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A Woman Asks How To End A Very Long Friendship

Published: October 9, 2021 | By | 24 Replies Continue Reading

There’s no easy way to end a long friendship; it becomes more complicated when husbands are involved.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I have a very close friend that I have known for 18 years. We have never had a fight or disagreement over that time. I think this is because I have a go-with-the-flow personality and let lots of things roll off my back. I try to keep a positive attitude. We would talk at least two times a day every day, went on vacations together, and her husband did things with my husband as well as us doing couple dates.

Throughout the friendship, she asked me to help in many ways. one example: Our girls went to school together and she would ask me to give rides home to her daughter, stepdaughter, and another girl that she agreed to carpool with. This was not a problem until it became a habit, not to mention I had to take all three girls to three different homes.

When she would return the favor she would take my daughter to her house and ask me to pick her up there. I finally realized that I was allowing her to take advantage of my friendship and started saying, “No, I can’t help you out.”

Second example: She invited herself and her daughter to stay in a hotel with my daughter and me. She told me they had a place to stay but that lots of drama was going on with her daughter’s friends and she didn’t want her daughter to stay in the same house with the other girls. The next thing I knew, she had invited herself and her daughter to stay in our hotel. She also had the nerve to say, “OK, I will pay for gas and go in half on groceries (as if that covered the cost of them staying with us). When I asked her for half of the hotel cost, her response was that she would pay for gas for the trip home and that would make us even.

She and her husband always ask to use our lake house in the summer but then make negative comments about the rules that we have for using our home and she doesn’t follow them. When I bring this to her attention she puts the blame on one of her family members that stayed with them at the house. Since that time, I now tell her that my family will be using the house more often over the summer but then she makes comments that we have not invited her and her husband to stay with us. I then let her know that we have invited a few of my family members and that she is more than welcome to pop a tent up outside but she said she can’t sleep on the ground because it hurts her back.

Over the last three years, I’ve reached my limit in allowing her to take advantage of my husband. me and our kindness. But because my husband is friends with her husband, he asked me to not bring up everything that is bothering me about our friendship because he thinks it could make things turn out bad for all four of us.

The last example: My husband and I bought a new house. She wanted to know what the moving plans were so she and her husband could help. But when it came to the moving day, we didn’t hear from them. A few weeks after we moved, she and her husband had decided to sell their house before having another one to move into. She made it a point to tell me that she was packing without any help from anyone but then would post comments on Facebook thanking different friends for all the help. I was not able to help her due to getting our house in order as well as helping my dad out with his illness. She also went out of her way to tell me that her other friend didn’t want to see her and her husband in the street with no place to live and that her family would be moving into her friend’s basement and could stay as long as they needed to. My response was “Great, I am glad she is able to help you guys out.”

This leads me to where I am now. I have chosen to put distance between us. I make excuses for not doing things with her. I got to the point that I didn’t answer her calls or would tell her that my phone was not working (which was the case for a short time). There were many times that she would tell me that she was concerned about me and I played it off that it was my hormones. The last time we spoke she said, “Well, I know I haven’t done anything wrong.” This would have been the perfect time to express my feelings but I was trying to respect my husband’s wishes to not tell her how I’ve felt about so many things over the years.

She still calls or sends me texts once a week. I don’t call her back or even respond. Today she dropped a birthday gift off at my door for my daughter and me. I don’t want the gift or anything from her. She has called my sister and another close friend of mine (The friend she called is someone that she doesn’t even like) asking them questions about me. I am done with allowing her to take advantage of our friendship.

There are many more examples that explain why I am at the place I am with this friendship but I think you get the idea. I am the type of person that when pushed to a certain limit, I am done. There is a part of me that feels like, after this long friendship, she deserves an answer to why I want to end this friendship. On the other hand, she never thinks she does anything wrong. I have thought about seeking counsel over this but I have decided that I just need to move on without being friends.

My husband has a hard time accepting that I want to end the friendship. I feel that even if I did decide to tell her how I have been feeling over the years, I am okay with not continuing the friendship. I feel like our friendship isn’t balanced and I feel smothered by her. It is to the point that I get anxious when her name comes up. I don’t want to allow any person to have that control over me. I am open to any advice that you can give. Thanks.

Signed, Randi

ANSWER

Hi Randi,

You probably deserve an endurance award for staying in this relationship as long as you have! Not everyone would be willing to persevere with a controlling friend who is unwilling to respect boundaries.

My guess is that at this point, it would be virtually impossible to try to change the way your friend treats you. So I understand your wanting to ease out of the friendship.

Your husband’s desire to remain friends with her husband does complicate this situation. Does he expect you to maintain a relationship as a couple? Given how clear you feel about ending this friendship, I think you need to tell your husband that you aren’t going to rock the boat by confronting this friend about past misdemeanors but you have no interest in getting together with her, either as an individual or as a couple.

It’s never easy to end a long friendship, especially if the decision to end it is one-sided.

Given the length of the friendship and your husband’s relationship with her husband, it would make it easier for everyone if you let her know explicitly that you’ve had a hard time with the relationship for many years, and just feel you need to step back. Tell her that it has more to do with you than it does with her. Don’t go into details or offer examples.

It sounds like you’ve learned a great deal about yourself from this long friendship and will be more vocal in the future to avoid getting trapped in similar situations.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Coping with loneliness, HANDLING BREAKUPS, How to break up

Comments (24)

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  1. Lucy says:

    Our culture tries to teach people that they should confront others when they’ve been hurt so that the other party understands what happened, why their friend/colleague/family member has been avoiding them. This might work if everyone was mature enough to self-reflect, but really, most people are unable to take what feels like a slap in the face, maturely.

    I have, on a number of occasions, tried to gently tell one person or the other that “I felt hurt because… blah blah” or “I know it’s my fault for being too sensitive, I have to work on that, but I felt embarrassed because you said… blah blah” hoping that they’d also accept their own responsibility in the situation. In literally every one of the cases the person went on the defensive and got all mad at ME because I explained that my feelings were hurt. Then the situation turned into a full-blown stress-filled weeks-of-gossip clusterf*ck mess.

    I take these kinds of things very hard. Having someone blow back at me for trying to explain something in the nicest way possible keeps me up at night, causes me not to be able to function, do my work, etc. So in my 50s, what I have taken from life is that just keep your mouth shut and try to subtly withdraw from people that cause continual stress in your life. Yeah, that sucks, I know, but some people are not equipped to deal with people’s severe reactions.

  2. vicki says:

    Hi Randi i do not understand how grown adults end up having no where to stay and why they would think you should take care of them that is just rude tell you husband how you feel and respect of course his friendship with her husband but you are right it is just to stressful for you to deal with her anymore you just have different view on how to treat a friend and you are right and she is rude pushy and tries to push her respondiablity on you do not feel guilty or bad for respecting your self you are worth kindness and consideration from friends good luck randi

  3. T says:

    Hi Randi,

    From my experience it doesnt matter if its a long standing friendship or a new one, people who are users come in many forms.You friend is an outright user and manipulator. She is doing these kind of things to get what she wants from people,you wont be the only one she does it to.We dont need permission or to even give an explanation about the fact we are looking after ourselves by withdrawing from any relationship, when we are being abused.Its your life,you only get one and you choose who is in it and who isnt.This woman knows exactly what shes doing and shes very rude,with no care for her friends.People like this we just have to cut them off as they dont understand what they do isnt right.Users are sometimes seasoned people experienced in the art or manipulation and when one person doesnt provide they just find another victim.It would be actually inappropriate for the husbands to remain friends as it will be awkward anyway.Its inevitable they will be ending their relationship and rightfully so.Your husband needs to show his support and realise that her husband is also responsible for the using behavier too,by going along with his wife and not respecting your holiday home wishes, and the constant rude requests to impose on you and your family.He is naive in not realising this.

    Good on you for getting away from her.Dont go back,she wont change and is a really disrespectful rude person that you dont need or want in your life. No point in continuing anything with her.You will not be losing anything by ditching her.Dont worry she will find another victim soon.

  4. Christie says:

    Randi, I have some experience with this situation. I had a long-time friend whose husband was close friends with my husband. I decided to end the friendship when the woman made it clear I was always going to be the “last available option” when it came to getting together or what have you. She’d make plans with me and have no problems calling to cancel the moment something else came along. I had enough of being hurt. I talked to my husband and got feelers from him on his friendship with the couple. He agreed with me that the woman was treating me poorly, but he liked the husband and wanted to keep up that friendship. So the next time the woman sent me an email to cancel our plans to go on an out-of-town shopping trip because her neighbor just invited them for dinner that same day, I sent her a carefully worded response with lots of I statements. I was hurt by the constant cancellation of plans. I was tired of feeling like I was just a place holder until something else came along. I felt that my friendship was no longer important to her. I felt it was the best option for me to end our friendship. My feelings were my own, I said, and the situation between us should not ever come between our husbands. Of course, the next time the guys got together, it was all about how I hurt the other woman’s feelings. My husband had my back, but also said, “This is between them, not us. If you feel like we can’t be friends, so be it, but I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t have a problem with you or your wife.” The men have remained friendly for the 12 years since this happened. The friendship isn’t as close as it once was, in part because I won’t do things with them as couples and because of some of their behaviors, but it didn’t end.

  5. Salstarat says:

    Randi, you were right to dump this person. She is a serial manipulative narcissist and “USER” who is incapable of making anyone happy. This type of person’s first priority is to themselves. Cast her out of your life .. she does not deserve a good friend like you.

  6. Denise says:

    Over 18 years bad situations can easily and slowly build up to the point where the scales tip towards “That’s enough!”

    On hindsight, if you had addressed each problem as it came up and highlighted why you were uncomfortable or unhappy, maybe after several times she would have realized and accepted her errors and taken you seriously. After each brush off, I’d have said, “No, really I’m serious. This is a problem. I don’t like this.” Bring up discrepancies and contradictory behavior so she doesn’t keep thinking everything’s ok. It’s best to communicate in the moment, as far as possible, that there’s a problem. Also, I have NO problem saying I can’t afford something. Your husband is putting you in an awkward situation by pretending everything’s ok as you are visibly unavailable, vague, etc.
    I definitely would keep stepping back and if she really presses for an explanation give a summary of past years.

  7. What a sad way to end a friendship, feeling as if you have been used for so long. I wish I could offer some helpful advice but it seems like such an unhappy situation.

  8. DJ says:

    Firstly yes it does sound like this friend has taken advantage. I agree with Taz about having a conversation with this friend about how it’s been for you. Work out what is and isn’t acceptable to you so you can be clear aviut this, And firstly chatting to your husband about this.
    With your husband’s wishes to,maintain a friendship with the husband especially if the friendship ends chat about how this can happen. How would it be if the situaion was reversed and your husband didn’t want you to maintain a friendship with your female friend because he doesn’t wish to see her husband. Of course this doesn’t mean that you don’t have see someone you don’t wish to see. It can your husband see her husband on his own?

  9. Lucy says:

    Totally understand how you feel. I’ve had former friends that can do no wrong. She even asserted this to you, which is pretty nervy and tells you where she is coming from. It is a total waste of time reasoning with people like this, and could just muddy the waters. It sounds like you have valid reasons to be done anyway. Keep the boundaries up. You owe people like this absolutely nothing. Life is too short for tiresome friendships. She has had little regard for your feelings and those people just need to go.

  10. lottie says:

    Yes it could be tricky dumping her. I agree with Taz that there are 3 sides to a story.

    You are quick to mention bad things about this friend. To throw away 18 years of friendship seems hasty.Nobody on earth is all bad, all of the time.What good turns has she done for you in 18 years?

    You have moved home and will no doubt be busy. Your friends have sold their home. Are they planning to move closer to you or further away? Most certainly wait to hear where they plan to go. She might dump you accidentally if they move 200 miles away.Then your problem will be solved.

    What is the point of falling out with an old friend for no really good reason.I agree with your husband.

    Losing friendships is so unnecessary. Accept the gifts graciously and explain kindly that you are slightly stressed with moving home. Her time will come. So bite your tongue a little longer.Best wishes. Lottie

    • Linda says:

      Your comment here reminds me of something I forgot to mention in my earlier post today. While I agree that people should put some thought into ending longtime friendships, and to give friends a second and third chance, I also think it’s important to admit that sometimes people change, relationships change, and circumstances change — and not always for the better. Does this mean we must hang on to every old relationship we’ve ever had, no matter how we are treated?

      I hope I continue to grow and change and improve my relationships…. Or else remove myself from the ones that cause me stress and harm. Of course, we should be kind to each other, but we shouldn’t be expected to put up with treatment that goes against our better judgment.

      • JBA says:

        Linda, I love ur last paragraph, u r growing, changing and improving relationships and remove the ones that cause harm or are toxic! Just becuz it’s a long relationship doesn’t mean it’s healthy for u. It means uve most likely given this person many chances to grow and be a healthy mutually beneficial relationship.

    • MARGARET says:

      Losing certain friendship is absolutely necessary when one is already in a state of anxiety.

  11. Maddie says:

    Any friend who blew off the rules of my guest house would be told that was their one and only chance to mess up or there would be no more stays.

    I’ve been asked on more than one occasion to share a hotel room I’ve booked for myself or my family and the answer has always been “that won’t work because my privacy is very important to me.”

    When we’ve been taken advantage of, we have been a partner to it. Once I accepted that, I’m polite, but it doesn’t happen anymore. No is not a rude response.

  12. LauraSL says:

    It sounds like you let your resentments build up for years and reached a breaking point. It’s too bad, because if you had said something sooner, possibly the relationship wouldn’t be at this unfortunate crossroads now. Of course hindsight is 20/20.

    I would tell her that you need some time to yourself and like Irene said, take a step back. This way you can give yourself some time to see if she respects your wishes and if there’s any hope for the future. Good luck and let us know what happens.

  13. Meera says:

    Hi Randi,
    I came across your post as I am facing a similar situation with a long friendship. We were great friends to begin with and our families also hung out with each other. But after a few years, things started changing as our lives evolved differently. I started feeling smothered and used. My friend had no respect for my space and would compare herself with me all the time. She would make me feel guilty and portray herself to be a moral and kind person while according to her I was being elusive and not a great friend. I kept my distance from her by not taking her calls and ignoring her messages. But whenever I thought the storm had subsided she would come back with a different angle and disrespect my boundaries. I am enforcing even stronger boundaries than before while trying to be kind and this has been the hardest thing for me to do. Keep your boundaries and don’t go on the guilt trip. Try to attain that peaceful medium wherein if you connect there is room only for positive energy and experience. It is very hard to achieve, but a great life lesson and skill. Don’t make her the manager of your life.

  14. Suzyq says:

    Hi Randi,

    What a shame your longtime friend has not shared the kindness and goodwill you have shared with her and her family. I think sometimes in friendships the relationship starts out on a very equal give and take but over time developed into one friend taking more than is fair and becoming a “user”. Some people think if they can take it they will and call it even.

    I personally think confronting this friend may potentially cause difficulty with your husband seeming a little bit unsympathetic or not wanting to lose a friendship with your friend’s spouse. She may be aware of this too and using to her advantage possibly?…

    Even though she is the responsible one for the negative actions, she is forcing the responsibility to stop the behaviour, address it as your problem.

    My suggestion is to be vague on your plans, very vague, limit contact to absolutely necessary. Change the subject when speaking if she wants favours. Make sure you have other plans and are otherwise unable to help her out time-wise, as your plans will never fit in with hers. For instance saying you have to stop on way back from trip to go to doctor and not sure how long you will so no you can’t give a lift to her daughter. You need to go grocery shopping or shopping for something urgent afterwards.

    Don’t volunteer any information, perhaps if your daughter is caught up as well try to be a little bit evasive with plans as so you don’t put her in an awkward position, or tell her you may need to stop on way home but not sure. Or you could put it another way and say you want to take your daughter out for a milkshake / coffee to have a chat or spend some mother / daughter time or pick up another child in your family that is more out of the way, making impossible to help her. Vagueness and elusiveness will do the job. Best of luck.

    • Linda says:

      I think this is good advice. Makes a lot of sense.

    • Taz says:

      This sounds like game-playing to me. It’s avoiding addressing the problem to avoid confrontation and honest dialogue. It sounds harsh, but I think it’s dishonest and actually somewhat cowardly.

  15. Linda says:

    Randi, I think we can all relate to the issue of feeling “used” or taken for granted in some of our friendships. I agree with the advice given by both Irene and Amy F. You need to keep your own boundaries in place and respect them. This friend appears to be taking advantage of your friendship, and I see where you’re faced with a dilemma. Your husband isn’t supporting the way you feel about this relationship — whether he sees the many problems or not. That alone is an additional stress on the whole problem.

    Friendship is a gift — not a prison sentence. It’s my belief that when I sense there is a problem, or see a real problem, in any friendship, it’s important to pay attention to those feelings. That’s an inner “alert” that there is something that needs to be considered, or corrected in some way. If I were in an abusive or loveless marriage, for instance, I would make an effort to change it. So why would I put up with any form of abuse from a friend?

    I would continue to talk over this problem with your husband — but don’t lose sight of the fact that you have a right to distance yourself from any friendship that makes you feel mistreated or stressed out. Like Amy F said, you cannot be your best self in a friendship with so much “negative energy.”

  16. Taz says:

    Of course hearing your side of the story makes it seem very cut and dry, and for you it seems to be. But I have seen so many times that there are at least 3 sides to any story (yours, theirs, and the “truth” in between). If the other woman told “her side” of the story it might appear quite differently from her POV. I am still surprised at how often I’m convinced 1 way until I hear the other side and then moderate or even change my mind.

    Whether or not, I advocate kindness. Having a teenage daughter (and seeing so many sad and painful posts here and elsewhere) when someone you consider a “friend” suddenly withdraws, ditches you, turns away, ignores you, without explanation, it is very painful. There may be good reasons, but the “dumpee” may genuinely not understand the problem and be deeply confused and hurt.

    I hate those situations where miscommunication leads to so much heartache and pain which could easily have been dealt with thru a short conversation. I HIGHLY recommend the book “Crucial Conversations” for guidance on how to deal with having these types of discussions. It has helped me so much at work and in personal situations.

    You might even find that “clearing the air” not only makes you feel better, but it could even salvage something of your relationship with your “friend”.

    (P.S. You could practice your “Crucial Conversation” skills on your husband when you discuss what you want/don’t want with your couple-friend relationships).

    • Salstarat says:

      Taz, despite what you say about being THREE sides to every story, the fact remains is that it is HER reality and the relationship she is having with this woman is proving negative and hurtful! Sometimes it is just better to remove negative, selfish people from your life and move on. Trying to overlook constant negativity in order to hang on (with bloodstained fingers) to a so-called, one-way “friendship” that does nothing to improve your self-worth or is non-reciprocal, just isn’t worth the effort and heartbreak in the long run. MOVE ON … life is too short.

  17. Ben says:

    I see that you are making pro-active decisions to already do exactly what you intend to do so if you’re looking for validation you got it from me. The best way to communicate to someone you don’t want in your life is to simply not respond and maintain that path. Over time they will get the idea. It will die a natural death. Everyone has the right to pursue happiness in a way that makes sense to them. We don’t need permission from anyone to take good care of ourselves. Glad for you to recognize “emotionally draining people.” Grace killers!!! People do what people do. We do train people how to treat us. Good self-esteem goes head long in maintaining happiness. Keep on keepin on…

  18. Amy F says:

    Hi Randi. I like Irene’s suggestion saying you want to take a step back from the friendship, focus on yourself, not hurt by using “I” statements so that you don’t put her on the defensive. “I haven’t been assertive about my boundaries and I need step away from our friendship. This is about me, please respect my boundaries.” It really is about you, even though she sounds like a very challenging person. Relationships where I’m always having to maintain boundaries, rather than those that flow organically, feel unsatisfactory and exhausting to me. I’m not able to be my best self with friendships that take so much negative energy.

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