• Handling Breakups

I’ve mourned her loss once. Should I give this friendship another chance?

December 14, 2013 | By | 20 Replies Continue Reading
It’s tough knowing whether you should give a failed friendship another chance.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I met my best friend in second grade, 36 years ago. She moved away two years after we met but we always kept in touch. We’ve had our spats over the years and have always made up. We weren’t always good friends, but I think we tried to be there for one another.

The last straw occurred in 2006. She stood me up at a café and I didn’t hear from her until six months later. She texted me, and I texted her back and asked her to call. No phone call. After having her as a best friend for 29 years, I was tired of getting hurt and needed to cut my losses. I mourned the loss of her friendship for three solid years, almost like she had died. It seemed like it took FOREVER to get over it, but finally I was in a better place in my life. I had no hard feelings. I think about her often. How she is, where she is, what she is doing in her life. I wished her well but I just couldn’t have her in my life anymore. I was too scared of getting hurt again.

Out of the blue today, I get a text from her. I about fell over! It’s been seven years since I’ve talked to her. We texted back and forth about superficial stuff. She asked me if we could get together to catch up. With much trepidation, I said yes. I am really worried about it. I feel like she is starting to open up an old wound. I want to know what your thoughts are on this. Why would she get in touch with me all of a sudden? And should I get together with her? Any advice is appreciated.

Signed, Allison

ANSWER

Hi Allison,

Unless something extraordinary happened that led her to stand you up in the café, given the circumstances of this breakup and its emotional repercussions for you, it’s unlikely you will ever be able to have a trusting, intimate relationship with this friend again. I generally believe in second chances—but it sounds like this disappointment was one of many.

A friendship of 36 years, even a very imperfect one, has many shared memories so I can understand how hurt you would feel after its loss and question whether it should be reignited.

You ask: Why would your friend want to get in touch with you? She may want to let you know what happened and apologize. Perhaps, it was something that she wasn’t able to share at the time. Or she may simply think that with the passage of time, this incident would be forgotten or fade in importance.

You need to go with your gut. How upsetting will it be for you to take another chance? If you keep your expectations low, any disappointment isn’t likely to have the same impact of that “last straw” incident. On the other hand, given what happened in the past, it would be totally understandable for you to decide to text or email your friend, and tell her that you changed your mind and would rather not get together.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Category: Making up after breaking up

Comments (20)

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  1. Jarod says:

    After breaking a friendship with someone, I have never had it repaired–not once. I reached out to one guy who I thought was my best friend, and he gave me a polite brush-off. Other people didn’t bother to respond at all. I’ve never had one friend apologize to me and want to make amends unless they felt alone or were horribly lonely, and once that phase passed, they were back to ignoring my calls.

  2. Lauren says:

    Hi Allison,

    I wonder if you ever really knew where she actually was for those several long spells of many years when she disappeared from view? She does sound rather unstable. I I were you, and I truly didn’t know where she had spent those mysterious years in separate spells, when she was out of touch, I would be very troubled by that. why the mystery?

    Also, I read that you had referred to “having her as a best friend for 29 years”. I think that you should redefine “best friend”. Instead of being hurt by her, and stood up by her etc, you could be focusing your energies and emotions on other people and new friends who will be kinder and more respectful and better for you.

    I don’t think this leopard is going to change her spots, so to speak.

    I hope that some of this helps you. You sound like a very compassionate person. All the best to you in your decision.

  3. GraceW says:

    Some questions I would ask myself if I were in the poster’s situation:

    Regarding the “spats over the years,” were there problems from both sides or was it the same fight over and over about the friend’s same bad behavior? When the two of you made up, was the problem actually resolved or was it you resigning yourself to accept unacceptable behavior?

    When you say “I think we tried to be there for one another,” was it reciprocal, or mostly you being there for her?

    When she stood you up at the cafe, why didn’t you call her immediately? Is it because you were so used to that kind of behavior from her? (If a normally reliable friend of mine did a no-show, I’d call or text her after 15-20 minutes to find out what’s up.)

    In your friendship up to 2006, was she regularly present in your life or did she tend to come and go based on whether she needed something from you?

    During the three years you were mourning the loss of the friendship, what exactly were you mourning? The fact that you lost a friend or a realization that the friendship was not what you imagined it was?

    In the text that she sent after SEVEN YEARS of no contact, did she apologize for disappearing or did she just try to pick up where you both left off, pretending nothing was amiss?

    Are you okay with the idea of going through another mourning period if you get involved with her and she disappears from your life again?

    The only person who can answer why your friend would get in touch with you after seven years is your friend. “Why did you decide to get in touch with me after seven years?” would be a reasonable question to ask her. After, you know, you’ve asked and answered enough questions for yourself to feel confident about wanting to resume contact with her.

  4. Alberta says:

    What seems odd is that she texts you this time round – when on your last dealing you asked her to call and she didn’t call. So it’s like she didn’t listen or hear you when you asked at that time to call. Also, that, instead of feeling feelings of happiness at the possibility of dealing with her again that it feels like an old wound. It comes across that the relationship was a cycle of getting hurt – and that you are afraid that if you deal with her again, the cycle will start again. One thing you may want to look at – have you been happier during this time period that she has not been in your life? Do you see different people, do different things? Also, the common thread in these posts which is to Trust your instincts.

  5. Lauren says:

    She is very fortunate that you are a kind, compassionate forgiving person. I noticed that although you said that you were friends for a long, long time (since grade school), you also said that “you weren’t always good friends”. She’s also fortunate that she can still reach you by text.

    From what you say, she has played fast and loose with your feelings for years. She seems quite confident in picking you up and dropping you (standing you up , etc), whenever the mood suits her, without and apology, without a reasonable explanation or a thought for your feelings.

    She has been a source of unhappiness, pain for you for a long time. She seems to have quite a problem with showing respect for you (and probably for others too).

    Yes, it’s lovely to forgive, but you don’t need to pick up with her again. You can forgive her in your heart and move on. She seems to have problems, and you are not her therapist.

    She certainly does not seems to go out of her way to maintain a balanced relationship with you, and she certainly does not go out of her way to please you. You are not obligated to please her. You can forgive her in your heart (no burden to carry around), and move on.

    You could take up with her again, but have very, very, very low expectations of her , because of her various problems in relating to others. Then if and when she lets you down again, you won’t be too distraught.

    Sometimes, for our own good, we have to be discerning about the company we keep.

    All the best with your decision.

  6. Marisa says:

    You could meet up for coffee and a light get together. I don’t think recriminations will help. If you have a nice time and she is a once in a while friend, that’s nice. Don’t get so emotionally invested in it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Carol Graham:

    Your story has left me teary-eyed. I would love it if my estranged friend, D., would give me such a second chance as you had given to yours! You bless me with your story of forgiveness and empathy. In my sad case, D. and I split up because of a “final straw” incident via Facebook Chat (D. & I know each other via phone and online). I fear that I came off as needy and jealous of D.’s time, thanks to my lifelong pattern of possible Autism Spectrum Disorder inability to make or keep reciprocal friendships. Currently, I have long-term “pen pal” friendships that are one-sided, through no fault of those “pen pal.” one of those and I contact each other by phone but it’s not the same as a reciprocal, hanging-out friendship. I fear contacting D., even by leaving a phone message, as one of her final words to me were “Go away!” I would love a second chance! Allison, coming from my perspective and reading Carol’s story, I believe in second chances. But that is up to you.

  8. Laura says:

    You just have to go with your gut instinct in these situations, and it sounds like yours is trying to tell you something, so listen to it, but proceed with caution. I just responded to a kinda long-lost friend today too, and I feel really good about the fact that I’ve asserted myself with her. Regardless of what happens, do what feels right for you in a way that’s mutually beneficial and respectful! Merry Christmas & God Bless!

  9. Carol Graham says:

    This is almost the exact scenario that I experienced with a very close friend. As well, she stood me up one day for a coffee date and I never heard from her again. I went through the various emotions of grief, including anger, and finally settled on the fact that this was over. Ten years later, I saw her boarding the same ferry boat as I was and I started to get really nervous. I didn’t know what to do. I finally approached her, opened my arms for a hug and she reciprocated. We road the ferry together exchanging pictures of our children and said nothing about what had happened. I knew she was probably nervous and I didn’t want to intimidate her by asking questions. At the end I suggested we have coffee together and she jumped at the chance. It was my way of saying, “It’s o kay.”

    Our coffee turned into 3 hours of catching up and she shared how she had hidden deep pain in her life for many years and finally had to cut herself off from a lot of people to deal with it. She had gone through much and told me how difficult it was not contacting me but too many emotions prevented her from doing that.

    She is a strong woman today and focused as a result of working out her situation in her own strength and not getting influenced by advice from all her friends. I am proud of her.

    Our friendship is deeper than ever. If she ever did it again, would I take her back. In a flash! We don’t necessarily know why people do the things they do but if they reach out to us, why not give them a second chance. Wouldn’t you want the same?

    • Amy says:

      Great story. I think it’s a perfect example of a empathic, unselfish approach to understanding that friends can go thru “stuff” that has nothing to do with our importance as a friend.

    • Laura says:

      I really respect your reaction Carol-wow!! I don’t even want to think about that as a potential lost opportunity!!! A wonderful lesson for us all!

    • Tracy says:

      you sound like a lovely and gentle person. The difference is Allison feels differently and doesn’t want to get hurt again. She sounds less willing to take that risk than you were. Yours has a happy ending – congrats! But asking “wouldn’t you want the same?” challenges her to be like you and she isn’t.

    • Sel says:

      I agree Carol and I think your approach is a good one!!

      I am currently trying to resolve a broken friendship myself at the moment and I am trying to use this approach.

    • Kiki says:

      Lovley story, a real friend will always take you back. I send my friend love everyday! I ended our relationship as she was practicing a lot of negative behaviors. I didn’t tell her off or tell her how to change, I let her go to work on herself. I know she will return when she has found herself again. Peace, always peace.

  10. Amy says:

    Seven years is a long time. Things happen. People change. Hopefully you’ve both done a lot of growing in those years. You share a history that no one else shares. If you want to try to see if you can recapture that friendship, do so with a cautious heart. The rewards can potentially be amazing. I recently reconnected with an old friend after twenty years and it has been a true blessing for me. She moved out of state without telling me, but she had her reasons: a new marriage, a blended family and I had a lot of my own stuff. It’s not the sane, but it’s good.

  11. Sanda says:

    Allison,
    If you need closure on this friendship, meeting your friend might give you that — but only if she is honest and willing to discuss what happened and why. If she were to skirt over the issue and act as though nothing happened, that would be the telling tale. Just a thought. Otherwise, I like that Irene suggested that you have a right to change your mind.

  12. jacqueline says:

    Allison:

    You could always text her back and tell her the truth. That she has hurt you very deeply in the past and you do not want to go through all that pain again.

    Perhaps, as Irene said, she is ready to tell you why she avoided you all these years. Maybe she was going through something very personal she could not tell you about.

    We can only speculate. You have to trust your instincts

    • Karen says:

      Allison,

      I had a similar break up with a close friend of 15 years after I married a family member of hers. We did meet not long after the marriage to discuss her distancing and my distancing in response. Unfortunately It was not enough to keep the relationship going. The marriage impacted our dynamic significantly. Once I realized that her heart was really not in the relationship anymore I let it go. I had 2-3years of grieving that followed and have moved on. I still see her a few times a year at family events etc….

      For me talking it out was an important part of my eventual healing. I was not left wondering what happened?? I needed to feel that I did everything I could to resuscitate the friendship. Would I ever allow a friendship again??? I cant say for sure. It would depend on where she was and where I was. I do believe that people can change.

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