• Keeping Friends

Having misgivings on ending a friendship that’s gotten too complicated

October 2, 2015 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
A friendship grows more tenuous and complicated with time and distance.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Recently, I decided to end my 11-year friendship with my best friend. Some background: I moved to another state two years ago to pursue a doctoral program. Even with the distance, my friend and I kept in contact and when I would return home for the holidays and in the summer we always got together. I felt very connected to her and happy that she also referred to me as her best friend.

Last December I started to realize that even though she was always open to see me, I would have to plan, organize, and make the extra effort to set something up with her. I politely confronted her about this and expressed that I felt that I was making most of the effort in our friendship. She apologized and told me that she has been busy—but that she will start putting her half into the relationship. I accepted her apology.

Over the past 6 months, my friend became very close to another girl, who she began calling her best friend. Although, I admit I initially felt jealous and somewhat “replaced,” I acknowledged that my jealousy was selfish, that she was free to make other best friends (especially since I am in the other side of the country) and that as long as she still values me, that our bond will continue. Thus, I began to not be bothered as much by her new friendship.

A few weeks ago, I returned home for two weeks for the summer. I told my friend I was coming in advance, however she made little effort to set something up. I purposely did not make the initiative because I wanted her to step it up this time. She eventually made somewhat of an effort to set a lunch with me on a day. However, last minute she canceled and told me she was going to go to an amusement park that day with her family.

After that, she contacted me again a day before my departure date to see if I was available. I had already made other plans for that day and did not want to cancel my plans with other people who actually took the time to plan in advance with me. While I was there she saw her new best friend and other friends, but yet waited until the last minute to see me? I was really hurt.

I did not get to see her during that trip back home and her behavior really hurt me. I thought to myself, I really want to be friends with her but she puts more effort to fostering her new friendship with another girl and takes me for granted. The whole ordeal made me feel very sad, used, and not valued.

I decided that it was best to keep a distance and focus my attention on making other friends that are willing to reciprocate my friendship at an equal level. She was supposed to be my maid of honor (MOH) at my wedding–but that does not feel right anymore, so I decided to ask someone else to be my MOH. She doesn’t know this yet and I am not sure if I should even tell her since we are not really talking anymore. I am wondering, did I do the right thing with her? Was I too harsh?

Signed, Randi

ANSWER

Hi Randi,

When friends move away from each other, it’s hard to maintain the same relationship they had when they were living close together. Even without that barrier, relationships change over time and become more complicated as two people grow in different directions.

Your friend may have backed off from the friendship a bit as she got involved with other friends who were more convenient to spend time with, people who were more integrated into the fabric of her everyday life.

Admittedly, It can be annoying when one person is always the initiator in a relationship. If that person has any insecurities about the friendship, it can make her wonder whether the other person is as invested as she is.

After eleven years, it’s likely that this friendship has a solid foundation that includes many shared memories. And although you don’t feel as connected as you once did, it sounds like you still value your friendship. Is it possible to maintain a different type of friendship with her now than you did in the past? Could you stay in contact but see each other more occasionally, perhaps not every time you come home?

Choosing a maid of honor is a very personal choice, one that should feel comfortable both for you and for the person whom you are asking to take on that responsibility. I think you need to broach a conversation with your friend and let her friend know about your decision without blaming it on her. You may want her to play another role in the bridal party or simply to invite her as a guest. I guess I’m suggesting that that neither the friendship nor wedding party needs to be an all or nothing decision.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (9)

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  1. Nadia says:

    The saying “out of sight, out of mind” exists because it’s true. Physical distance like it or not affects relationships because we are able to readily connect with those we see face-to-face on a daily basis. If someone is right there in our daily lives we can immediately share with them the happenings in our day. We can quickly compare free time and make last minute plans to do things. Interactions are effortless. That doesn’t mean a long time relationship dies off altogether because of distance and the effort required to keep it alive, it just means it changes priority in our lives. Your friend of 11 years is still your friend, a very dear friend, just no longer your best friend. And as a Maid of Honor is expected to be of assistance to the Bride you really should call upon someone who is able to be there for you. Include your long time friend in your big day, as a brides maid, or to sing, or read a special passage. There’s no need to cut her out entirely… priorities just change. I speak from experience… my best friend from 4th-9th grade & my best friend from 9th grade- early 30’s are both still very dear to me. After many years, career changes, life changes, moving, etc. we take time to connect now and again. We all understand we’re no longer part of each other’s daily lives, but that’s okay. Things change… the love and memories shared don’t.

  2. Ruth says:

    If you and she had a mutual understanding from a conversation where you asked her to be your maid of honor and she agreed…….. then yes, as awkward as it is, I think the right thing to do is have a conversation saying the dynamics of the friendship have changed and you’re having 2nd thoughts about her being MOH. IMO it’s ok to say that when you asked her years ago you guys were closer in proximity and in heart, that many friendships do evolve naturally from close to not as close and this is a normal aspect of friendships as ppl’s lives change whether from a long distance move or having children or other significant life change. You will have to word it in your own words but we want ppl of integrity in our lives and it starts with being one. This was an agreement between you two, and quite understandably you’ve changed your mind. If it were me I’d preface it with thank you for being my friend all these years and I know my move put a strain on maintaining our friendship, then begin the MOH change of mind talk…. that might get soften the blow somewhat.

    Her reaction is not a reflection of you. It is a reflection of her. If she doesn’t value the friendship enough to say, it’s ok, I want what you want, then she has confirmed her needs over yours, and you can adjust your expectations accordingly.

    I know that it’s a painful and valuable life lesson.

    In my experience the majority of ppl don’t handle transparency and honesty well; they prefer the illusion over the reality. Your honest feedback about her lack of initiation may have caused her to throw up a wall with you. This is not a fault of yours; she was held accountable, and many ppl can’t handle that. IMO more ppl need to be honest as you were and stop deluding themselves and their friends……but so few can handle it.

    That doesn’t mean I lower my standards and become fake. It means I meet the other person where they are at and on the rare occasion I can be fully transparent then I do. Even then it doesn’t mean our relationship is sublime, but it sets the tone for honesty going forward.

    She may have done you a favor, albeit a painful one. If she was going to distance herself eventually and not be there for you through life’s ups and downs (a rather shallow person) then the sooner you found this out, the better.

    • Randi says:

      Thank you, your advice comes at a good time, as I am thinking of sending her a message letting her know about the MOH situation.

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi Randi,

    First congratulations on your up coming wedding. This is suppose to be a happy time in your life, don’t let doubt in to ruin it. I know this is hard, I deal with this with one person in particular. It is up to us how we let them affect us. I do agree that friendship is a two way street, just like a marriage if ony one person is always giving it eventually ends. This is not something you have to stand for. After all, we all have feelings and why should only one be the one to have to accept things. It’s hurtful, and it sends a message that you are not as important. Your heart is not a one way street. Do what will make you feel happy and content in the end. I hope you have a wonderful day on your up coming wedding. I too am getting married in May of 2016. 🙂

  4. IBikeNYC says:

    Best wishes on your engagement, and congratulations to your man!

    I agree with Jacqueline above: When was the last time your supposed-to-be MOH brought up your wedding ON HER OWN?

    Painful and awkward as it might be to have that Discussion now, it will be so much easier than having either it or, worse, a dramatic confrontation of some kind at the wedding itself!

    Besides, isn’t the not-knowing keeping you from a great deal of the joy and excitement you SHOULD BE experiencing at this wonderful and special time of your life?

  5. Maddie says:

    Very good advice by Irene. Why all or nothing? Personally I don’t mind be the initiator. As long as the visit is pleasant, what’s the difference? It feels like score keeping to me.

  6. Amy F says:

    Randi you absolutely have to tell her. In my opinion, you are responsible for being direct and kind in how you communicate with you as is she. If you believe she hasn’t held up her end of the bargain, that’s not a green light to be equally unkind.

    I have a personal philosophy that no matter how somebody might treat me, I’m responsible for how I respond, nobody’s bad behavior can make me act in a lesser way that I want to be treated. Friendship, and even ending friendship isn’t tit for tat.

    I don’t go for the back and forth you’re my friend/you aren’t my friend. That’s s lot of unnecessary drama. It also erodes trust and security in the relationship.

  7. Thomas says:

    Hi Randi

    I completely understand how you feel. My best friend would do the same thing. She would not take the initiative and in the beginning I orchestrated all of the times and places. I like you felt I was not important enough.

    One day, I came across this saying online “When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can learn to like/love them for who they are.” People that you love and care about are also people who have issues that they are dealing with or personality quirks that could irritate you if you let it. In my case I decided that my friend is who she is. I can’t change her. I will love all that she is, worts and all. Three years later, our close friendship couldn’t get any closer. If she forgets to text me when she goes on vacation to tell me she is safe, I find other ways to get that info. If something is really important or she hurts me in some way, we discuss it and she tries. I also choose my battles too. I know her well enough to know her limitations.

    You seem to care or this wouldn’t bother you. Try to accept her for who she is. You may have to be the one calling her up to see her. Friendship like all relationships are a balancing act between your friend wants and needs and your own. Find a new balance. It will ease your pain and hers as well.

  8. jacqueline says:

    Hi Randy:

    It has been two years since you moved, and time and distance have obviously changed the dynamics of your friendship.
    FYou said you are not really talking anymore. My questions to you are: When was the last time you discussed your wedding with her (and how far in the future is it?); could it be she just assumes she is no longer invited period??

    I suggest you follow your inner voice, do what your instincts are telling you.
    Whatever you decide, will be what is right for YOU.

    And, congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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