• Resolving Problems

My long-time friend disappointed me

Published: July 8, 2014 | By | 14 Replies Continue Reading
A reader asks for advice on how to handle being disappointed by a good friend.


Hi Irene,

I had outpatient surgery last week. My “best friend” of almost twenty years knew about the surgery. I had seen her three days prior to that. Yet, it has been a week and I still have not heard from her! This includes no phone call or text. I know people are busy but it really hurt my feelings and I am disappointed. How should I handle this situation? We are both in our 40s.

Signed, Ella


Hi Ella,

Hope your procedure went well and you are recovering. Your expectation that you would hear from your friend is totally reasonable. Friends are important supports when we’re feeling vulnerable so I can understand how you would feel disappointed when your friend didn’t contact you after your surgery.

But before you get too upset about it, you need to find out exactly what happened. Is it possible that something major is going on in her life, too? So my first suggestion would be to reach out and ask her.

If she says she forget about your surgery or simply ignored it—you need to express how disappointed you felt; listen to her explanation; and determine whether or not her response is acceptable.

If this is a one-time occurrence, this disappointment probably isn’t sufficient justification for ending a long time friendship. However, if this is one of many times when she has let you down, you may need to re-evaluate your relationship and realize she isn’t a friend you can always count upon.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (14)

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  1. becky says:

    I think I have the most egregious story to date.

    My so called best friend, no name mentioned, of over 30 years, whom I fixed her up with her second husband, took care of her kids, has been a really self centered shit now, when I so needed a friend. We live nearby each other, yet she never reaches out. In the last three my years, my I got divorced, in March of 2016 my mother died, then my dog. She has never offered anything other than a random telephone call. Okay, I must be keeping score, because whenever she happens to get in a fight with her hubby, I am the first one she calls. Meanwhile, years ago, I took care of her kids and her animals, I’m not a sap, I just thought that is what you do for good friends. I am so pissed at this chick I could choke her. She is condescending towards me, etc. so done. How can I tell her in a decent way how much she has disappointed me and how much I really never want to hang with her again?

  2. DMRk says:

    I know how you must feel. All you wanted was for your friend of 20 years to act like a friend and be there for you. Unfortunately this happens a lot and I have been a victim of constant disappointment by two of my “best friends”. First was when my mother passed away from cancer. I spent 5 months caring for her at home in home hospice care. It was a horrific and traumatic experience. The morning she died all I wanted was the kindness and compassion reciprocated that I gave both of these “friends” time and time again. Not only did I not receive a phone call from either of them on that day (nor the weeks that followed ) but they never showed up to the funeral or even something as simple as sending a card or even flowers…nothing. it broke my heart all over again when they both failed to give me just a sliver of a moment of support after years of friendship. all of the generosity and kindness I had shown them in the past and all of the things I did for them because I always would think they would have dine the same for me. They might as well had stabbed me in the heart since that would have been less painful.

    When I was engaged to my now husband 6 months after my mothers death I asked one of these “friends” to be my maid of honor and the other to be a bridesmaid. I wanted my dearest friends by my side on what would be a very special and difficult day for me since my mom had passed. Friend #1 after accepting to be my MOH turned around 3 days later on my mother’s birthday to tell me that she changed her mind and did not want to do it anymore. She was more worried about not having her arms show in a hypothetical dress and not liking the idea of wearing her hair up than she was in being sensitive to the particular day she decided to change her mind. I was devastated and couldn’t understand why she would do that on the day that she did. She didn’t even want to be a part of the wedding party instead. I asked friend #2 to take her place as my MOH and she accepted..4 months before my wedding she started acting out of character, picking ridiculous disagreements on the stupidest thing, ignoring my MILs and otherbridesmaid’s phone calls. I even asked her if she didn’t want to do it anymore and that I would not be upset if she changed her mind..instead she insisted that she was fine and that she “made a commitment” and was sticking to it and wanted nothing more than to be there by my side on my special day. A couple months later, one month before the wedding she told me via text that she didnt want to be my MOH or in the wedding party at all. I was stunned. She said she was “so sorry” because she knew “everything I had gone through with my mom” and that she was “a horrible person and friend” for stepping down when she knew I needed her most. Those were her own words.

    I never asked either of them for anything and they had no financial contributions or burden for of the wedding — my now Mother in law had paid for my entire bridal shower and bachelorette party. All they had to do was show up to the wedding and stand by my side, but unfortunately they couldn’t even manage that.

    The final straw was when both of them RSVPed and then did not show up to the wedding or reception. Not only did they disappoint over and over again and embarrass me twice by accepting to be in the roles of MOH and then declining, but they had me waste a lot of money on two plates for them at the reception.

    It’s a sad fact that your supposed friends will always without a doubt disappoint you in some way or other, just like the OP had experienced with her “friend”. Some will be worse than others.

    You will come to learn in life that your only true friends are your family — your husband or wife, your parents, your spouses parents and brothers and sisters, etc. People are very selfish and self-absorbed and will turn in the other direction in a heartbeat when things get tough or if they become jealous of you or something you’ve accomplished.

    As much as it hurts at first you will get over it and wonder why you ever gave a crap about them in the first place.

  3. Karen says:

    I also had similar experience. I had a very close group of friends and one of them was my best friend. I was very disappointed when none came to visit me after my surgery and only 1 texted me to ask about my situation. When I asked my best friend about this, she said I was too demanding.

    I was very hurt but doubtful whether I was really too demanding to my friends. If my friends have surgery, I surely would be very concerned and ask about them, even if not visit them in hospital.

  4. her says:

    I have this best friend of mine who just recently met a guy.(one week) but when he asked her to go some place she accepted with out second thinking. The only problem was her and I had already agreed to go with me! Its this simple fact that pissed me off all week so i fidnt really want to talk to her. We would go to lunch and i wouldnt really talk to her. So, she went with him. Also one day while we were walking he came up to her (i had thought it was cute) until she ignored me and I tried to talk to HER and she just laughed and kept talking to him. Now let me make something clear i am beyond happy that she found a cute guy to like but just the fact that i have ALWAYs put her before my guy and i cant get that in return. As of niw she says that i am jelous and she has always been a third wheel and that she has never done any of the things she did. As of now she also doesnt want to talk to me which im not going to lie i told her not to unless she could handle talking to bith of us because i dont want the shitty end of the stick. Am i over reacting or am i correct to feel kindda pissed off about it?

  5. jordan says:

    hello, im having a problem with my bestfriend, she is mad at me nor does not trust me bbecause i didn’t tell her i seen her guy friend in georgia when i was there and he touched my butt. and obtold him i was gonna tell on him, so i bribed him if he don’t buy me any gymshoes im telling. so he removed me from his friend on facebook, she found out a year later by going through his phone. now she does not trust me, nor will she talk to me. she said she forgives me but still won’t talk. she post things on facebook saying stuff about loyal friends, was i wrong for not telling her? and should i just let her go, mind you i am a newlywed, and i don’t have time for the bull crap, i thought i was being a friend not telling, and besides that i really didn’t think much of it after it happened, me amd him have not talked since the accurance. she also told a friend of mine it was her fault we no longer are friends because of her, she was with me at the time, mind you that is a friend of mine.
    i decided to no longer keep texting her asking to remain friends, feel lile im begging. was i wrong?

  6. Andrew says:

    I’m sorry to hear it. Unfortunately, even good friends are known to miss the train that’s bringing help and morale support. We live in an age of so many distractions and we can be so wrapped up in what we’re doing.

    My motto is “Always Seek to Understand.” There is often the other side of the coin. For example, a friend that becomes distant may actually be going through a crisis or suffering from depression. Jumping to conclusions can not only be useless but detrimental.

    It is possible that your friend just doesn’t know how to respond well in this case. We are not all blessed with 100% friendship etiquette and social skills. Dare I say we all have blind spots and there’s always room for improvement?

    I remember when my step-father died. At one point during the outdoor ceremony my cousin prompted me to stand next to my mother who was only a few meters away. It was definitely the right thing to do. Why hadn’t I done that. Was I uncaring or not supportive? The truth is I was in a daze and was having trouble processing the death of someone so close to me. Sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

    Don’t stew about it. Subtly let your friend know how you feel. “I was really hoping you’d come around and visit me or at least call me. Is everything okay?”

  7. Marina says:

    Hey Ella,

    I read what you wrote and I think that it’s pretty lame that your friend “forgot” to call you after your surgery.
    It’s also a reasonable expectation that she check in and see how you’re doing…
    My birthday is tomorrow and I still haven’t heard back from a flaky, ambivalent friend about having such I together for my birthday. I suggested it to her, feeling like I had to remind her about my birthday, she seemed enthusiastic… Then… Nothing. I know she just started a new job but that is no excuse not to check in and explain the situation.

    To have a real relationship with someone communication is important. If you find you try to communicate with someone how you feel let down and it doesn’t get through, or you feel dismissed… What kind of a relationship is this?

    You’re not alone in being confused by a friends behaviour…..

  8. Elle says:

    Here your friend out first, and then if what she tells you doesn’t justify her absence, gently–but diplomatically express how hurt you were and that you cherish her friendship and lean on her for support at time such as this. You are coming from a place that cares…not being judgmental…but opening up about your feelings. Any solid, true friendship should be able to withstand open communication like this–when all is not right. The open door policy should be mutual between two people, in terms of openinig up about disappointments and/or expectations. It will only strengthen your bond.

  9. Laura says:

    Your expectation to hear from your friend is a valid one, especially since a week has passed. Aside from calling, there is text, email, Facebook, so there are ways of making contact that are not intrusive and won’t disturb you. She could have also sent a card. That said, I would not end a 20 year friendship over this unless this was the “last straw.” I would ask your friend why you haven’t heard from her and listen. You are the one that had the surgery and it’s a reasonable expectation that a good friend would follow up afterwards.

    I know how you feel because when my mother died recently I had a long time friend (25+ years) that was basically absent. Interestingly there were several people that were not close friends that really reached out and even some “High School Facebook friends” showed up at the funeral.

    • Irene says:

      Lesson to remember: “Showing up” (or at least offering to) when someone needs you can really make a difference!—whether it means a card, a phone call or a text.

    • Amy F says:

      I have a bunch of friends who are breast cancer survivors. One if us is always having a scan, blood test, procedure or surgery. We expect that the person will post an update when she’s able to. We’ve had do many procedures between us nobody makes a big deal out if anything that doesn’t require a hospital stay. We’re also between 45-70, so perhaps age is also a factor.

      What happened after your mom’s death also happened when I was dx with breast cancer. Some friends backed away–one had recently lost her mom to cancer and it hit too close to home. But some of my tangential friends were there for me and we became closer.

      I think people can handle what they can handle, and that it’s not personal most of the time.

  10. Mara says:

    Amy has a good point. Your friend may be trying not to be invasive or thinking she doesn’t want to disturb you. Was everything normal and pleasant when you saw each other three days before your surgery? I had a friend once who started calling hospitals and called my hospital room after I had gotten out of surgery. I was annoyed! I can see after a week why you would expect to hear from her, but she might just think you are resting and that she’ll hear from you when you feel up to it, and from her point of view she is being respectful of your space and healing time. She could just be self-absorbed. It likely depends on the overall context of your friendship and her personality.

    • Mary says:

      I wouldn’t be annoyed if friends called but (if really bad off) I’d would ask if she could call later or come around when I’m feeling better. So what she called hospitals looking for you, that’s more than most people get.

  11. Amy F says:

    As an old friend once said to me: The phone works both ways. You haven’t contacted her either. She might be sitting home wondering if you’re a “best friend”, since you never called to tell her about the surgery.
    I have a close friend who doesn’t call after surgery, because she doesn’t want to disturb people. She says she wouldn’t want to be disturbed if she hard surgery. She’d rather call people when she feels better. I’ve had a lot surgery and she’s never called me. But I know she loves me and even though I’m always happy to hear from her, I need to respect her comfort level.

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