• Resolving Problems
Welcome Box
Ask the Friendship Doctor

When a friend asks for space

September 20, 2013 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
There can be many reasons a friend asks for space but the options for responding are few.

QUESTION

Hi,

I have a friend who is giving me the cold shoulder. We were fine when she came back from vacation. Then, all of a sudden, she gave me the silent treatment.

I asked if I have done something to hurt her. If I have, I would like to know what it was so that it doesn’t happen again. I told her that the way she is treating me is hurtful to me.

She responded that she needs to spend time with her family and her intention wasn’t to hurt me. She said that friends give each other space. But what does that mean? She is very vague about her explanation.

I would never treat a friend this way. Friends are there to support each other. What do I do now? Move on? I feel I’m a neighbor now and not a friend. I have always been a thoughtful friend to her and her family, better than her other friends. I am totally confused by her mean behavior.

Signed, Vera

ANSWER

Hi Vera,

When a friend gives you the cold shoulder and asks for space, it may or may not have anything to do with you, per se. The only way to find out is to ask, so you did the right thing by doing so.

If your friend is vague or doesn’t tell you why she needs distance, you have no alternative but to step back. Coming on too strongly will only make her more distant. Sometimes people have family problems, personal demons, or other secrets they are reluctant to talk about or share with friends. She may simply need time and/or space to work out her issues.

Another explanation is simply that this friendship is less important to her than it is to you right now and she doesn’t want to tell you so. In either case, don’t take it too personally. Maintaining a friendship, like any other relationship, relies on a bit of chemistry and good timing. Friendships can change over time.

In your case, I would wait a couple of weeks and extend yourself again to see if she’s in a better (or different) frame of mind. If she still asks for space, it may be time to give up on resurrecting the friendship and try to maintain a neighborly connection.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


Other posts on The Friendship Blog about friends acting distant :

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: one-sided friendships

Comments (6)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Aline says:

    Vera, I kinda understand both sides of your situation. I have been both the distancer probably more than the one who pursues a friendship. Some people uncomfortable with a certain level of intimacy, even in friendships. That was never my case, but I needed to address that. Some of the reasons I distanced myself from friends was that 1)I was going through a personal crisis at the time, which I knew they would not understand nor be equipped to help me with. Some of my friends have been aloof, and that’s fine, I still remained friends with them, but I just filter what I share with them more. 2) I was overworked or stressed out and just need a break from people in general. I needed to get my life back on track – organize my home, pay my bills, etc. 3) It’s kind of like dating your friend. When you see too much of them, you kind of get bored and yearn for variety. You hope that when some time has passed that the news they share with you will really be “news” to you. If you spend all your time with someone, you already know everything. The relationship gets predictable. 4) I admit there were times when there were some things I discovered I didn’t like about some friends, and I needed time to weigh if I still wanted to be friends with them or not. 5) Sometimes, taking time off really means they want to end the friendship, are too afraid to address the topic or figure out that they really dislike you after something you’ve done, and just want to leave things hanging or don’t even want to waste time explaining why they want to end it. Usually, people who do this, though, do it more so out of convenience to them. They might run into you again. You might end up being their new boss, or they might need something from you in the future. I did this once with a “friend” that turned out to be sabotaging me the whole time, trying to steal my boyfriend at the time away from me as well as all my friends. She’d literally go down my friends list and add every one of them and then start spreading rumors about me so that they would become her friends instead.

    I say take advantage of this time to make more friends. Then, you won’t need this friend as much. You can spend time each week with a different friend. Give your friend some time and see what happens. Take care!

  2. Amy says:

    When a friend sets boundaries with you, that’s not giving you the cold shoulder, that’s her expressing her own needs. It might feel kind rejection, but that’s merely your interpretation of your friend’s expression of her needs.
    Friends do give each other space and respect boundaries. She’ll like you better if you give her the space she requests.
    Friends cannot be everything to each other, which is why it’s good to have a circle of friends and acquaintances, so that you’re not relying too heavily on one person or expecting too much.
    Friendships ebb and flow in intensity over a long period, if they’re long term relationships. If we hold on too tight, you likely won’t have a long term friendship.

  3. Alberta says:

    Asking for space is not mean behaviour – it sounds like maybe you shared a lot when you were on vacation and she wants to chill out by herself and the family for a time? Introverts can be like this – needing time to recharge after extreme socializing. It is awesome that you have the lines of communication open so listen to her when she said her intention was not to hurt you – maybe her kid is having trouble in school and needs extra attention at this time. There are many reasons why she may need this space. Friends can be supportive without constantly being on call support to their friends – if the friend is thinking she needs to support their friend all the time that could be an issue.

  4. R. Davidson says:

    I am focusing on the statement that “friends are there to support each other.” I’m not sure what that means to Vera. Did she lean on her friend too much? A friend may want to be helpful and supportive, but that is a choice.

  5. Mary says:

    I’ve had friends who think it’s okay to show up at my house unannounced and stay for hours. Or expect me to spend large chunks of my time with them on a weekly basis. Frankly it’s exhausting, and sometimes I just want to spend time with my family. I’m not saying, Vera, that’s what you doing, BUT perhaps you should just take her response at face value and accept that she needs more family time. Even if there’s not personal or family crisis, sometimes I just find myself needing to re-balance my life and focus on those who are most important to me. Irene is right, give it some time.

  6. Liz says:

    Hi Vera, one other thing that it could be is the old cliché ” familiarity breeds contempt”. Have you always lived nearby? Do you and she live within sight of each other?
    I’m not saying that you have done anything wrong, but maybe she feels the need to be distant. Especially if she has some problem that she needs to keep a secret for now.
    Who knows! I admire that you had the courage to ask!

Leave a Reply

Visit GirlfriendSocial.com

css.php