Reading Group Guide
Best Friends Forever
Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend
By Irene S. Levine, PhD
Female friendships have their ups and downs—most of them don’t lastforever—
but we are very fortunate when best friends are a constant in our lives.
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
The questions that follow are offered as possible topics for discussion. We hope they
will enhance your reading of Irene S. Levine’s Best Friends Forever and provoke
reflection and lively discussion.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Men, jobs, children, personal crises, and irreconcilable social gaps—these are just a
few of the strange and confusing reasons that may cause a female friendship to end.
No matter the cause, the breakup leaves a woman devastated and asking herself
difficult questions. Was someone to blame? Is the friendship worth fighting for?
How can I prevent this from ever happening again?
Even more upsetting is that women suffering from broken friendships often have no
one to confide in—while the loss of a romantic partner garners sympathy among
peers, discussing the loss of a platonic friend is often impossible without making
other friends jealous or uncomfortable.
Best Friends Forever is the first self‐help guide tackling the complex topic of female
• Why Friendships Fall Apart
• How to Get Over Getting Dumped
• Spotting a Toxic Friendship
• How to End a Friendship That Can’t Be Fixed
• Moving Forward with New Friends
Drawing from the literature, her own research, and the personal testimonials of
more than 1500 women, Dr. Levine explores the myths of the romanticized notion of
“best friends forever,” and contends that most friendships, even the best or close
ones, are more fragile than permanent.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What are some of the qualities that make for a “best friend”? Can a woman
have more than one? What types of boundaries should there be between best
2. How are women’s friendships different than men’s?
3. Thinking back, when were the easiest and most difficult times in your life to
make new friends?
4. Who is the friend that you have known for the longest time and still consider
a close friend? When and how did you meet? What has made the friendship
5. What are your expectations of your friends on your birthday? Do you
communicate your expectations or wait and see if they remember you? How
did your family handle birthdays when you were growing up?
6. Do you feel like you have to juggle friendship with the rest of your life
(family, career, school, etc.)? How do you set priorities?
7. Should a woman expect her best friend to provide unconditional support,
whatever the circumstances?
8. One study from the UK suggests that we keep only one out of 12 friends we
make over the course of a lifetime. Thus, everyone has some fractured
friendships. Why do so many friendships end?
9. Have you ever been betrayed by a female friend? Disappointed? Have you
ever been replaced by a “new” best friend? Have you ever had a relationship
with a friend that felt suffocating? How can women handle such situations?
Can they be avoided?
10. Think back about a meaningful friendship that suddenly ended. How did you
explain it to the people around you? Were they sympathetic? Were you
11. What was the loneliest period of your life when you felt like you had a
12. What are the signs of a toxic friendship, one that you know isn’t good for
13. Are you comfortable having arguments or disagreements with friends? Do
conflicts take a toll on a friendship? If so, under what circumstances? What
are best ways to apologize to a friend when you did something you know was
14. Is there any good way to end a friendship? Have you ever ending a friendship
successfully? Have you ever tried to end a friendship and then later were
sorry for the way you handled it? Is it okay to tell a “white lie” to end a
15. If you were ever the friend who was dumped, what are some strategies you
used to get over the loss? How can a dumpee achieve closure?
16. What is your favorite book about female friends (besides this one)?
17. What TV shows have you enjoyed that portrayed female friendships? Were
they true to life?
18. What are some of the potential complications of extended your female
friendships to boyfriends, husbands, other girlfriends, your kids?
19. Do friendship and work mix? What are the advantages and pitfalls of having a
close friend at work?
20. Do you favor being part of a group of friends or having one‐on‐one
relationships with other women? How does your personality factor into that
21. Are you the type that stays in touch with friends? What are the best ways to
achieve continuity in friendships when your lives go in different directions?
22. What are some of the myths associated with female friendships? Are they
changing for our daughters?
23. How have new technologies, like cell phones, e‐mail, and social media
affected your friendships? Do they strengthen existing friendships? Weaken
them? Are online friends real friends?
24. Have you ever found a long‐lost friend on the internet and revitalized that
friendship? How did it happen?
25. What are the best ways for grown women to make new friends?
PRAISE FOR BEST FRIENDS FOREVER
“For anyone who has ever had a friend, but especially for those who've ended close
relationships, Irene Levine has written a beautiful guide to recovery and healing. It's
a book filled with honest reflections and heartfelt advice.”
Jeffrey Zaslow, author of "The Girls from Ames" and coauthor of "The Last Lecture"
“The end of a friendship is painful and sad, regardless of the circumstances. Dr. Irene
Levine explores this difficult subject with insight and heart, plus a look at the latest
research. Her guidance is especially interesting and helpful regarding Facebook and
other new developments that are changing the meaning of friendship in today’s
Florence Isaacs, author of “Toxic Friends/True Friends” and “What Do You Say When…”
"Dr. Irene Levine's Best Friend's Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend
should be every woman's BFF! Written in a breezy yet thoughtful style and
peppered with stories from real‐life best friends, this guide shows that female
friendships are rich, life‐affirming, joyful ‐ but often very complicated too. We
women love our friends, but we feel completely alone and confused when those
friendships get troubled or even disappear. In her unique self‐help guide, Dr Levine
gives essential advice and tips for navigating the ups and downs of female
Joanne Rendell, author of “The Professors’ Wives’ Club” and “Crossing Washington Square”
Best Friends Forever explodes the myths about female friendships and is a
readable, entertaining survival manual filled with practical advice for girls and
women of all ages. The book reminds us that it is the nature of relationships to
change over time, and helps us understand and cope with those changes. We
don't expect to marry our elementary school sweethearts, and it is equally rare
for our best friends from childhood to be there for us forever. This book will
help you navigate the choppy waters that complicate friendships, advise you on
how to salvage the friendships that can and should be saved, and guide you to
move on when necessary.
Diana Zuckerman, PhD, Psychologist, President, National Research Center for Women &
"Finally, a book that helps you get through the other type of breakup."
Andrea Lavinthal and Jessica Rozler, authors of “Friend or Frenemy?: A Guide to the Friends You Need
and the Ones You Don't”
“A fractured friendship can be as painful as any other break‐up, whether you’ve
been jilted by a friend or been the one to do the jilting. Irene S. Levine understands
the complications of friendship – the lulls, the obstacles, and yes, the dissolutions,
and offers kind, practical and realistic tools to recover from a break‐up and emerge
strong, healthy and complete.”
Allison Winn Scotch, New York Times bestselling author of “Time of My Life”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a journalist, psychologist, and professor at the New York
University School of Medicine. She spent the major portion of her career in senior
policy roles at the National Institute of Mental Health. She writes frequently for
magazines and newspapers such as, Health, Ladies’ Home Journal,
Reader’s Digest, Self, and Better Homes and Gardens. As the
“Friendship Doctor,” she is a regular contributor to The Huffington
Post. She lives in New York, and is available for interviews and