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Reader Q & A: Dealing with a pattern of fractured friendships

December 1, 2008 | By | 8 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION:

 

Dear Irene:

Add me to the list of people who stumbled upon your blog with relief. It’s really good for me to hear that this is not an entirely uncommon problem, and some of the posts on this blog have been very helpful to me.

 

I’m definitely one of those people who seem to be prone to friendship problems. I have this pattern of going through a friend every two years. It’s weird and embarrassing (my family has even pointed out to me that I can’t seem to hold on to friends.) I’m working really hard on honest self-evaluation to identify the pattern, but I haven’t found one overarching tendency, just a couple of smaller ones. I’m considered going to see a therapist to work out these problems.

 

Friends have dumped me because I was relying on them for too much support when I was depressed (I can’t blame anyone for that.) But I’ve also been rejected for reasons unknown (A good friend rarely invited me out and when she came to my city to visit, she visited our mutual friend and told her not to invite me.) I’ve also dumped some toxic friends. One friend had many mental problems I couldn’t handle (she knew I suffered from depression by weaseling it out of another friend, even though I very rarely talk or complain about it.)

 

Right now I’ve been avoiding my "good" friend of two years and trying to figure out if it’s worth just cutting the cord. I’m sad that I keep doing this, but all the bad signs are there, I feel anxiety when I know I have to see her, and relief when I don’t. I’ve tried to look at her positive attributes, but she has said so many mean things that I feel sick when I have to see her. One problem might be cultural. She’s a different race than me and always makes fun of blonde girls (I’m blonde.) She also makes lots of mean comments about how she is annoyed by short girls, even though she also calls me short. The worst thing though, sadly, involved a guy. I told her once that I had met someone that I liked, and she didn’t seem that interested, supportive, or excited. But she’s rarely supportive of good things that happen to me in general.

 

I don’t want to go through life not having any friends that knew me when I was young, but I also don’t think this is a friendship worth saving. And I’m not sure if there is a way I can tell her this. Thanks for listening.

 

Signed,
Dorie

ANSWER:

Dear Dorie,

 

First, I want to tell you how much I appreciated your candor in sharing your friendship problems. Your honest self-appraisal is the first step in resolving them.

 

One suggestion: Pay attention to the quality of your relationships rather than how long they last. It sounds like your "good" friend is downright mean to you. Saying cutting things and not being supportive doesn’t have to do with race and culture; it’s a personality issue. She doesn’t sound like a good friend and if you don’t enjoy being with her, I hope you’ll move on to greener pastures. You deserve relationships that are supportive and reciprocal.

 

I don’t know if you are still depressed or whether your depression has been effectively treated, but clinical depression can impair friendships. It makes you see the world in a negative light and it’s also very difficult for another person, even a friend or spouse, to be around someone who is very depressed.

 

It sounds like you are very eager to have some healthy friendships; that is a laudable goal. Since you recognize a pattern of friendship problems that you can’t explain, I think it’s a great idea to speak to a professional to gain more insight into what is going on.

 

Thanks for sharing your story; let us know how it goes.

Best,
Irene

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A woman once said to me that once you hit 30 all your friend problems will disappear – she couldn’t have been more wrong. I don’t bring up friend problems to her now as she makes me feel stupid for having problems!!

    I overdo it and care way too much. That’s my biggest problem

    Im not in a relationship or have a child so obviously have more time to ‘care’

    I’ve been dumped and its hurts like hell

    I withdraw and give myself space

    I try new things and meet new people

    I have accepted that friendships do not last- just enjoy them whilst they are there

    I’m arrogant in the sense that I always care more and do more thus no friend will ever be as ‘ nice’ as me. I’m the best friend a girl can have and I epitomise that.

    With that said, I try the best I can with what I have.

    I make a lot of effort

  2. Michele says:

    Hello Dorie,

    Sorry to hear about your friends relations. I have a friend who feels the same way. She too has had a lot of life stresses and expresses herself with her friends in looking for guidance and support, but what ends up happening is she ends up pushing them away.

    I understand to a point that everyone has enough of their own stresses let alone adding someone elses, but friends are suppose to be here for one another. They are suppose to give that shoulder to cry on when in need. I feel that people have lost the true meaning of friends…It is thrown around way to much and not really taken serioulsy.

    I had a post just last week regaridng friends and what a friend really is…check it out

    http://www.rasmussen.edu/blogs/Micheles-Blog.aspx

    I am a student at Rasmussen College and I post my life experiences as a student and career person…Give me some feed back on my post, it would be great!

  3. Irene says:

    I’ll be wishing the best for you. Sounds like a great strategy to try!

    My best,

    Irene

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is Dorie here.

    Thanks for the great site, and for responding to my email.

    I actually just started therapy last week. I’ve been feeling nervous and self-indulgent, so it was nice to hear from someone else that it is, in fact, a good idea.

    As for my fractured friendship, I’ve been attempting to keep her as a friend instead of completely cutting her out of my life. It’s hard to forgive and trust, but I think her actions are coming from her own insecurity and jealousy rather than pure malevolence. So I’m trying to find a way to keep her as a friend that I can do fun things with, but maybe not trust and confide in. I’m just sick of not having any friends from my past. Since this problem seems to reoccur, I think maybe I need to try and accept friendship s and people for what they are and try to focus on the positive, and maybe work on surrounding myself with better friends in the future, although I’m not exactly sure how to go about that last one. We’ll see.

    Thanks again.

  5. Irene says:

    You are absolutely right! It’s hard to have the energy to befriend when someone is depressed. The first solution is probably to get the depression under control.

    My best wishes,

    Irene

  6. Irene says:

    Thanks for taking a look! Coming from you, it’s a very special compliment!

    Best,

    Irene

  7. "Fran" says:

    I wrote in a while back about my lack of friends but I definitely could have written this letter too. Friends are one of opportunity – and perhaps Dorie’s life situation changes every 2 years or so and that is also why her friendships are cyclical. I too suffer from clinical depression and I know how hard it is to try to be a friend when you can’t even get out of bed or get to work. Friendship and “duties” are the first thing to slide. I don’t know if there is a solution when depression is involved.

  8. This is a great blog —
    your replies are spot-on and
    so intelligent.

    rachelbirds
    http://www.thehaikudiaries.wordpress.com

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