• Handling Breakups

Feeling guilty after a sudden breakup with college roommate

Published: January 24, 2012 | Last Updated: September 4, 2014 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading
A friend who is dumped without any warning asks how to assuage her guilt.


Dear Irene,

While I was in college I decided to room with one of my really good friends that I had made at school. Things seemed to go great that year and I felt that we had become really close. However, near the end of that school year she suddenly left for home and refused to take my calls.

When I finally was able to talk with her about it, she said that I had been mean to her throughout the year and that I was doing things to purposely upset her. I told her I never had done anything to intentionally upset her and that I wished she had confronted me about any issues she had earlier so we could have addressed them. Although we “made-up,” it was never the same between us.

After graduation I’ve tried to keep in touch through social media, but she seems uninteresting in continuing a friendship with me. I have tried telling her my feelings directly and apologizing profusely, but it seems that she refuses to forgive me. At this point I have given up trying since I cannot force her to forgive me, but I am still plagued with guilt. I also feel like some of the mutual friends we had in college have also decided to no longer talk to me as well.

Do you have any tips on how to move past this?  Is it normal for me to feel such guilt all the time?

Signed, Jessica


Dear Jessica,

I’m not sure exactly what you said or did, intentionally or unintentionally, that might have upset your friend. Here are a few things to think about:

  • When you spoke to your friend, did she have any concrete examples of how you were mean or what you did to upset her? Did you think her points were valid?
  • I’m also unclear about why your roommate suddenly left school. Did she complete the semester? Could something have happened that had nothing to do with you?

Given these ambiguities, I hesitate to comment because I have no sense whether you have any reason to feel guilty or not. In any case,  it sounds like your former friend has a hard time communicating directly, both while she was accumulating anger at you and now. It’s always better to discuss little problems before they snowball into big ones—and it’s harder to respond to a litany of complaints than only one.

If you do think you really were unfair to her and apologized profusely, there is probably nothing further you can do to resurrect your friendship. If you didn’t do anything wrong, don’t blame yourself for something that may have had little to do with you. Also, this problem—as you explain it—was between you and your roommate. Try to learn from whatever happened, put it behind you, don’t attempt to contact her through social media, and remain friends with the mutual friend or friends at college to whom you feel closest.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene


Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about communication in friendships:

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why, but your early to mid 20’s, for females, seems fraught with friendship troubles. I think most women are just trying to find their way in life and figure out who they are and sometimes they can be downright cruel to others during this time, all in the name of ‘selfish’ survival. (not REAL survival, but socially speaking).

    I had my former best friend from college, whom I roomed with too, do the exact same thing to me and then sway others to her side. (The real reason for her dumping me was because she wanted my hotter, richer boyfriend and she just couldn’t steal him away, so she ended the friendship). But, it was best. Almost 10 years later, the ones she swayed to her side don’t have anything to do with her now either and I don’t have anything in common with her now, so our friendship would’ve just died off anyway by now.

    Keep your head up. Better friends are headed your way!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    This girl made you feel guilty by telling you that you did stuff to hurt her. But by not discussing it with you, she ensured that she didn’t have to justify why she got upset or allow you to explain or defend yourself. In the end, it’s manipulative. You’re left feeling guilty and taking the blame when you don’t even know if you did anything wrong. She took away her friendship without giving you a say – stop blaming yourself and blame her.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If your other friends are also pulling away from you, perhaps you are doing or saying things that irritate them without knowing it. If you know anyone who will be absolutely honest with you, then ask for brutally frank feedback about your behavior and communication style, and see if there is anything you are doing that is driving people away. If not, then it’s OK to not get along with everybody – no one is universally liked.

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