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L  ast week..okay last night, I was looking through someone’s Twitter account. Here I was checking in on her life, trying to find out what she was up to, who she was doing it with, scoping out her new beau and then it hit me. I felt like a creep. You see, this wasn’t someone I used to really date. And though I was acting like a jilted lover, I wasn’t. I was checking out the page of my former bestie. Why? Because no one prepared me for this interesting fact about adulthood: Friends break up, and the sh*t is just as heart-wrenching as ending things with someone you were banging.

There’s a running tweet that goes something like, “One day you and your friends went outside for the last time and no one knew it would be the last time.” I became instantly sad the day I first read it. I hate the fact that some of my childhood friendships are now reduced to memories. And I can’t figure out why. I mean, things were exponentially easier when we still saw each other in the hallways at school or at Friday night football games.

At 23, the concepts of toxic friendships and relationships are plastered everywhere: How to deal with them, how to get rid of them, and how to really find your tribe. The truth is I’ve found, lost, ditched and been discovered by more than a few dope (and not so dope) people.

People you thought would be around forever soon become the folks you dutifully check on every once in a while…via social media likes.

Ditching, or should I say shedding, folks is hard AF. We’ve all gone through it. We’ve all experienced that awkward phase when conversations don’t flow as easily as they used to, which leads to fewer phone conversations and, eventually, the weekly outings soon become every other month. Growing is a part of life but the hardest part of that is realizing that everyone won’t grow in the same direction or at the same pace. People you thought would be around forever soon become the folks you dutifully check on every once in a while…via social media likes.

I noticed this type of shift shortly after I graduated college in December of 2016. The friends I started undergraduate with were no longer in my direct circle. We were no longer just calling each other to spend hours on the phone or trading jokes through memes and Twitter DMs. I watched my friends branch off and hang with new people and I did the same. Although it was something different, it felt somewhat natural to do. We started wanting different things. And we gravitated to the folks who made that happen. It went unsaid, but we were noticeably losing our connection. Growing apart was never the aspect of friendship you discussed. And, let’s be frank, how do you tell someone they no longer fit into your life?

I know. People dismiss these transitions as part of growing up but relationships— friendships particularly— are not as black and white. What about the friends who just get you? I shared the deepest parts of myself, from life goals to family secrets, with friends I’m “no longer on the same page” with. What about all of our inside jokes!? No one prepared me for the sadness that would come from no longer having that kind of friend in your life. Friendships don’t go through couple’s counseling or support groups. Unlike a romantic relationship, when a friendship starts to fade, there’s no manual on how to put it back together.

I’ll be honest. It’s not always me being the “friend shedder” either. I’m not a huge fan of rejection, so having a friend pull away hurt a lot. It felt like that person was saying that she could go through life and experience the best parts— and maybe even the worst parts— without me. What did that mean about who I was or what we had?

I wish I would’ve known that a “day one” wouldn’t always be around on “day 1057.” Going through a “breakup” with a friend made me realize that we should seek closure and validation from our friend relationships as well as our romantic ones. Losing a “day one” or even a “day two” can feel like a death.

I didn’t choose my friends for superficial reasons. They became a part of my life, and my family, because we shared many similarities and at the same time, we brought something different to each other. This is a person I spent years getting to know. While there were no contracts that bound us together, no shared property, no money issues to fight over, no kids, domestic expectations, there is something that supersedes all of that: Love.

I’ve learned to give my friendships the consideration and effort I would extend to a romantic partner. If something is percolating, let’s talk it out. If it’s time to move on, let’s say it. Rejection, whether you’re doing or receiving it, is hard. Handle with care.

Gene B. Hunter is a freelance writer for CASSIUS.