• Keeping Friends

Friendship: Are My Expectations Too High?

Published: November 22, 2013 | Last Updated: April 15, 2021 By | 46 Replies Continue Reading
Sometimes expectations need to be tempered because different people have different styles and approaches to friendship.

QUESTION

Hi,

I would love to know how you define friendship. I want my friendships to be reciprocal, give and take, with honesty of heart, and a willingness to work through the hard stuff. It seems that I am alone with my definition.

I am a huge giver and anticipator of the needs of others. This could come from a very deep need for connection. I don’t have many friends, more acquaintances, but one friend in particular claims to love me but simply does not show it. She feels competitive and cold most of the time, and I end up feeling sad, disappointed and angry that she does not meet my expectations.

We had a beautiful wedding at our home for our daughter recently. She was invited, did not call afterwards to say anything, but sent an odd and heartless email saying, “We thought the wedding was a success, didn’t you?” Period. Nothing else.

I find this odd and cold, yet she was profuse in expressing how beautiful it was to another friend! It feels as though she does not want to express anything heartfelt to me. It’s like I am being punished for some reason. I know this sounds paranoid. I feel that I need to gently wean myself from wanting anything from this person, as I am constantly disappointed and angry.

I feel lonely a good deal of the time because of how I view friendships. If a person does not meet me halfway, color me gone.

Signed,

Leesa

ANSWER

Hi Leesa,

There are many general definitions of friendship going back to the days of Aristotle. In fact, I wrote about some of these in my book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. Yet, each of us defines and sets expectations for our friendships based on our own unique experiences, personality and values. Therefore, your definition of friendship may be different than that of a friend, even a close friend.

It sounds like this particular friend may be less expressive of her emotions and have a more withholding personality than you. She may also be somewhat competitive. Can this friendship survive? One of the truisms about relationships, whether they are between friends or lovers, is that even though you may be able to tinker around the edges, it is extraordinarily difficult to change someone’s basic personality.

In this instance, you can let your friend know you felt bad she wasn’t more enthusiastic about the wedding, which was a major life event for you. She may or may not realize she wasn’t; she may even apologize—but don’t expect her to change the color of her stripes.

A far more reasonable approach would be for you to temper your expectations of her and remind yourself that she is a different person than you.  Then you can decide whether you can accept the terms of the friendship, one that offers some gratifications as well as limitations.

No relationship is perfect and adjusting expectations is part of the “give and take” of forging and keeping friendships. If other people consistently disappoint you, it may be that you need to reset your expectations and not expect any one person to meet all your needs.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (46)

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  1. Emma says:

    Im so happy to come upon this although its from last year and longer. Everyone tells me I have to stop expecting people to do for me as I do for them. I never give expecting something in return. I do it instantaneously because I love to help. But it hurts tremendously when I am in need and no one is there..

    • SabD says:

      Hi Emma- I feel reassured reading your comment knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way. I’ve been through series of friendships where I give unconditionally and genuinely want to help as its my first instinct when I get to know someone needs help. However I too find myself incredibly lonely in my hour of need. I’ve lately even tried expressing my loneliness to a friend and they didn’t seem to understand it empathise. I’ve got to a point in life where I’ve started believing that ‘friendships’ are not something that will ever happen to me.

      • Denise says:

        SabD,

        “I’ve got to a point in life where I’ve started believing that ‘friendships’ are not something that will ever happen to me.”

        This is Exactly what I think 🙁 most days and it’s a struggle letting go of that thought and staying optimistic. The loneliness is really painful some days. Since I sincerely don’t know what’s causing this for me, I’ve realized this problem is too big for me and I leave it in God’s hands and trust he will help me.

  2. caraK says:

    I believe it is essential that we women RAISE our expectations, and never lower expectations. only women are told to lower or temper their expectations– to say that same thing to a man would sound ludicrous in our society. if you want friends who will stick by you in fun times and in challenging time, RAISE your expectations and look for the best people you can find. lowering or tempering your expectations in order to fit in with people who do not match your moral or social code is the sure road to danger and disappointment. I am beginning to realize that keeping friends and family who are not givers but rather takers, or as in the case of your friend who is withholding compliments and encouragement from you—it is when we keep these people in our circle that we find ourselves endlessly spinning our wheels in order to adjust ourselved to their lower moral and social codes…. please do not lower your standards in order to fit in with friends who disappoint you. by keeping them in your life, you’re allowing them to fill a place that a much better happier caring friend can fill. I have always realized this, but only now am I going to act on it. this is after I have spent a year fighting for my life due to a critical medical diagnosis and seeing how many of our so called friends and family turned their backs on dh and me…. I now see that having good caring friends in our lives is essential. I now am mortified that too many of my friendships were with selfish people who only took and never gave. the identifying feature about all of them is, no matter the age, is they all complain when they have to give to something or someone. I am determined to leave behind all those people who turned their backs on us in this great time of need, for they are nothing more than poison to life. I used to think it was just a simple choice, not an ESSENTIAL choice…. I encourage you to try raising your expectations and see what happens. we women have been lowering our expectations all along, and really nothing good comes from that.

    • Rubypumped says:

      YES!! I highly agree with you. It’s despicable that people with the “lower your expectations” mindset would say that those “friends” of yours did nothing wrong and it’s your own fault for having expectations. I found this article during a search trying to understand that point of view, which I have never been able to do! I’m glad to find someone else who put my understanding so eloquently. I have heard people say “the only thing you have the right to expect from your friends is basic respect,” but to them that basically means they don’t actively try to hurt you. Um no, that is what you can expect from acquaintances and strangers! Basic respect toward a friend includes having their best interests at heart and making sacrifices of time and energy when need be! A friend isn’t just someone you don’t hate!

      • caraK says:

        Amen!! Wonderful to read your post, rubyp!!

        • Jessica says:

          Yes!! I agree with both of you, I was also searching for the opposite perspective wondering, am I the one who has the issue? But my only issue is I expect the same from myself as I do from my friends. I had to let go when they knew they were doing things to hurt me, and basically just said… sorry, deal with it. That’s something I expect from a stranger, not a close friend of many years. You’re right, I just need to find the right type of people, good place to start as I am starting a new phase of my life. 🙂

      • Emma says:

        For the first time I am reading what I have felt for so long. Why should I be the one to lower my expectations? When I love, I love unconditionally. I love to put a smile on my friend’s face, dry their tears, encourage them to succeed. I believe in loyalty and integrity. And yet I find that the people I defend, and have dedicated my time to have never done the same for me and it has devastated me… Thank you for reminding me that I should not lower my expectations.. That its not my fault..

        • Sou says:

          Wow. This sums up my feelings exactly. It has been hard finding great “true” friends that would do for me as I do for them. I feel like everyone lives in their own little bubble these days, and feels entitled to unconditional love, respect, and attention from others, but they themselves don’t reciprocate. I also feel most people are very self-centered, and narcissistic. Living their life online or through Facebook. I probably sound bitter, but it comes from a place of sadness really. I know for myself, I was raised to be respectful, kind, caring, thoughtful, selfless, honest, and to have empathy. I always make sure to reach out to my friends to see how they’re doing or if they would like to get together, but after being the one to consistently reach out, I feel as though I’m being taken for granted and it hurts. This is why I’m extremely picky about who I choose to have in my life, because I don’t want to be disappointed and I know what I’m worth. From reading some of these comments, it has made me have hope in the fact that loving and caring people do exist out there. Where or how to find them, I’m not sure.

      • Peegee says:

        Agreed and well said!

      • Matthew says:

        Wow, I’m really shocked at how blind you are to your level of overly high expectations for other human beings. Who are you to demand such things from another person? What have you done for humanity that makes you worth the amount of time and effort this “imaginary friend” would have to put in to please you? What would you do in return?

        Whenever I see people like you, all I can think of is when John F. Kennedy gave his famous quote “Ask not what your government can do for you, but what you can do for your government”, you were still looking at the TV thinking “Nah, I still wanna know what my government can do for me.” You’re clearly more focused about what other people bring to the table, and very non-concerned about your own contributions. You madam, are a leech. My sincerest regrets, however, now when you face the good Lord, you can’t tell him “I had no idea, father!” I pray that your heart may soften before that day. God bless and good luck.

    • Leesa says:

      Thank you…very insightful, and I agree completely. I have very high standards, and I am ok with that. Much time has passed since my initial question. I have lerned to see the other person as they are and not as I wish they were. And I now know that they are not up to being a real friend in the way that I define friendship. That is absolutely fine with me. They now live in the aquaintance column!

      • caraK says:

        Leesa, it is fantastic for me to find posts from you and Ruby today, agreeing with what I wrote. I just discovered this blog 2 weeks ago, and it came at the right time for me, because I felt very hurt by people who behaved as if my year-long fight for my life were nothing. similar to what you said, I have given up seeing people in a purely good light, and am allowing myself to see them for who they themselves have chosen to be. it is not easy. in these two weeks I have made a tremendous transition in my outlook. isn’t it wonderful, the benefit of speaking of our minds openly (here on this blog)!!!

      • Rubypumped says:

        My only ‘warning’ to you if you choose this mindset is to be careful not to become judgmental. Some people say, “I’m accepting them as they are so that is unconditional love.” Well that isn’t the case if you’re jumping to conclusions about people like, “Oh they did this hurtful/disappointing thing, guess they just naturally suck!” That would be judgmental and being a bad friend, and unfortunately I have seen many people do that in the name of love. In fact, the opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy! Kicking someone out of your life or demoting their relationship before even finding out the details is unfair.

        So I recommend asking them: is there a reason behind the action or inaction? Maybe they didn’t even notice. Maybe this is one area in which they aren’t strong, but they have many other great friendship qualities. After all, no one is perfect! Sadly, I have heard people say that trying to work things out is drama and they’d rather just dump or demote their friends. I say that must not have been a deep friendship. But if things can’t be fixed and it really has become a toxic relationship, then yeah understand limitations and realize you can’t expect more of them. However, I also think people take it too far. There is a difference between disappointments that can be chalked up to personality differences, and flat-out rude or hurtful behavior, and that INCLUDES inaction when action would have been appropriate! Like I said, simply not actively hurting someone does not make you a friend, and focusing on someone’s flaws but not hating them for it is not love unless it has become a truly toxic relationship!

        I had a guy once point out a bunch of things he didn’t like about me (including the way my apartment was set up and what it said about me as a person!), then told me he wasn’t judging me because he accepts me as I am and doesn’t hate me. Another girl told me she agreed with a negative rumor about me but then forgave me for my perceived (and really mean!) flaw (a supposed personality trait that didn’t hurt anybody, especially not her). These are not forgiveness or love, and definitely are judgment!! I reiterate: lack of hate does not equal friendship!! But then, I have had very toxic relationships that finally had to be cut off because nothing would fix them. I love some of them from a distance because I know they can’t do better, but I also can’t take their abuse that won’t stop. Others, I’m still working on not hating, but the best I can do so far is just learning to forget about them. I can’t forgive.

        • caraK says:

          I won’t address forgiveness in my reply, except to say that forgiveness can keep us always attached to people who hurt us. I will address the topic you raise of judgmentalism. Women need to be empowered to leave any relationship that mistreats or abuses them. Like you said, Ruby, either the mistreatment or abuse is from behaviors actively done against the woman, or mistreatment/abuse is from withholding needed help or active love from the woman. It seems pretty common for some people to cry out that a woman leaving an abusive relationship/”friendship” is being “judgmental”. It is usually the abuser, or the self centered “friend”, or an outsider busybody who wrongly claims “judgmentalism” when a woman has managed to gather up the courage to leave a “friendship” that has at the very least continued to drain her energies, and often does her much greater harm. Well, I say let them go ahead and falsely claim judgmentalism. What it really truly is, is her right to self preservation, each of us has a right to self preservation. As simple as this sounds when written down here, it is a heartbreaking process because we have to admit to ourselves that a person who we treated well, who we were loyal to, who we helped often, really who we loved,etc, well this person harmed us especially when we were most vulnerable, as I was fighting CA, but hurt us even during normal times. Friendship during all times, needs to be a relationship full of lovingkindness… If someone wants to cry “judgmental” against a person who thoughtfully decides to walk away from and end a relationship with an abusive, self centered person, well so be it. I believe that “judgment” doesn’t enter into it at all. What it is really is self respect, self preservation, and a true wish to associate with loving giving people.

          • Rubypumped says:

            Oh honey, I totally agree. My only point with the judgment was not to jump to conclusions at the first offense and write someone off. Get the facts first, like maybe they didn’t know their comment was hurtful or they were thinking something totally different. Perhaps they have a completely different point of view that you hadn’t considered and that does end up changing your view. But if after all of that you’re still too hurt, then disconnecting is a good thing.

    • Krut says:

      I am excited to be reading this! you couldn’t be more right! I am so encouraged! recently i learnt from someone i considered one of my closest friends that she did not believe in expectations in a friendship as having them increases the chances of being hurt and disappointed. It was unbelievable for me as I am the complete opposite. I believe in giving regardless of whether I am going to receive or not. This has affected my attitude and I have been trying to deal with it. So you can imagine my joy at reading this and realising that I am not the only one.

    • JT says:

      Very well said! And completely true! I got fed up with having selfish friendships, all take and no give. I tried all the advice “lower your expectations, change your expectations, look at it a different way”, but then I realized all of these solutions are about ME changing MY behaviour and continuing to allow unacceptable behaviour from another person. I am not the problem, why am I the one who is told to change??

      There are higher caliber people out there, one just has to be patient and strong enough to maybe be a little lonely while they look for them. Trust me, being lonely in the company of another person is worse than being lonely alone..

  3. Myra says:

    Leeza,

    You sound like a very caring and polite person. I am this way also, or at least I try to be.
    In my marriage to my husband, he isn’t this way. Many times we’ve been invited to some friends house for a lovely dinner, of which I”m aware has taken lot’s of time to organize. These are friends, I’ve met through him, so he’s been going to these dinners for years. I asked him one of the first times I went with him after, whether he’d sent them a little thank you email. But I could tell by his response, he almost thought that that was corny, and unnecessary. I got it later also,
    that in this crowd…….they aren’t into pleases and thank yo. It seems as if between people sometimes courtesy has left the room, or something like that.

    But by your description of your friend, I do get the feeling that she is in direct competition with you, demonstrated by you showing her how to make jewelry. Here she’s coming to you,
    because you have a certain skill. O.K., hopefully there are other factors about your relationship between the two of you that makes the friendship, worth it. But my point is if she doesn’t so much as thank you, nor acknowledge your talents, especially something she’s learned from you, then this starts to feel like it going into the “I’ll use you for what I want from you,” mode. This could be one way of looking at it. So if your feel uncomfortable or offended by this, and I would be…..it sounds like she is envious. So, definitely if you feel that this is starting to become a pattern w/her in the friendship, now you know this, and maybe it is time for you to re-evaluate the friendship.
    On the other hand if you feel that she offers other nice qualities to the friendship that could outweigh some of this, then you might want to consider at least not ending it.

    Yes, and I do understand, that at times it’s a string of unsavory qualities about a friend that don’t measure up, that gives us doubts.

    But do bear in mind that if you intend to keep her as a friend, you may want to accept that what you expect may not be what she’s willing to give. In other words, you may have to lower your expectations with her. I think once we’ve pin-pointed what the issue is, then we can make the decision.

    Myra

    • Leesa says:

      Hi, Myra,
      Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts. Right now, I am doing my very best to lower my expectations of all of my friends. I have a an old would from my upbringing that “demands” attention and connection from all those people I pour my love into. That is a natural thing for e, but there are times when my expectations are way to high and unattainable, as each person holds friendship differently. It has taken me all of my adult life to get this.
      I don’t compliment this particular friend as much. I am much more protective of my heart now that I see her more clearly.
      Have a wonderful holiday!
      Leesa

  4. Denise says:

    Hi Leesa

    Just skimmed over a few other comments.

    When I read from you the following (excerpts)….
    “…I was very ill in February, at death’s door, in fact. She did not call me or inquire with my husband for over 2 weeks…..She was completely absent. I did tell her, and her response was that being alone is what she would want so she stayed away….I taught her to make jewelry…..and when I have complimented her work after seeing it a shop, she simple does not respond in any way…no “thank you” or any acknowledgement….It’s a one way street.”

    If this has been typical of 6 years, it’s a real pattern that she is cooler towards you than a warm, true friend should be. I just see her as someone you know–not a friend. No thank yous? Acknowledgements? A one way street? Be cordial, polite, nice, but don’t wait or wish for friendship. Her actions and absence of words tell you she doesn’t care like you want to care. A caring person will come.

    Personally, when I’ve hoped for a friendship with someone and seen they are not interested, I live with the sadness for awhile, then let it go. Just let-it-go.

    About short emails:
    Quote from another poster:

    “It is now the “trend” to send short emails to people, it is so inconsiderate, but I get these short emails from relatives, friends, bosses, clients. And there is only so much you can pack into a tweet or one liner.”

    I hope the trend of short emails contain fun, lite information and very few serious topics. I find it sad that some people would rather type than have a 3D conversation, and type rather than BE with the person in front of them.

    I remember giving, in the recent past, a handwritten note to someone thanking him for making me laugh like I hadn’t in a long time.
    And I saw how much this was appreciated. Pen and paper for a personal touch whenever possible! 🙂

    • Leesa says:

      I so appreciate the feedback and insights shared! Thank you!
      I am constantly learning to be appreciative of who I am in this life. If others are unable to see and appreciate me, at least I can count on myself. This has been an uphill battle my entire life. This blog is very helpful and healing! Happy Thanksgiving. So much to be grateful for, yes?!

    • Leesa says:

      And handwritten notes rock!!!

    • Leesa says:

      Hi, Thank you for hearing my dilemma! I need reciprocal relationships…I just cant do it any other way. It is who I am. I love and I want love in return! I think this is human and perfectly okay. If someone is unable to reciprocate, they move from the friendship column to the acquaintance column.
      I will bend over backwards for a friend, and not expect the same, but if I am in need of some tenderness, like when I was ill, and they don’t show up, that tells me a lot about who they are. I may feel hurt for while, but my guard goes up!
      I LOVE written notes!!! It shows you care and that the person you are writing to is important to you.

  5. Anni says:

    I was wondering what it was that wanted you to be friends with this person in the first place. I think we have to understand what it is that draws us to people. If we have deep values and appreciate character, ability to express deeply felt emotion and expression of love, then other characteristics wouldn’t be very important to us.

    • Leesa says:

      Anni…When one person is drawn to another when they don’t know eachother very well, there is a certain chemistry. As the relationship progresses and each personality unfolds, one sees whether or not this is a viable friendship or merely an acquaintance. We had some fun things in common, but we mainly related as couples. As time passed, I realized that her pronouncements of “love and family” were merely words. When there were some issues to resolve, she put up walls..a signal..and she is a teacher for me..a bitter pill at times.
      My mother used to say” you have to eat a pound of salt before you really know someone!” I agree! I am learning to accepte her for who she is and to stop projecting my definition of friendship on her.

  6. Liz says:

    There must be more to the situation and this might just be the final straw. To give up a friendship that means a lot to you over this just doesn’t make sense otherwise. If she leaves you cold – do you mean that you don’t feel that she cares about you deeply as a friend would? We can’t just read one instance of a businesslike reply and say yea or nay to the friendship continuing – there must be more to it and only you know the particulars. I’d back off for a while until you aren’t so hurt over this, and then re-evaluate.

    • Leesa says:

      Thank you for your feedback. This is not just a one time thing. It has many legs and her level of care for me has been revealing itself for some time now. I was very ill in February, at death’s door, in fact. She did not call me or inquire with my husband for over 2 weeks. I was extremely hurt by this. So many people showed up for me. She was completely absent. I did tell her, and her response was that being alone is what she would want so she stayed away. This seems self-centered to me and does not take who I am into consideration. I taught her to make jewelry..I am a designer…and when I have complimented her work after seeing it a shop, she simple does not respond in any way…no “thank you” or any acknowledgement. She does not compliment my jewelry when we are being social. I compliment her. It’s a one way street. I feel a competitiveness coming from her. I feel bad saying this. I am not competitive…more insecure than anything..but I have had national notoriety for many years. It’s humbling, in fact.
      As the last 6 years or so have unfolded, I see now that she is unavailable for a deeper friendship with me. It is surface only. As I type this, I see now how clear this relationship is and I, hopefully will not expect anything from her any longer. I am wanting to accept her for who she is and not take that so personally.

  7. Francesca says:

    In answer to your question Leesa, Yes, your expectations are too high.
    I’m like you and have had years of wondering what’s wrong with me when I am warm, caring, giving, polite and am (usually) rewarded with behavior like your acquaintance. The answer is there is nothing wrong with us, and to make this potentially long reply a whole lot shorter, remember these old but wise sayings:
    You can’t get water out of a stone.
    Don’t lower your standards, lower your expectations.

    Leesa, women like you and I are few and far between.
    It is much, much easier when you just deal with the facts!

    • Leesa says:

      Thank you caring, and for seeing me! I do question myself constantly and have great difficulty not finding fault and flaws. I come from a very critical background, and while I am a critical thinker, which I like, I am very self critical, and consequently critical towards others. And I am often disappointed because they don’t meet my expectations and are NOT like me! Very unevolved, and comes from old wounds. Acceptance is the only way..easy to say, though, when the other behavior is cellular!

  8. Francesca says:

    In answer to your question Leesa, Yes, your expectations are too high.
    I’m like you and have had years of wondering what’s wrong with me when I am warm, caring, giving, polite and am (usually) rewarded with behavior like your acquaintance. The answer is there is nothing wrong with us, and to make this potentially long reply a whole lot shorter, remember these old but wise sayings:
    You can’t get water out of a stone.
    Don’t lower your standards, lower your expectations.

    Lessa, women like you and I are few and far between.
    It is much, much easier when you just deal with the facts!

    • Lisa Hendricks says:

      I still think you are making too much of an email response. It is now the “trend” to send short emails to people, it is so inconsiderate, but I get these short emails from relatives, friends, bosses, clients. And there is only so much you can pack into a tweet or one liner.

      • Leesa says:

        To Lisa,
        Just because it is the trend to email one liners, does not mean that it’s a good thing. It does not add to the uplifting of Humanity from my perspective. You miss the entire point of my dilemma. The email response to such a profound event such as my daughter’s wedding, feels inappropriate when it is coming from someone who claims to be “family”. A phone call is the more heartfelt response, especially since she was included to share such an event, and she is supposedly a friend.

        • Lisa Hendricks says:

          I had a best friend that had a wedding for her gay daughter. It was a very wonderful event and I know it was so stressful for her to put this wedding together, with so many people not supporting gay marriage within the family.

          I made sure to comment on everything and gave a nice gift, and made sure to grab a few minutes to talk to her personally during the event. She totally appreciated it.

          I think I made this extra effort because I valued her friendship as my number one friend and wanted to keep it that way and realized she is extremely sensitive about these things.

          I think I have several grades of friends. The best friends, are the ones that are sensitive and caring, and lower on the list are the ones that give one liners for emails are not reciprocal.

          However I have to say that a few years ago I cleaned house and removed from my list of friends a bunch of gossipers and users, so at my age I can’t afford to lose any more friends.

          So I would think carefully how you handle it.

          • Leesa says:

            Thank you for sharing your experience. You sound like an open and caring person.At the moment, there is nothing to handle. I am simple working on myself and learning to lower my expectations of her and others who are not reciprocal, and be in acceptance of what is. I have my limitations as to what I will endure in a “friendship”. I believe in “pulling weeds”. Some hearts and doors open to discuss the hard stuff. She is not a person I can do this with. I have tried and it did not pay off. So now I keep my distance.

  9. Alberta says:

    The less expectations you have, the more you will enjoy your friends.

  10. Lisa Hendricks says:

    My interpretation of short messages like this is that we are now suffering from iPhone insanity. Even my daughter sends me these iPhone messages. No one has the time to call and express heartfelt emotions. It is assumed that if you are close, such as husband/wife, mother/daughter or best friends, you can read each other’s minds and the text messages or emails get shorter and shorter.

    I would not read too much into the length of the message. It is a function of the person’s time and media.

  11. Denise says:

    Leesa,

    I’d like to highlight a part no one else did:

    “We thought the wedding was a success, didn’t you?” Period. Nothing else.

    I find this odd and cold, yet she was profuse in expressing how beautiful it was to another friend! It feels as though she does not want to express anything heartfelt to me.

    ———–

    This is strange. The friend’s comment to you sounds like a comment on a business meeting–substitute “meeting” for “wedding”. Yet, she is much more expressive to another guest. You should have received at least, if not more, the same enthusiastic comment than the other person. Getting a neutral remark like this would also make me feel, like you, disappointed and sad. And, since you say you were met with a wall last time you told her your feelings, I like your idea of slowly distancing yourself from her.

  12. Lauren says:

    Hi Leesa,

    Perhaps you have to change your views of friendship. Also, there is an interesting book called The Five Languages of Love. In this book , the author talks about the different way that we relate to each other. For example , some people need effusive praise and compliments, other people really like gifts (even small and thoughtful gifts), etc; and some people do not like those ways of expressing caring friendship.

    I do not think that your friend’s comment about the wedding was in any way negative . That is probably the way she expresses herself…straight to the point…not too many superlatives. And that’s OK. We are all different.

    It sounds like you like to give and receive compliments, and you would probably have been very complimentary about a wedding or social event in her family. But again, we are all different. And, again, that’s OK.

    Always remember that everyone is different, and as long as they are not spiteful and mean spirited in their actions and remarks, then that is just the difference in all of us. We are all unique. All the best.

    • Leesa says:

      Thank you for your feedback! I’ve read all the comments, and while I do agree that we are all different, your comment, Denise, felt more realistic to me in terms of the heart that belongs in a true friendship. Such a neutral response does say more about her, and her fear of true intimacy, and really nothing about me. I do expect more from her than she is clearly able to give, and that is MY issue. And in that regard, I am needing to work on accepting her limitations.
      While her initial email regarding the wedding was not negative, there was a withholding in it, which is very apparent. Why would she be profuse with the superlatives to someone else and not to me?
      I find that strange. She claims we are “family”, yet she did not call afterword to say anything at all. She has not expressed one positive thing to me verbally. Emails do not count when it comes to the expressing of feelings. I have learned this the hard way. Human contact is far more meaningful. She never said in her email that she had a good time. Had she done so, I would have responded appropriately. Marisa, I think you missed the point of my dilemma.
      I am not moping. This is a painful and difficult dilemma for me that is creating a space for me to reevaluate this particular relationship.
      I had a very life threatening illness earlier this year, and was in the hospital for 9 days..3 days in ICU. I did not hear for her for 2 weeks. I was deeply hurt. I expressed it to her. Her response was that she thought I would want to be alone, as this is what she would want. So, I feel unseen by her. She made it about her, and did not address the needs of the situation.I am doing my best to see her more as an acquaintance. After 6 years of doing things together as a couple, it has taken me this long to see that we do not see true and deep friendship in the same way.
      Yes, there is hurt and disappointment, especially after this person give lip service to “love and family”.
      I still appreciate all the feedback, so thank you!

      • Lynn says:

        I don’t think your expectations are too high for the definition of “best friend”. This person reminds me of my supposedly best friend(her words).

        Because I am a very caring, giving and attentive person, that is what I expect out of a “best friend”. I don’t expect it out of acquaintances. A best friend, to me, is a person who is as much a sister, a family member, or what should be like a sister in a family that is not dysfunctional! Soul mates, so to speak. I did have such a friend who passed away a few years ago. We only knew each other for a few years, but our hearts were truly ONE. Our love ran deep and true, not anything like my relationship with my “best friend”….

        …My (“best”)friend and I have known each other since we were a couple of years old—over 50 years now! We were neighbors growing up. We live in different states now; have been for many years. Her mother was VERY domineering and self-centered. Her mom ran all over my friend’s father who took it patiently until he passed away several years ago. Her mom was very hateful along with the self-centeredness. She passed away a while back. My friend never could stand her mom’s hatefulness (and we all adored her father), but she is very much like her mom, minus the hateful.

        When we were kids, we had to play with dolls exactly the way she wanted to play. We saw the movie she wanted to see, or forget it. I was abused by my father (as were also my sisters which my friend knew about) and I was very depressed so I put up with her selfishness to have a friend nearby. EVERYTHING had to go her way. It was her way or the highway. Finally in about 7th grade, I had had enough of the selfishness and just stopped talking to her. I was very shy and depressed and did NOT have the skills to communicate the problem to her. Her selfishness was making me more depressed than I already was. I don’t recall ever explaining it to her, but a year or so later, a mutual friend encouraged us to get back together, so I did. Other friends in high school did not like her because of her obvious self-centeredness. We kind of picked up where we left off. I guess it was “comfortable” for me to have her as a friend, and I loved her, but I didn’t expect too much of a change and was willing to accept that. So I’ve put up with it for all these years, but now I am just growing weary of it being one sided and my heart is not in it.

        I became ill many years ago and could no longer work. I was single at the time. My friend knows all this and has had virtually no sympathy for me. She called me her “best friend” and would tell others we were best friends, but I never felt like we were because she was just so selfish. Things had to be kept at an “even score”. If we went out to eat, she would figure the bill out to the exact penny. Sometimes I would want to treat her, but she would hurriedly figure out the total we each should pay. Very business like, not loving and close. Through the years I have eaten out with other friends and it has never been like that. I don’t keep score, I have always helped others with no expectation of getting anything in return to even out the score. I like helping others. I figure things get evened out over a lifetime and I’m not trying to make things even anyway. She is not about to do anything to help advance another person unless she is getting something out of it, trust me.

        A few years ago I finally had to ask that we no longer exchange x-mas gifts. My husband and I really were putting a stop to the materialism with family and friends, but an equal reason for me putting a stop to it with her was because she always gave me cheap gifts and they were getting cheaper by the year—I’m talking literally 50 cents on the clearance rack cheap junk. She was a “professional” and I hardly think she gave her peers such junk. The straw that broke the camels back was when I received a broken gift and when I told her it was broken she quickly and simply said, “Just throw it away”. NOT, “let me take it back to the store and get another one”, or “ I’ll get you something else”, just throw it away! That means it was trash to start with, doesn’t it? My paternal grandmother did this crap to my mom. Seemingly no conscience at all. What is it about me that she thinks she can treat me this way? Does she think I have no feelings??? Is it because I never challenged her, complained or told her she was selfish? Now I think it is too late in the game, even though I don’t believe she would be at all receptive to the truth if I were to say something.

        When her widowed mother was residing in a Home about an hour away from me, I visited her several times. I wanted to visit her. I didn’t have to be cajoled into visiting her, but my friend actually sent money asking me to visit her. My illness causes me to be very tired and I cannot do all that I want to do when I want to do it, but she never seems to believe it and this situation seems to prove that she has no concern for my health, all she wants is for me to jump up and see her mom multiple times which involves several hours, including driving through heavy traffic each visit. When I asked her to visit my grandmother in a nursing home, she went ONE time; her token visit was all she would do. But she wanted me to visit her mom multiple times, which I did because I sincerely wanted to, even though it was a physical hardship on me.

        She is very materialistic and all about money. She seems to be able to see how others are selfish, but not herself. I understand that she learned this horrible behavior from her mom, but how is that she could see the hateful in her mom and not want to be like that, but still became the other ugly trait that her mom was? When she and her husband strongly believed that a young family member would be better off in their care, she refused to accept that child into their home because the monthly support wasn’t coming with the child. The person keeping the money was recognized to be a selfish bitch, but my friend didn’t for a second recognize herself as equally selfish, especially when they are well off financially, both receive retirement, and had just received hundreds of thousands from her parent’s estate and did not need one penny of support. Her husband is like her father and won’t stand up to her ruling the roost. If he did, she would literally divorce him, which she has done multiple times already. Another example: a close family member of hers came into millions of dollars. She never even told me about it until all of the money was foolishly spent up. (We talk on the phone daily or at least weekly—for over 40 years!) I feel it is because this person may have had sympathy on me IF I should have asked for money (WHICH I HAVE NEVER ASKED ANYONE FOR MONEY BEFORE) since I cannot work and contribute in a significant way to my family (while helping my husband raise a disabled child). She was no doubt given a lot of money. Her parents were given money. They have both passed and left large sums of life insurance and savings. But what makes it even worse, I don’t’ think she ever told her immediate family that I was ill. Not wanting to gossip is one thing, but I grew up next door to these people. It seems that not only does she not have sympathy, but she doesn’t want anyone else to have sympathy either.

        Even though she doesn’t like to waste money, I saw where she spent a good amount on foolish things, lavishing expensive items on themselves. Needlessly putting extreme amounts of money into a home that they were going to sell, only to buy another very expensive home that they did not need. She would never think to offer to help her “best friend”. I hear stories of other people who came into fortunes who loved their best friends so much that they shared some of the good fortune with them, but she did everything she could to prevent me from getting even a crumb from under the table. Being disabled myself, and knowing many others that are disabled, it would be my pleasure to share some of my good fortune if I ever had any. In fact, my husband and I do give to and help all those that we can. To realize just how selfish and self-centered she truly is, has been hard for me to deal with, not because I want money, but because she is just so incredibly selfish and manipulative, with no real love or caring in her heart towards people in general (though she thinks she is–in thought only, not tangibly in any significant way).

        She has called for advice on a number of occasions over the years. I could play into her self-centeredness and give her advice designed to destroy her (current) marriage or whatever, but I tell her what I know is right. She does seem to appreciate it and she occasionally sends cards telling me how much she “values our friendship” and I just sit there in shock and think, “Then why is it so one-sided? I know I am a good friend to you, but you have never been a good friend to me!” Actions speak louder than words.

        Because several members of my family demonstrate sociopath type behavior and absolutely can NOT see themselves for what they are, I have learned that nothing is ever their fault and they cannot see how screwed up they are. My friend has spent many years “improving” in certain areas, but it has not affected her basic self-centeredness. Therefore, seeing how certain personality types behave, I don’t believe she would receive my telling her about herself. I think she would just say that I am “fill in the blank” and go on her merry selfish way. But since we have come this far, I guess it is just better to leave things be and just continue to accept that she will never be a true friend. I can at least know that I was what I should be.

        So I still talk on the phone regularly, but keep her at a distance and enjoy other friendships that are not so one-sided with people who are not selfish. I think that is about all any of us can expect out of life.

        It will be one in a million that we ever find that soul-mate, one-heart type friendship that is a true blessing.

        Lynn

        • Leesa says:

          Wow! That is quite a stir…I feel for your sadness and disappointment with this “friend”. It is very difficult to maintain deep and true friendships if both people do not hold the definition in the same way. That is just my opinion.
          I do think that highly sensitive and caring people, like you and myself, need to have clear boundaries and be as present as possible in each situation. I am very pprotective of my heart, and consequently, it is not open all the time. I think this is OK. It take a lifetime to really know someone.
          If friendships are not reciprocal, I move on now. It’s taken me a very long time to learn to do this and to feel Ok about it. I wish you the very best. Love yourself! That is the best place to start! I am saying to myself as well!

  13. Marisa says:

    I did not see that email as cold and heartless at all. Had you responded “thanks I’m so glad you enjoyed it” you would probably be sitting happily enjoying her company right now. You seem to be expecting much too much of people and that they are invested in your personal family life as much as you are. Moping over something this benign is putting an unnecessary cloud over your daughter’s wedding. “highly anticipating” (in your opinion) other’s needs may make your friends see you as high strung and high maintenance.

    Maybe you can try relaxing a little and not seeking out negativity or putting friends through some arbitrary test of loyalty.

  14. Amy says:

    When I read your friend’s short email to you, I didn’t find this as cold or heartless. What would your ideal response have been?
    It sounds like perhaps you have different styles of relating to each other, you’re warmer and more expressive, she’s more reserved, and that you’re taking her style as a personal rejection, rather than a function of her personality. That doesn’t mean your style is better and hers is worse, they’re different. If you need a friend more like yourself, you might be trying to get those needs met from the wrong person–someone who can’t give you the identical reciprocity you seek. Rather than being frustrated with her, try to seek what you need from people who are capable of giving that. Try not to take her personality as a rejection, because it’s not. The more realistic your expectations, the happier you will be in relationships. I know my greatest friendship disappointments have come when my expectations have been unrealistic for the relationship. That’s on me, not the other person. When I blame others, I feel like a victim and disempowered. When I see my part in the equation, I can make changes to do better moving forward.

  15. Cynthianne says:

    I think many of us can relate to this issue, and I like what Dr. Irene says about “tempering expectations” when it comes to friends. The older I get, the more I realize that one BFF can’t possibly meet all of my friendship needs. I make a point, now, of finding and keeping a variety of friends who make me feel supported and uplifted — and that way I am not as upset when someone is competitive or withholds praise or attention. That said, I have a few friends like the one you mention, and they can be hurtful. I try to avoid that type of friend when I am especially low, and look instead for the people who uplift me. It always helps.

  16. Lucia Antonelli says:

    Thank you so much for posting my letter and for your honest response. Telling her my feelings are hurt is not an option. I did that one other time and was met with a wall rather than an open heart. I think changing my view of friendship is the only way…to not expect all of my needs to bem met by one person. I’m just not sure how to be around this person without having a closed heart. That is a dilemma for me. I am a very open person. Thank you again!

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