“Most women crave visceral connections and mutual comprehension, and we achieve it on the regular, because we are innately capable of doing so; that’s just how we’re built. And that, my friends, is essentially why women really only find this type of connection in relationships with other women. It’s also why the loss of these relationships is so damn profound and painful, why the stories in this book are so motherf*cking poignant.”
-Nicole Knepper, My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends
I think that, for most of us, the term “ex” brings to mind a similar set of images. Of guys (or gals) with commitment and/or mommy issues. The would’ve been, could’ve been, should’ve beens. Perhaps even of the one(s) that got away.
These are the relationships that we’ve moved on and away from. Ones that we don’t think of too often because hey, we really like that guy our kids call “dad.”
Now go with me on this for a minute. The “goal” (or so says society) is for each of us to have one life long romantic partner. It’s “normal” for a woman to shop around for the man of her dreams, dating and breaking up with as many people as necessary until she finds “the one.” Society does not judge her for having X number of ex-boyfriends. It is healthy and natural. “Not all relationships are meant to last forever,” so they say.
What happens when a woman breaks up with her best girl friend? The feelings of shame and loss that come with this separation are unlike the ones following a split from a boyfriend. Why are we deemed bitchy and hard to get along with when we end these relationships? Why are these failed relationships not talked about more often?
The editors of The HerStories Project tackle these questions in their anthology “My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends.” Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger have a very clear thesis that weaves through this collection of 35 essays: whether it occurs dramatically through a blowup or after decades of slow-building resentments, a friendship breakup can make us feel more alone, ashamed, and distraught than a failed romance.
The authors of these stories are fearless. Period. Each of them dives deeply and unapologetically into the dark side of female friendships that most of us don’t like to even admit exist; much less talk about.
Things you will feel after you put this book down:
You aren’t a bad person for ending a friendship that wasn’t good for you.
You aren’t selfish and toxic or broken.
You aren’t an un-relatable mean girl.
Some relationships just weren’t meant to last forever.
And that is OK.
The authentic heartache, sadness and loss that is palpable in every one of these essays will send the message that it isn’t just you. It never has been. And there is nothing wrong with you for feeling sad over these losses. Beautifully written and incredibly touching, this book will speak to any woman who has ever lost a friend.
I’m going to let Nicole Knepper (who wrote the foreword) take us home as only she can:
“Women are frustratingly and magnificently wired for intimacy. As we experience social role changes that increase our responsibilities, we instinctively seek out and rely on female relationships to help us define these ever-changing roles. In the process, we learn how to spot our soul sisters. It’s not uncommon to grow in and out of situational friendships over time, but some of the relationships we build feel Aristotle-quote-worthy.
It’s these soul-connecting friendships that we hope will survive the inevitable physical and emotional separations that happen over time. When they don’t, whether 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.”
Grab a copy of My Other Ex here!