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Dumped: But my friend wants to remain connected — on her terms

November 26, 2011 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

When
a friend dumps you, she can’t call all the shots…

 

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

How do you handle a situation where a
very dear friend, who also happens to be your friend from work, wants an
extended time out and at the same time insists that I should keep on being
friends with her family? She and I have spent less quality time together during
the past year, which has led to a lot of misunderstandings and arguments.

Our friendship carries all the signs of that I have been dumped according to this
website and that it is time for me to move on, but my friend insists on that we
are still friends even though she does not want us to spend any time together.
However, she wants me to go to church with her, even though I don’t want to,
and that I continue being friends with her husband and two sons who I know and
get along with well. She even wanted to lift the time out temporarily because
her granddaughter had her birthday and my friend wanted me to come with them to
the party to bring my gift because she knew this was important for the
granddaughter. I don’t mind passing on a gift to the "little charmer"
but to suddenly go to a family thing when there is a time out?

My friend is a devout Christian and it seems to me that her faith makes it
impossible or too embarrassing for her to officially dump a fellow Christian,
but theory and reality don’t add up here and that makes it extremely confusing
and hurting for me. It feels as if she doesn’t want us to be friends but she
wants to know how I am doing through other people. Her son works with me as
well, but she and I work in two different departments, and she often asks him
about me. How do I deal with the entire situation? It took me quite some time
to get over the first phase of grief.

Best regards,
Yolanda

 

ANSWER

Dear Yolanda,

Your friend asked for an extended time
out and a change in the nature of your relationship but she doesn’t have the
right to tell you how to respond or react her request. It’s totally
understandable that you would be confused by the mixed messages you are
receiving from her and might have no interest in maintaining your relationship
with her family or accompanying her to church.

 

I’m not clear why she reached her
decision, except that the two of you may have been having disagreements. When
two close friends break up, it can be awkward and spill over to people around
them. It sounds like she doesn’t want to end her connection with you entirely,
perhaps because the two of you have a number of ties including family, church
and work, and she wants to "keep up appearances" that nothing is wrong.

 

The ball is in your court now, however,
in terms of figuring out what feels comfortable for you. Would you be able to
tell her that:

 

1) You feel uncomfortable being with
her family given the lapse in your friendship. You don’t wish them any ill will
but your primary relationship was with her, not them.

 

2) You feel uncomfortable going to
church together and won’t be doing that in the future. If you see her there,
you’ll greet her.

 

3) You will do everything you can to
keep your work relationship separate from your friendship — and you hope she
will do the same, especially in terms of not involving her son in personal
non-work-related issues.

 

Between us:  While you have no option but to respect her
request for a "time out," you have a choice about whether or not you would
ever want to reconcile with her after this. Given your note, it sounds like
you’re ready to move away from this friendship and find ones that are more
mutually gratifying with less angst. I think that might be a good call.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

 

Priorr posts on The Friendship Blog about the collateral
damage
of a friendship breakup:

 

 

 

 

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Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Almost a year later I have realized that you Anonymous were mostly correct in your analysis. Things didn’t get any better and it turned out that my friendship was a fake and totally dependent on that I was a member of the same church as she was; a Word of Faith movement in my home town.

    The first time out, which I told you about almost a year ago, was initiated after I had been severely scolded by a pastor in our church who was supposed to mediate but never asked me how I felt about anything and just held me responsible for everything my friend brought forward. I have a B.Sc i Social Work and a Master of Laws so I found this way of dealing with things at the church flat out wrong. I later found out that my former friend had initiated both the talk with the pastor for us and the ensuing time out in order to manipulate me into getting more involved at the church and have more talks with the angry pastor. When that didn’t work she lifted the time out but had so many temper tantrums at work that she seemed unstable to me.

    After six months I got a new scolding from the pastor together with my friend, which naturally prompted me to leave the church. My former friend then initiated another time out at work indefinitely where I was given the silent treatment for more than three months until my boss interfered and decided that we had to get help from a professional. Luckily I am a very appreciated lawyer at work. At the professional my former friend suddenly claimed that she had never wanted to be my friend and that I just couldn’t accept a break up of our friendship which she had wanted ever since 2010. You can imagine hos stupid I felt when I was told that, but no one but me had been there all the time to see her story change depending on if we spoke to the pastor or to the professional. At the pastor she told me that we would be friends forever no matter how I felt about it and that I needed help with my problems and she just wanted me to get the same kind of help that she had been given from the church once. However the professional saw through this and told my friend that no matter what my former friend had to behave and be polite at work which meant that the silent treatment had to stop. My former friend later claimed that she found this biased and only beneficial for me and to our boss she flat out denied that she had given me the silent treatment at work or been rude in any way.

    When we were supposed to follow up on how things went at work with the professional three months later my friend refused to go. Her behaviour at work had been so subtle that I couldn’t prove it and her story was so completely different from mine that our boss couldn’t force her. The professional consulted was bound by the Act of Silence and could never tell anyone at work her assessment of what had really been going on which made our conversation there a waste of time. I now feel mostly stupid for not putting my feet down sooner.

    Yolanda

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hear what you’re saying. My friend/colleague is finely interwoven in my friendship circle both at work and at home. That makes it challenging.

  3. WonderWhy says:

    Your post resonated with me about your friend wanting to keep up appearances at work, but yet she shuns your friendship outside the office building. Not a true friend. She seems more like a fake-friend to me. I had a friendship like that which fizzled out when I asked her why she was distancing herself from me. We had a lot in common and met through mutual friends. But when she started canceling plans on me THE DAY OF while driving to the destination of her “conveniently forgotten last minute plans with someone else already scenario,” [which, let's face it, is downright rude!], I knew she was not that interested in being friends with me. The last time we got together to hang out, she was 20 minutes late, then complained the ENTIRE TIME about things going on in her life. After that, I emailed her, to ask her why she wanted to be friends with me when she chronically canceled plans at the last minute, or was in a rotten mood when we did hang out. Her response was nasty, She said that I had some nerve asking her to validate her friendship with me and said that I was overreacting about all her last-minute cancellations. *buzzer* (she falls through the floor into a dark hole). “Next!” The fallout from that friendship-death was that she gossiped up a storm about me within our mutual circle of friends, so I experienced a few more friendship casualties as a result. But in hindsight she did me a favor by exposing a few more fake friends I mistakenly believed were faithful friends to me. Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing” with how interconnected all my social networks are. If one connection fails, there’s a reverberation and as a result more connections fail. And instead of a double wedding (Much Ado reference), I’m left with a double-whammy of lost friendships.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I hear what you’re saying. My friend dumped me (after I queried why she was distancing so much). I always tried to leave the door open by casually chatting with her every couple of months. I would ask her for coffee or for dinner – she works at the same place as me – and she’d always say no. Recently, she said yes and we had dinner together. Things weren’t quite as they used to be but it was a start. I thought we were back on track to becoming good friends but she’s been giving me mixed messages. She wants to chat at work but doesn’t call me at home anymore like she used to. It’s like she wants the appearance of being friends but not the actual friendship. I’m confused. I’m not ready to give up on her, though. We’d been friends for so long that I am willing to be friends on any level, at least for awhile. Then, it’ll need to either get back on track or fizzle for good.

  5. WonderWhy says:

    I agree with you. I could never be friends with someone who wants to set the rules for the friendship, as this poster’s story shows. Her friend wants to remain friends, but doesn’t want to socialize with her. That’s unreasonable, passive-aggressive, and just plain mean. She’s not a good friend to the poster, to treat her that way. As you said, she has no right to dictate the rules to the poster about their friendship. Friendship is supposed to be a two-way street. I once had a friend tell me the same thing; she said she just wanted to be phone friends but couldn’t offer me a social friendship. I gave her the phone number to a 24 hour counseling line, told her I thought she was a shallow person, then hung up the phone. She texted me out of the blue a year later to say hi and see how I was doing. I just deleted her text and went on with life. Who needs friends like that? I can and have done better than that with other friendships. I had another friend who pulled the silent treatment on me anytime I disagreed with her. She said the same thing, that she didn’t want to socialize with me because she was “so busy” (just a convenient excuse not to), but she was available to text 24/7 because that’s how she did it with her “other friends” (which I don’t believe). When I told her that I don’t text and prefer the phone, she initiated the silent treatment. So I let that friendship go. Finding a good friend is a lot like playing the lottery. You just have to deal with a lot of bad hands until you get dealt the right cards.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I agree that since she requested a time out, she does not have to right to dictate how the rules to the time out work. Interesting relationship. She wants to make sure you are okay, but not from you. I often say the person who hurt you cannot help you get through the grief. I would distance myself/give her what she ask for until the relationship works for both without inflicting pain on either.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Yolanda,

    If your logic and reason tell you that the friendship with your devout Christian friend is over, then you should not attend the birthday party.

    My experience with Devout Christians as a Catholic has been that they are very black-and-white-thinkers because they put people into categories of believers vs. nonbelievers, moral vs. immoral, and so-on. My brother estranged himself from me once he left the Catholic faith and joined his ultra-religious Lutheran church whose spiritual sales pitch is “everyone is going to hell except the congregation members of this church.” So basically, because I don’t subscribe to the God-speak that my brother does he can’t associate anymore with me because of my Buddhist-Catholic beliefs. People who tend to be ultra-religious tend to be very rigid thinkers with a very myopic perspective of the world; it’s their way or the highway (to hell).

    If your friend gave your friendship a “time out” that’s double-speak for “break-up” because I went through the same thing with a former friend when she decided she didn’t like “the new me.” I had changed the dynamics of our friendship when I stopped being a doormat to her bullying personality and started asserting myself. So she called a “time out” which meant giving me the silent treatment for a year and a half until she decided she was ready to deal with me again. When we reconvened a year and a half later via accident (we ran into each other), our friendship ended about six weeks later because we’d become two different people when our commiseration over being fellow graduate students ended, along with my need to have a reciprocative friendship (I no longer accepted the “her way or the highway” dynamics because it was toxic to my well being).

    Your friend sounds like a social climber to me in that she wants to keep tabs on you within your church congregation, but doesn’t want to socialize with you in person. Since you work with your friend’s son, I would keep your personal life information to yourself and stop sharing it with him. This will stop your friend from knowing your personal business. Also, I would do the same thing with your mutual church friends; don’t share anything personal with them that you don’t want her to know, because she sounds like she also might be a gossiper-type. If she really was a true friend she wouldn’t need to create a “time out” between you both. It’s like she has cut you off but wants to keep tabs on you so she can think she has control over the friendship still, which is a red flag to me if that’s the case. If I were you, I’d just take the “time out” for what it really is, her indirect way of breaking up her friendship with you. Women are the worst at giving each other true closure when friendships break up. It’s because we’re conditioned to be people-pleasers so our main objective becomes avoiding-conflict at all costs, even where friendship breakups are concerned. If you need closure perhaps you could send her an email or have one final conversation with a pastor from your parish as a mediator. If her friendship means that much to you, then get a priest involve where you two can discuss your friendship problems with a mediator who probably also knows you personally as members of his church. I don’t miss my brother or his family since he estranged himself from me for no good reason. Since he never took the time to explain to me why I don’t fit into his life as his sister, that shows me that he’s a hypocrite who doesn’t have much invested in our sibling relationship. And I don’t waste my time with people who don’t show me any respect.

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