• Handling Breakups

A platonic friendship with a female friend breaks down

Published: January 15, 2016 | By | 34 Replies Continue Reading
A guy asks what to do when his female friend cuts off their platonic relationship.



I have had a friendship for several years that was platonic, and based on a mutual interest. At the beginning of last year something started to go wrong. I approached her a few times and she seemed to make excuses as to why we could not catch up.

Very quickly she became angry with me but I did not really understand why. For example, I told her I thought I was just doing what we had previously discussed in terms of frequency, etc. of our interactions. She responded to what I thought was an innocuous comment by telling me to go to hell.

To cut a long story short, eventually she agreed to discuss the situation and agreed to a resolution but she wanted a break of a year. At the end of a year, she promised reconciliation by way of a series of meetings to ease us back into the friendship. As an alternative, I offered to try and resolve the differences immediately by parting as friends. She rejected that offer.

However, at the end of the year she simply tried to cut me off unilaterally. I see this as a betrayal of the agreement that we had made. Now she refuses to talk to me and threatens to call the police if I go near her. I have never threatened her in any way and never would.

I feel badly treated when I tried my best to comply with her needs for a break and effectively put things on hold for a year and then was let down by her ignoring her own promises. I am a simple soul who thinks that agreements must be kept.

Now I do not know how to deal with this situation.

Signed, Mark


Hi Mark,

When your friend asked for a one-year separation, it might have been that she wanted to end the relationship then or, at minimum, was very ambivalent about it. She may have suggested a “temporary separation” to avoid a confrontation between you.

Refusing to talk and threatening to call the police should make it clear that this woman no longer has any interest in continuing this relationship. Friendships are voluntary and cannot be one-sided. Even people who make legal agreements (e.g. marital ones) have the right to change their mind over time.

I can understand your disappointment since you had hoped for a more positive outcome. But you really don’t have any alternative but to move forward, and to seek out new friendships that are less disappointing and more mutually satisfying.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (34)

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  1. Angela says:

    Hey Mark,

    Okay so I’m not a expert on this but i have a few ideas, first off when a women tell you she wants to take a break from a friendship for that long its a hint saying “she no longer wants to be friends but she still cares about you and wants to hurt you in the least way possible.” You see some women don’t want to hurt the other persons feelings, while other will come straight forward and say what they have to say. Now the reason she doesn’t want to be friends, im not sure but again i have a few ideas, one idea is that she might have feelings for you, and see you as more then a friend, because you guys never showed that kind of affection she might have thought it would ruin the friendship, and after thinking about it decided to just end the friendship before her feeling got out of hand.

    Another idea is she caught you doing something bad, that either hurt her, or make her feel betrayed or uncomfortable. She could have caught you in a huge lie, and no longer wants nothing to do with you. She could have been feed a rumor and is to uncomfortable to confront you about it. Or you could have broken her trust in some way, because i know women don’t like their trust broken and when their trust is broken they usually end all connections with that person fearing if they trust you again they are only going to get hurt.

    But i don’t know every women is different and I’m bad at giving advice lol well hooe you guys solve things and become friends again best of luck

    -Angela ♡

  2. DarleneH says:

    if I were Mark, I’d be confused, too, and I’m a woman and should be able to understand other women reasonably well. Given how this woman chose to get rid of Mark, there isn’t much chance he would have understood what was going on, especially in the beginning. Let’s be honest, this blog is full of women who are hurt and confused by other women ditching them, is it any surprise that a man would have problems understanding this?

    It is hard for anyone to figure this stuff out, so it doesn’t seem fair to assume that a man who is confused and having a hard time moving on because they are hurt has any more negative or sinister motives than a woman in the same situation. Having said that, Mark, when someone threatens to call the police, or uses strong language with you, it means they aren’t in a good place with you and that you may have crossed a boundary. Definitely back off, regardless.

  3. Melissa says:

    The female friend should have said she didn’t want to be friends anymore. She didn’t have to meet with Mark face to face. It could have been done in a letter or e-mail. I think Mark would have respected her wishes to be left alone.

    When I read the part that she threatened to call the police, it seemed strange to me. Mark was following up because that was what they had previously discussed. It sounds like he values his friendships. Unfortunately not everyone we befriend will reciprocate.

    I know we don’t get the full story in these letters, but we need to remember that the people who post here about lost friendships are hurting. Be kind to one another.

    • Salstarat says:

      Well said, Melissa. There are a couple of very hard nosed people on this site who seem to lack a good deal of compassion and make rather harsh generalisations and presumptions. Their harsh, rather cruel and sanctimonious responses to people who are already very sad smacks of bullying.

  4. Denise says:

    Mark if you truly don’t know why she originally became cold and she never told you why she no longer wants your friendship, this is on her, a reflection of how she says goodbye to a relationship. I’ve been in similar circumstances where he and she simply wouldn’t talk anymore and I never knew why. I recently reconnected with a high school friend and the way he treats me I can feel and see Genuine warmth, joy and friendship. Wonderful, exciting feeling! Eventually you will find another friend, a true friend who wants to and knows how to communicate and spend time with you. 🙂

  5. Susan M. says:

    Let it go. It took me a very long time to realize that, some times, it is the only option.

  6. Maddie says:

    Leave her alone. Your whole tone is obsessive, angry and stalkerish. She does not want to be around you. Your intensity after all this time is troubling. See a psychiatrist. Friendship is voluntary.

    • Salstarat says:

      Maddie, it is YOUR tone that is rather aggressive and angry! Friendship is voluntary but he is entitled to an explanation!

      • Maddie says:

        No he isn’t.

        • Jared says:

          I think Maddie was a bit harsh, but I agree with her assessment. In fact, maybe harsh words are what you need, Mark. I don’t mean that to be cruel, but it’s obvious that this woman wants nothing to do with you. To keep stating things like, “I told her I thought I was just doing what we had previously discussed in terms of frequency, etc. of our interactions. She responded to what I thought was an innocuous comment by telling me to go to hell.”

          You have clearly thought way too much about this. Friendship should come naturally, but you’re making it sound like a business contract. When someone tells you to “go to hell,” that is clearly a way of telling you that you are SMOTHERING her. She does not want to have contact with you.

          It is very strange for a friend to ask for a year off from the relationship. This idea reeks of a poor attempt to get you to go away without a dramatic farewell discussion. In other words, she wanted you out of her life but was trying to be nice about it.

          You also wrote that you were “let down by her ignoring her own promises. I am a simple soul who thinks that agreements must be kept.”

          If someone 1) ignores their promises to you 2) wants a year off a friendship 3) tells you to go to hell, these are all indications that she wants nothing more to do with you. How much more obvious can she make it, man?

          It can be very hurtful when we want friendship with someone, and they don’t feel the same way. I know. I’ve been there. The only thing you can do is MOVE ON. This will be better for both her and you. Don’t torture yourself by thinking about this so much. Instead, you should try to make other friends and try to get a hobby to occupy your time.

          From your letter, it sounds to me that you have a hard time understanding personal boundaries with people. This could be a sign of Asperger’s or a personalty disorder. I suspect that you were contacting this girl too much and made a giant nuisance of yourself. If so, this lack of social skills will continue to haunt you with other people who will also find your attempts at friendship smothering.

          One thing I’ve learned is that if someone doesn’t want to be your friend, they won’t say it out-right. Instead, they’ll give you clues that you have to be socially knowledgeable enough to recognize. Some examples of these clues would be 1) Not keeping plans or promises 2) Not returning phone calls/texts, etc. 3) Always saying that they are busy.

          Telling you to “go to hell” is MORE than a clue. If you don’t understand that, you need to talk to a therapist about proper social etiquette. Good luck.

        • Salstarat says:

          Yes he is. And you are jumping to conclusions inserting your own bad experiences and paranoia onto a man who is upset about losing a long-standing platonic friend. Stop trying to read into it situations that do NOT exist. After such a long friendship, the least she can do is explain to him “I’m sorry but I cannot continue our friendship because …..” .. once he gets the explanation, he then must realise that he can no longer approach her but, at least, he will have closure. It seems clear that you lack empathy to understand his situation.

          • Jared says:

            Salstarat,you state, “once he gets the explanation, he THEN must realise that he can no longer approach her but, at least, he will have closure.” The truth is he will probably never get the answers he craves. Even if he does, there’s no indication he will understand them. He has a very hard time seeing things from this woman’s perspective–even when she’s blunt. The last thing he needs is someone encouraging him to try one more time. That method has already failed.

            It is very unlikely that she will tell him all the reasons she wants zero contact. Also, the key word in your writing is “THEN” he must realize he cannot approach her. What’s stopping him from realizing that NOW? The idea to call the police wasn’t enough? She’s made it pretty obvious and he’s not adding two and two together.

            When someone threatens to call the cops, they are at the end of their rope, and the last thing they want is flowers. She wants silence. If he was trying to understand what she wants instead of focusing on his own feelings, this would become clear.

            When people don’t supply answers, it is usually because they don’t want to hear your rebuttals, and you can’t debate your way into keeping a friendship.

            What we do know is that she 1)Wanted an extended break from him 2)told him to go to hell 3)Threatened to call the police. In effect, her attempts to be rid of the relationship have grown more blunt and probably desperate.

            This is all pretty straightforward; he should leave her alone and move on now.

            Also, you should address the issue and not attack me or other posters who are offering advice. You may not like the advice because it is hitting too close to home regarding boundary issues with others.

    • Denise says:

      How rude!

      Mark is stating facts and sounds bewildered at the sudden, mysterious no-explanation coldness from this former friend.

  7. Ruth says:

    I can’t help but think there’s an important piece of information missing.

    Other than that 2 cents I concur with Amy’s post.

    • Susan M. says:

      I agree with you.

    • John says:

      What are you speculating is missing?

    • Nadia says:

      I agree Ruth, it does seem like an important piece, perhaps pieces of this story are missing. Mark’s friend’s actions are rather passionate for a platonic friendship. Regardless, telling someone to “go to hell”, that they want a 1 year break, after which time possibly a reconciliation, and finally refusing to talk except for a threat to call the police if you go near them equates to one dead and buried friendship. Drama, drama, drama. No one needs that. Don’t dig up the dead Mark. Morn and move on.

  8. Amy F says:

    Your former friend no longer wants to be your friend. She’s told you in no uncertain terms. You must respect her boundaries and let her go. This is the same advice I’d give whether she was male or female. Friendships are voluntary relationships and she has opted out. She sees you as a threat who is stalking her. I’m sorry that she hasn’t given you reasons that feel satisfactory for closure. If it helps, try to think about how she would be telling this story from her POV so you can see that she obviously has a different POV than you. Move on. Focus on your other relationships. Seek professional counseling if you can’t let go, but whatever you do, DO NOT contact her. Good luck.

    • Maddie says:

      I’m sure she has a side to this story and it includes this person being way too invested in her and making her feel creepy.

      • Amy F says:

        You are probably right.

        • DarleneH says:

          Creepy and stalking are very value laden, inflammatory words with real potential to hurt. Irene gave Mark the message that he needs to move on, but she did it without value judgement. Honesty with empathy and all that…

  9. Salstarat says:

    Your friend’s inexplicable reaction to you after so many years of friendship is rather strange. It seems that she harbours some grudge against you for something you may have done or said or NOT done or said. Perhaps she was wanting more out of the relationship that you were not prepared to give and she is now angry at you for not recognising the “signals”. Alternatively, she may have a boyfriend in her life that does NOT tolerate platonic friendships with other boys and has applied pressure to her to break off your friendship. You could send her some flowers with a little note to say that you valued her friendship and that your door is always OPEN should she need your support at any time in the future and let her know that you will leave the NEXT move up to her. Either way, it seems apparent that this friendship is OVER and you will need to move on. If she is now threatening to get the police involved if she feels you are stalking her, I would certainly advise that if you do decide to hold out the Olive Branch by sending her the flowers and letter that you do NOT contact her again after that last gesture. Sometimes people float in and out of your life for a purpose: they need YOU to support them for a short time; you need THEM to love and support for awhile; you share some great times and good memories together and then, very often, you end up growing apart and moving on in your separate directions. Thousands of people will cross your path during your life, only a handful of the BEST of them stay – they are the ones you should really value. Put this relationship down to experience, learn from it and move on. Good luck.

    • Pixie says:

      Your friend, is real clear as hard as it is to accept, if you continue to pursue her, you could look like a stalker, move on, its over, 🙁 trying to just move on, you do not want to look like a creeper stalker do ya? that is how it could look :(….move on.

    • Maddie says:

      Sending flowers and notes is the WRONG answer. She wants nothing to do with him.

      • John says:

        Refusing to resolve things and end the relationship a year earlier but promising to meet and reconcile at the end of a year is not the way to end a relationship.

        She is stringing the guy along and giving him serious false expectations.

        • Jared says:

          I disagree with your assessment, John. Telling someone to “go to hell” is not stringing them along. The fact that they talked about the “frequency” of their interactions is a huge red flag. It sounds like this girl felt strangled and was desperate for a way out but didn’t want to hurt Mark’s feelings. If Mark cannot see that requesting a year off from a friendship indicates a MAJOR problem, he obviously has trouble reading social cues.

          In fact, this situation reminds me of a guy friend I once knew. We were acquaintances with similar interests, and so I decided to give him my phone number so we could hang out.

          The next day I got home from work late and my answering machine was full with no memory left. When I played the messages, they were all from that one guy. It turns out that he did not have a full time job and called me as soon as he woke up and proceeded to leave me messages all day that were progressively hostile until he said he wanted to fight me if I didn’t respect him enough to call him back right away. Again, this was all in a 24 hour period.

      • Jared says:

        Again, I agree with Maddie. With ALL the information we have, this lady does not want flowers. The suggestion itself is worrisome.

        • Salstarat says:

          Worrisome? That is a bit paranoid .. it is only a parting gesture to reach out the olive branch. It is better to part as friends and the flowers sent with a nice letter saying “I’m sorry if I offended you, have a nice life” is inoffensive provided he does NOT make any further attempt to contact her personally. He could finish the letter by saying that he will NOT contact, phone or see her again and that he wishes her well for the future … end of story without any bitterness on his side and leaving the door open if SHE decides to renew the friendship in future. Mind you, if I was in HIS shoes, I would be glad to be rid of her.

          • Jared says:

            Salstartat, after someone threatens to call the police, no further contact should be made–NONE whatsoever. In a perfect world, people would give you the reason they don’t want to be friends, but it’s almost never the case.

            Many people with boundaries issues often think they will cut contact after one more try. Then one more try. Then one more….The flowers advice only feeds into this cycle.

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