• Keeping Friends

How to avoid losing a friend

Published: February 23, 2013 | Last Updated: February 23, 2013 By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
When people’s lives are stressful and busy, communication becomes even more important to avoid losing a friend.


Hi Irene,

I have a longtime friend who now has two jobs, a husband, and a live-in grown son. She is one who doesn’t make the effort to keep in touch with her friends. I have always been the one to initiate having lunch, etc. Now it has been almost a year since I’ve heard from her (because I got tired in keeping in touch).

She is a delightful, multifaceted woman. Years ago, we were very close, very much alike in many ways, and when together always fully appreciated each other. Advice, please!

Best, Claudia


Hi Claudia,

It is extremely common for friendships to end simply because two people drift apart as their life circumstances change. In fact, only one in 12 close friendships last over the course of a lifetime.

It seems as if your friend’s plate may be very full right now. Having two jobs and two adult men in the house is pretty consuming, even for a Superwoman. There also may be other stressors in her life that you don’t even know about.

You didn’t mention much about yourself but it sounds as if you have far more discretionary time than your friend. Although you were once very close, your friend may have less time and interest in getting together with any friend right now. I wouldn’t take it personally or stand on ceremony about being the one to initiate contact.

However, to maintain friendships, two people need to find some way to stay in touch that works for both of them. Be explicit and tell your friend (perhaps in an email) that you realize how busy she is, and ask her if there is some time when you might be able to get together, even briefly to catch up. It could even be a chat over a quick cup of coffee. Let her know the friendship is important to you and you don’t want to lose touch.

However, be careful not to put too much pressure on her. It sounds like her life is already stressful enough. If she is unable to respond to you at all, you may just need to let go and focus on other friendships.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: Setting aside time for friendship

Comments (4)

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  1. Jack says:

    At some point, you really have to evaluate a friendship and decide if the other party is still interested. If you’ve *always* been the one to initiate contact, that’s not a good sign. Here’s another thing to ask–if the other party doesn’t seem to be interested, why am I still “holding on” to the friendship? Usually it’s because of some insecurity. Unless there’s been something awful that happened in their life (death of a loved one, serious illness, disability, etc.), if the person is really that great, they would be making *some* effort to stay in touch. Otherwise, they’re just “not that into you.” 🙂 Sometimes you just have to let people go, and forgive them if you feel slighted by their indifference. It always helps to know that the end of a friendship usually isn’t personal–it tends to be more about the other person than you.

  2. Grace Pamer says:

    Being the one who initiates all the contact is tough for sure. Over time you do wonder if the friendship value is mutual. That said I’ve got friends who I will not talk to for months at a time and yet, the second we’re together, its like nothing has changed. Family commitments and living a long way from one another will do that. I don’t take it personally and instead look forward to the out of the blue catch ups on the phone or in person. The key for me has always been when something (health invariably) goes very wrong and they come a calling. That is the test of true friendship. If they drop everything to come and be with you and vice versa it means the world and makes you realize its just life that sometimes gets in the way.

    I hope you find a solution to your situation. I’m sure you will if you are great friends deep down.

  3. Bronwyn says:

    Good point about whether the males pull their share of the weight around the house.

  4. Amy says:

    I like Irene’s advice. The best way to lose her is to make yourself another pressure in her life. With two jobs, her time and energies have got to be limited. I wonder if her husband and son pull their share around the house, of if that’s another “job” for her.
    It’s hard to be the one who initiates all the contact.
    From my experience, saying, “can I take you to lunch Thursday” is more effective than, “let’s have lunch sometime.” Because “soon” or “sometime” is too vague to commit to. Rather than suggesting an activity on her days off, which she might want for household chores, relaxing, or with her family, a break during the work day or drinks after work might be easier for her.
    If she’s not available, don’t take that personally. Stay in touch with occasional brief emails, a (very) occasional forward.
    It sounds like her schedule is, at least for now, her “new normal”. Long term relationships ebb and flow in intensity and closeness. That’s not necessarily a reflection of importance, just life circumstances.
    Chances are she’ll have more free time at some point.

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