• Handling Breakups

Shut out of my best friend without explanation

May 27, 2015 | By | 27 Replies Continue Reading

A woman is perplexed when she is shut out by her best friend who suddenly severs their friendship.

QUESTION

He Irene,

First of all, I am reading your book and it is great!  I am about halfway through and yet to see a friendship scenario like mine though.

My best friend of five years, Anne, recently moved an hour away from me. We were so excited to finally live close to each other as we had always lived a two-hour plane flight away. She is 39, and I am 32. She and I are both single and heterosexual.

My friend drove up here and stayed with me for a week before finding a place in the city where she had a job. She had no other friends there as far as I was aware. She moved in her new place and I went to visit in January and everything seemed FINE.

Literally the next week, she told me to stop texting her. This eventually lead to her ignoring me completely. After threatening to go down and see her in person, she eventually gave me a vague reason that I had been too critical and smothered her. She told me she no longer wants anything to do with me and “to get over it and move on.” To say I am hurt is an understatement.

Initially, I thought maybe Anne had met a new boyfriend and was hiding it from me. Why she wouldn’t tell me I couldn’t figure out. She has never had boyfriends since I have known her but has gone on dates etc, and has had boyfriends when she was younger. I emailed another very close male friend of hers, and said I was worried about her. Understandably, he didn’t want to reveal too much but told me to give her time and contact her in a few months. He has led me to believe it’s an issue with her that is going on.

For very obvious reasons, I am now suspecting my friend may be gay or bisexual and is in a relationship with a woman. If this is the case, I can see why she needed some time and space away from me to get her head around it. However, I cannot understand how she could be so brutal towards me.

She has told me she wants nothing more to do with me, so I have left her alone. I am finding it so very difficult not having any answers or confirmation of my suspicions. I am hurt she couldn’t confide in me, as I am or was her best female friend.

My question is have you ever come across this scenario before? Any advice?

Signed, Maureen

ANSWER

Hi Maureen,

I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I can understand how hurt and disappointed you must feel about losing your best friend and being shut out so suddenly without any explanation.

In answer to your question though, I have heard other stories similar to yours from time to time when a friend has a perceived problem or “secret” they are unable to share, even with people to whom they felt close. As a result, they sever long-standing relationships without explanation. This even happens in marriages.

You have a hunch this may be related to your friend’s homosexuality but it could be any one of a number of things. Sometimes, people are dealing with physical or emotional problems of their own or of a close family member (e.g. mental illness, addiction, legal problems, etc.) that they find humiliating or embarrassing to share, or they isolate because they are totally overwhelmed emotionally by the nature of their own situation.

This male friend seems to have confirmed that whatever transpired had much more to do with your friend’s inner turmoil than it has to do with you, per se. Unfortunately, you have no choice but to back off and respect the decisions your friend has made vis-a-vis her relationship with you.

Don’t second-guess the friendship you shared. If you felt like everything was fine prior to the drastic change in your friend’s behavior towards you, it probably was. It isn’t likely that she anticipated the breakup much before it occurred.

To lose a best friend is a loss that takes time to get over. What makes it even harder is that you don’t have your best friend around to help you do so.

My heart goes out to you.
Best, Irene

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Category: HANDLING BREAKUPS

Comments (27)

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  1. Lisa Ledig says:

    Hi Maureen,

    I have to agree with everyone here. We as human beings don not like to see fault in ourselves, however, we all have faults. It is our job to recognize and then CHANGE these faults as they can and do turn people away. I had a friend who always said she can’t hold friendships, people leave her within weeks of knowing her, I said are there things you know you need to change about yourself but find it difficult to do, Her answer NO! there is the problem right there. If you truly don’t see that your behavior and actions are overwhelming for your friends, then go to a therapist and they will tell you what you are missing or denying exist within you. sometimes changing is the hardest to do, with the exception of admitting there are changes needed. I think it may help if you reread your post or read it to several people and ask them what is their perception of the post, don’t tell them its yours and see what responses you get, this may have you seeing this in a new light. I wish you all the best.

  2. Vanessa C says:

    It is horrible to go through the breakup of a friendship, but something must have bothered her so much that she had to cut and run. She is not going to come around unless you leave her alone. Even if she does come back, (whether she is gay or straight is not the issue) how do you know she won’t do this again? I am telling you now to just accept this and grieve. Then, get on with your life. I have been the victim of a supposed friend who would drift out of my life and reappear with no explanation. But I ALLOWED it. Don’t do the same thing.

  3. Bizzy says:

    Agreed–her answer–too critical and smothering–was very clear. She doesn’t owe you any more explanation.

  4. Darlene says:

    Maureen, I can totally understand feeling hurt right now. I would suggest looking back over the week you were together, maybe your friend gave you hints that you didn’t see at the time. Lots of people have huge problems with directly confronting others with anything negative, but if she was disliking your behaviour, it would have been hard for her to hide it over the course of a one week visit.

    If not, then all you can do is give her the space she needs. Don’t beat yourself up, take whatever lessons there are in this situation and move forward. If she is going through something in her life and it had nothing to do with you, she will likely contact you in the future.

    All the best to you.

  5. Maddie says:

    It is never a good idea to “threaten ” to show up on a person’s doorstep when they have told you they do not want contact with you . That’s an extreme boundary violation.

    She did tell you why she wanted to end the relationship. It may hurt but it was not vague.

    • Maddie says:

      For “very obvious reasons” you assume she is gay?

      What obvious reason was that?

      And so what if she is?

      That’s a strange assumption to make when someone decides they need a break from you.

      I kind of think Irene missed the boat on this one. The entire smothering issue was overlooked.

      The entire letter reeks of it.

  6. Laura says:

    My 1st thought, like others here, is that her explanation that you were critical and smothering was not vague. What I don’t like is that she didn’t address this feeling before she reached the boiling point and ended the friendship. That doesn’t seem fair.

  7. Dionne says:

    You need to learn to accept NO. When someone tells you that want to be left alone, leave them alone.

    • Dionne says:

      Oh dear.

    • Dionne says:

      Okay, guess I should have clarified, I was with you at the beginning of your post. I think often when someone decides to move on from a friend, it’s not over some huge wrong or deep secret but just because we no longer feel much in common with them, they get on our nerves, whatever. Although they may think it happened overnight, we just get to the point where we don’t want to invest the effort and time with that person anymore. When you’re the one left behind, yes, it can be painful.

      But you lost me when you didn’t accept that it’s her right to do that. Demanding reasons, then arguing with the reason given, threatening to show up at her door, contacting friends of hers to try to get information she didn’t decide to give you- No, that’s completely ignoring other people’s boundaries.

      Hopefully it will be a learning experience. Good luck.

      • Laura says:

        She was very upset and when people are upset they don’t always operate on their best behavior.

        • Dionne says:

          Laura, yes, but no one said anything to the contrary. However, this was no spur of the moment behavior, she didn’t seem to see anything wrong with it from her post, and she asked for our opinions, which she received. So I’m not sure what you’re arguing with.

        • Jared says:

          Laura,

          In my experience, people don’t say anything about criticism or being smothered until it’s too late. At first, they try to overlook it or think that maybe it’s a one-time thing or that it won’t bother them. However, when it reaches the boiling point and they finally say something, the gig is up.

          Sometimes it’s hard to tell someone they are being intrusive because we think they should already know better. Often we are blind to how our behavior affects others.

          Personally, I know that if my opinion is going to be criticized, I just keep it–and my friendship–to myself. I suspect part of the problem is that this friend lived with Maureen for a week. You know the saying that you don’t know someone until you live with them?

          I’ve known many people who went on vacation with a friend and then decided they didn’t like the person all that much. You have to be very close to spend nearly 24 hours a day with someone, and if you have a bad habit (like being critical) it will be obvious in little time.

          I once went on vacation with a guy who complained almost the entire time that he wished “this or that” friend had come with us. In the end, it felt like my company wasn’t enough. All the friends he listed were supposedly “more fun” than me even though they could no afford said-trip. Needless to say, I don’t speak to him anymore.

          • Dionne says:

            I agree, Jared.

            Although people can feel like they know each other well after five years, they may not when it’s long distance.

            Also, the people I’ve known who wouldn’t accept someone’s decision to end a friendship may well have been told to back off earlier but not accepted that, either.

            I think it’s quite possible that some people just don’t get those boundaries and may do much better once someone tells them. It will be interesting to see if the original poster says anything about that.

            • Jared says:

              I think you’re right, Dionne. One issue is that to become good friends with someone, we have to find a person who wants a similar sense of connectedness. (If that makes sense. I struggle with how to word it)

              For example, some people enjoy being called every day. Other people would label that as smothering.

              There was one guy I wanted to be friends with a while back, but he called me four or five times a day. I told him that was too much and he responded, “Why?”

              I didn’t think it needed an explanation. Although I enjoyed his company, his sense of clingy-ness overwhelmed me, and I had to end the friendship by cutting him off entirely.

              I’ve found that once someone is the smothering kind, they can’t help themselves. It’s almost an obsessive compulsive behavior.

      • Beth says:

        Why is it when these people who were supposed to be our friends come over and spit over the area that was our friendship – that that is not a boundary issue? You are cowards. Unable to tell and then see the pain you are causing. There was a relationship with an agreement that you will be kind to each other and that there is trust. You broke that without an ounce of kindness.

  8. Ang says:

    I am sorry that you are going through the loss of a longtime best friend. I understand that is hard, I’ve lost friends too and have been dumped. The only way to deal with this now is to think about why she doesn’t want to speak to you. She told you that you were smothering her. That is a big possibility. I’ve had to sadly end friendships due to smothering from the other person. And it isn’t easy to tell the other person that they are smothering, it does sound rude, and a lot of the time, the other friend will get mad. With me, I just had to ignore phone calls and texts. I’d like to have more friends but it was good for me to lose more friends ’cause it’s healthier that way than having friends that are too needy. I hope this helped. Good luck and I wish you the best!

  9. Someone says:

    Maureen, I hate to say this but I agree with the others here. I’m sorry you are hurting, but I think there is a real possibility you are blind to the fact that some of your behaviors may have made her feel smothered and criticized. It’s hard for us to realize how we come off to others sometimes, especially when we are angry or feel slighted.

    It just doesn’t make any logical sense for your friend to shut you down like this for no reason. I would try to examine my actions and words and be REALLY honest with myself. Do I have a tendency to be smothering? Do I project expectations on this friend? Do I bring a sense of heaviness and obligation to others with my projecting?

    It seems there is a whole world of explanation in this situation behind a locked door. Perhaps the only way to unlock this door is with the key of self-awareness. Good luck to you!

  10. Amy F says:

    Maureen, I’m sorry you’re hurting, but I think you have it all wrong.

    “For very obvious reasons, I am now suspecting my friend may be gay or bisexual and is in a relationship with a woman”

    If a friend thought that the boundaries I was setting was because of this, I wouldn’t want her to contact me either. It reeks of homophobia.

    I agree with Jared, your friend set limits, told you were smothering her, then you went behind her back to “investigate”, which seems like proof of smothering to me. I

    Setting boundaries isn’t “brutal”, it’s healthy. People set them for their own comfort level, not the other person’s. She might regard you as being brutal for disrespecting her privacy. If this is friend is an internet friend who you’ve never lived near or spend face to face time to, the two of you might not be compatible as real time friends, as well.

    I realize my response has been direct. You might consider it harsh. If you decide to check in with her in a few months, I hope you’ll reconsider your theories and respect her right to define parameters that are comfortable for her.

    • Laura says:

      I agree about internet friends. I’ve always made a point of getting to know someone I meet online and get close to, in real time, to be sure it’s “real.”

  11. Jared says:

    Maureen, I believe your friend gave you the perfect explanation. You just didn’t listen. You wrote, “she eventually gave me a vague reason that I had been too critical and smothered her.”

    This is NOT a vague reason. No one wants to be around someone who is overly critical. As much as I want more friends, I have ended friendships where I have felt smothered as well.

    I’m very sorry that this separation hurts you, but your friend gave you a very clear answer. There is no need to wonder about her sexuality or call mutual friends to ask the problem. In fact, it is irrelevant information. Whether she is a lesbian or not, has no bearing on her friendship with you.

    To me, you had the answer before you ever wrote this e-mail. I personally find it very intrusive when I give someone an answer, and they keep questioning me as if the answer I gave wasn’t enough. Perhaps her reason isn’t enough for you, but ask yourself this: would you want to hang out with someone who is critical and smothers you?

    It takes a lot for some of us to even tell someone that they were smothered because it comes across as rude and ungrateful, but in the end, it is the truth.

    I agree with your ex-friend. It’s time to move on because all this speculation on your part sounds like smothering even across the screen.

    Good luck.

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