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Reader Q&A: Achieving closure after being dumped by a friend at work

August 29, 2008 | By | 120 Replies Continue Reading
It’s very painful to be dumped by a friend at work, especially when the decision is unilateral.

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I’ve read many of your posts regarding the breakup of female friendships and I am going thru one myself as we speak. Anna and I met two years ago at graduate school. A little over a year ago, I helped get her a job at my company and we become inseparable. We did everything together from going to dinner, the movies, and jogging at the park. Also, we spent a lot of time texting and instant messaging everyday at work.

About three months ago, Anna had met a new friend, “Lisa,” and I felt replaced. Little by little, I felt pushed aside and believe that Lisa had put a rift in the friendship between Anna and me. All of the sudden, Anna and I spent less and less time together as she made more time for Lisa. The two of them would go bar hopping, swimming, and yoga together…all of the activities that I do not enjoy but Anna likes.

So, one day after I dropped Anna off home from lunch, I texted her saying that maybe we should give our friendship a break because she and I have gotten into many small arguments within the last couple of months. I said that friendship is a two-way street and I was tired of working doing all of the work. So, she texted me back saying, “Fine and take care.”

The next day, I felt badly about what I said and texted Anna saying that I was very sorry and hope that she could forgive for the angry outburst. Anna texted back saying, “There is no need for you to be sorry.” She was and had always been a b$$ch to me. She said that I needed a friend that could be there for me constantly, someone to listen to me, and someone to keep me company.” Anna said that she feels badly but she cannot be that kind of friend to me and for me to take care. However, she still would like to be a work acquaintance. Nevertheless, this took place over 6 weeks ago and Anna and I have not spoken since. We often avoid each other at the office because things feel so awkward.

I’ve texted Anna several times since then, asking for a face-to-face meeting. I told her that I have and will always continue to value her friendship and would like to work things out with her. Last week, she answered back saying that our friendship just doesn’t work anymore and for me to move on with my life. She said that she has nothing to say to me.

However, despite her response, I still feel the need to have one last face-to-face meeting. The break-up of our friendship clearly had more to do than just that one text and I want real closure. So, should I try to reach out to Anna one last time or should I just let her go? Seeing her every day at work and not speaking to one another makes it very painful for me.  I still want to reconnect with her and be  friends once more.

Marcie

ANSWER

Hi Marcie:

What a painful and difficult situation! In addition to losing a close friend with whom you once spent a lot of time, you still have to face her (and her new best friend) at work. That really has to hurt!

You are correct—the friendship didn’t break up solely because of the text message (although texting generally isn’t a good way to handle sensitive discussions, as I’m sure you are now aware). But you were already seeing red flags that something was wrong: You were arguing with each other more and she was choosing to spend her time with Lisa rather than you. If Anna had wanted to, she could have brought you into their circle. She chose not to without any explanation or apology, even when pressed for one.

It’s infuriating when a decision to end a friendship is unilateral—and you aren’t the one who makes the decision. It is natural to feel hurt and angry, and to want some closure. Unfortunately, it looks like Anna isn’t ready to talk or discuss what happened. Anna may be more close-mouthed than you, in general, and have less of an interest in intimate relationships than you do. Whatever the reasons,  she has made it clear that she doesn’t want to talk about your split and while you may have been close at one time, given what has happened, it doesn’t appear like you will be able to get over this rift.

You definitely need to back off at this point and involve yourself with other friends at work and outside work. There may be some truth to Anna’s accusation that you are too needy or perhaps you are only too needy for her. You need to dig deep into yourself and think about what you asked of Anna in the past to determine whether you need to set boundaries for your future friendships.

You will be able to achieve closure when you assume control of your circumstances. When you accept that the relationship is over, you’ll feel better about the situation and about yourself. As brutal as it sounds, this isn’t the first time a good friend has been dumped  and won’t be the last. You deserve someone who will appreciate your kindness and sincerity, and whose personality and interests are in better balance with yours.

Focus on your work and maintaining a professional demeanor in the office. And try to forget about Anna’s relationship with Lisa: that will probably become history, too. It’s going to take some time but I promise, you will get over this trauma.

Let us know how it goes.

My best, Irene

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (120)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    hey,,sorry ppl didnt realise its a friendship blog,,wrote abt my breakup wth my girlfrnd,,hope u all dnt mind…….

  2. Anonymous says:

    hi,,,ppl i am realy stressd nwadays…,its coz i gt dumped a month back…,n i am stil n disbelief!!!!, i tried alot lyk readin psychology books,mixing wth frns,,even alcohol n antidepressant drugs,,,bt of no avail..,d idea o me dating sme1else makes me puke..,actually we were n a commited relation since 1.5 yrs,,n she hd nly proposd me 4 marriage ,,bt i refused,,,bt later i said yes ,we used 2 talk abt our future,,married lyf,kids,,n al,, d problem ws dat she ws very extroverted girl,,n very gud lukin,,n hd lot of male frns,,,bt i ws kind o possesive abt hr..,guess bit more..,we hd fites,,coz she dint hd tym 4 me..,despite all those i stil loved hr alot..,i even lost my job..,bt i nevr let her feel it,,i dint eat properly so as 2 save money2 spend n her..,i ws at home doin nthin,,n she n her office reachin grt heights,,bt i ws always happy 4 hr,coz she ws a part o me..,n d meantym my mom ws diagnosed cancer,,,,all o dese frustrations o losin job,abt mom,,plus her overly extroverted nature,,were creatin probs,bt she always told me dat she wud marry me,,even 2 days bfore breakup!until dat day wen she said its over!,,i kept cryin for 1 hr,,infront o her,,she also cried a bit dat she hurted me..,bt her descion ws final..,she wanted 2 be frns,,bt i hd nvr seen hr dat way,,,its been nearly 1 month n she hs nvr missed me a day,,,smetyms i feel if true love s actualy true o nt coz aftr doin so much 4 a person.she left me jst lyk dat! aftr talkin evryday 4 hrs ,,meetin n evry weekends,,i used 2 travel for 2 hrs n rush nly 2 c her,,all her probs were mine,,n nw she bid me bye nt even missin those days n tym a bit!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m going through a situation where one of the guys I work told me he considered me a friend. Now after a couple of weeks of treating him as a friend, I get called into my boss’s office and told he thought I was interested in being more than friends and was being pushy. I emailed an apology to him for the misunderstandings and gave that a couple of days before talking to him and telling him after the conversation I had with my boss he needed to tell me how he wanted me to deal with him. He said he had nothing to do with the conversation and didn’t know where it came from.

    I am clueless how to deal with this. I’d like to repair things to the point of at least being able to work together without feeling like I need to walk on eggshells because I really do miss the laughter and joking we used to share but I don’t know what to do.

  4. Anonymous says:

    friends 14 years told me he was separated filed for divorce; however wife called me they are still together he went back to wife. He deceived me and lied to me but wants to stay in contact with me over the phone does not want to upset spouse. Wants to see me but not now in the near future. I still love him but very painful and only want to be his friend. Please help.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m Jeff. I’ll FB with ya!

  6. Anonymous says:

    TOO MUCH BOOZ!!! Everyone was EXTREMELY drunk!

    Where to go from here??? How ’bout an AA meeting!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey guys – without causing any offence, does it sound bad that I’m relieved that I’m not alone when it comes to being shut out by a good friend? I need you’re advice please? About 6 months ago I become close to my aunts sister in law (completely random but platonic friendship).. Although we’d known each other a while, we became close after spending a length of time together and found we clicked.. About a month into our new found friendship I was told by my doctor that they were having to do tests for gastric cancer as I had all the symptoms for it.. I sent Linda (name changed) a text by accident informing her of this (was meant to text my cousin) and from then on she became my rock.. We’d text most days, just general chit chat and she was very much wanting to be involved with my health condition and would often ask about any scans I was going for and the results etc.. I’m a very independent person and don’t tend to let many people in, but without realising it, I did and I would say more so after the New Year we became a lot closer and texting every few days turned to everyday.. She would volunteer to come to the hospital with me for blood tests and offer to drive me to the hospital on scan days etc and I always told her I’d prefer to go alone but would be happy to meet her after.. We started meeting up more often and got closer.. We decided to keep our growing friendship from my aunt as we both believed she wouldn’t like it and that we both preferred to play ignorant as opposed to have to justify ourselves – hope this makes sense? Anyway in feb this year she went through some personal problems to which I was there for her as a friend and I too was diagnosed with cancer and during this time she was amazing and my rock through it all.. I used to go on house searches with her (she’s currently moving) and she involved me with viewings etc and I know this was her bid to help keep my mind off things, we had a good laugh and formed a very close friendship very quickly!! Looking back, it was her always wanting to be there for me and volunteering herself to help me, I loved the fact that she was there for me, but still didn’t ask her for much off my own back as I wasn’t used to someone always being there for me, it’s usually the other way round and I go out of my way for others.. However randomly almost over night, this changed and I am having trouble understanding this as she began texting less and less just days before I was due to go in for my op to remove the tumors.. Call it vulnerability but I felt like I had lost my right arm as she wasn’t around before or after my op at all, and I found this odd as she had been there from the beginning – when I asked her why, she said she was busy with the move and packing etc and whilst I understand that a move can be very stressful, I even offered to help her pack as I heard from my aunt that she was really stressing out.. I don’t think it was enough for us to become so distant overnight.. We exchanged a few ‘complex’ text messages and for the past 5-6 weeks she hasn’t replied to two texts and an email I have sent her asking her why she has shut me out all of a sudden.. I know I didn’t make it all about me when we were friends and often spoke about her and what was going on in her life, so I know I wasn’t depressing to be around or anything.. I really miss her as she has been there for me from the beginning and now she is just ignoring me and won’t tell me why? I feel like I have given her loads of space and hear about her through my aunt all the time and what makes it more difficult is that I do hear about her often through my aunt and I will see her again at family functions, so it’s not just soo easy to walk away.. Sorry to bore you guys, but I feel like I need an explanation from her so we can move on from this or closure if this friendship is to end, but can’t seem to get get to talk.. x

  8. Anonymous says:

    i am in the same situation. i have a best friend of 2 years at work. We really spent a lot of time together in good times and bad times. We’re like sisters. We had done so many projects and team building together. We are both leaders and supervisors at work, She’s handling events and planning. I am a Human Resources Head. In many work activities and projects, she would often complained to me and tell me “she hates our boss, this job and she thinks is too much for her”. I was always the person who support her and take care of her emotions. However, reading an article about toxic or difficult person. I figured out that she has a personality disorder related to narcissism. I agree everything that i have read about this kind of toxic person. I got tired and its affecting my dealings with my other colleagues. I do see that other people are disliking me and no one wants to be around me because of her. I took the courage to make a space for her and for myself. And now, more people are liking me and respecting me more. Due to the fact, that co-workers around us didn’t see me hanging out with her. More people invited me in their circles such as going to night out. I was really happy about the new turned of my events in my life. I believe more people has love me more. However, my ex-friend has noticed my changes and i was not spending time with her. I believe she got my meaning. Now, she just ignoring me more and made me feel bad and i have a guilt about this situation.To add more insult to injury, I have a birthday party at work and all of my staff and co-workers greeted me on my special day. And, SHE just ignore me and didn’t greet or say anything during the my party. She just ate in the party and had drink. To made it worst, she just keep ignoring me. Right now, I am upset and maybe i am not yet moved on that’s why i feel hurting and angry. I am seeing her everyday at work and we are doing a big projects that we need to plan and do it together. I guess so, i just need time and believe that it will work out. My problem is how to deal with her on a professional and business manner.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I NEED HELP!! Well lately i have been desperate for someone that i love a lot. This person is my cousin, and she lives over 2000 miles away from me. It all started almost 2 years ago she was bored and her mom made her call me and we did not liked each other back then. And on that same week her mom made her call me again. And we got connect thru emails. Then we started to text thru out the whole day and we would call each other everyday for about 2 hours. We became so close that we started to consider each other as siblings. And she was the perfect little sister anyone could ask for.For a guy to be this close to his female cousin the way we were must mean that we were close.  I even thought that i had it all. I would literally pray to god and thank him that he bought her into my life. I didn’t really bother to make friends at school or get girlfriends because i was too happy with my sister  (shes really my cousin). We would call each other for anything she would even call me or text me when she would do her homework. We were so close if we were to switch bodies i would know how to act and her daily routine .   But i dont know why as close as we were i could tell that if she had closer friends she wouldnt really pay attention to me as much and i told her along time ago about my concern but she told me that will never happen. So it seem like she was meaning what she had said. We would still call each other and we would always text each other and tell each other how much we love each other. Infact shes the first person i really did love as a sister. We knew each other secrets that not even our own siblings knew and friends. Life was so perfect. Then for the first time i had the chance to go visit her last year. Wow even doe i was only with her for 5 days does have been the best 5 days of my life. And when i came back we were texting at night crying and saying how much we miss each other. Everytime she would text me and tell me to call her i would be so happy even if i had just gotten a new video game i would turn it of just to call her, because i felt as if she was more important. But last november she started getting close to a friend she had. She started going to her house and ever since new years she been acting different with me. And i try to tell her but she said that we should just move on. I dont remember how but we kinda of work things out. But then nearly 1 month pass and she would hardly text me. I tried to get help from people that deal with depression and she caught me. She told me that she feels really bad and she has too much homework. But i got on her facebook one day and she had conversations  with this kid that had a crush on her but she just wanted to be friends. So she thought it was just friendship. This conversations were everyday thru facebook. I was so shocked i tried to get help by two of my cousins from my other side of the family and they told me to just talk to her. So i did, i was crying thru out the whole conversation and we didn’t fix nothing so i sent her a Facebook message saying sorry for being all over her business and yea she said sorry for being a bad sister and she told me to call her and we had a perfectly good conversation. We were good for about 3 weeks and i started to get the feeling that i was kind of annoying her now since i would text her just to talk like we use too. She eventually started having phone calls and texting this close friend that she got around November. And when i try to text she would sometimes ignore my text and when i would tell her how happy i was that we worked out things she would say that i just over reacting. We went from calling AND texting everyday, to now hardly texting a week. And i often cry but i cant talk to her about this anymore because she would think im just annoying. I just wish she would lose all her friends so we could be so desperate to come home from school and call each other saying how was our day like we use too. I look back at us and think to myself if everything that i have gone thru with her was fake all does happy memories and does adorable things we would say to each other or was that just said because she was just bored? Im too the point were i want god to pick me up if our relationship keeps going the way it is. Just to think how close we were and how we are now makes me cry and my body starts feeling weak. I just wish i had my little sister back :,( I want to tell her how much i love her like i use too without she thinking that I’m weird! Please someone I’m begging for advice

  10. Anonymous says:

    i had the same situation. in our first year in college we were so close. we would go out together. food marathon here and there. our other friends would often ask us if were together because we were so close. during the birthday of my classmate we went together and it just happened, i felt jealous of another girl that she’s been talking to all night. the following day i told her that i was jealous but she never responded. maybe i was hoping that she would say that i should never be jealous,, that there’s no reason for me to be jealous,, but no! not a word. from that moment, every time i ask her if we could hang out or see each other she would decline. for so many times i tried to talked to her, she just rejected me over and over again. one of her text to me was “It’s not worth talking” i was so hurt that time.. until now… it’s been 3 years and i still want to talk to her.. i want to know what really is the problem that she have to leave me just like that. i want to bring back our friendship… but she remains quiet. she is now with somebody else. i dont care. i just want her back.. i want my friend back. i cant seem to move on because i always see them together and it really hurts.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wow, the exact same thing has just happened to me. I’d known her for 13 years. I didn’t ask why when she ignored two of my emails, thinking she was just busy and then feeling angry about it. When she defriended me, I sent a short email asking why, and she replied with a screaming, name-calling email and blocked me. That is where I am right now, but it has bothered me enough that a counselor might be a good idea. Maybe I can just follow the advice of yours, though ;) Thank you.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I can relate. I was dating a friend of a friend. I became close friends with his friends. We dated a year and everything seemed great. I never cheated and was always a good girlfriend. Then he dumped me out ofthe blue by text. He said I have no self esteem and no confidence (both BS). Then to top it off he said he should’ve dumped me a long time ago. I was devasted I never did Anthing to deserve this. He refused to speak to me and if he did, verbally abused me by text. He turned everyone against me. So everyone would still think that The sun shines out of his butt. I Just couldn’t believe it. I got screwed over yet everyone dumped me! I hope his friends all breakup/ divorce. Then maybe they’ll see what it’s like.

  13. Anonymous says:

    First of my Friend wanted me to text her when we first met but now i did something wrong by texten so many times sometimes she said leave me alone dont txt me so then end up in aurgment i think she wasnt haveing a good day we try to work on me not text her sooooooo many times it got on her nevers. now i m told to leave her alone in the texten but what if she text me first when she ready. what do I do. She gave me so many chances and i still want to be her friend in church i hope she will forgive again i did it twice. Someone Help me

  14. Anonymous says:

    Never taken the time to post on anything really but dealing with losing a friend of 16+ years and don’t know why. Breaking my heart. Have tried to initiate conversation about why, but just keep getting treated like she never knew me. The person I knew was a very down to earth girl who looked to me for her moral compass thru several situations where she hurt others. Now she acts like she doesn’t know me. She has also joined a mega-church in the are that has a cult like following. I went with her once when she was uncomfortable but she is now engrossed and now after all these years of being her moral compass, she believes that I need to be saved. What gives? I was there for her thru several affairs/STDs and gave my two cents that I did not agree with her decisions. She has now found God and believes that I’m a non-believer. This down to earth girl within the last 2 years has come into money, gotten a boob job, and drips with diamonds. I know there is nothing I can do but it hurts. Why do people you love project their issues on the ones that have always been there for them?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Okay so I am currently going through a similar situation here except that I’ve known and grew up with my best friend (Corbin) and I have known him since birth. We went to the same high school all twelve years and still kept in touch after college. The trouble started when his best friend Karim started to like me, however I did not like him. We wanted to work things out but could not. Things start to take a turn for the worst. We said some things that were hurtful to each other and he’s the type of guy that once you said something like that that he would never forgive you because he is a really stubborn guy. So long story short we never have spoken since. His best friend, Corbin, was there for me during our break up and he was great and made me feel appreciated and hung out a lot after i broke up with his best friend. I did start to have feelings for him very young in like 8th grade but that feeling grew stronger especially at that time when I broke up with Karim. Now I should tell you that Corbin did have an ex girlfriend whom he’d been seeing since 8th grade. They had an on and off again relationship. The girl was pretty dominant, and she made it clear to me and everyone around her that she wanted to keep Corbin for herself and eventually marry. It wasnt a healthy relationship to say the least. Well, I started to get mixed feelings from Corbin because he was just so great to me for being there for me after breaking up with his friend Karim. Its been more than six months after the break up, so I thought I would tell him how I felt about him and I did just that. However, it did not go the way I wanted to. Apparently he told me that I was a true friend and he saw our relationship more as platonic one. He was very sweet about turning me down, and things quickly turned back to normal. Like it wasnt awkward or anything. At the time, what i did not know was that he told this to his ex girlfriend. After I told him that I liked him, I got a call from his ex girlfriend saying that Corbin told her that I was into him. I did not call her back but then I called Corbin to explain why he thought it necessary to tell his ex girlfriend that. His response to me was that she asked him, but i think that she tricked him into saying that somehow. She is very manipulative. Then I called her to explain that we just have a brother/sister type of relationship and when I explained she was like all of this i heard from Corbin before in a very moody manner. Well a couple of months go by and I noticed a change in Corbin’s behavior towards me. Not only was he acting distant but he wasnt acting like a friend at all. All of this out of the blue. It wasnt until when he decided to confront me six months later saying that i’ve been treating his ex-girlfriend badly (I defriended her on facebook and blocked her on instant messenger) is why he wanted to confront me. But the truth was that she was the one who was plotting this from the beginning and she blocked me from instant messenger and put me on limited profile because she was trying to get rid of me. She said things to Corbin saying how I would do anything to get him and etc. I told Corbin that I never said those things and that she was making up the entire story because those are actually her words and what is wants (which is what she wants eventually to get married to him) and I know she still has feelings for him. So I told him this and he told me, i think you are right and I will back you up. His ex-girlfriend also told him that I would do anything to get to him and marry him. And he told me that he would not marry me. SO after that fight he told me that we needed a break from each other. But after that he never seemed eager to hang out with me afterwards and he was being quite distance. He also told me that he was grateful to me that i would warn him about his ex-girlfriend evil intention. Its been about two years now since the fight and we are slowly starting to be friendly again, but its not the same relationship as we had before. Do you think that we could ever become a couple or is it too complicated?

  16. Anonymous says:

    My daughter went through a very similar situation last year. I wish that she would read your post. She’d be better off in my humble opinion without her “friend” than still playing pretend that they are rebuilding their relationship when they just are not doing that, at all Very similar situation except that she got her dad into a nursing home before anything catastrophic happened to him. He has early onset Parkinson’s. All you can do it move on.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Just to give you guys some perspective: I hung out with a guy at work after work for a while (I’m female) and we had some really deep conversations about suicide and depression and just relationship strengthening stuff. Then I found out he wanted more. Dropped him like he was on fire. I’m not lesbian or bi, just straight. But I can no longer complicate my life with a “partner” That’s over for me. I thought he heard me when I would say that. I said it often. I have never dropped a friend before. I didn’t even say why. I just did not want to make him feel more uncomfortable than it already was and he’s not the type to say he wanted more. Hes’ the type to say “Oh, I was just having a bad day” We continued to talk at work but at some point he was let go (after 7 years working for the firm). So, it happens between women and men as well and sometime the woman not the man does the dumping.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’ve tried to move on since she left in September but everything leads me back to trying to get back n touch with her. I’ll feel like I’ve let go for a few days then I’m back to wondering if she still cares and loves me like the baby sister she had before. She called me once maybe she will call again is the thing that pops into my head almost every time. I don’t know why and how I got that close to her maybe it was everything that she did for me or maybe it was the bond we shared, or even maybe the fact that she saved my life. Either way my only wish is she will someday realize how much she still means to me how much I want her as my big sister again, and how much pain I am in now knowing she may never come back. That I blew our chance of rebuilding the friendship we had.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The only advice I can give you is to move on, tell HER to NEVER call you again, not until she actually starts to give a damn.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I had a friend of two years that helped me get out of a bad situation. She was there no matter what I did or needed. If I needed someone to stay up with me because i was having a bad night, needed money for school, or just needed to talk she was there. Over time we became like sisters. In August I contacted her ex husband for her phone number because she lost her phone and disconnected the phone line. He replied back telling me she was being hurt I fell for it because of my past and gave him my cell number (I contacted him on his facebook) and told him to contact me if she was in trouble. He then told me some embarrassing information about her that I did not know. When I confronted her about it she got mad at me but said to just give her some space until she cooled down. The next day I texted her telling her I was sorry I didn’t mean to hurt her. She blew up and told me she talked to him and I was spying on her. she said he told her some things that I told him (which I did not say to him) how dare I tell him those things she trusted me. I told her all the other embarrassing things he told me and she said I was a traitor because I listened to him. She told me if i texted her again she would block me from her phone. I did text her again to tell her I still loved her like a sister to not leave me. She blocked my number that day. We had our fall out September 10th. She called me the day before Thanksgiving I was in shock she called so I insisted it was a prank call. I asked L.. who she said your friend I said haha very funny. Someone is pranking me. She said we would try this again later when I could behave myself. I said no I’m in shock you haven’t called in so long what do you expect me to be. She said what you don’t want to talk to me? I said I never said that. She said she called to say sorry and wish me a happy thanksgiving. By the time she got that out she was where she was driving to and had to go. She said she would call me back later but she hasn’t called back since. She called me on a private number because my friends called and texted her to ask her to call me back right after she left. She said she didn’t trust me with her new number yet. I wrote her a letter and mailed it off a few days ago. But I still haven’t recieved a phone call yet. I’m scared she isn’t going to call me again. I’m still very hurt about it. She always told me nothing would stop her from loving me that I was her little sister and best friend. I don’t know what to do or think.

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