• Keeping Friends

A good friend but…

Published: February 14, 2016 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

Do you throw away a friendship with a good friend because it is imperfect?


Hi Irene,

I hadn’t heard from a friend in two weeks or so I called her to invite her over to watch a football game.

This friend was upset because she hadn’t heard from me and accused me of being mad and finding new friends etc. I told her I had been sick (back trouble, etc.), couldn’t call and didn’t feel well. She thought I didn’t want to be friends anymore since she hadn’t heard from me and wasn’t going to call until I called her.

This upset me and I exploded and hung up the phone saying, “OK, we don’t have to be friends.” Afterwards, I sent a card apologizing for exploding and told her how sick I had been with back pain and not even able to work. I haven’t heard back.

I feel like it’s a game she keeps track of who calls first and suggests activities. Then she criticizes me if I don’t call. We are in our 70s and this is childish.

My other friends always act glad to talk to me. They never mention who calls first. Was I wrong? She could have checked on me to see if I was sick instead of thinking I didn’t want to be friends. She even said my horoscope said I was getting new friends. I don’t believe in horoscopes and told her that in the card but said I respect her beliefs.

She sleeps during the day and is up at night. I work during the day and am tired at night. That’s one reason I let her call me. I hate to bother people when they might not want to talk. She‘s a good friend who has been there for me. Thanks for listening. This makes me feel crazy.

Signed, Emma


Hi Emma,

This sounds juvenile to me, too, and I see how you could feel upset and disappointed in your friend. But it also sounds like this is a hiccup in a friendship that you otherwise value and want to keep.

Yes, good friends shouldn’t stand on ceremony about who calls whom first. It sounds like for some reason your friend is insecure about your friendship and needs reassurance (e.g.. you calling her).

The mismatch in your schedules has to be challenging, too. Why don’t you explain to her as you did in your letter to me that there are limited time slots when you are home and can call without the risk of waking her?

Another solution might be to set a time for regular get-togethers, whether it’s once a week or once a month, so you eliminate the problem of who does the initiating.

It occurred to me that your friend might have a sleep disorder. Maybe you could gently suggest that she speak to her physician because you are concerned about her.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Dealing with difficult friends, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (7)

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  1. lottie says:

    You are not in the wrong,nor crazy. You wrote a card explaining the situation,and apologised. What more can be done?

    Benefit of doubt is called for.

    If she hasn’t got the grace to accept an apology I would show concern.I suggest giving her a call in the evening,putting a time limit on how long you want to chat.Mention you are going to bed shortly,and stick to it.

    It doesn’t help that she lives in a different “Time Zone” something else to mention in a light hearted way.

    Of course she might easily be depressed. It does happen that many people who worry or who are depressed seem to be more upset and alert in the dark hours. Then when it is morning are just too tired to exist!!

    Cherish your friends,in the grand scheme of things does it really matter who rings who.NO.

    Very best wishes. Lottie

  2. Diane Z says:

    Sounds like this friendship may be dead now. Maybe that’s for the best. I think that you both wanted the other to initiate contact more, and each were unhappy when the other did not give what was wanted. She came right out and told you what she wanted (“upset because she hadn’t heard from me and accused me of being mad and finding new friends etc.”) and you used the more indirect method of getting your point across (“I hate to bother people when they might not want to talk.”) If each person is determined that the other person has to go first, then I don’t see how you’re going to get together

    You say you think it’s a game to keep track of who calls first, so why didn’t you end the game by doing as she requested and call first? It seems to me that it must be as important to you as it is to her, who calls first, and that you are withholding calling first, just as she is. If it really didn’t matter to you who goes first, then why not go first, as your former friend requested.

  3. Amy F says:

    It sounds like both you and your friend have personality quirks that can complicate friendships, although no one is a perfect friend. Your friend’s quirks and yours clashed at a time when you both were feeling vulnerable and that has caused a rift.
    I’m glad you apologized for ending the friendship, although it sounds like your apology was qualified with a BUT, which done people see as an excuse “I’m sorry BUT it’s not really my fault…”
    Her reasons for not calling you sound immature, but your reasons aren’t much better, because even though you say you don’t want to “bother” people, you then place the responsibility of communication on the other person. Insecure people might see this as disinterest rsther thsn a kindness if you haven’t communicated this.
    If your friend doesn’t have an issue with her sleep schedule, I wouldn’t bring up a sleep disorder since she seems overly sensitive. If she complains about it, then I’d suggest talking to her doctor.
    Bottom line, are you willing to tolerate her imperfections and is she willing to tolerate yours?

  4. Ruth says:

    Most of the advice given already is good and I agree with.

    If a friend I’d just argued with suggested I see a medical doctor, that would put me off. Maybe if/when the friendship is restored.

    To Emma I say good friendships are not easy to find and sometimes hard to maintain. Therefore I’d work towards keeping her but my lowering expectations of her. If you haven’t tried making new friends lately it’s not that easy.

    • IBikeNYC says:

      I agree with giving it a bit of time before talking about seeing a doctor!

      It’s too easy to come across as sarcastic otherwise; which is funny to think about but would not be if it happened!

  5. Suzyq says:

    Hi Emma, what might not be at all evident here by the behaviour is the sleep factor. What I mean is people who have disturbed sleep, any interference with with their REM, which basically is what makes us all be able to function during the day and also I believe controls our seratonin levels, creation of, which is our mood basically. For anyone who has a bad nights sleep, broken sleep which will definitely interfere with the REM which a normal human body goes into after a fairly shortish period of time. Your friend’s snappiness and glass half full behaviour – I think is down to the sleep quality she may have received the night before or that week. I know from experience that some of the most unreasonable ideas can seem perfectly normal when REM is affected. I think if she works shift-work or any abnormal hours I think her body’s clock is probably disrupted and suffers.
    I could be wrong but I would give your friend a ring when a good time for both of your hours and ask her how her sleep has been. People who are new parents, especially mum’s often feel low in themselves and lack of good sleep is often the real cause than real reality from my own experience. Most people don’t even realise due to lack of knowledge by GP’s who still don’t seem to know that woman can suffer from sleep problems besides sleep apnoea. Hope this may help. Your friend is probably feeling pretty awful if this is the case but is probably a bit angry.

  6. Louise says:

    You are very kind to care and to look for help with this problem … And I agree with Irene. First, it sounds like there’s a problem with your schedules, making it hard to connect at times that are right for both of you. You could try talking this over and find a mutually agreeable time to check in. I wonder, too, if your friend uses email? Maybe you could send a quick “hello” online to keep in touch when it’s too late to talk?

    Secondly, I am only mentioning this out of my personal experience. My mother started developing symptoms of dementia in her late 70s. One of those symptoms was sudden paranoia. She started accusing friends of neglecting her, or talking behind her back, etc. — when none of that was true. Her friends adored her, but she thought the world was against her and she began to isolate herself when she misread the actions of other people.

    That’s not necessarily true about your friend, of course. And the sleep disorder that Irene mentioned is a possibility too. In any event, I would definitely make a tactful, gentle suggestion that your friend see a doctor about losing sleep.

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