• Keeping Friends

Should I try to patch up this online friendship?

March 22, 2012 | By | 5 Replies Continue Reading

The passage of time generally makes it more difficult to clear up misunderstandings, online or off.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

Long story short: My best online friend and I broke up. Actually, it was me who broke up with her over something she had done (something that involved lying to me and not caring about my feelings in general). The thing is I feel like I was the one who was dumped. I broke up with her because I felt that she stopped being my friend, but I regretted it immediately, as I actually wanted to be her friend again.

It’s been two years, and I still sort of want our old friendship back. Or maybe whenever I feel lonely, I miss her. I have many issues with not being a good enough friend, and with burning bridges. It seems I’ve lost so many friends over the years and while I know most of it is a natural process, I can’t help thinking that maybe there is something wrong with me.

I always trusted my instincts but my instincts have always told me to run, run, run. But sometimes I wonder if “once bitten, twice shy” is a good philosophy. I tend to hold grudges for such a long time and I know it’s unhealthy. But now, with this friend, I can’t stop thinking about reaching out again.

We’ve met a couple of times during the last two years, and we’ve talked a bit, but I always feel like she doesn’t want to have anything to do with me anymore. And I’m not even sure if I could handle being her friend, as I sometimes read her blog and get jealous of how well her life turned out when I was not around. Maybe it was the reason she grew so distant? Maybe she is actually better off without me?

I wonder if there’s any point in trying to talk to her again. I deeply regret losing our friendship, but I don’t want to get hurt more by her indifference to me. What should I do?

Thanks, Beth

ANSWER

Hi Beth,

From your note, it sounds like this was primarily an “online” friendship. It’s generally easier and less complicated to end this type of friendship: You don’t have to stress about seeing the person come around the corner each time you leave your house, or worry about bumping into her walking down the office corridor. Although you say you run into her occasionally, it doesn’t sound like this is a frequent occurrence.

While you regret the loss of the friendship and your decision to dump her may have been too impulsive, you still seem to still misgivings about being able to trust this friend again. Given that two years have elapsed, my sense is that it would be hard to renew this friendship—especially given the trust issue that initially precipitated the breakup.

Stop second-guessing yourself. It’s a mistake to continue to read her blog. Stop following her and delete her from your online life. It’s time to move on and taking these steps will go a long way in helping you get over this disappointing friendship.

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling hurt or for standing up for yourself. You deserve more and don’t need to settle for a friendship with someone who isn’t sensitive to your feelings. One takeaway lesson, however, may be that you need to talk about friendship problems when they occur, sooner rather than later, if there is any hope of clearing up misunderstandings.

Best, Irene

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Category: KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think when friendships end due to what one or both parties realize are more petty or trivial matters, as time goes by, those have more of a chance of being resurrected if there was alot of good in the friendship.Often distance changes perspective, and looking back at the big picture can have one realize that the break was unfortunate. Ones where there were doozies of hurt, consistent hurt or more hurt than good, and that were highly problematic, really don’t stand much of a chance of starting again, unless the friend(s) who hurt are able to own up to what they’ve done. In general, of course all situations are different.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I trully felt inspired by the comments, “Don’t beat yourself up for feeling hurt or for standing up for yourself.”

    I too struggled with wanting to possibly reconnect with an old friend who was a toxic friend just because I missed them…which is not a valid reason to reconnect.

    There was a reason this friendship failed and I think Irene really helped remind the importance of standing up for yourself even if it means friendships fail because of personal integrity.


    Bravo Irene!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Uhmm….the most interesting aspect of this post is ‘ longer it has been the harder it is to mend a friendship’..I found this interesting because I have known quiet a few best friend couples, who seem to have a time period in their lives where they were out of contact..over a conflict that only time was able to ease the intensity of emotion.
    I myself had a best friend in college, we ended our friendship very abruptly after she hit another friend of ours….but about 3 years later found ourselves in the same town, and grew into a extremely close best friendship for 10+ YEARS…STRANGE thing we have never even mentioned that incident or the years we were out of contact…
    I have come across other ladies who have similiar stories. I kinda feel that every once in awhile two people have such a great friendship chemistry that ‘ time’ ( usually years) kinda presses the re-set button…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why is that?? Why as time goes by its harder to repair the friendship? Mine is not an online friendship…I see them all the time (my work friends)…Maybe I’m being naive thinking that time will repair the friendship itself..

  5. Cookie says:

    Hi, Beth:
    I can relate to some of what you’re going through. I have regrets all the time about a very old friendship that bit the dust two years ago. In my case, my friend was deceitful (though not malicious) to the extent I felt very uncomfortable. Despite decades of friendship I suddenly felt I didn’t know her at all. She told me about a pretty dramatic change she might be undertaking, but it somehow didn’t ring true to me and I wondered if she concocted a story as an excuse for not having been a good friend to me during a hard time. Anyway, this dramatic change she mentioned gave me an excuse to keep reading her once-a-month blog updates. I was expecting to read all about this big change she’d told me about. But after a year, I saw that nothing had changed. No dramatic change. So … I made myself stop reading the blog and let go. Otherwise i still felt very invested in the friendship even though the friendship is over. I hope that works for you, too. Also, I hope you will be able to take Irene’s advice and not beat yourself up. You’ve done your best, that’s all you can do. Easier said than done, though. I beat myself up too, second-guessing all the time. But the responsibility for the health of a friendship does not rest 100 percent in me or you. The other person has a role to play, too. Take care, and I hope you start to feel better about things soon.Irene, it’s interesting to hear your opinion that as time goes buy, the harder it might be to resurrect a friendship that has died. I never thought about that before.

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