When a Friendship Ends

I am one lucky girl to have a couple of decades-long friends. You’ve met Diana. She’s a gem. There’s also Ginger, you haven’t met on this blog yet, but will sometime around Easter. She’s been in my life since kindergarten!! That’s a LONG time ago folks!

These are people who stay with you no matter how stupid you are or what dumb things you say. And in return you are there for them, no matter what. But the underlying sentiment is that you love them, for who they are, all they bring to the relationship. Like a marriage in many ways, but without telling them to roll over because they are snoring!

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I consider myself a pretty good friend. I make all kinds of effort to stay connected. Not because I feel I should but because I love to! I call. I send birthday cards. I email. I text. I ask. I listen. I laugh. I cry. I care. I genuinely care. I blog about friends too! How many friends can say that? I don’t choose friends because they share any particular values or ideas. I have friends across political lines and values lines.

But when out of the blue one friend tells you off in an email, goes on about how I’ve been flippant about something she is going through, and adds insult to injury telling me I’ve been tepid about her child’s upcoming wedding, and worse, says she’s irritated about something I did two years ago, gee, maybe it’s time to think about the merits of this friendship.

But actually, I didn’t stop and think. My instinct after I was thrown under the bus was to apologize, to say of course I care, of course I didn’t mean to be flip.

But then I sat back and thought. Really thought.
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I’ve known this woman for almost twenty-seven years. We have very different lives and lifestyles. Very different children. Very different spouses. Some similar ground on politics but she never really liked to talk politics so I stayed away from that subject. She and her family are sports fiends. Me, not a fiend, but I certainly enjoy a good football or baseball game but never the same team as she. So when the Giants won and her Eagles didn’t, she didn’t want to talk sports. She didn’t like to be asked questions. She didn’t like to share much about herself as a rule, but I do think over the years she told me more than she told anyone else. No secrets mind you, just things girlfriends talk about.

We DID love the same music and she had a spot-on sense of humor. Maybe that was our only real bond. Or so I thought, until a wise-crack I made was interpreted as being flippant and uncaring.

And the longer I thought about our friendship, the more I realized it was anything but. I honestly think she didn’t like me but put up with me because we’d known each other so long. And finally had enough and let me have it. And I’ve got to add, this wasn’t the first time she took me to the mat. A few years ago she got angry with me over something similar – telling me that I didn’t care.

So I took a deep breath, had some distance after vacation, and emailed her to say that I thought she was an amazing woman – wife and mother and concerned citizen – but that I was not interested in waiting for the next time she decided she didn’t like something I said.

I thought I’d be more upset about this loss than I am. I actually think I’m a bit relieved. So maybe I didn’t like her either all that much and this was a good way to move on.

Only time will tell.
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16 thoughts on “When a Friendship Ends

  1. I don’t know you well but I can say without a doubt that you would be an awesome friend. It’s HER loss.

  2. So you were friends all that time because you both loved the same music? What am I missing here? I wouldn’t call that a friendship at all, especially when she waits two years to tell you she was hurt over something you did.

  3. You are unique in so many ways and a person I treasure as a friend. Indeed you are consistently connected and responsive. It is her loss. Please stay my friend!

  4. I know you have two Betty’s here who comment regularly. I’ve been a long time reader but never commented, until today. This very situation happened to me recently, a woman I had known for thirty+ years lit into me one day as if I had called her a gun-loving NRA Republican! We were opposites in many ways but that didn’t stop us from finding a common ground. She is wealthy. I am not. But I loved hearing about all the good she did with her money (that she herself, as a single mother no less, earned).

    Like your friend, I think this woman never really liked me, she put up with me until she couldn’t stand me anymore. I didn’t even write her back because I was sure I’d say something I’d regret. She hasn’t apologized for being so rude so I guess she meant all the hateful things she said. That was about a month ago. I don’t miss her one bit.

  5. guys have it a little easier. i have a gang of old college cronies where one or more has fallen out over the two decades i’ve been out of school. guys get angry for different reasons though. we don’t moan over it. he’s out. move on. that’s it. clean and neat. but sorry you had to experience this. you seem like such a decent sort. a good friend.

  6. Geez, I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this. In my experience, this sort of friendship breakup can be really rattling, because, beyond losing a friend, it makes me question my grasp of reality! I THINK a friendship has a certain secure, longstanding baseline to it, but then — kaboom — I learn that I have been, apparently, quite deluded. Makes me worry … what other — perhaps far more important — things am I deluded about?

    I think sometimes people make a choice to adopt the posture of being aggrieved. After that, they stand perpetually at-the-ready to see sarcasm, criticism, competitiveness, one-upmanship, insult, condescension, you-name-it, in every interaction. And they’ll look backwards in time to find things they’ll decide to be offended about now, and string them together like so many pearls, then fling them at you.

    I don’t know why people do this. I mean, on a practical level, it’s usually pretty easy to shed a friend, or to be shed (I’ve been on both sides of the equation), fairly gracefully, should you choose to. So why go the hostile route? My armchair shrink guess is that your friend is living with some pressures or resentments that probably have zero to do with you, but she’s decided to become aggrieved, and that you (and probably select others) are handy targets. So sorry.

    Hi, Betty III, thanks for joining in!

  7. This all cannot be all about Ginger,
    the starlet on Gilligan’s Island.
    Just how was she rescued?
    Where was the bus you mentioned?
    Ginger is still my fav.
    Ha.

  8. EOS, I think you are an amazing person. Honest. Intelligent. Intuitive. Caring. Great sense of humor. What you had there was a “high maintenance” friend. And, as you’ve noted, they really aren’t “friends” at all. I’ve got one, and I tip-toe around her constantly. If her sons and my sons weren’t best buds, I’d have sent her a similar email years ago and I’d be breathing easier, as you are now. Can’t wait to learn about Ginger! My dearest friend has been my side-kick (even though she’s all the way in Chicago) since nursery school! Have to say that I love those cartoons, too.

  9. What a shame, for her, not you, her loss. Betty is very insightful wlith the reasoning “she’s decided to adopt the posture of being aggrieved”. We all know a lot of people like that don’t we? My first thought was –she’s off her meds!. Look at it this way, now you have more room/time/energy for a new friend, a better friend.

  10. Thanks to ALL of you who shared your thoughts. So many things that didn’t occur to me, especially Betty’s “aggrieved” philosophy. I think that makes alot of sense. I think it’s a sure bet she won’t comment here to let us know if you all are right! 🙂

    And Swanton, my sentiments exactly!

    Welcome to Betty, III. One can never know enough Betty’s, especially the wonderful ones here!

  11. Friendship works best as a two way street. If you’re sleeping better in a week’s time it was better for you. Maybe give her some time to come to her senses; a true loss is a true pain. As they say, the ball is in her court.

  12. It sounds as though the relationship had been in neutral. She could have just let it drift away, quietly and without pain. Not all friendships are destined for permanence. You may be feeling relieved, but there’s a bit of a sting, too, I think. With some people, you can never do enough.

    1. I was going along fine with the relationship BB. Chatting and being my old convivial self. I suspect she was already in reverse because I was too convivial and not supportive enough. In other words, I was pretty oblivious that she was unhappy with me. I agree that many friendships aren’t destined for permanence. They end naturally, as people’s lives evolve. I thought we were both pretty evolved so I didn’t expect this to meet such an untimely demise. But it is what it is.

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