Downgrading a disappointing friendship

Published: May 17, 2009 | Last Updated: May 19, 2009 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading



I have been struggling over this issue for so long and do not know what to do. I am 37 years old and have had a close friendship with a girl since second grade. Since then, we have been BFFs. After 7th grade I moved away, but we stayed connected and visited each other. I moved back about ten years ago, and ended up marrying her husband’s best friend. We both have young children.

Everything was as always until she made a rude and angry comment about a school decision I had made for my youngest child. I stood up for myself and snapped back at the reasons I had chosen this particular school. Maybe it was the fact that I actually stood up for myself and to her (which I never had before) but I didn’t hear from her for the entire summer.

I was devastated. I ended up calling and calling and finally apologizing. She thanked me, and things were okay sometimes, but for the past three years she has never been the same with me. I am always asking her, as friends should, how she is, how her family is, telling her she looks great, etc. but I get nothing in return. It seems one sided, and it is so hard to take because we were so close for all those years. I am broken hearted.

My question is, should I bring up, again how I feel—I have brought it up a few times, and she says she is still uncomfortable around me, and feels I have changed and we have a long talk about that silly argument before—or should I just let it go and stop trying to be her friend, and let the friendship end (which could be difficult as my husband and hers are friends)? Any advice would be much appreciated!



Dear Chloe:

When two friends have such a long shared history and their friendship extends to their families, a breech like the one you have experienced can be very disappointing and upsetting. It sounds like you HAVE changed over time; you’ve matured into someone who is more self-confident and assertive, especially when it comes to knowing what’s best for your own family.

It is somewhat unforgivable that your friend wouldn’t speak to you for an entire summer because you were following your own best instincts about what was best for your child. Perhaps, she was looking for an excuse to step away from the friendship.

It sounds like you given her every opportunity to make amends and for whatever reason—it may be something that has nothing to do with you—she doesn’t feel as comfortable in the relationship as she once did. That has to feel awkward given the ties between your husbands, your kids, and any mutual friends.

At this point, your best option would be to downgrade the friendship to a more casual one. Be friendly, act cordially, but don’t consider her your close friend or have high expectations of intimacy or reciprocity.

Over time, your friend may change her feelings. In the meantime, spend time with other women and try to heal from this hurt. From what you’ve told me, you haven’t done or said anything that you need to feel guilty about. You are lucky to have a friendship that lasted as long as it did but you aren’t alone. Friendships are dynamic and it is not uncommon for many of them to change or drift apart over time.

My best, 




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  1. Anonymous says:

    I understand this scenario as well.

    I have a terrific best friend that I have only known for 5 years. We hit it off immediately and our husbands and families are very friendly.

    Over the past 2 years or so, our friendship has changed, although not sure why. We seem to have more disagreements and arguments, I cant ever seem to say it, do it or think it where it is good enough for her. I am the same person, but feel like Im always offending her somehow…at least that is the interpretation leads me to believe….

    I am at the point where Im wondering if I should try and mend this friendship back again…..we get along for a few weeks, and then argue again, and it takes weeks to get back to the same close place again…seems like alot of work and Im tired of the same old round and round…

    But I love my friend dearly and Im struggling with giving up all the great times we have had and could have…is the pain and work worth it?? When is enough, enough…


  2. Irene says:

    When is enough enough? After you weigh the pros and cons of the relationship and decide it is no longer worthwhile. You are obviously very fond of your friend and there are close ties between your families that make the decision more complicated.

    Can you have an honest discussion with your friend about why you both are having constant disagreements so you can avoid them in the future?

    If not, you need to think of the consequences of ending the friendship. If the decision isn’t clear, can you spend less time with one another for starters?

    One other tip: Make this decision when you aren’t upset and when you’re getting along with one another.


    Hope this is helpful.



  3. Darlene says:

    I have had such similar expierence in the past. I was such a “perfect friend” and never really considered my self or my opinions important. As I matured, especially once I had kids, and was not so willing to let my friends make all my decisions for me, I was met with resistance, disregard even! It was horrible to realize that I had been such a people pleaser that my friends actually ONLY liked me becuase I was so agreeable and even controllable! Today, I am who I am and if another does not accept me that way, then that friendship is not real for me. Friendship is mutual and co creative, not one sided. If you only like me because I do (and even think) what ever you want me to, then there is no mutuality at all.
    Excellent post and I love the comment back from you, Irene.

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