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My Best Friend Is Pulling Away

February 22, 2012 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I’m a junior in high school who has never
been the most popular person. I’m generally the weird girl who eats lunch alone
reading a book. However, over the past couple of years, I’ve made a few
incredible friends.

 

One of these is a
guy who knows that I’ve liked him for a couple of years. He’s my best friend in
the world, and we used to be able to talk for hours on end about nothing at all.
Recently, though, it feels like we’ve been growing apart. For one, his
girlfriend seems to be getting between us. I still have feelings for him,
though the friendship is more important and I’m trying to get over him, but I
feel like I can’t say anything or do anything around her lest I make things
more uncomfortable. He’s one of only two or three people I trust
completely and he’s the only person who I’ve told about my depression and
anxiety disorder.

 

We don’t talk for more than a couple
of minutes at a time, and nothing deeper than homework or superficial problems.
I’m worried that I’ve scared him off by telling him about my disorder, even
though he didn’t seemed fazed at the time. I’m worried that he doesn’t
think that he can tell me his problems any more, and I don’t want to burden him
with my issues any more than I have to. I’ve played shrink for friends
before, and I know how hard it is to feel responsible for their happiness.

 

What can I do to patch the friendship
up? Should I give him space for a while, or do I need to confront the
issue before we grow too far apart?  

Signed, Amy

 

ANSWER

Dear Amy,

Given that your friend already has a girlfriend and you
still have romantic feelings towards him, I can see how this might complicate
your relationship—whether or not you had disclosed your disorder to him.

 

My guess is that not only is he aware of your feelings for
him but so is his girlfriend—which would make it difficult for him to
maintain the same close friendship he has had with you in the past.

 

It’s always disappointing when one person is more invested
in a friendship than the other. But it’s great you have made such strides in
connecting with other people, and that you felt comfortable and trusting enough
in this relationship to disclose a disorder you previously kept secret. On that basis, I would still score this as a highly successful
relationship—one that should help you gain confidence in yourself and your
ability to make friends in the future.

 

Yes, you have no choice but to give your friend the space he needs. When young people (male or female) get caught up in romantic
relationships, it’s common that they have less time for other friends. Try not
to take it too personally or blame yourself. Continue to nurture other friendships and maintain a cordial
relationship with this guy and his girlfriend.

I hope this helps.

Best, Irene

 

 

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My first gut reaction is to pull out all the stops and try to mine for new friends or companions to do things with. Just like you said. BUT this is usually just a fantasy in my head and never fully comes to fruition. Because the truth is, it’s just not ME. I’m not saying that’s a good thing. But it’s the truth. I am not someone who is comfortable joining groups, am not an extrovert. It takes me a while to warm up and only when I am comfortable can the best “me” come out and be even remotely fun to be around. Sometimes there isn’t time to wait until you’re comfortable, though. Life marches by. But I am utterly miserable when I do jump right in with groups and all that. It’s always a problem for me.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I won’t diss you. It makes sense. I have two other close friends so she wasn’t my “one and only” best friend but she was one of the closest. Re: making new friends, I’m actually doing that by going online and then meeting people in person. Meetup.com is a great way to meet people with similar (and dissimilar) interests. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m not insensitive, but a good way for me to get over the pain of a friend breakup seems to be to go get a new one/more new ones, using any and all techniques, in person, email, whatever. It seems to help the pain and fill the emptiness. Have the rest of you tried this? Yeah, go ahead and diss me about it. I know.

  4. Anonymous says:

    My best friend is pulling away. It’s been a whole year and I’m still dealing with the emotional pain of being dumped by my best friend of seven years. We’re both in our late 30s. We met at work and became fast friends. We wouldn’t go a day without talking multiple times. We hung out after work and ate lunches together at work. If something trivial or important happened in each of our lives, we shared it with each other. In the last year of our friendship, my friend distanced slowly but surely. We had arguments and misunderstandings. I was confused and frustrated. Finally, I confronted my friend and asked what was happening. She said that she wasn’t the friend I needed and that was that. She broke up with me. I was devastated. I cried and got depressed. I’ve tried over months to re-establish a friendship with my ex-friend but she wasn’t interested although she wouldn’t tell me why. The thing I don’t understand is that we we very close, like family. I would stay overnight at her place after she broke up with her many boyfriends. I would listen to her crying on the phone. I would support her in many ways. Yet she didn’t think the good outweighed the bad in our friendship. She thought I was too emotional. She didn’t like that I raised issues in our friendship. To me, that’s healthy but for her, it made her anxious. She couldn’t deal with it. There are so many more things that I should probably type out to give you a full picture of the situation but that’s all I can think of at the moment. The bottom line is I’m constantly thinking of my ex-friend and that she gave up on our friendship. I feel disowned and discarded. I feel used. I wish I could get some more answers. I wish I could get my friendship back. If I can’t get my friendship back, I don’t want to see my ex-friend at work everyday. It keeps the emotional pain ever present.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hi Amy,

    You sound so sweet and very in touch with your feelings and the situation. Irene gave you wonderful advice. She hit all the nails pretty much on the head. Sounds like any guy would be lucky to have you and as you know we are not meant for other people and others are not meant for us whether it be friends or a romantic relationship. We are all so different and unique so we really can’t compare ourselves with anyone else. Some will see the wonder of you like I do just from reading your letter and some are just blind in surfacy. I don’t really need to say much more. Irene has given you some right on info. Just be the special woman that you are. If you believe that Almighty God created us He does not make mistakes or junk! LOL
    Take good care, Neil

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s totally not weird! I did the same thing a few weeks back one Saturday. I’m happily married, but I wanted a bit of space and went to a favourite restaurant and got a nice meal and read. I have friends but I’m introverted and enjoy my alone time. My husband, on the other hand, loves being around people and going and visiting friends and such. I can’t imagine wanting to do that as often as he does, but I respect that he’s an extrovert, and he respects my introvertedness as well. Don’t sell yourself short! And I wish you well with managing your anxiety and depression – I struggle with those as well and know it’s no picnic. Take care!!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sitting quietly alone and reading a book does not make you weird! Maybe you’re just an introvert who has been told that there’s something wrong with liking time alone. Don’t believe it. Sitting quietly with a book at lunch, spending a little time unwinding and recharging, is perfectly OK. Lots of people need that.

    I realize that’s not what you asked, but feeling weird can’t be doing much good for your anxiety.

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