Heartbroken over the loss of a friendship…is there anything I can do?

Published: February 5, 2012 | Last Updated: February 5, 2012 By | 12 Replies Continue Reading

Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to get over the
hump is tincture of time…



Dear Irene,

I am struggling
with a friend that said she needs "space." I realize she is in a
trying time in her life. Her mother in dying of cancer and she’s currently
finishing up her master’s degree. I am trying to give her the space she needs,
but at the same time I am totally heartbroken in thinking that maybe she is
pulling away from our friendship.


experienced the loss of a friendship before because the person "needed
space" and only later did I find out that they just wanted to cut out the
friendship. To this day, being cut out of someone’s life and not fully knowing
why has been one of the most painful experiences I have ever gone

Anyway, my friend said she no longer has time to text. She and I used
to text all of the time. What I don’t understand is how someone could have NO
time. Couldn’t she at least try to set aside one night a week? Texting and
talking to her at night was one of the things I’ve really enjoyed. In one email
she wrote me she said her time for all friends was changing, but I am starting
to believe this is a lie.


It somehow
spilled out in a brief conversation at church that she had gone out with some
friends for dinner during the weekend. Clearly she has time for SOME friends.
She said the only time that we can see each other is at church. Half the time I
can barely make it to church the same days she can and I can hardly justify
seeing someone at church as being friends. To add to that, her partner sat
between she and I during Saturday church further reinforcing that she wants
distance between us.


Words can’t describe just how heartbroken I am. Since I feel like she is trying
to pull away and slowly cut ties to a friendship I can’t stop crying at night
thinking about it. She said she would always support me—and my decisions—but
if I have hardly any contact with her then I don’t understand how this can be


I am also SO
hurt because I had helped her with her master’s project taking pictures. It
involved going to nightly rehearsals and taking many photos of the cast and
crew (it was a drama project based thing). What hurts me most is the little
thanks I got. I literally spent HOURS and HOURS of my time helping her out. I
know she is a friend, but I totally feel used. I got a thank you card, which
was a nice gesture, but for all the time I put into helping her out I feel
totally used. I thought she’d at least take me for dinner or thank me in some
other way,


I want my old
friend back—the friend that enjoyed talking to me, that always seemed excited
to see me and that genuinely seemed to care about me. How do I approach this
situation? Do I tell her how I feel? Do you think she understands how hurt I
feel? I am just very confused and hurt. I spent a year developing an amazing
friendship with her only for her to turn around and now say she basically doesn’t
want to talk except at church. Of all the people in my life I always thought
she’d be the last one to try cut the ties to a friendship, yet it feels like
it’s happening all over again and I am heartbroken.

Signed, Nicole



Dear Nicole,

I’m so sorry
you are feeling this hurt. Your friend is pulling away from you and hasn’t been
forthcoming in telling you why. Regardless of the reasons (which might have to
do with her, with you, or some combination of the two), you have no choice but
to give her the distance she’s seeking. It sounds like you tried to talk to her
to no avail.


You are
correct: A cordial relationship at church, with her partner between you, is far
different than the relationship you once had. Whether she is spending more time
with her mother, her schoolwork, other friends, or her partner, she has decided
she has no time for you.


It is
understandable that you are mourning the loss of a close friendship. Coming on
the heels of another loss, both without any clear explanation, has to make it
even more painful.


When someone is
dependent on one friend and then is rebuffed unilaterally, the loss can feel
devastating. It will take some time to get over. Are there lessons to be
learned? Perhaps, you need to approach friendships more slowly and really get
to know someone before you become so closely enmeshed emotionally. Perhaps, you
need to find more than one friend, so you aren’t so dependent on any one

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene


Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog about getting dumped by a friend:





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Comments (12)

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  1. Meredith says:

    I know this is a very old post but I’d like to respond. Linda (name changed) and I were young wives and mothers back in the 1990’s. We often took our children to the park and talked while they played. We also exchanged babysitting duties so we could each have a date night with our respective husbands. Neither of us got along with our in-laws and that was another bond between us. Over time we came to know each other’s life stories.

    Then Linda’s husband was killed in a car accident. Eventually she decided to take her children and move back to her hometown, three states away. We wept as we said goodbye after lunch at our favorite restaurant. That was in 1998 and I have never seen or heard from Linda since. She never responded to my emails or the messages I left on her phone. Two months after she left, I sent a final email asking if I had done or said something to offend her. No reply.

    The hurt lingered off and on for years. For a while I was quite bitter and had no interest in making a new friend. But over time, I realized that not all friendships are meant to last forever. It may be that Linda simply found it too painful to maintain contact with those who had known her during happier times.

    I found her on facebook a couple of years ago. I thought of sending her a friend request but decided against it.

  2. Ann Onee Mouse says:

    “History, despite its wrenching pain cannot be unlived,

    but, if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

  3. Heartbroken says:

    Today I just broke up with a male friend (I am a female) who was a major influence and part of my life. I had fallen for him, but he just wanted things to stay platonic. Needless to say, I had to end it. I woke up this morning and realized what I needed to do. If a man doesn’t see me as good enough to marry, then he is not good enough to spend time with me. He left the door open for me to come back, but I won’t be. And even though we had such a strong connection and communicated extremely well, he was comfortable and didn’t want anything more. I feel like a part of me has died. I just needed to come here to talk about it. I still love him, and he told me the same. It was nice while it lasted and I have no regrets.

  4. aziz di blanco says:

    im so sorry for your loss nicole ,but as the saying goes”time heals everything” this is all you have right now we have to learn to move on ,i had a quarrel with a friend lately,trying to elaborate how and what i had done for him during the course of our relationship and again i was forced to ask him who was the best among his friends was(of course expecting the answer to be me )but it turned out he mentioned someone else ,according to my personal judgement this guy he said was just a “hi” friend ,i was again forced to ask him why i wasn’t his best and he smartly told me that his heart rejected it.the following day i again tried to persuade him to rethink of what he had said the previous day but he seemed so confident of the answer he gave me,i then tried to do a test on him, i told him since im not your best friend we cant live together anymore, he smartly left and i immediately noticed he was angry so i followed him and said all i narrated was not personal and that i was sorry if i over reacted ,he said he wouldn’t want to give it a second chance,so i kept on insisting but he seemed firm on his decision.but trust me loosing a friend with out proper explanation is the worst that could happen to someone,maybe he had his discontents before and he was just waiting for the spark,he was this kind of guy who never truly said what was on his heart,

  5. Anonymous says:

    You sound like you’ve been there not only as your mother’s child but also perhaps as a caregiver and professional, and your own loss sounds still fresh and painful. I am very sorry that it hurt so. I remember my mom’s final years. It was long and involved and dreadful and totally unfair to her. Offering my condolences on your loss. Best wishes

  6. Anonymous says:

    Here’s another perspective: when your mother is dying, there is no practice in facing such an experience. Your life invariably focuses on that and just surviving emotionally every day knowing that you have to say goodbye to your mother, your first love. When my mother was dying, I just was in survival mode. Anyone who was needy or wanted to socialize, I had no strength to deal with. Parties, socializing… it all seemed meaningless when I was losing my mother to cancer, painfully, slowly, agonizingly.

    Please put yourself in her place. Maybe she is getting the emotional support from the other friends that she perceives she cannot get from you. Maybe those people know what it is to lose a loved one to terminal illness. Maybe she doesn’t have the emotional wherewith all to deal with you right now, which is possible. I currently have friends that I have to have special “energy” for because they’re needier than most people.

    The other reality is that we all like to think we are helpful and are being helpful and supportive when the other person may perceive us as intrusive, maybe even insensitive and paternalistic in our offers to help. Maybe she’s been meaning to pull away before but was too “chicken” to do it and now has the perfect reason to distance herself, hoping you’d understand.

    As a measure of emotional health, learn to resolve yourself to never become miserable over another friendship. Accept that many will be situational and seasonal because people are imperfect and will err; and some people, are frankly, jerks. It takes a long time to tell who’s who. And people change: nice people become not so nice, good people can turn bad, and once friendly people can pull away. Such is life. We also can’t bank our happiness on individuals for this reason. It’s not a rosy picture but it is realistic and might help you to have a perspective that is self-preserving.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Nicole , i completely empathise with what you are undergoing … Iam not sure about your age coz i guess the gravity of the situation changes depending on the age of the persons involved..Iam all of 22 and got ditched by a best friend (who is just six months older than me) ,who suddenly withdrew from me for no specific reasons … Just like in your case she told me that she didnt have the “time” to keep up with me but went around making new friends…. I was not aware about her new friends until she accidently let slip the fact that their gang (comprising of a few boys and girls older than me by 1-2 yrs) had met over the weekend and had fun… A few weeks later another girl pal of mine was complaining about being ditched by the same gal .. i rang her up to ask why she had ignored this other gal ( i couldnt bring myself to ask her , why she ditched me ,coz she would deny it straightaway 🙁 ) ..she coolly replied that the other gal was not mature enough (read cool enough) for two boys who formed part of her precious gang … The worst bit is that one of the boys is actually my ex who had caught her fancy … i paid her back handsomely by making new friends who were less fanatic about gang formation and flaunted them right in front of her face … Whenever she called me on my phone , i made the duration of the calls rudely short … i also began dating another guy… Finally i stopped wishing her on her birthday ..she felt bad but regretted the loss and has been trying to reach me again ever since though i refuse to get close any more… i guess iam mean .. but in a way iam much more positive and wiser than i was sometime back … Gals can dump another pal for the flimsiest of reasons … just never end up depending on one such pal alone .. have lots of friends who are sincere and caring ( i now have some of these around me for which iam thankful to god) and not silly (and desperate for my guy, in my case) … involve yourself in other activities..pamper your body and soul … greive for the brief period when you ought to coz YOU need to comfort yourself first … bring on a new dawn once you get over with this sour phase you’ll be a new person altogether..all the best 🙂 🙂 …

  8. Anonymous says:

    My heart goes out to you. I know how painful losing a friend can be. My college roommate and friend of over thirty years dumped me with no explanation, then complete silence for the past five years. We had been in each other’s weddings; given each other baby showers; she and her husband were the first to see our baby in the hospital; she came to my mother’s funeral. She moved to another state but we still visited and kept in touch. When her mother passed away, I offered to go up to see her, and that’s when she cut me off with no explanation. Despite multiple attempts to connect, she would not return my cards, calls or emails.

    This painful enigma will always be with me on some level. I have accepted the fact that it will never be resolved, but it still hurts five years later. I can offer you the following suggestions:

    Try to understand that this is more about her than about you. You never know everything that is going on in another person’s life. You have clues, such as this woman’s mother dying of cancer; loss or anticipated loss of a parent can have profound effect on a person. It is possible she cannot deal with all the feelings this situation is bringing up or her. She may actually want to distance from “real” friends who know her vulnerabilities, because she wants to “be strong” and to her that means hiding her feelings.

    But it could be any number of things. As much as we think we know people, there is so much under the surface that we cannot know. There are many unconscious things going on, too, of which the friend herself may not even be aware. I learned from my situation to accept the mystery of other human beings, and to forgive, which is one of the hardest responses with a friend who has abandoned you and won’t explain why.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Nicole – I am so sorry for what you are going through. I wonder if maybe there is more going on than what you can ‘see’. Be encouraged. I’d be happy to communicate with you. Stephanie – [email protected]

  10. Anonymous says:

    And please do not blame yourself. This has happened to myself and many of us that read this blog. It is the main reason why I read it!
    Here are some suggestions : Give this person the space she requested out of respect for her and your past friendship. Mourn the loss of your friendship, but do not accept the crumbs she is throwing out such as getting sit next to the other side of her at church, or speaking before or after church. Compassionate politeness , such a smile and a quick hello when you meet , then moving on should be the order of the day. Quiet reflection on causes of the split may be useful, but don’t obsess about it. Include in this reflection your own behavior . For example, I was always available and very easy going and ended up being a kind of a doormat. Unfortunately, in my case, I have become super cautious in my friendships, and I don’t make myself as available, I am afraid. I am afraid of being used and hurt again.
    It is hard to have a close friend suddenly dump you and refuse to talk about it. Hopefully, there are new friends and experiences for you soon!
    Best wishes!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can totally relate to your experience. It feels like I could have written it. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in feeling so used (although it’s not good that it happened to you, too). I felt used because I went above and beyond in helping my ex-friend. It’s almost a year since she dumped me and it still hurts although it is a bit easier. Frankly, time helped me heal but so did antidepressants as I got depressed after the “divorce” – that’s what it felt like. If at all possible, try to focus on other things for yourself such as exercise classes, extra-curricular courses (e.g. cake-decorating), volunteer work that you enjoy, etc. Slowly but surely you will get better and you will start to feel like yourself again. I’m realizing that I had a life (a good life!) before my ex-friend came into my life, and I will have a good life again, without her. That new life has started for me again. It will get better. I’m living proof. All the best.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Nicole – so sorry to read of your loss of this friendship. A similiar thing happened to me a year or so ago and it was very painful especially as we had been friends individually and as a couple for many years. As in your case my friend was dealing with a loss of her parent and seemed to cut me off more as her Father became palliative. This did make it more painful as I was also rebuffed from even helping/supporting her or family in any way!

    Like you I have no real idea why and likely never will – and in spite of trying she would not talk about it.

    I just gave up and moved on and found new friends very slowly. I got over it and have healed. As Irene has mentioned above there are lessons learned including having other friends and groups of friends. It still hurts and I miss her but it is over. Like many losses it does feel better with time.

    Hope you realize as I do that it is not always your fault and that the hurt does heal. Plus one does find other friendships.


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