“I’m too busy” is just a polite way to stop being friends with someone
This topic contains 44 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by T 3 weeks ago.
October 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm #2214
Have you ever used the “I’m too busy” excuse to avoid a friend? Or were you actually busy? I think with friendships there are code words we use with each other instead of just being direct, because we don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. In today’s digital age there are so many ways to communicate with a person that the whole “I”m too busy” seems like a flimsy excuse to use when you don’t want spend time with someone. What is it about women’s friendships that makes us so fearful of being direct with each other? What’s the worst that would happen if you just were honest and said, “you know it really bothers me when you do this/that…” because I think a lot of friendships fail due to lack of communication, or lack of interest. Yes, there are times when our lives seem to pile up with obligations from significant others or family members or friends or work that make a weekly get together stressful. But even during those times, why not just be honest and specific “I have this and that going on but let’s reschedule something for this date/time” instead of “I’m not avoiding you I’m just busy.” When someone starts off a sentence like that, my first reaction is to think, “Well if you aren’t avoiding me why would you say that you aren’t?” Kind of like the person who brags or lies outloud, “I’m great at this” or “I’m a person who does this.” It’s like they’re trying to convince themselves that their statement is true when in fact it’s a lie, when they say it out loud. Like, if you’re a very spiritual person, why would you need to go around telling everyone that, if it’s true? If it’s true then everyone already knows you’re a spiritual person so who are you trying to convince? Does that make any sense? Same with the whole “I”m too busy to get together” is really a lie said outloud, as a way to deflect from the truth which is “I just don’t want to spend time with you.” I think that phrase is just a polite way of trying to stop being friends with someone.
October 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm #26196
hello, i recently had to go through this with a friend where we both became “too busy” but the problem with this friend is that she still needs favors and a lot of help because she recently got divorced and is finding out how to be a single mom. i feel sorry for the children and have tried to stay open to helping her out. it’s just that….wow when we see each other, we hardly acknowledge each other anymore so its pretty clear this friendship is over but when she needs help she calls and i feel i have to help her! because i feel sorry for her. We didn’t really dump each other, what happened was we became friends through our children’s school and then her older daughter (who had become good friends with my older daughter) must have decided she didn’t like my daughter knowing everything about her family because it was an ugly messy divorce so the older daughter dumped my daughter!!! my daughter was really hurt by it all and in the middle of it, my friend was still asking for favors left and right. so now this is the pattern we have and i need to know how to talk to her about it. Like, what do I say? I feel for the younger daughter too who seems to have been blindsided by all the family drama. But I also feel it hurts my own daughter to have me help them and it makes me mad that I can’t even bring up her older daughter’s nasty behavior to my child. Help! I need some advice and I don’t know who to ask….
October 14, 2011 at 2:41 am #26197
Everything you’ve said here sounds exactly like the version you should tell your friend. Your friend can receive help for single mothers through your state’s county office. There are plenty of public resources she could turn to for help instead of using you – her former friend – as her crisis connection which is totally unfair to you. Your poor daughter. I think that your friend’s drama with her ex-husband and their divorce should be addressed by a family therapist for the children’s sake. And she should get into a divorced women’s support group immediately. Have you recommended those resources to her yet? If not, you could recommend those resources as a transition into talking about your friendship with each other and your need to pull back to take care of yourself and your own family. Maybe you could wean your former friend off you by connecting her to public resources like I mentioned. I’m not married but have quite a few friends with children who are divorced single moms and that’s exactly the steps they took. I think the divorced single mom’s group will be the best source of emotional support for your former friend.
October 14, 2011 at 6:30 pm #26209
Thank you Wonder Why for the very helpful suggestions. I’m going to look for these resources/support groups and have them handy for when we talk. Thanks so much and I just want to mention how grateful I am to find this forum–so helpful and supportive! thank you….
October 15, 2011 at 5:38 am #26230
I’ve used the “I’m too busy” excuse before because I just didn’t want to tell the person that I’m just not interested in hanging out. This has been said to me before, too, by someone I thought was a good friend. She kept saying this so often that I felt that she was downgrading the friendship. She would still invite me to come hang out, but only in a group setting where we still never talked. I felt like just a body. So, I would start saying that I was “too busy” to hang out because I just wasn’t having fun anymore without my friend really communicating with me. So yeah, I’m one of those women that was just too afraid to actually tell the truth about my feelings because I didn’t want to hurt anyone. But, eventually I did tell her the truth months later, but being “too honest” led to the end of the friendship, which is what I think is the worst thing that could happen. It seems like there is no winning.
October 15, 2011 at 6:32 am #26233
Hi Goofysora, you shouldn’t be afraid to be honest with your friends. “I’m too busy” is such a terrible excuse because it’s so transparent. Whenever someone says that to me, I hear “I’ve downgraded you” from priority to option in my life.” NO one is too busy to stay in touch with someone they care about. Your friend downgraded you and that’s unfortunate the way she did it. It was good you were honest with her. If that led to the end of the friendship that’s actually a good, healthy outcome. Why would you want to hang on to a friendship that makes you unhappy? If she was truly interested in reciprocating your friendship she wouldn’t have treated you so badly. She should have communicated with you more. I don’t think of friendships as “winning” but more as fortunate when they work out. Lots of friendships end for all sorts of reasons. The challenge I’m finding out, is how we react to them. When my two friends ended their friendship with me via email recently, I was more disappointed in myself for not confronting them sooner, when I noticed them distancing themselves from me. I was actually relieved when they broke off their friendship because it meant that know I have the opportunity to fill those two voids with healthier connections. So that’s how I look at it.
October 18, 2011 at 6:39 am #26278
Hi WonderWhy! I think you are absolutely right. I never thought about it that way, but I agree that if she was really interested in my friendship she would have communicated with me more often. I thought I was doing the right thing by being honest with my feelings and telling them to her, but she thought I was nitpicking, crossing the line, etc. I didn’t say anything that insinuated that she was a bad person or anything, but I was just expressing my preferences and how that wasn’t being met (for example, I don’t like parties because I have social anxiety, but she only invited me out in a group setting). I figured that there was nothing wrong with simply explaining my preferences. It’s not like I said that her parties are boring. But, she took things like that personally and her last email to me said that I should apologize if I wanted to save this friendship. But she said some things she should have apologized for, but I know she’s too stubborn to do that. She’d rather be right than make amends. I don’t need a friend like this, but it’s left a big void in my life. Like you said, the one positive to this is seeking new friendships that are healthier. I kind of wished I would have confronted her sooner when she started to pull away from me, but I believed her when she said she was “busy.” I think she really was busy, but I know she’s the kind of person that will make time for the people she cares about, and I wasn’t one of them anymore.
October 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm #26301
I don’t remember if I ever used “I’m too busy” as an excuse or not.
I do think some women use lines like that to blow people off, I’ve had it happen to me every so often.
I did have one friend years ago who thought my repeated turn- downs of her company for a movie date was just an excuse, which it was not. (She kept asking me to meet her for a movie at a theater that was a 45 minute drive away, in January.)
I told her many times I would love to go to the movies with her, but I’d like to do it in the spring, as the the winter weather made the roads hazardous, and I was afraid of skidding on the ice.
She thought I was using that as an excuse to blow her off (which I was not), and she broke the friendship off.
What is it about women’s friendships that makes us so fearful of being direct with each other?
I’ve said this before on older threads, and here it is again, here’s the reason:
most women in American society are raised to be codependent. We are encouraged to be indirect and never to be bold, take risks, or plainly say what we like and don’t like.
Most of us are taught by TV shows, movies, our mothers, our religious institutions, that we females are always supposed to be sugar and spice and everything nice.
Males are mostly permitted to openly express anger, or to blurt out what they really think about things, but females who do so are put down as being “b*tchy,” pushy, or rude.
(Notice how males in the work place who are assertive and mouth off often get thought of as tough, no-nonsense, great employees, and as “go getters,” but a woman who is assertive at work gets tagged as “difficult” or “catty” – even by other female co-workers).
So we females learn that to get our needs met, we have to do so by indirect means.
We all know if we confront a friend about something we do not like, the friend will most likely either get hurt and start crying, or get very angry.
Most women would rather just go with the flow and avoid the emotional out fall-of being direct.
I was definitely raised by my mother to believe that I should refrain from saying anything that might even possibly be construed as hurtful, because hurting someone else’s feelings was about the worst thing a person could do… so I limped through life, in total frustration, biting my tongue over behavior by people that hurt or angered me.
The only option my mother permitted me when dealing with problematic people or friends was to just stop talking to them altogether, but I could not tell them why.
There was someone else here in other threads who kept getting irate with me and telling me that what I said above was “an excuse,” and that it was “cowardly,” and I had to keep pointing out to that person that, no, that was an explanation, not an excuse.
It is a fact that I did not have any role models when I was growing up to teach me how to correctly deal with people, how to break off friendships, or how to deal with confrontation.
And those are indeed skills that need to be taught, or need to be observed, since kids do not just magically learn how to do those things on their own.
The only role models I had to follow as I was growing up were
- 1. a father who was very, very, blunt with people, so that he hurt their feelings often (and I didn’t want to be like that!),
2. an extremely codependent mother who taught me I could never, ever hurt people’s feelings, which means I was taught it’s improper, “wrong,” or “mean” to tell people what I really thought and felt, or give them reasons why I didn’t want to know them anymore.
Based on all the reading I’ve done lately about codependency, a heck of a lot of American women were also taught from childhood into adulthood (by their parents and other people) to behave that way as well, it’s not just me.
October 19, 2011 at 6:44 am #26318
I think Eagle Wings is right. I’m American and although I wasn’t told directly to always be nice, I was punished at a young age by my mom whenever I was blunt so I learned indirectly to not be so outspoken. Therefore, I became a quiet, introverted pushover always doing whatever I could to avoid speaking my mind because whenever I did, someone would always get annoyed or mad at me, which made me want to people-please even more out of fear.
I think my ex-friend was one of many women that was raised liked this, too (the same friend I was referring to in the Should I Apologize? thread). She always avoided confrontation and preferred being indirect. I remember this one time 6 years ago she was mad at me for thinking I took advantage of her by asking her to give me a ride to go shopping for an outfit to wear to an interview the next day because I didn’t have a car and really needed a ride asap. So, instead of telling me how she felt, she created a quiz online titled something like “What kind of friend are you?” and asked me to take it. She had a couple of scenarios in there and one of them was the car ride situation I just had with her. I asked her directly if she was mad at me about that, and she said she wasn’t but I knew that was a lie. The other scenarios included instances when her other friends did something that she didn’t like. This was just her indirect way of telling me I was being a bad friend. I should have distanced myself from her back then because I thought she wasn’t being understanding of my situation. It wasn’t like I demanded her to take me shopping because I was bored, I needed the ride for an important job interview that, if I got the job, could get me out of unemployment. I never talked to her about how I felt about that situation because I thought it would be “nicer” not to start a confrontation and just keep the hurt inside.
I never had a role model to teach me how to deal with people, either, and I wish I had. The only way I’ve known how to handle people that have hurt me is to just distance myself slowly and disappear quietly. I always felt bad about doing it this way, but I believed I had no other option. When I tried breaking out of this habit with my now ex-friend by telling her what I felt went wrong with the friendship, she got offended, defensive and called it quits. So, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to communicate with people like this without totally ending the friendships. I keep hearing about how it’s healthy to have open, honest communication, but maybe my approach is wrong. Or maybe there is no “right” way and some friendships are just meant to end for one reason or another.
October 20, 2011 at 8:55 pm #26358
goofysora, I’ve been there!
I especially related to this:
- I never had a role model to teach me how to deal with people, either, and I wish I had.
The only way I’ve known how to handle people that have hurt me is to just distance myself slowly and disappear quietly. I always felt bad about doing it this way, but I believed I had no other option.
When you are never taught as a child that it’s okay to be direct with people, you do not know any better! I could not get that point across to some woman on this blog who kept yelling at me that my former way of handling friendship disputes/ break-ups was “cowardly.”
The simple fact is some of us females were not raised in families where our parents preach feminist, girl power, say what you really feel, “you go for it girl!” type messages to us.
We were made to feel that being up-front with people is evil, wrong, shameful, improper, mean, and a host of other negative things – so we never felt as though we could tell someone when or if they upset us.
goofysora, you said:
When I tried breaking out of this habit with my now ex-friend by telling her what I felt went wrong with the friendship, she got offended, defensive and called it quits. So, I’m still trying to figure out the best way to communicate with people like this without totally ending the friendships.
In the past couple of years, I’ve done a lot of reading about codependency, and the authors all say that break ups and rejection is a risk you have to accept when you start defending your boundaries and speaking up for yourself. When you do get direct with people, some of them will choose to break up with you.
But people with healthy, mature boundaries will not be (or stay) angry at you when you honestly express your thoughts with them.
There doesn’t seem to be a way around some people ending the friendship with you when you stop allowing yourself to be treated like a doormat.
November 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm #26566
November 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm #26588
November 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm #26707
Every time I’m honest with my friends about something bothering me (which is usually about the other person using the “I’m too busy” excuse, or making plans with me and then not even bothering to tell me they’re cancelling, or them initiating plans and then not finalizing or contacting me for weeks or a month after) they get offended. They’ll come up with more excuses. Then the relationship’s either strained or more non-existent than it already is. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so tired of making all the effort that I don’t even desire to try making anymore new friends. I want friends, but it seems like it’s not worth it.
November 14, 2011 at 9:25 pm #26709
Should we take the time to explain to a friend how she’s hurt us if (either/or):
1. It’s already been explained before, and she continues to do the same thing.
2. What’s bothering us is that she has no time for us anymore, and this has been true for a while?
I mean, whether the person doesn’t “realize” that she’s hurt me by not making me a priority, isn’t it safe to say that it happened because I don’t naturally come to her mind as a priority? So, even if I tell the person this, nothing’s going to happen that will suddenly turn me into a priority (either I was or wasn’t.) Plus, and this is especially true in the case of re-confronting someone with an issue, if she doesn’t have time for me or want to compromise, then why should I waste any more of my time or energy on her?
How long should we wait before we confront someone or bail out of a friendship? My boyfriend was always taught to be super friendly to people (to the point of almost being a pushover at times.) And when I’ve told him that I’ve confronted someone, or cut ties, he always looks at me with raised eyebrows like he thinks what I did wasn’t necessary, or wasn’t wise. But he has “friends” that he hasn’t seen for years. While I suppose it’s nice to have people to be cordial with every so often, are they really “friends?” I might be wrong, but I see no point in keeping a bunch of people in my life who I never see or talk with. And I don’t think people we don’t see or talk to should be called friends, acquaintances maybe, but not friends.
November 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm #26711
Just wanted to compliment you on a wonderfully thought out and wise response WonderWhy!
November 15, 2011 at 12:37 am #26727
But why cut ties when you don’t have to? I think your boyfriend is wise. It is never good to burn bridges, unless your friends are toxic. Maybe be more tolerant and flexible? Just because you don’t see someone or talk to them often doesn’t mean they are not friends. Sometimes they can be the best friends. Unneeded confrontations are not good.
November 15, 2011 at 1:01 am #26732
Agree, agree, agree!
November 15, 2011 at 1:08 am #26734
- But he has “friends” that he hasn’t seen for years.
I read an article a long time ago that explained that men and women view friendships, (or friendship workings), differently, so that might be due in part to a gender thing, and not to your friend being a push over.
The article said that while women view friends as people they speak with or visit with daily or weekly, men will still view another person as a close/ good friend even if they have not seen or called or written each other in years.
As for some of your other questions. If you’re having a problem with a friend and want to save the friendship, I believe you should confront the friend as soon as possible.
If the friend does not change after you have spoken to them, or they refuse to change, it’s your decision on how much more to take, and when and if to leave.
There is no hard and fast rules or time tables for these sorts of things, since people and their emotions are so varied. I don’t think friendship is like a scientific experiment that can be replicated exactly in a lab time after time and get the same results. :o)
November 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm #26758
I guess I never really thought too much about how different men and women are concerning friendships. It should have occurred to me though; men and women are different in a lot of other areas. The part that makes me think he’s a little bit of a pushover is because he’ll still jump to do whatever favor they ask him to do (because of who they once were to him,) but they don’t return anything in kind.
I used to view people as close friends even though I hadn’t seen them for a while; years sometimes, until those friends established that the time apart did indeed matter and they didn’t view me as close anymore. Just a form of rejection- it stinks but what can you do? Well, maybe it’s not rejection so much as just the truth about what happens in time? People change, move on with their lives separately sometimes. Priorities evolve. It’s not always rejection or an insult, just what is.
But I still honestly feel that it’s somewhat skewed or being in denial (or something) to still view friendships the same way when they’ve changed. I mean, yeah someone might have been as close as could be back in the day. But it’s not still 1980 (insert whatever year appropriate.) That person isn’t still the person who snuck into the movies with you, wanted to marry someone from The Mickey Mouse Club, and put stickers on any and everything. There’s a definition for “closeness,” and technically not seeing, talking, or knowing what’s been going on in someone’s life is not it. People change, important life markers happen, and it does matter if a person doesn’t share in those experiences.
November 15, 2011 at 4:13 pm #26759
I was also thinking about how people will get nostalgic, still thinking about the memories they’ve shared with friends. There’s nothing wrong with being nostalgic. And I think that the past should have meaning, but I think sometimes it can be made to be too important. In a way it’s as if the friend/friendship has been time capsuled in our minds. You know? Like we can still see someone and think “Oh, that’s good ol’ Jimmy Bob who chugs beer better than anyone, raises his rebel flag against authority, and doesn’t believe in God.” But now he’s Dr. James Robert; who has been sober for years, follows the law down to the tee, and now has an unshakeable faith in God. So it’s like, yeah you had a bond and some good times, but he’s really not the person you used to know. If you stay in contact with a person, then you can be there when they grow. You know about the changes and the friendship grows along with the people involved.
In a way, it’s almost insulting to me when someone sees me and still thinks of me as the same person from high school, or whatever. I’m 28, so it’s only been 10 years since high school, but a lot can happen in 10 years, even in 1 or 2 years. I know people make polite chit chat when they’re trying to reconnect, they have good intentions. But when there’s so much time that has elapsed between seeing someone, then people tend to just go back to whenever they’ve seen you last. But I think people fail to realize that this should be done in a certain way or it’s kind of offensive. For example, I was raised in a very conservative Christian home. I didn’t drink, go to parties, or curse. So, I’ve run into friends who see me in a bar and their surprise is extreme. In fact, it goes beyond extreme. They raise their eyebrows and say things like, “You used to be a good little Christian girl.” So it goes beyond polite chit chat to some realm of judgement. And all I can think is that these people have experienced “normal” adolescent experimentation. They’ve been in bars probably regularly since they were of age to drink. Yet it’s somehow unheard of for me to be there. Part of the issue I have with this encounter stems from having a friend (from childhood, friendship of 20 years) who was promiscuous, experimented freely. I stood next to my beliefs (at the time) and said, “No,” when she made countless offers to do/try things. But then when I was finally ready or wanted to try some new things, she tried to control what I did and watched my moves with the same frame of mind as if I was the same person. It was like: “Oh you want to try marijuana?” “You want to hook up with someone?” But she had been doing marijuana, done coke, started popping pills on the regular, and slept with an insane amount of people. Some would say, “Oh, she was just looking out for you, etc” No, people have to grow, experience things in their own time, their own way. Without experience we do not truly know what we want. Without making some mistakes, we don’t know or can’t appreciate what is right. If I was becoming a prostitute and trying heroine I can understand someone intervening. But too often people make judgements. People take on the rolls of what they have no right to be. I want to say, “You don’t know me, you haven’t been with me over the past (however many years.) You’ve done more than what I have, but more importantly, you haven’t been there with me through it all to know anything.” And even more importantly, you don’t care to make an effort to catch up with me and discover who I am now. They don’t know what I’ve been through that’s brought me to where I am. They don’t have the time. So why make time to try to get to know them, when they don’t have the time for me? I don’t want to be friends with someone who wants to be friends with me because of who I WAS. I want someone who wants me because of WHO I AM. That can’t be done without making time to get to know someone in the here and now.
December 4, 2011 at 6:01 pm #27141
How do I tell her honestly – but in a way that’s not hurtful- that I don’t want to spend as much time with her as she wants to with me? She’s a former colleague, recently retired, and doesn’t seem to have many friends outside of her former (my current) workplace, and she seems to have decided that I am going to be her new BFF. I am new to this profession, am working 50+ hours a week, need weekends off to recharge my batteries, plus have built up a large network of friends from my previous profession whom I hardly get to see anymore. When I do feel like going out, I want to see my old buddies who I miss. I have tried to communicate this to her in a gentle manner, but would love some advice from others in this same situation on what has/hasn’t worked .
December 5, 2011 at 1:25 am #27147
There’s no easy answer to your situation. You need to go with your gut on this one, I’m afraid. No matter how well you soften the blow of why you need to pull away from this former coworker, she’s probably going to be hurt since she’s attached herself to you in an enmeshed way (that’s not at all healthy, because she’s doing it so she can avoid dealing with the reality of her situation and the loneliness that goes with being retired). You are not responsible for how she reacts to your news that you have to spend less time together. You can suggest other clubs or activities she could join as an alternative, or propose getting together with her once a month to say hello and such. Or do nothing and see what happens.
December 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm #27737
Life can become very hectic, and I think that we should bear in mind, that actually it could be quite a fact just about life, we are busy. I have friends, some who are professionals, some who do a lot of traveling-I’m one of these, others who have moved away. Anyway, my point is, that if you are a person that has very stringent rules about how many times a month one must maintain contact with certain people you consider friends, then I guess this becomes very difficult. I’ve had friends who say they’re busy, but I believe them. I try to be very flexible, also because I live in a big city. Things such as traffic here can make a big difference say about what day some people can make it for a dinner invitation across town. Sometimes, because of the kind of work I’m involved in, in which last minute notices are common, I’ve had to cancel out of a plan, or yes say I’m busy, but it’s true. I get the feeling here with the original poster is that maybe some of these people she considers friends possibly want to just be acquaintances.
January 5, 2012 at 12:26 am #27968
I’m male and believe me men do the exact same thing.Men don’t have some magical friendship.They play similar games.
I would never say i’m too busy to a mate if i genuinely wasn’t.It’s a cowardly and shallow character that does that.
Alot of people do use that word though.
January 7, 2012 at 3:52 am #27969
..The OP is correct, it usually is just a lazy excuse to avoid meeting the person.It’s time to get rid if it’s a close mate doing this.If it’s an acquaintance then you need to identify that and accept that it’s a very loose and casual connection.People who can’t be direct and keep using that as a fake excuse are cowards.Simple.
January 7, 2012 at 3:53 am #27970
January 7, 2012 at 4:32 am #28050
January 7, 2012 at 7:04 am #28062
January 7, 2012 at 7:05 am #27971
are just taught to not be close and open with there emotional parts by society!and that includes women keeping this practice up.Men want close and emotion r’ships with each other just as women do.All that bloke stuff is just a front to please societies and women expectations of what a man should be!Prob makes certain women feel more at ease with themselves thinking of men as robots.
January 7, 2012 at 7:32 am #28065
February 1, 2012 at 1:01 am #28902
Add me to the list of people who agree.
For all the nay-sayers, consider this: the people who pretend to be ‘busy’ often pretend that they’re trying to protect the other’s feelings. The reality is that the person they’re brushing off will realise they’re being rejected sooner or later and so not only will they face the same (potential) hurt, but that the ‘busy’ person didn’t even respect them enough to have been honest, so double-whammy.
Triple whammy, if you add on the time wasted trying to invite the ‘busy’ person to social events.
February 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm #29183
March 26, 2012 at 10:15 pm #30711
I feel exactly the same. It seems impossible sometimes to actually tell my friend how hurt I am. Simply because she doesn’t care. I even lived with her at one point and had to beg for her attention or time like it was a damned gift. She’s very vindictive sadly and would reel me back in with talks of good times and just overall hang outs that were.convenient for her. I feel worthless. I feel like if I did stop talking to her it wouldn’t matter. And I feel if I brought it to her attention shed get angry or further hurt my feelings. We’ve been friends so long though. And now all I want is someone to want me or contact me. I’ve talked to her about it before and she just lies. She always lies. She blames her mom or her sister or her period or her schedule. Would it matter if I just disappeared?
May 24, 2013 at 7:37 am #102446
Well, I’ve female and male friends. And it’s unfortunate to say it, but it’s mostly my female friends who do this.
There’s one, in particular, who is hot and cold. She only seeks/sought my company when she is lonely. And only warmed up to me when I helped her. All other efforts to reconnect with her, such as inquiring of her life, making her laugh, giving her space, listening to her, being the only one to really be a contstant in her life, were met with no reciprocity.
Wanna know why this happens? Because they have other people vying for their attention. That’s all it is. When no-one else was around, guess who’d contact me? When she had no money to feed herself, guess who? She’d be friendly and crave my friendship then. No delays. But it was off-putting; I don’t wanna have to buy your concentration like a freakin’ pinball machine.
Yet when I simply wanted a mere conversation, guess who was too busy? “I saw your missed call, but forgot to call back”, “Oh, I saw your email. I meant to reply, but time went on and I forgot” over and over. 100 bucks says if it was from a potential boyfriend, they’d respond likkidy-split.
I know this, because the one friend I care for the most is my ex. And she always, always responded straight away, as she still does when she wants something.
My advice. Give them the benefit of the doubt, but if it goes on and on, drop them.
May 24, 2013 at 9:58 am #102465
I’m going through this right now. My closest friend has been “too busy” this past couple months. We live some distance apart so don’t see each other but once or twice a year. But we used to talk on the phone everyday or several times a week. But suddenly she got busy. Doesn’t return my phone calls or email. Her texts are one word if any. When we finally talk it’s all about her or her view on politics or religion. She’s recently converted to a new religion and seems to be consumed by it. I’ve been very supportive because I know it’s important to her. But I can’t help but think that she’s turned into a zealot. Perhaps she feels she can’t be a part of my life because I’m not religious or political. She’s told me she thinks people who don’t take a stand one way or the other are weak. She hasn’t cut me out of her life. But she’s definately downgraded me and it’s hurtful.
I’ve not said anything to her about my feelings. I just tell her that I understand and I will talk to her when she’s got time.
The only up side is that it has forced me to reach out to other friends. I’ve met a couple ladies for coffee. And it went well. But there’s nothing like talking to an old friend, who really knows you and you really know her. So I will keep the connection and see what happens, but the downgrade definately hurts my feelings.
August 13, 2013 at 11:37 am #112939
Need some advice regarding a few of my friends that they use “I’m too busy” allot.
Me: 39 years old female
Friend #1: 38 years old female. (Only sends SMS by phone once in two weeks and never calls)
Friend#2: 41 years old female ( SMS only once a week, calls once in two weeks)
I have a 3 year friendship with one and 6 year friendship with the other. These friends don’t know each other as I see them separately. Friend#1, is married no kids and Friend#2, is divorced with 16 and 22 year old kids. now because I’m single I always understood thier situation and never complained because I know their lifestyle is different than mine. i was always the one who initiated calls and planing to see each other. To be honest i know it’s my fault because my doing made them to get used to it over the years. It always bothered me but I was trying to always be understanding as a real friend would do but recently I can’t take this anymore.
I understand with today’s world it’s hard to plan to see each other so I always welcomed texting and emailing as a replacement once in a while to communicate with ech other, however it bothers me that they don’t call or plan tp see each other as sometimes will take months for them to make plans with me to see me. They always say “miss you” and sound so eager to want to get together and when I tell them lets plan something they say ” oh I’m too busy this week”…. Even the week after…told them in a very polite way so I won’t hurt their feelings that this bothers me. i told them if we don’t see eachother often and don’t email or text often each other, so what’s lleft? i hate the fact that they ONLY use txting as the only line of communicating with each other.
What i don’t understand is they tell me that they really do want my friendship but their actions are so different with what they say. i’m so confused. I cant continue this frienship with them as I belive nothing one way works.
Everytime it’s convienent for them they want me and want my help, but when I need them they are too busy for me. For example I had a small surgery that I needed someone to be there with me and drive me home and suddenly I had no one beside me as they never even offered to be there for me. So sad and I’m deeply hurt because I alway were there when they needed me. i’m not saying that there were never there for me, but every 10 Step I take, they take only one step.
My question is should I just let them go? Should I “conveniently” be “too busy” for them too so they get a taste of what’s like hurting someone when they do it? How do I handle this issue and what should be my next step as far as these friendships.
August 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm #112946
I have both used excuses and heard excuses from female friends and I think it’s mainly because many people don’t deal with raw emotion or honest feelings very well! Think of the last person to whom you said, “You hurt my feelings when you did _____” or “I get angry when _______.” Usually, we have a few relationships where these intense emotions are safe to share, and many others where they are not. When friends give me these excuses (or what I assume are excuses) or I use them, I realize that we must not feel safe enough to share our true feelings with each other. They don’t “owe” me that, so I accept what is, and move on. If either one of us is ever ready to do so, I try to keep an open heart about that, too.
August 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm #112964
These girls are not your friends. They are never have time for you, and it is you who makes all the first moves. Don`t contact them for awhile, and see what happens.
February 27, 2014 at 2:20 am #138424
I was wondering if you could help me with my predicament. I have been friends with this girl Cassie for over 10 years, since freshman year in high school. We live very close to each other and used to hang out every weekend. When we both went to different colleges (hers away and mine local), I assumed the friendship was over because she never called nor texted me to hang out when she was home for the weekends. Eventually, I realized it was our different lifestyles. Even though she wouldn’t call during the school year, she started inviting me up to her cabin for the summer to drink and party.
I don’t drink to get drunk, while that is the only reason why she drinks. I have tried helping her, because she is clearly an alcoholic, but until she realizes it, I can’t make her see her problem. Now that we are both out of college, I am living a mostly sober lifestyle. I don’t drink very often and when I do, it is very light. My friend, on the other hand, drinks excessively to the point where I am either carrying her home, “babysitting” her by some toilet, or making sure she doesn’t go home with strange men. Because she is my oldest friend and we live in such close proximity to each other, I feel an obligation to go out and make sure she is okay. Her mother has even asked me to look out for her.
The problem is, I am not myself when I am with her. I have to create this partying drinking façade to fit in with her group of friends and I am sick of it. She is normal when just the two of us go out, but she changes when she is around people from school. I have tried to example this to her, but she has said I am just being “boring” and I should “lighten up”. I have even tried to end the relationship, but with no luck. I have used the excuse “I’m busy” so many times that I am constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure she doesn’t find out I’ve been lying to her. I want to end the friendship as smoothly as possible so that it won’t be awkward when we run into each other, but it feels impossible based on our long history as friends. If you can help me, I would not only appreciate the advice, but welcome it. I am desperate to move on with my life and avoid triggers that may drag me back into my college drinking days. Thanks.
February 27, 2014 at 10:40 am #138446
I think your last sentence is a good place to start. Figure out a sentence like “I’m sorry, being around alcohol makes me want to drink and I don’t want to drink anymore.” or “I don’t do bars anymore.”
Practice saying it until you have it down pat and just keep saying it when she suggests you get together to go bar hopping or to some drunken party. If she tells you to lighten up, repeat the sentence. She doesn’t seem to mind being rude and annoying, so why should you?
If you would like to see her, just not for drinking, you could add “Do you want to do something else?”
July 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm #156391
My most notable experience with the “too busy” excuse came two years ago with a very close friend of 10+ years. She went virtually overnight from, “I love you like a sister and I’m always here no matter what” to cutting me off almost cold turkey. She brushed off all attempts of mine to get together with her, even if just for a brief coffee chat, and our previously frequent text conversations turned to my texts to her going unanswered for days, if ever. Being the good and responsible friend I always try to be, I figured there was something wrong going on in her life and reached out to ask if she was ok, to which she responded that she was but, again, was just “busy.” Since she was both working and attending school full time at that point, I kind of bought it initially. But then, when she finally was able to get together with me after months of claiming to be too busy, she showed up half an hour late, didn’t apologize, and brought another friend of hers along with her and barely acknowledged me the entire time. She was going on and on with this other person about a recent party she’d had with a bunch of mutual friends that she had not invited me to (yeah really busy- can’t take an hour to meet your best found for a little catching up but not too busy to have a big party. smh). Fast forward a few more months, I learned from reliable sources that, while she’d been too busy to talk to me/get together all that time , she had not been too busy to go around slagging me to other people, calling me an immature loser because I didn’t have as good a job as she did (and I was struggling to make ends meet, was under a lot of distress, and was developing related health problems) and, even more oddly, because I’d recently started to become a fan of a certain tv show that she thought was dumb. WTH?! Who out of the blue drops a long time friend and, worse yet, slags her behind her back just because she’s not having as good luck as them on the career front and is struggling financially or because she enjoys something as inconsequential as a tv show that they don’t care for?! I was blown away by the sudden unspeakable snobbery..
July 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm #156400
Sarah, she’s not your friend. She’s using you to make herself look good. She’s a horrible person to choose that over having such a long friendship. She’s a fool. You can confront her but it’s likely she will cut you out of her life completely or you should distance yourself from her.
It sounds like she’s fake and her mask is starting to crack.
I hope you can find better friends.
July 19, 2015 at 12:03 am #156403
It can also be used as a way to limit contact. Any way you slice it it’s lying and it’s much kinder to be honest.
November 9, 2015 at 11:16 pm #161532
I know this post is extremely old, but I needed somewhere to vent because I’m going through this same predicament right now.
There’s an easy way to tell if the “I’m too busy” excuse is legitimate. If the person gives you alternative dates/times to meet, then they are genuine about wanting to see you. If the person says “I’m too busy” and makes no effort to reschedule, they’re using it as an excuse to slowly phase you out of their life.
Friendships come and go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m very picky about who I hang out with so as soon as someone starts the empty “I’m too busy” excuse, I stop talking to them.
I got my rude awakening in college. During welcome week, I shared a room with a girl, and we bonded instantly. We spent all night talking to each other and were basically inseparable that week. We ended up moving into different dorms, and I kept trying to meet up with her but she was always busy or sick. One day, after she told me she was sick, I decided to hang out with a different group of friends that day. Lo and behold, who did I see outside of the campus bar, dressed in high heels, laughing and smiling? My so called “friend.” After that day, I stopped talking to her, and she never made any effort to talk to me either.
I do think this is an American thing. I lived in Jamaica before and the people there were much more direct and blunt. My Chinese friend told me that she was confused by American friendship customs when she first moved here. She talked about how she would talk with people at parties and they would discuss meeting up some day. Then, she’d see them around campus and they would pull the “I’m busy” excuse or indirectly make it clear that they didn’t genuinely want to become friends with her.
Also, I’ve noticed this behavior in both men and women. It’s not just women who do this.
November 9, 2015 at 11:35 pm #161534
I used this excuse when I wanted to get away from a friend 4 months ago. She knew that she was using and mooching off people, and that was the reason her own family left her out of things.She also got very angry about it. She had this way of just mooching off everyone. I didnt think she would change and didnt the whole 6 years we were together. So I just said Im busy with my family now and wanted space. Yes it is lame but too bad, I offloaded her without drama, I know she will just keep doing it forever. Sometimes it is a polite way to get rid of someone. No point, and not every situation needs a big sit down talk about it.