Friendship and agreeing to disagree

Published: April 25, 2010 | Last Updated: April 25, 2010 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading


Dear Irene

My girlfriend of 15 years and I got into a heated discussion that escalated into her walking out on me while we were in a restaurant. It was obvious that we were at loggerheads on a topic about which we had opposing views. Her style is to leave, not speak, and avoid contact until she simmers down. This has taken her days, months or even a period of years with other friends in the past. She seems to pride herself on how long she doesn’t speak to someone.


Her friendship is extremely valuable to me although I find her behavior unacceptable. My style is to "agree to disagree" and move forward with the relationship. At 47, I’ve been through two strokes, a craniotomy and other significant maladies. My friendships are coveted, deep and cherished.


I left her a message, stating that I valued our friendship, I would like to "agree to disagree" move forward and also, that I did not appreciate her walking out on me. At this juncture in time I’m not sure how to proceed if at all. She is supposed to transport me to a critical hospital appointment in four days. I’m not sure that I should reach out to her or just make other arrangements.


The person who cuts off communication should be the one to reestablish it. However, knowing full well that each person has her own style, sometimes it takes the more educated or ‘bigger’ person to skillfully put more effort into rectifying the situation.



Hi Beverly,

From what you said, it takes a while for your friend to simmer down after a blow up. Since you have an important medical appointment coming up in a few days, I think you need to focus on that first. Given what has happened, ask your friend point blank about whether she is stilling planning to go with you. If she doesn’t respond right away or answers negatively, make other arrangements.


In friendship, there aren’t any hard and fast rules about who should be first to apologize. If you value the friendship, you should have no qualms about being the first to offer the olive branch. But you don’t need any more stress than necessary on that day so think about whether you’ll really feel comfortable with her.


Even though your friendship has been long-standing, take some time to assess whether it is still viable. One of the most important foundations of a friendship is mutual respect. When that is gone, a relationship begins to sour. You seem to value your shared history but maybe this friendship no longer lends itself to being "deep" because the two of you don’t have respect one another. If she tends to fly off the handle, is she really someone whom you can trust with your feelings? Perhaps, you should downgrade the intensity of this relationship to an acquaintance and see her less often.


First things first, however: I hope everything goes well at the hospital!

My best,

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  1. Irene says:

    Hi Tricia,

    Your circumstances sound diffiult but you seem to be a resourceful and resilient person. Unfortunately, so many people just "don’t get it" when it comes to brain disorders so I know how isolating it can feel.


    The Epilepsy Foundation sponsors a network of support groups as well as online forums. It may be helpful to see if you can hook up with other people there. Their website also offers some coping tips and may be able to help you identify transportation resources. You can try reaching them at 1-800-332-1000. Perhaps, just as important, they can remind you that you are not alone!


    Warmest wishes, Irene











  2. Tricia says:

    Dear Irene,

    Thank you for your salient advice. Not to swell a diatribe, however, I wrote to you with much consternation. As a result of the craniotomy I suffered Grand Mal seizures for 3 years. My immediate family has disintegrated in the last four years due to untimely deaths. With my critical illness, precipitous drop in income and loss of driving privileges I rely on my friends frequently for support. Given that my medical conditions are “not” discernable to the human eye it’s difficult for others to “see” a picture of a disabled person. Visualize a picture of the kickboxing instructor with blonde hair in a ponytail, that’s me. She(my friend)works with individuals with disabilities which translates into ease of understanding my situation from her viewpoint. The underpinnings of exhaustion lie within verbal explanation to the lay public and other friends not in the medical field. Succinctly, she gets it!

    Believing that we are the architect of our own successes, passions and achievements in life; I see myself as a success storey. Ascertaining a lucrative position after the evolution of those years digging myself out of a hole, I’m faced with another unforeseen medical condition which requires transportation. Crafting an algorithm for my appointments and not having one person shoulder the responsibility is challenging. Subsequently, my situation now.

    Your sagacity is lucid, well defined and I will execute it promptly. Thanks for the immediate response,


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