• Other Friendship Advice

An almost-perfect Internet friendship blows up

Published: January 7, 2014 | By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
Feeling insecure can lead to desperation and bad friendship decisions.


Hi Dr. Levine,

I am suffering a fractured friendship with a person who had known me inside out, because ours had been as close, intense and trusting as any Internet friendship can be.

She started our friendship by setting up a website for me years ago, because she said she had been an admirer of mine for years and saw my online appeal for assistance in that area. From that point I was so thrilled that someone took such an interest in me!

We went on to share each other’s sorrows and joys, intimate issues that we didn’t share so in-depth with others. I’m an introvert, shy, and am in the process of being screened for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I’ve had a lifelong history of being unable to make or keep friends that are reciprocal. I do have “pen pals” who are developmentally disabled, and I have a regular phone relationship with one of them, and another calls me on occasion. Aside from that, I have no friends currently, in the sense of reciprocal friendships.

D, my estranged friend, and I, would sometimes have misunderstandings and arguments, and I felt that I couldn’t say anything right to her. D never feared confronting me when she was unhappy with me, but I feared letting her know when my feelings were hurt, because I felt she was easily set off, thanks to her very bad childhood.

It all exploded on me when I expressed being upset with her because I felt left out because she was spending time all that week supporting a very needy person on Facebook as well as taking long phone calls from M. The confrontation got ugly. I found I was unfriended on Facebook by her, removed from a Facebook group, and that she locked me out of my website.

I was devastated and am still hurt! I dream of D and of our friendship. She invades my thoughts. I pray for her and for myself. A month ago, she showed up on Skype and was in attack mode, and though I tried to apologize, it was not good enough for her. She also took a polite remark I made as a “trigger” and accused me of triggering her, like I was doing it on purpose.

Now, it appears that she has deleted my entire website off her server, as I can’t load it at all. Thanks to lack of transportation, a controlling family situation, and my situation, and my insecurities, this fractured friendship feels like the death of a loved one, or a divorce.

I’m still the caring, supportive, honest, ethical person that inspired D to set up that now removed website for me, but now I’m being defined by isolated comments that I know were out of line and that I wish that I had never made. I fear that I had come off as one of those “toxic emotional vampires” to D that I read about here. I’m trying to focus on helping, caring for and supporting people, and getting closure for myself, but D keeps invading my thoughts.

Signed, Mara


Hi Mara,

I can understand how devastated you would be to have placed so much trust in this individual and to find out that your faith in her was so misplaced. It sounds like D is a pretty hot-tempered and vindictive person. Not only did you lose a friend but you lost a website and a Facebook group that must have had a great deal of meaning to you, too. How upsetting this all had to be!

From your report, it sounds like this friendship was pretty imperfect all along. Even though D hurt your feelings repeatedly, you chose to give her a “pass” (excusing it as a consequence of her bad childhood). Perhaps, because you were so desperate for this friendship—as well as for D’s approval—you made the mistake of holding back and not expressing your feelings or standing up for yourself many other times when you should have.

Maybe you did say something you shouldn’t have, or acted too possessive or needy. But given how privy D was to your insecurities and vulnerabilities, it was heavy-handed of her to lash out at you in this way.

While this feels like a terrible blow right now, you need to reframe it as a learning experience. I believe you are a  “caring, supportive, honest and ethical person” and that you deserve the same from your friends. In a healthy, supportive friendship, you should be able to let someone know when you are feeling hurt or demeaned so that it doesn’t all spill out at once.

Hope this helps a bit.

My best, Irene

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Comments (3)

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  1. Aimee Lauren says:

    just wanted to let ppl know that if you
    are lonely and resort to friendship/dating sites
    plz be careful there are ppl :tjat prey on lonely ppl
    i tried it once and it was not good a guy
    pretended he understood then found he was telling all all his friends
    oir conversations!
    also joined an online support group for emotional abuse and i was just surfing the internet and there it was a very personal post i had posted in the group I emaled the site and thankfully that link and post on the web were deleted and i was removed from the group
    just be careful plz:)

  2. Peter says:

    Dear Mara,

    I am so sorry to know that you are going through such a shocking and hurtful break-up. It sounds to me as though this was a very close friendship for you, and that D became a central part of your life, somebody who understood your experiences and your world. It is natural that you would become very fond of her, and that the connection which the two of you shared would become very precious to you.

    I cannot imagine how hurtful it must be to discover that she had deleted an entire website devoted to you! If I were in your position, this would feel like an extremely personal attack, even if she had not intended it in this way. I am not surprised at all to hear that you are still deeply shaken by all of this, and that you even dream about her; your description of this loss as being like a bereavement or a divorce speaks volumes, and you have my sincere sympathy, you really do.

    I came to this blog because I am going through an experience which is almost identical to yours in many ways, and your story was one of the first which I read. I can relate to everything which you wrote very well, and I am so, so sorry to know that you are feeling the same misery, anxiety, self-doubt and fear which I am currently feeling. Please treat yourself very well, and know that you are a caring, honest, kind and ethical person who will know happier times in the future. I hope that each of our situations resolves in the healthiest possible way for us!

    Kind wishes,


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Irene,

    Thank you for being so kind as to reply to my note to you! Currently, this person and I have not had any communication. I still emotionally swing back and forth between yearning to mend matters between us, and knowing that we would very likely deal with the same issues that fractured this friendship in the first place. Much of the whole problem is that our interactions, being carried out via the Internet for the most part, had lacked the benefit of nonverbal communication. You know that most of our communication is nonverbal; one of my daughter’s past teachers said 96 percent. Yes, I can see the fracturing from her point of view (due to her details of her life situation that I can’t share)and that is why my emotions still see-saw. But with time and distance, healing should come. 🙂

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