to her. I was like, the ball is in your court, like it is so on your court. I remember that was my parting words to her on the phone. Because as I got euphoria, postpartum baby, I was like, “Look, I want to be in your life, too.” And I’m like, “I don’t know how right now. So the ball is in your court, and I’m gonna follow your lead. And like, I’m open. I’m so open.” And nothing was ever done.
PODCAST EPISODE! Let’s talk about managing differences (and making different life choices). Listen here.
Alex Alexander 45:51
I did the same thing, I sent kind of a final message. And it was like, “Hey, I just need you to know that whatever you’re telling yourself, that I’m not willing to have hard conversations, or try this or figure it out. Like that is a story you’re telling yourself, that is not the truth. I am open to having a conversation to figuring this out, to come considering what I supposedly did wrong, and having a conversation about it and thinking about it. But you won’t tell me that. So if you decide you want to have that conversation, call me.” Because you have a certain point, like you just can’t keep putting it out.
Patrice Poltzer 46:32
I think if I’m thinking about like takeaways, too, for anyone listening, like, there’s probably lots of different types of takeaways, but I think number one, I don’t think every relationship or friendship is necessarily meant to last for forever. You know, we all go through different parts of our life. And if you can grow together, that’s great. But sometimes, it’s too much. And sometimes, like, we’re not the same, you know, when we were 12 or 10. And so, we’re back again to this, but like, my best guy friend, my whole first 20 years of my life. I mean, again, he’s like, you know, drag-a-body guy friend, I loved him so much. Actually, that’s probably another episode like the male and female friendship and how close can you really be, but he was like, my ride or die. I mean, like, he was new Maya, went to say high school, like, you know… anyway, all my friends were like, that was always gonna, like he loved you. Like, you just can’t be friends with that. And I remember being like, what? But it ended. And then it was also horribly shattering. And, but I realize and it’s like, kind of looking back, like God, people play different roles in your life, and they shape you and it’s really great. And sometimes, like, however long they are in your life, it’s like, okay, that’s okay. Because it’s making room then potentially for you to like, expand your heart to like, other people.
Alex Alexander 47:48
Yeah. But like, that’s for sure not the pop culture narrative, right? The pressure is on this, meet your friends young and do anything to keep them forever, and you are better if you do that. Hence, this podcast. Like, we need to normalize that not everything is going to stay like that. And friendship has highs and lows and like things end, things end. And what you had with her in a certain period was like really beautiful, hence why it’s emotional to talk about it.
Patrice Poltzer 48:22
I still… like it still feels so raw. I mean, it’s not like raw in that sense of like, I miss her. But I… it’s like, I’d recognize the tragedy. Like there’s like something like very tragic about it. Because there’s that part of you is like, did it have to be this way? Could I have done something different when I was in LA? Like, if I didn’t… maybe I shouldn’t have said anything about whoever she was dating, if I just would’ve stopped. But I know if I’m a logical person, and it’s like, nope, that would have happened just maybe not in LA in February, when she came to New York or when I was in Chicago or on a phone. I would have said the wrong thing at the wrong time. And that would have been a reason in her brain to shut me down. So it was always… and also again, the red flags of years prior. She would do this to other people. And I remember always feeling like lucky. Like I’m so lucky. Because she kind of has this like, I swear to god, she’s got like a special aura about her where people can obsess with her. Like she’s got this very powerful presence and like again, she wore a freakin three piece like Chanel suit when we were 13 walking into homeroom with… Cecil and that’s just been her vibe her whole life, so you know when someone is like that, she tends to attract people that like really obsessed with her. And I was like was I obsessed with her? Like, I mean, but I was obsessed with her like in the most… yeah, I was like she’s my best friend. Like I loved having my best friend like, you know, like I call Maya as my best friend, like my best friend. Like it felt really like good. So to kind of like not have that and obviously I’ve never had a best friend since. I know I don’t either, but in a weird way like…
Alex Alexander 49:52
I don’t really like the term best friend if I’m being honest. I think that right like best friend is some pop culture thing that’s built up and we all need to, like redefine. My take away when people tell me about best friends is like best friend for what? Because best friend is supposed to be it’s like all encompassing thing. And when you’re 13, and young, maybe in your 20s not to say you’re one dimensional, but life is less complicated. You’re an adult with kids and a partner and… or no kids and a partner or a job, want to travel, goals, whatever. There’s so many parts of you that like it’s really hard for one person to be this all encompassing force in your life. Like, my husband isn’t even that.
Patrice Poltzer 50:40
Oh, God, don’t even get me started. When people call their husbands their best friends, I’m like, stop. But that’s like another podcast.
Alex Alexander 50:46
Yeah. So it’s like, that’s easier when we’re young to have this quote unquote “best friend.” The older we get, is that really feasible? I don’t really think so.
Patrice Poltzer 50:56
It’s a defining moment in my life, and you ever was like, you know, though, the worst breakup of your life, like, you know, they made they talk about some boyfriend, or they talk about, you know, maybe even like a fiance, but I swear to God, like, pain of losing, like a female friend that for all intensive purposes, was my best friend. And was so prevalent in my life, my family’s life, my children’s life, like all that stuff. And then just to have that go poof, it is, it’s like, part of your soul. I don’t wanna say it died, because it rebirth but like, part of it is like, gone, like permanently gone. Because like, that’s not replaceable.
Alex Alexander 51:32
No, like she knew you, in this period of your life, where now, probably not very many people know you or knew certain parts of you, you know, like you, outside of school, whatever. So, now, nobody knows that. And that’s a wild thing to have to grieve, and move on from. Also any future visions you had, right, of her coming on vacation with you and your family and your kids. These, like things you talked about, are never going to happen. I have that scenario all the time. So this is all just to say, I think this is so… this is so real for so many people, and they aren’t… this isn’t discussed enough. This isn’t given, like weight in society if somebody were to say this, they’d be like, “Oh, well, sorry. You lost your friend. Moving on.” It’s not given the…
Patrice Poltzer 52:25
Yeah, no, I know what you’re saying. It’s like, yes, it’s not given the attention. It’s not given the like the, the importance or it’s not, like viewed as like something and a topic to… like, talk about my frickin wedding photos. Like, she’s my maid of honor. So it’s all this stuff on like Jesus Christ, like, every video, like I have video and all this stuff. And it’s just like, oh, my God, like, that also, is… can be painful to in a way, like if you’re on a wedding stuff, because like she’s in everything, and now…
Alex Alexander 52:54
And now you don’t even know who she is.
Patrice Poltzer 52:56
No. But I think about it too. I’m like, you know, I knew her parents, I went to her house every day. Like, I know her parents. I know her brother, I think about that, like, my God. Like, if something happened to her mom or dad, like, do I fly back for the funeral? I mean, stuff like that. The answer is probably yes. But it’s not like it’s an act to like pause, because it’s like, wait, because like, if I were in the middle of something, or I was in, then that happened, it’s like questions like that, where it’s just, I can’t even believe like, I’d have to think about that. Like, that’d be ludicrous to contemplate, or, or God forbid, something happened to her, right, like, kind of like lost. It’s just all that stuff. You kind of think about mortality too, as you get older.
Alex Alexander 53:37
Yeah, it just mixes everything up, or anything you thought was going to be the path now is like in question. And the reason you’d go is because of all that history, but there’s nothing in the present. So, now it feels weird. It’s all a tricky thing to balance. And it takes up a lot of mental load for someone that really isn’t even present in your life. And that’s hard. Patrice, this was so good. I cannot wait…
Patrice Poltzer 54:09
… I just cried like the whole time.
Alex Alexander 54:12
The reason I say it’s so good is because I think there’s going to be a lot of people who respond to this episode and are like, I had similar things happen, and they just felt like they were alone. And they’re not.
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Patrice Poltzer 54:25
It is interesting, right? When like… there was a poster once I saw on social media, recently, of a woman saying that the most devastating time in her entire life is when she… like her close friend, whatever broke up, it was the most painful relationship breakup. But I remember I resonated so much with it. And I was kind of sifting through the comments. And I was like, pretty blown away like, how often that’s happened. So, that’s not a fun thing to go through. That’s for sure.
Alex Alexander 54:51
Not a fun thing to go through. But I think it’s a really common one. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here.
Patrice Poltzer 54:56
Thank you. Of course. Anytime.
Alex Alexander [Narration] 54:58
Whoa, whoa whoa. What a doosy of an episode. I know that this episode is going to get out there. And a lot of people are gonna feel very seen about a similar situation in their life, one that probably didn’t get the attention that it should have, that people didn’t give you space to grieve or didn’t make you feel seen and how hard it was. So, if that’s you, please take a second for yourself, and know that whatever you were feeling was valid. This episode is probably the first of many episodes on friendship breakups. And I could have popped in here with narration at least 20 more times., but that makes for a rough episode to listen to. What I did want to say is, we kind of touched on the end there about what it would look like for this friendship to restart. And we’ve already covered that roots were cut, right? Like evidence, our beliefs, we don’t believe that they’re true anymore. So those are no longer there. But you have this weird mix where a period of time has passed, in this case, what, seven years. And so if they were to reconnect, they are different people. Therefore, the shared experiences and interests they might have had, may no longer be shared interests and experiences. So you’d have to find new shared experience and interest roots. And that can be tricky, because you have all this information, all those emotional intimacy roots from your friendship. So you might use that information to suggest things. And when you say, “Oh, do you want to go running?” And they say, “No”, then you feel that sense of like, oh, I don’t even know you anymore. So the past version of your friend that you’re trying to reconnect with, isn’t that same person. The information you have, the memories, the small details, you know, like they may no longer be true. And you’re having to navigate all these things, all these dead routes, and how you regrow them. And that is a tricky line to walk. Because you’re kind of learning about this new person, but with this outdated set of information that you’re trying to use, but it may not actually be helpful. And then ways that you used to act, things that used to be okay, because of your beliefs because of your story roots, like I trust you, you know, maybe having a key to each other’s house and coming and going. You can’t necessarily just hop back into that. You’d have to rebuild. Do I think it’s possible? Yeah, I think it’s possible. I think it’s also incredibly hard to do. And both people would want to have to put in so much work to navigate that transition. If you are somebody who has done that, message me. Let’s talk about it on the podcast. With that, I’m sure that this was an overwhelming episode. Like I’ve mentioned before, this is one of my most requested topics. I am sure that we will talk about friendship breakups again. Thanks for listening today. See you next week.
Alex Alexander [58:32]
Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.