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The last straw in a friendship that is waning

It may take time to realize a friendship that is waning isn’t really viable—and then one last straw brings clarity and insight.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I think I have a friendship that is waning. I met her at a support group about a year ago for people who want to improve their communication, etc. Oddly, we are not communicating. She had extended herself to me, initially.

It seems that whenever we have gotten together, it’s been on her terms, and it seems to be getting a little worse. For example, she is extremely picky about what to eat. It seems that the fact that I have food allergies terrifies her, and she tries to regulate what I eat, to my great embarrassment. Having to eat with her has become a chore.

Also, making plans is an ordeal. The last time we tried to get together, she suggested a movie and then changed her mind. She asked that I pick out another one. I did, and she didn’t like it. She will review movies to see if they are her taste and pick accordingly, rather than tending to go with the flow. It was very frustrating.

The last time I called her, just to talk and say hello, I got a text the following day saying that she did get my message, but couldn’t talk, and would get back to me in a week. (?)

The likely scenario is that she will call, and want to get together again, on her terms, at a very specific time and day. It’s becoming a last straw since the phone call. Also, she never wants to get together with my other friends as a group. I have to constantly rearrange my times to see her separately. Frankly, it doesn’t match my schedule and it’s too hard to make special accommodations to see her. I don’t want to do it and feel like we have no rapport or anything in common. I almost feel like it’s interfering with my befriending others because I have to arrange my schedule special for her and make cancellations. This is difficult. Any thoughts?

Signed, Nicole

ANSWER

Hi Nicole,

It sounds like the woman you met is extremely controlling, to the point that she wants to make all the decisions in your friendship including what you eat, when you meet, what you do, and with whom. This is unreasonable.

You made a valiant effort to make a new friend. But it sounds like you are at a juncture where it is time to give up. It’s just too hard to make plans and communicate with this woman. Moreover, you’ve decided that you have little in common and haven’t been able to establish rapport.

Frankly, I can’t see why you would want to continue the friendship. My advice would be to let go and tell her that you prefer getting together with your friends as a group next time she wants to get together again as a twosome. I understand that you want to improve your communication skills but communication always has to be a two-way street.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS, Signs a friendship is going sour

Comments (5)

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  1. Lana says:

    It is really hard when the dynamics of a friendship aren’t even or change over time.

    I’ve had a good girlfriend for almost 20 years. The first 10 years we were good friends, and hung out as couples with our husbands and spent time just us girls too. Over time, they had children and we did not. Since the kids were born 7 years ago, we haven’t had one single activity that is adult-only. he children are so over-indulged that it is impossible to connect as adult friends and finish a conversation. I like being an Auntie to the kids, but I thought I was a friend to the mom too.

    Our get togethers have shrunken into phone calls which she always initiates when she “has a minute” and regales me with how the brilliant the kids are, and how busy she is … and then has to run and hangs up. Needless to say I cannot get a word in edgewise. This is what happens when you let someone control the friendship.

    Trying to tactfully bring up this was a waste of time. Now she’s mad at me and says I’m not there for her. That’s all I have been for the past 7 years. She’s too busy being a “Stepford-Mom” to be a friend at all to me and I suspect to anyone else. Perhaps she resents the fact that I’m free to travel and do the things she has always said she wanted to do and the only way she can deal with it is to not hear about my life at all anymore. (That’s my husband’s theory for what it’s worth)

    It is sad that this friendship is probably over, but it takes two willing participants to make a friendship. If all she wants is someone to talk at and not really communicate with … I no longer accept that role.

  2. Amy says:

    What a nightmare! It sounds like she hasn’t gotten enough out of the support group, and that she’s got other underlying personality issues. You can’t have a healthy relationship unless both people in the relationship are reasonably healthy.
    This isn’t your fault. Having a relationship with a control freak isn’t very satisfying, is it?

  3. AJ Fox says:

    Great advice, Irene! I’ve been in Nicole’s shoes before. Even though I knew I needed to let go, it’s difficult. Some times you need someone to give it to you straight, like Irene, in order to follow through :)

  4. Judy Kirkwood says:

    Does not sound like fun. Long-term friendships can be a lot of work, but shorter-term should be easier. Move on.

  5. Cindy L says:

    I’ve been on both sides of this issue. A year isn’t a very long time, in terms of deep friendship. It’s possible that this person has decided she’s not fully “into” this new friendship, and perhaps isn’t quite sure how to back away gracefully. I’ve had this happen — a colleague or an acquaintance will reach out to me, and I will get together with them a few times to see how it goes, but soon learn that it’s not a relationship I want to continue. It’s hard, because you don’t want to hurt people, but then again, there’s only so much time in a day — and you want to have enough time for the relationships that really do matter to you.

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