…(W)hether the loss is a slow burnout or a blowout that shatters the seemingly unbreakable bond so completely it can never be repaired, it’s a sort of death, and it’s just the worst, because it’s so damn confusing and incomplete. Nicole Knepper, in the Foreword to My Other Ex
Last year Stephanie Sprenger and Jessica Smock followed up The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship (2013) with My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends, 35 essays by different contributors. There are accounts on either side of the breakups, and there are even some reconciliations.
In creating this book the HerStories Project sought to help break the silence and shame felt by many of the women who’ve experienced the immense pain of lost friendships. To read the various reviews online is to know the editors have succeeded.
Whereas romantic breakups are widely mined in popular culture for their universality and angst, friendship breakups get less attention—yet they can hurt even more than the former. One possible reason: whereas it’s always an understood possibility that a romance may not last, it’s not so expected that a good friendship will ever die.
Reviewer Nina Badzin cites certain themes she sees in the book, such as the following:
In Victoria Fedden’s letter to her unnamed former friend, we see how much Fedden wants her ex-friend to know the success she’s experienced and how much she’s changed. Don’t many of us want the friends that left us behind to notice us and hear about our good news? Catherine Carson echoes this reality, too, when she thinks about what it would be like to run into her former best friend. She says, ‘I’d want to show her who I’d become, how far I’d come into myself.’
Included in the other themes she mentions are the shame of being the friend-dumper, feeling blamed for the ending of a friendship, regrets about whether there could’ve been a different outcome, and lessons learned post-breakup.
Selected Reviews of My Other Ex
Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of The Friendship Fix: “Many times we assume that only romantic breakups pack an emotional punch. Here comes a riveting collection of stories that delves into what women have discovered all too often – that friendship breakups mark our lives in very significant ways. It’s a fascinating look into the complexities of these relationships – not only the pain, but the growth and meaning that mark these transitions in our lives.”
, author of She Matters: A Life in Friendships: “Friendships between women simmer with force and tenacity, tenderness and manipulation, confidences and compassion. Then, sometimes, the simmer increases to a burn. My Other Ex collects stories of burn-out, the slow burn, and the uncontrolled wildfire. Each reader will find someone she knows here, including herself.”
Carlin Flora, author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are: “My Other Ex is a collection of beautiful and touching essays exploring the pain and confusion of getting dumped by, breaking up with, or simply drifting away from a once-loved friend….Reading these essays will offer the comfort of understanding and recognition to those who have lost a friend of their own.”