when friendships don't last, two women walking in snow

Takeaways When a Friendship Doesn’t Last

I think we’ve all had a friendship or more that have been lost due to one reason or another. Most of the time people drift apart- which is natural, but really hurts. But when things are going great and your friend essentially “breaks up” with you, it can be a colossal hit. I wanted to write this as a way of fully moving on, but also because I know most of you can relate.

We all handle/process situations differently. While this may sting some people but not affect them in any big way, it can really affect others- like me. So if you feel like I’m over-reacting, that’s totally fair, but this was a big loss for me and really made me question things. (hence this long blog post several months later)

It is typical to feel tons of emotions when you lose a friend- hurt, betrayal, anger, loneliness, inadequacy, etc. Some of the questions that I couldn’t get away from: Did she not see what a special friendship we had? I know I’m a great friend- so why doesn’t she want me in her life anymore? Would I ever do this to one of my best friends? She has been “dumped” by friends before and it hurt her so badly… so why would she do this to me? Were we even really friends?

The Background Story

Here was the (very long-winded) situation:
Back in October, she invited me to her halloween party- which was on Thursday night. To preface: I teach first grade and we live 1.5 hours away (round trip). I just wasn’t feeling the long drive, dealing with hyped students the next day, and going to a party where I only *really* knew her. Also, I am an introverted homebody- nothing about that sounded good to me. (nothing against her or her friends- it was just everything all together) So while we were on the phone, I was expressing these sentiments. (she knows these things about me- we’ve been friends for six years… also, she isn’t the most comfortable when I throw get togethers and she doesn’t know many people either- I expected her to fully understand)

So while I was telling her how I felt and that I probably wouldn’t come, she was telling me how she felt. She was sad because she wanted me to come and that I don’t go to her parties often. We both ended the call amicably. Afterwards, I figured she needed some space. Neither of us reached out to the other in November – unusual, but not outrageous. Our phone calls happen maybe once a month, we text each other here and there, and then meet up in person every few months or more. It sounds like a typical adult friendship – picking back up where we left off like no time had passed.

Come December, Chris and I were pretty hard to reach. We were prepping to leave for our honeymoon and then were on our honeymoon for over two and a half weeks. The day after we got back, I was IN one of my best friends’ weddings. Then, we finally got back to normal around mid-January. Because of that, there was no communication from me to her, or her to me during this time – understandably so.

I decided to reach out mid-January. It was a quick text to say I hope she was doing well and that I missed her. She said thanks, you too. Then I asked if she wanted to get together and talk. The following day she replied and asked what about- so I said- or just to hang out since we hadn’t talked in months and I wasn’t sure if she was still upset about our last conversation.

Her sentiments were these: that I took 3 months to reach out even after I knew I hurt her feelings, that she felt like an afterthought as a friend (especially when I post about hanging out with other people… even though I told her on the phone that I don’t like gatherings). Also, that we have different definitions of friendship.

My response was 5x longer than hers, and I was very respectful of her feelings:
“I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings, I never want to do that and I didn’t intend to. And I’m sorry that it took me so long to reach out. I thought you might’ve wanted some space. I was gone in most of December to Japan so I figured that this would be the right time to reach out since it’s only been 2 weeks that I’ve been back.

You’re right that I don’t go to everything you invite me to but you should know exactly how I feel about being uncomfortable with groups of people, especially when I don’t know them well. I always go to outings with you alone because that’s how I’m comfortable- or when it’s a couples thing. And even certain things I’ll suck up and attend for you. (Like your birthday or bridal shower)

You hurt my feelings as well- not reaching out either and not understanding where I was coming from. It also hurts that it seems like you’re willing to let our friendship go over a disagreement about how often I go to gatherings of yours when you have a similar anxiety of groups of people that you don’t know well.

I also suck it up when I go to Chris’ friends’ gatherings – and those aren’t frequent. I also know his friends a lot more. The only two events I went to after being invited to yours was: my friend’s bridal shower and her wedding (I was a bridesmaid). Of course I didn’t want to miss supporting her for those big events even though gatherings make me uncomfortable. I’ve also gone to other events with you with your friends, like the movies and the bachelorette showing.”

Her response was that she was helping someone move over the weekend and that “I’ll respond when I can.” I said “Okay, good luck!!” and she never contacted me after that.

Why I Was So Hurt

In conclusion: I made sure to reach out, apologize to her, validate her feelings, make sure she knew where I was coming from, let her know my feelings… all respectfully…. and then she didn’t even have the decency to respond to what I said. It’s been over 6 months. If she was ready to let our friendship go- that still would’ve stung, but if she had at least responded and we talked it over a bit more, I would’ve gotten closure and been given an owed respect.

The reason I told this story in such detail was so you knew exactly where I was coming from. (why this really triggered me) I didn’t do anything heinous toward her in any way. I made sure to do all the right things after I hurt her feelings. (although admittedly, I definitely should’ve/could’ve reached out to her sooner) But again, I was so expendable as a friend to the point of literally never even addressing what I said to her and not talking to me again… ouch.

She was one of FOUR girls in my bridal party – one of my BEST friends of over 6 years and she just drops me like this? Over a disagreement? And if you don’t want me in your life- you have every right! BUT don’t you think you can at least do me the courtesy of addressing what I said to you? I would never do this to someone, let alone a best friend.

Also- a few close friends have done this to her in the past (which I had helped her through)… so to turn around and do this to someone you supposedly cared about after you know how much it hurts? Ow.

TLDR; The Takeaway

I know my worth as a friend and person. I’m one hell of a good friend. I am ALWAYS there to listen, validate, and help someone in need. I am NOT perfect by any means, so I apologize and make things right when I make mistakes. But I care, I love deeply, and I’m always trying to be a better person for myself and others. If you want to throw away a wonderful six year friendship over something trivial, that is your right. But what I won’t do is chase someone who wants to so obviously leave my life.

Some people may think I should’ve reached back out again and apologized again and tried to rectify things again… but to what end? Any relationship is two-sided and both parties have to put in the effort to make it work. Even if I was able to convince her to save our friendship, I’ll always know that at some level, she was okay with not having me in her life, and I’d always be super cautious to not do anything that would potentially rock the boat.

It’s like dealing with a toxic ex: you don’t want to leave because times were so good, you have great memories, and it’ll hurt like hell to be alone… but you also don’t want to be around someone this volatile who doesn’t believe in you and what you bring to the table.

Also, forgiveness is a major component of any relationship. I may get upset, disappointed, frustrated in someone but I forgive and move on. (I’m sure my friends also get upset, disappointed, and frustrated with me too and they do the same!) I may be in my feelings when I get hurt by something, but when I take a second to think about it… was this person deliberately trying to hurt me? Do they even know how I felt about what they did? Is it a big deal? I apply this method and MOVE ON/FORWARD with our friendship! If everyone left each other after a simple disagreement or hurtful action (especially if unintentional)… where would we all be?! Alone.

So in the end, she is still in my wedding photos, one of which is hanging on my dining room wall. (and it’ll stay that way) I deleted her off my social media accounts because it hurt too much to see her status updates and not be in them or being able to be a valued part of her life. I wish her all the best, and I cherish the great times and conversations that we had over all those years. But, I also choose ME. So, I am slowly-but-surely moving on.

I hope you are choosing yourself and moving on, too. No matter what: you are important and you are worthy.

when a friendship doesn't last, two people holding a heart cut-out
Photo by: Kelly Sikkema

Has something similar happened to you where you lost a friendship? How did you deal with it?

You may also be interested in some of my other life posts!

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