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Feeling abandoned by old friends

October 20, 2016 | By Continue Reading
As circumstances change, relationships with old friends may fray, too.

QUESTION

Hi,

My childhood friends were, of course, my best friends in the world. But now that we’re in different high schools, I never really get to see them that often. They never invite me out.

I’m the one who always has to do the inviting to spend time with them. Two of them didn’t even invite me to their birthdays this year. I just don’t understand why they would just cut me out of their lives like that.

I’m annoyed that I constantly feel neglected. I get the feeling I’ve wasted ten years of my life on the wrong people. They’re really nce people so this is just weird to me. I no longer want to text them or anything. As I said, one had her birthday, and the other one is planning on having one, so why am I not invited if they invited all the other people in our friend group?

Honestly, my life depends on me having someone to lean on, and they’re all leaving me so suddenly. I have ONE friend in the entire world now, and she’s also invited to the birthday.

I feel betrayed by the fact that I saw pictures of them with other people with whom they never had close friendships. I feel like I don’t play an important role in their lives even though they all play a critical role in mine.

I can’t help but feel depressed because I’m all alone and am not a very social person anymore. I’m home all the time and I’m anxious because I feel like I can’t be friends with anyone because it takes too much effort, and sometimes/most times, it’s not even worth it.

Signed, May

ANSWER

Hi May,

When people change schools or workplaces and no longer have day-to-day contact with each other, this often changes the nature of their friendships. They no longer share the same experiences or see each other as often. In different environments, people may grow in different directions and have different interests. Friends may no longer have the same schedule and these friendships may become inconvenient.

Some of these close friendships survive if they are important to both friends but it’s common for many to fall by the wayside.

It doesn’t mean that these friendships were unimportant in the past. I’m sure these friendships were mutually rewarding at the time; more over they helped you become the person you are now.

You mention: “I feel like I don’t play an important role in their lives, even though they all play a critical role in mine.” And that is probably the case.

It sounds like you are desperately clinging to these old friendships and not cultivating friendships at your current school. If you are feeling too anxious or depressed to make new friends, you may want to speak to a counselor at school to see if he/she has some suggestions for you.

If there is one person in the old group that you feel especially close to, you may want to see if you can occasionally get together. But you need to make sure that you aren’t leaning too heavily on her just because you have no one else.

Hope this helps!

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (12)

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  1. Ursula says:

    The mechanism that allows you — and many people who write here for advice — to know that you were left out is, of course, social media, most probably Facebook. You, and many others like you, need to develop a personal emotional/mental strategy for being able to handle seeing posts that show you that you were indeed disincluded. Facebook is now the place where people discover such things, as well as a passive-aggressive aid to ostracism.

    I know a few people who have deleted their FB account because of the pain it caused them. However, allowing others’ treatment of us to dictate our actions is never a path to self-empowerment. Also, closing a social media account because of ostracism has a self-pitying aspect to it that should not be indulged. If you can’t handle seeing these people’s posts, unfollow them, at least temporarily. I wouldn’t unfriend them for the reason that, again, that’s allowing someone else to have too much power over our actions.

    Lastly, never ever tell or indicate in any way that your feelings were hurt. People don’t care, for the most part, not if it’s going to affect their standing in the group. The best thing to do, if you ever see them again, is put a big smile on your face and say a big hello and act as if you didn’t even notice. Really, that’s your only choice. Confronting them will not get you included once again. People hate to be confronted on any moral issue, and they will resent you for bringing it up.

    I continue to be surprised that Facebook ostracism is the elephant in the room. Helping people to develop strategies to handle this form of passive-aggressive meanness will be paramount to social cohesiveness. It’s not going away, and if one wants to be part of online communities, this is going to be a continual challenge.

    • Sandra says:

      Ursula:
      Very interesting thoughts about social media and Facebook. I am planning to deactivate my Facebook account, at least temporarily, for the rest of this horrid election season. I have seen more friendships dissolve or fray due to unkind comments and mean-spirited criticism on Facebook in recent weeks — worse than ever before. People say and do things on FB that they would never have the nerve to say or do face to face. It is destroying the fabric of civility. People defend Facebook claiming that this is how they share photos and “keep in touch” with people — as if they were not able to communicate in the past without it ??

    • Mummy bear 🐻 says:

      I totally agree with the comments regarding facebook, I have just deactivated my account (for the 2nd time in ten years)
      Last time I came off for 7 years! Believe me it was a mistake to my mental health to go back on after such a long break, I was bored and I was feeling low after having my baby.
      Most of my friends on there are from ten years or so ago… I never see them any more because I moved from England to Scotland, remarried, had a baby … left my job etc.
      The thing that gets me is all the endless photos of their kids it’s as if they are not living their life in the moment only documenting it (in the bestest possible light) so it can be shown off on FB later!
      There are only so many photos of cupcakes and Sunday dinners I can take and don’t get me started on the sentimental memes!
      The final straw was my old best friend constantly posting photos of all her new ‘cool mum gang’ her words not mine!
      I realise that this is my problem and not hers, but I am so hurt and I know that she deep down does not trust this group of school mum friends, she made a birthday cake for one of their kids and she was very worried that she would never get paid for it and she has started running because she doesn’t want to be the ‘fat one in the group’.
      I also know that they are collectively mean to anyone who is not in their group, which is something she would never of done in the past, I’m disappointed she would go alongwith this, perhaps it’s peer pressure.
      I guess our friendship has run its course and it
      feels to me like a bereavement at the moment I’ve cried a lot a feel pretty pathetic about it.
      Leaving FB, yes I guess it is self pitying but I feel slightly better already and it’s time I focused on making new pals up here!

  2. Nancy says:

    Hello May,
    The poster that said friends change throughout our lives was right on. I’ve always told my children that “true” friends are few and far between. By true friends I mean one that you can count on to vent, share confidences, lean on, be there for you through good and bad times and especially important TRUST. I can count on one hand how many I would have called a true friend in my life. And even then, sometimes those friendships end. One of my favorite says is: “There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore and who always will. So don’t worry about people from your past. There’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.” I don’t know who the credit goes to though.

    It is important that you not give other people the power to have control over you to influence how you feel or think. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    Widen your circle, join clubs or groups that share your interests, join a church, become a volunteer, take classes, read self-help books, and always be learning. Then you may meet others who have similar interests and you will find making friends comes easily. On the other hand, the world is different now with people using social media and not reaching out as much verbally as before. Are you connected to the old friends you mentioned in those ways? If not, maybe by connecting that way will help too.

    Good luck and God bless:)

    • Sandra says:

      Nancy– what a wonderful and thoughtful post. I appreciate your wisdom here, and I love the quotes you shared. I also think it’s important to keep in mind that when we change (and hopefully improve) not everyone changes with us or “grows” in the same direction. That doesn’t mean anyone did anything wrong. What IS wrong is feeling like we have to stay with friends that make us uncomfortable out of guilt or loyalty to the past.

  3. Frisbee says:

    Dear May,
    This precise thing happened to me and I regret not making new friends when it did. This is your chance to make some new friends. Just go for it. 😄

  4. lottie says:

    Hello May,

    May I suggest you read YOUR POST as if someone else has written it. It doen’t read too good.

    To me you are not doing yourself any favours. Annoyed, depressed not sociable in other words can’t be bothered. You have a lazy attitude towards people who have been friends and expect expect expect from them.People move on and are not encouraged to stay with down in the dumps type people.

    They do not owe you anything. You say you have one friend,infact you could have two. Try being a friend to yourself that might endear others to want your company.When did you last smile?? Look in the mirror right now, this minute, then you will see the face you show to potential friends. There are loads of people who will love your company. Open your heart smiling at the very dawn of day and go forward from there.Nobody seeks the company from a doom and gloom person. Have you sent a best wishes card or text to the birthday girl….well have you??

    Take care,cheer up and get out and about.Say to yourself what a lovely day to be alive.Lottie

    • Tanya says:

      Wow, YOUR POST reads as harsh. No really, why don’t you try reading it as if someone else has written it to you.

    • Socialite says:

      I like this advice. While it’s natural that some friendships will fall by the wayside with time, if your whole group of friends neglects you, it pays to take a look at yourself and check whether there could be something in you that is putting people off.

  5. Jacqueline says:

    Friendships/relationships continuously change throughout our lives. I have had a friendship of 40 years and 20 years end. Do I regret having these people in my life? Do I feel like I wasted my time with them? Absolutely not! At that particular time in my life, they were very important. I still cherish those beautiful memories of them; it is just unfortunate they faded away.

    Your life is not over. But staying home alone is not a way to meet new people. Anything worth having, is worth fighting for! Start by saying hello to a neighbour, or a classmate. Perhaps it will eventually develop into something.

    Is there a trusted adult you can speak to? Like maybe your parents, a teacher?

  6. Sandra says:

    May,
    The changes you’re going through are difficult, and it’s understandable that you’re hurting because you miss your old friends. But I hope it helps you to know that everyone goes through “friendship changes” at different stages of their lives, whether they change schools, move to a new neighborhood, or start a new job.

    It’s especially hard when friends change schools — but it’s also natural for them to become friendly with the new students they are meeting in classes, sports, and other activities. So try to remind yourself that it’s nothing “personal” when your childhood friends start hanging out with some of the kids in their new school.

    Friendships change as we get older as well. I’m middle-aged now, but when my child was in school, a big chunk of my social life was spent with the parents of his friends. In those days, we had a lot of things in common — our kids’ school activities, field trips, college preparation, and so on. After my child left for college, however, I found I had less in common with the parents of his school friends — and we slowly drifted apart.

    We all change and grow. But that doesn’t mean we “wasted” the time we spent with old friends, and it doesn’t mean we were “betrayed” by them. We can treasure the memories we made with old friends in the past, and then we move on and meet new people.

    You mentioned that you’ve tried inviting your childhood friends to activities. You deserve credit for being willing to reach out to people — even though you said you’re not a social person. Maybe you can redirect your desire for friendship by getting involved in a different club or activity after school — where you can meet new friends who share the same interest. Stay open to the idea of making new friends.

    It is not a good idea to remain stuck in the past, or try to force a relationship that has come to an end or is drifting. If you are willing to move on gracefully, it could be that your childhood friends will reunite with you in the future. That is a possibility if you allow them to move on with their lives without guilting them. And if you continue to feel depressed and anxious about this, I hope you will talk to your parents and/or the school counselor.

  7. Amy F says:

    When you say your life depends on having friends to lean on, my ears perked up. Therapy o talking to your school counselor can help you become emotionally stronger so you won’t feel so needy. The stronger you are, the better friendship choices you’ll make.

    Friendships often change during adolescence as people grow in different directions or develop at different rates so you are not alone, even though it feels difficult,

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