• Keeping Friends

My best friend isn’t there for me

Published: December 27, 2014 | Last Updated: December 28, 2014 By | 19 Replies Continue Reading
A woman feels jealous because her friend isn’t there for her and treats other friends differently.



I don’t know what to do. I’m 59 years old and have had a group of friends for a really long time. Our children have grown up together and now we are all grandmothers.

This is about one of my friends. When we are together, she is really nice and we are best friends. But when I need her support, she isn’t there for me but is always there for every one else. She invites other friends to lunch at her house but not us (me and my husband). When we are together our husbands have a great time and she says we are sisters and things like that but I don’t feel that she is sincere.

Should I say something or should I just stay away and accept that our friendship is not what I think it is? I get really angry with myself and think that I’m acting like a child. I would love your opinion.

Signed, Fran


Hi Fran,

It has to feel rotten when a long time friend treats you differently than she treats other friends and you don’t know why.

One explanation may be that you have different expectations of your friendship and place different demands on her than other people. Or else, for whatever inexplicable reason, she simply reacts differently to you. Maybe she isn’t there for you because she sees you as less needy of support, for example. Maybe she is more comfortable seeing you “in small doses.”

I take it that you don’t want to give up on this friendship completely so if you feel frustrated and angry, you either need to say something to her or modify your expectations.

For example, you can’t ask to come to lunch at her house but you can invite her to come to yours or ask her to go out together with your husbands. If there is some concrete way in which she is being unsupportive or uncaring, you can mention that to her at the time. She may not even be aware of it. Of course, be careful not to dredge up old hurts that you failed to express previously. Keep it current.

Sometimes people say they are our best friends but have views of best friendships that are discrepant, and more limited, than our own. My sense is that you will probably need to lower your expectations of this woman and find other sources of support. While she may not be a “best friend” by your definition of the term, you both have a long shared history and can still enjoy spending time together.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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Comments (19)

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  1. xiaoeee says:

    Why not just stay strong and move on when you need it most? Your weaknesses will become your strengths when you expose them to most damaging factors.

  2. Markeba says:

    Hello Mrs.Irene..I have a situation with my (bestfriend)…she is a onesided individual..and what I mean when I say that is…the friendship on her part don’t always seem genuine…it’s like ok…you don’t text is what she say..then she do text…ok put it this way..I have not been a real out spoken person…where those who know me…they know this…so they seem to tske advantage..I have some what out grown that…I speak up..however..only when there is a time too..I do not just say whatever I feel..I am a thinker before I speak.. I just cannot say anything to anyone…my bestfriend is opposite of me..she will come to me say what she feels..however let me do that to her..which (I wouldn’t to a point)..and her feelings all hurt…I received this website from her..when I texted her..and said hello bff…just saying hello..and checking to see how you and the kids are…now this is what I said in my text to her..and I did not get a response a week…and when I did…this is the site she sent me…nothing else just this site talking about what a bestfriend mean…I was like WOW…let’s talk about someone who should have received this site…I did notveven respond to it at all..just been on here trying to listen…and maybe look at me..myself..maybe I missed something…

  3. Markeba says:

    Well I just wanted to say I am so sorry to hear about your dad…even if it’s been years…Still!!…What I am really trying to find out is how can a person say bestfriend and do not know what that word means…I feel like during hard times…as well as good…You should be there for your bestfriend/bestfiends..and if you don’t have any incouraging words…it is better to keep the mouth shut…and just love on the person…(hugs)..(hugs)..and more Hugs…:-)

  4. Alice says:

    I have been observing the posts on this blog for a year now. More often than not, the advice is given to realize that one’s friends are all individuals, that one should accept their faults and celebrate their positive traits, etc.
    What has been invaluable to me is to realize that I, for example, have life experiences that make me more needy for friendship than my friends. In the past, this neediness has caused pain because most women friends do not have the same level of need as myself. Often, this lack of need results in women that make less of an effort to be kind, caring, responsible, giving, the list could go on. Another result is the perception on their part that a minimual amount of effort towards friendship is quite suffient. My husband (and male friends) have suggested I lower my expectations while upholding my standards. This has been the best advise I’ve received. If rationalizing the fact that your friends lacking towards others (outside their own family members) is just the way they are and should be accepted as acceptable, go right ahead. Whatever works for you. For me, placing them one tier lower on the worthwhile spectrum works best and frees up more of my time, effort, and donations (money) I can put towards those that deserve it.

    • cali says:

      I liked reading your description, and I hope you have some better friends. I think I have a similar situation and have experienced the lack of ‘kind, caring, giving’ from a friend. I have a friend who is so lovely when we’re actually together and talking, it seems as if we have the best exciting connection, but her effort to nurturing the friendship, is well, very small. It’s such an effort to organise a catch up, she seems to avoid any real solid plans or questions, but loves to spend hours philosophising about rainbows. I can’t count anymore how many times when I’ve given her a Christmas/birthday present she has nothing and said the same ‘I have a card for you guys at home’. I would prefer she said nothing. The ups and downs (calling me her ‘best friend’ then when I was going through a tough time for months being completely absent) It hurt for a long time because I considered her my ‘best’ friend besides my husband. Now I’m working on seeing her as just a mate, who I sometimes have great conversations with. Working on it!

  5. tanja says:

    This feeling that you have of your friendship must be frustrating. I think you may have a different expectation of the friendship than she does. That is okay. Some people don’t really know how to be there in a support situation. From my experience, some friends are only there for the good times but in times of support, they really don’t know how to be or act with you. For example, I have a twin sister and she was only going to have one child. Well, when our father was hit by a car and was in ICU, a lot of our friends did not help or respond appropriately. I even had a friend whose mom died of cancer when she was 15, say to me that I should be at least happy that I have someone to be mad at, where as she has no one to be mad at. I told her I did not want to compare situations, it is all so different.

    That was three years ago and my sister decided after he passed away to have a second child because she realized that my sister and I became closer than ever before and we are still now, but she was disappointed with what her friends said to her, I was disappointed with how my friends reacted to me and I was 8 months pregnant with my second when he passed away. But, she decided to have a second because no one will ever be there for you like a sibling, we discovered. She got pregnant about a year after that happened.

    So, some people don’t know how to behave in times of support. I say if you care about this friendship, take what you can get and lower your expectations of what a friendship should be.

    • Markeba says:

      Well I just wanted to say I am so sorry to hear about your dad…even if it’s been years…Still!!…What I am really trying to find out is how can a person say bestfriend and do not know what that word means…I feel like during hard times…as well as good…You should be there for your bestfriend/bestfiends..and if you don’t have any incouraging words…it is better to keep the mouth shut…and just love on the person…(hugs)..(hugs

  6. Maddie says:

    I say just accept the friendship for what it is since you enjoy spending time with her. Don’t compare your relationship with that of her other friends.

    Also some people are not equipped to deal with other people’s problems and offer support. It just is what it is.

    • Markeba says:

      I disagree…I feel that friendship should be one sided….and if that is not the case…then u should not call someone ur bestfriend if u only think of them as an associate…there is a difference…and I think that it is very phony…and unfair to the person who gives their all….and in return get’s nothing…I am not talking about material things here…I am simply speaking about real genuine friendship…so I totally disagree…

    • Markeba says:

      I apologize.. I had a bad typo…I meant I think friendships should not be one sided…

  7. Laura says:

    Sometimes people use phrases like “best friend” or “I love you” without a lot of substance behind it. It can be confusing for those of us that are sincere and chose are words carefully. As the saying goes “Actions speak louder than words”.

    • Laura says:

      Oops, should be “choose our…”

    • Markeba says:

      I agree….I have a (bestfriend)….whom I have known since I was ten…we did not start off as friends…because as kids we got into fights with eachother..and as we became adults..and more mature…called eachother bestfriends…our children grew up together…and she also has a child by my cousin…well a few years ago I started questioning our bestfriendship…and I still do today…my bestfriend is like someone who acts a certain way ..which makes u be like who do she think she is talking to…like one situation…she invited me…and my kids to her home for dinner…she don’t purchase paper plates…because she say black folks always like to take plates home…and that is fine by me if she do not purchase plates…however I invite her to my home for dinner..and I am the total opposite..I buy paper plates…I do not care who take a plate home…I rather the fun to be eaten…then wasted…and she knows this…so she will come to my home eat how much she please..and take how many plates as she wants…because I am a very hospitable person when I have guess at my home..it’s always one sided with her…or she thinks she know more than by the comments she makes…

    • Markeba says:

      I totally agree with what you said ….I was just talking about this during my bible study….Jehovah God feels the same way as well..(And He Is Perfect)..you can say I love God all day long…however unless you show..those words don’t mean nothing…James:2:26;..Indeed,Just as the body without spirit is dead…(or breath),so also faith without works is dead..God wants genuine friendship..genuine love…and a person who feels the same way..wants that as well.. We were created in the image of our creator..so we have alot his (Jehovah God)…Qualities….

  8. Amy F says:

    I love Irene’s response. Redefining my expectations haa saves me a lot of hurt feelings, as has checking in with friends to see if “we’re ok”. Like you I have a group of close friends, though not for quiet as long. I am closer to a few than I am the rest, one in particular, but I don’t consider her a best friend. I have individual relationships in addition to the group relationship with some, but not all the friends, simply because we mesh. Throughout years I’ve been closer to this one or that one, depending on what’s gone on in our lives. Once or twice I’ve asked the “are we ok” question. Looking back, I think they were times when I fell into a funk or when I was emotionally vulnerable, and not related to anything ofriends did or something that would have felt hurtful when I got out of the funk. I tend to microanalyze when I’m stressed or depressed. Asking the “are we ok” infrequently made one of my friendships stronger because we both talked about topics we might not have discussed if I hadn’t asked.

    Ideally, if something is bothering your friend about the relationship, she’d tell you what’s bothering her, but not everyone has those communication skills. In your case, I’d probably invite her to lunch saying it’s been a while since we’ve had lunch. Actually, I’d treat her to lunch since giving her food poisoning from my lousy cooking could be a possible outcome. If you need support and she isn’t there for you, I’m sure others in your group would be good listeners. Since it has happened more than once, I’d probably seek my support elsewhere. I think the best thing you can do is avoid overanalyzing, check in with her or temper your expectations or a combo.

    Good luck figuring everything out.

  9. Linda says:

    Hi Fran —
    I’m your age. In my experience, Irene’s comment about lowering your expectations is the best advice. And I can really relate to your situation, as I’ve had a friend for 30 years who calls me her “best friend” yet isn’t often there for me when I need her. She’s a delightful person and I love her dearly, but she’s one of those people who takes more than she gives (and truly doesn’t realize it). Our long-running pattern: She won’t hesitate to ask me for help or a favor, but whenever I am going through a crisis, large or small, she is usually too busy to notice, or is unavailable.

    I’ve learned over time that this “best friend” sees me as someone who doesn’t need as much help or sympathy or attention as she does; so she takes me for granted. She admits that she thinks of me as a big sister who’s always there for her. So that’s the role she wants me to play. Once I figured that out, I gradually started pulling back and stopped jumping to her tune. Over time, the pattern eased up — and I think she got the point. Even if she didn’t, at least I stopped feeling resentful. I needed to respect myself in the friendship.

    Because this woman’s friendship is valuable to me — my husband and I have a great time with her and her husband — I’ve lowered my expectations and have learned to turn to other friends for the support I need. Sometimes, now, this friend will surprise me and pull through for me. And while she still calls me her best friend, I now have a team of several best friends of my own, each one being special to me in her own way. I don’t think it’s possible for one person to meet all of my friendship needs. This way, I spend more time enjoying my friends and less time feeling hurt by or resentful of them. Hope this helps!

    • Markeba says:

      I agree with you…and my bestfriend is the same way…she’s like her way…or no way….I remember she judged me on s situation I had going on….and she then turned around and was in a situation the same as I…however she said to me please bf don’t judge me please…I don’t do things like that…I try to mine my own business…and let you come to me on your own will..so what I am saying I would not say…or do some of the things she do…or say…I love her…however I do not think the word bff fits her…I mean we talk…use to be everyday…she gets jealous…she sometimes step out of line….and I do not think she realize it…I tried telling her this…and she was like I don’t know what you talking about…but I apologize for whatever I did…I really felt mad…and lost at the same time…because I told her…and even broke what I was saying down in a illustration…and she was still clueless to what I was saying…I just really don’twant to keep being placed on this roller coaster….so I will do the love from a distance….

    • Gill says:

      Thank you, Linda. I identified strongly with your balanced and thoughtful response to the dilemma.
      I am having a stressful time right now and don’t always manage to be understanding about lack of sympathy and support from friends. It has made me feel a lot better!

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