Best friends matter. A lot. Studies show that friendship — specifically BEST friendship — goes way beyond sending each other ridiculous DIY snapchats or mailing care packages to your long distance bestie. According to relationship expert Ty Tashiro, best friends stay in your life for an average of eight years or more. And since your BFF is probably around for longer than most romantic relationships, a bestie breakup can cause you serious emotional and social damage — just as much or more than the implosion of your latest fling.

Two angry friends ignoring each other

Why best friends are important

“The stability of best friendships is remarkable,” Ty says. While these types of friendships last for decades, the average life span of a romantic relationship while in adolescence is only one-and-a-half to two years. Although all friendships are different, your BFF probably is a constant in your life, and you lean on them for emotional support. Just think of who you text first when something major goes wrong at work or when you’re lonely in a new city right after graduation — your ride or die, right?

According to Ty, a study found that people overwhelmingly lean on their best friend for support *more* than S.O.s and even parents. “From a stability standpoint, best friends come out on top for adolescents and young adults,” Ty says. “So losing that support is pretty heavy.”

BFF Breakups are super difficult

Best friend “breakups” can happen for a myriad of reasons: losing trust in each other, no longer having enough in common to keep interest in hanging out or something much more complex. But whatever the cause, parting ways with your bestie majorly affects your internal psyche and social life.

For one thing, you and your BFF probably share a friend group. So either having a blowout breakup or just not being close anymore can often result in losing (or altering your relationship with) an entire network of people. In many cases, losing your best friend probably means losing your social confidant too.

“Your best friend is there for friendship and reciprocal support,” he said. “It’s a pretty pure thing. To lose that causes a ripple effect through your physical and emotional health, as well as your social network.”

two women angry

What you can do about it

Whether through one big fight or through a rational decision, moving on from a best friend breakup is possible. If you chose to end that friendship, Ty says to acknowledge that the decision is better for you in the long-run — and to make sure not to choose a similar person for your best friend in the future.

However, if your breakup with your BFF left you heartbroken, Ty recommends talking to the people you trust, as well as initiating an internal dialogue with yourself through journaling or deep thought. A period of loneliness is relatively inevitable, so use that time to pick up new activities and search for new, more fulfilling friendships.

Have any tips for getting over BFF heartbreak? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)