Coping When a Dysfunctional Friendship Ends

 dys·func·tion·al

The friendship started innocently enough.  We had lots of things in common so small talk led to drinks after work, outings, and even group adventures.  I was so happy that I had found a friend who really listened to me and supported me.  As time went on, I started feeling heard less and less.  I tried to make adjustments in the conversation, but it always circled back to whatever new and terrible thing had happened to her.  Some nights, I would be on the computer for hours consoling her and helping her through something.  I would go to bed mentally and physically drained.  The “friendship” was not reciprocal.

My husband had enough and told me to just ignore the messages that always started out the same way.  It seemed she wanted to catch up and “talk”, but we never did anything anymore.  She didn’t call me on the phone, didn’t answer my text messages, and didn’t want to see me.  She just wanted to use messenger as her personal dumping ground all night long.

I felt alone and isolated in the friendship.  I was not important enough to make time for.  There were other examples as well.  An event we were going to go to together that she said we would plan…weeks later, photos of her with someone else at the event.  Exercise class no show…and excuses on nights I asked her to do something with me, or just come over and chat.  However, throughout this process, when she needed me or wanted to come over to see a mutual friend, I made the time.  I was always making time because trust is something I value.

That’s when it finally hit me.  I didn’t trust her anymore due to the lies and excuses.  I was nurturing a friendship that was crumbling because I believed she would wake up and see what she was doing to me.  It wasn’t going to happen because I was not the only one she lied to.  She lied to her husband, to her work, to mutual friends, and most of all, to herself.  I could not fix this.  She had to get back to seeing a weekly counselor and nothing I did or said would ever be enough until she was ready to work on herself.

How to cope when a friendship ends?

  • Make a plan. What would you do if you were to run into this person again?  What would happen if this person wanted back in your life?  I know the answers seem hard to think about, but it’s best to run through that now while you are fresh to whatever happened in the relationship.  The main question is does the relationship empower me or deflate me?  Is there capacity for an authentic, honest relationship or not?  Honestly, you already know the answers to these questions.
  • Write your feelings down. I know that this is not like a funeral…but in a way, it is.  You are dealing with the stages of grief, and it is a serious thing.  You have loved that friend, cared for that friend, and despite your best efforts, the friendship ended.  I haven’t forgotten the moments of happiness the friendship brought me, and despite the fact that for the better part of a year I saw the friendship going down a steep hill into a black abyss that sucked all the joy out of it, I still regret the way it ended.  But I also know it takes two working together to save a relationship.  Not one.  The primary emotion that comes to me is anger because of the way it ended.  Anger that I was made to be in the middle of something that was never about me anyway. 
  • Think about the qualities you really want in a friend.  I was in a bad place when we met, but as I started to get better, it seemed to make my friendship worse.  That doesn’t even sound okay to me now.  How could a friend not be happy for me?  I wanted someone who could talk to me in person and not make excuses because they were mad that I was doing better.  I am not sure why I didn’t notice it before.
  • That brings me to “Don’t take it personally.” Everyone is dealing with their own demons.  If the friendship ends, there is a good chance that it is freeing you up for something new.  It will hurt for a long time, but eventually you will realize that you have broken the cycle and moved on.  New friends await you, and this time, as soon as you see something that doesn’t sit well with you, be brave and have that conversation on what is important to you in a friendship.  If this person is meant to be in your life, they will understand, value you, and most importantly, make time for you.

As your self-esteem and self-worth improves, these old friends WILL fall away if they are not meant to be in your life.  You are making room for so much more my friend.  In my closed group, the Head|Heart|Health Club, we are working on exactly what we want to attract in our lives and that includes new boundaries for ourselves and realizing that it truly is okay to feel worthy.

5 Signs You Have Outgrown a Friendship

I am feeling inclined to write to you about this which ultimately means that there is someone out there needing to hear this message today.  Yesterday I went to lunch with a girlfriend.  She said “Dude” because I love that word, anyway she said “I saw the most profound quote and I have to share it with you…but let me find it first.”  So I waited for her to find it and then I was like whoa.  Just whoa.  So I am going to place it here for you to read.

forget

We have both struggled in the last two years with outgrowing friends in our lives.  These friends came into our lives at a time when we really needed them, and so for both of us, it has been an interesting period of growth.  We saw what we needed to do a year ago, but we both found it difficult so we pressed on trying to repair the crack with duct tape and Kraggle (crazy glue).

For my situation, it comes down to one thing, and one thing only.  Honesty.  If I can’t trust a friend anymore, then there really is no friendship.  But of course, there were other signs along the way.

5 Signs You Have Outgrown A Friendship:

  1. You don’t feel like you trust them, so therefore you hold back from what you were really going to say.  This is a huge warning sign.  If they are your friend and you have seriously deep concerns about something they are doing that might be endangering their well-being, why can’t you voice it?  You should be able to voice your opinion, concern, fear, or whatever out of love.  Likewise, if you are really friends and family members of theirs are concerned, it should be okay to have that discussion out of concern for self-care.  It is as simple as that really.
  2. When you announce good news, success and new things coming up, you get the distinct feeling they are not happy for you because they make no comment or direct it back to what is happening in their lives at the moment.  So you shrink a little inside and stop telling them.  This is wrong.  You should be able to celebrate without fear of jealousy, envy, or shame at the fact that you did something worthwhile.
  3. Your only communication is via messenger or text.  Short texts are sent “Let’s get together soon.” or even worse, no mention of getting together happens because the person is having another crisis and can’t fit you into their plans at the moment.  Excuses are constantly made and you know they are lying to you.  They post photos with other friends, manage to find time to get together with them, and continue to hold you at arm’s length.  Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is not that full.
  4. Something feels completely and totally “off” every single time you talk to them.  You either have great intuition or perhaps you ignore it, but if it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t right.  Just to make sure, you try to get some clarity from mutual friends, but be careful here.  They might be the one causing the wedge to begin with.  Never say anything you wouldn’t say to that person.  There are way too many lies out there and you don’t need it in a friendship.  At least that is how I operate.
  5. They have a new love interest or fling…and that’s all they talk about.  At first, you are tolerant of it because you understand new.  But months, or years later, they are still taking this guy everywhere, or inviting you over and he shows up, or he wants to tag along on a “Girl’s Weekend” and not give you the space you asked for prior to the trip.  Warning!!!  Warning!!! Juvenile behavior ahead.  Who knows what she is telling him.  Who knows what she tells you that she tells him <<< see that shit right there.  High School.  All of a sudden you keep getting these very bad feelings about the whole thing and you know for a fact that it’s time to go.

This is the hardest part.  What comes next?  Suffering is Optional.  << Read that for more.

So back to the quote, I close with my conversation from “J”.  Forget with generosity…let’s let them go from our lives.  No hard feelings, no negative energy or regret.  Just let them go from our lives graciously.  Those who cannot love us: The word cannot is the key.  They were, for whatever reason unable to love us in the way that we need.  It could be because of personality, circumstances, different phases of life, whatever.  But they literally “could not” love us.  <<< that’s some good advice right there.

Letting those people go consciously and peacefully and without animosity gives us a certain freedom instead of hanging onto that anger, hurt and frustration.    <<< Look at my friend just Yogi the hell out of this for me.  I was like say what?  This is a blog post.

Don’t stop…believing

If life were a person, I would slap him or her.  Hard.  So let me back up.  Friday night I went out to chat with some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.  My buddy is an awesome photographer and has worked on some pretty cool things out west and was in town.  I’d put his link here except for the fact that he is super private, and I didn’t tell him I was writing this.  Ha.  Anyway, the night before I was talking about all my old friends and it occurred to me that most of them were guys.  We were like Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch…and we rode our bikes around, well bicycles, but still.  Later on, in high school, some had cars and perhaps one in particular was old enough to pass for 21 at the 7-11.

Everyone has that one friend, ha, who perhaps buys things like ohhh I don’t know, Boone’s Farm maybe.  Not judging the 80’s or 90’s are you?  No.   Anyway, so we were sitting around telling stories and it was nice.  It was nice to see how we can change, but remain the same at heart.  I always knew they were good guys and so when I heard one of them was coming into town, I knew I couldn’t wait until the next time.  A lot can happen through the years.  As we got a round of beverages, we raised our pints to a friend who was no longer with us.  We talked a bit about how we were still kind of mad at him for not reaching out (I actually wrote about this when it happened last year).  We lost a good man to a fight he could have beat…depression was the enemy and if we had known, surely we could have changed the tide on that battlefield.

Don’t stop believing that other people care about you.

So this year my brother’s circle of friends have learned about that as well.  Yesterday, my brother lost a friend to hopelessness and surely her friends are saying the same thing.  It’s too fresh right now, but in a year her friends will probably still be mad.  Her friends will be telling the stories of things they did.  And her friends will look at each other and make the kind of eye contact that says, I’m glad you’re here friend to talk about this with me.  Don’t hide how you feel when this happens.  Get it out.  Reach out to who is left behind.  And don’t stop believing that your life is worth fighting for at all costs.  Don’t end your chapter right as your luck was about to change.  DON’T.  Because your friends will be lifting a pint to you after all and saying how much they miss you.  Instead of that, be there with them.  Clinking the glass and saying I am so glad I have you all.  I am glad I called you that day.

Cherish