• Handling Breakups

What Do You Consider A ‘Friendship Killer’?

Published: February 27, 2022 | Last Updated: March 1, 2022 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading

What exactly is a friendship killer? It isn’t easy to know when to draw the line and give up on a friendship. There’s a natural tendency to overlook and ignore little signs that something’s awry until that your patience is worn thin by that proverbial last straw: Your frenemy has done something really hurtful that you can’t forget or forgive. Even a lapse in judgment can be a friendship killer. 


Hello Irene,

I really hope you can give me advice because I am feeling so low. In brief, I’ve had a friendship with a woman for the last 5 or 6 years and we have had some great times together. We have two kids around the same ages, the youngest of whom in both cases have special needs, so we have a lot in common.

There have been times in the past when I’ve felt let down by this person – about cancelling things at last minute, not reciprocating favors of all kinds – but I always decided I would just take the good with the bad.

Recently, we had an arrangement that I would collect the younger kids from school at 1:30PM and she would collect the older two at 2:30PM. This was to facilitate a meeting she had at the school about her younger child.

I collected the younger ones, as arranged, and then got a phone call at 2:45PM from another parent who happened to see my son in the school yard by himself. No one had picked him up. I raced to the school, all the time trying to ring my friend as I assumed something must be wrong but I couldn’t get her or her husband (who was also at the meeting).

Anyway, it turned out the meeting ran late and neither her son nor mine were collected (her son was taken home by another mum). When my friend eventually arrived at the school, there was no apology or no inquiry as to whether my son was okay.

When I asked what happened, I got a very casual “Oh, the meeting went on late.” When I then said that my son, who is only 7, was left standing on his own, I got a hand put up in front of me and she said “Not now.” I told her that I was at least expecting an apology, I got a sarcastic “Well it goes without saying that I’m sorry.” At this point, I was so upset I just walked away.

Anyway, I was fully expecting an apology of some sort when she had time to think things over but what actually happened was that she accused me of handling the situation badly and not valuing our friendship. SHE was disappointed in ME.

How this was turned around is beyond me but I just don’t know what to do now. I feel that I can’t win with her if I tell her how I feel. When I tried to pull back, she asked, “Are you not interested in meeting any more?”

It is a very awkward situation as I see her every day at the school and our kids are friends. Should I just try to keep things civil and ignore the hurt I am feeling? Help!



Dear Anna,

I can imagine how upsetting it was to be waiting for your son to come home and not know what happened to him. Clearly, it was irresponsible of your friend to leave him alone; if the meeting ran late, either she or her husband could have gone to get your son or one of them should have called you.

Giving her the benefit of the doubt, her responsibilities to you may have totally slipped her mind or she may have presumed that the two boys were together. Even so, she should have apologized. That she dismissed your feelings and maintained that YOU handled the situation badly was probably a big disappointment.

Sometimes we make allowances for our friends, especially when they’re parents of our children’s friends. Perhaps you’ve bonded more strongly with this friend because of circumstances rather than because you’re soulmates.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not this incident and its aftermath feel like a friendship killer for you. You knew your friend was a bit self-centered and a “taker” but you overlooked these traits before because you valued the friendship overall. If you still feel that way, let go of the grudge and accept her limitations. Try as hard as you may, you can’t change anyone’s personality.

If you decide that you can’t accept your friend as she is, it’s time to downgrade the friendship and treat her like a neighbor/acquaintance. Of course, you want to keep things civil for the sake of the kids.

Hope this helps.


Have you had a bad experience that turned out to be a friendship killer?

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Category: Apologies and forgiveness

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I could not agree more with your assessment. People are becoming more and more self -involved. We all want the space to be ourselves and be accepting for doing so. However, maturity tells us that we must consider others’ feelings in the process, which many seem content to ignore. I don’t believe that is about personality. I believe this to be a character flaw and flaws can be corrected. Of course, this doesn’t mean the person will listen and/or change but you can let your feelings be known. She can take it or leave it. Remember expectations lead to resentment, so don’t expect anything other than to communicate your feelings then let it go. Allow her to either rise or fall to the occasion.
    Best of luck …

  2. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of how you handle the future of this friendship- NEVER trust this woman with your child again. She has proven unreliable- and more importantly has failed to see the potential danger she put your child in and apologize for it. I, for one, could never forgive this in a friend. I would probably move this friendship into the aquaintance category quietly by just moving on and minimizing contact. If I felt this friend was someone I enjoyed in my life, I would try to see her without kids involved. If your children are friends I would try to maintain their friendships by meeting at parks, playgrounds or in each others homes with adult supervision….and maybe with other friends involved.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am sad to say that I do not find this story surprising. I am sorry, Anna, for your pain. No “friend”, and I mean NO friend would leave your baby boy standing outside in times like today with all kinds of crazies out there and not call you, text, or contact you. Unbelievable!
    I recently, twice, dumped “friends” who treated me rudely and with no consideration. I am just at the age now where I quickly cut my losses and move on. I just can’t take part of the person and forget the rest, because in my heart I feel like for me, it is dishonest to just stand by and watch a person behave in ways that are not in keeping with my spirituality and my path in life. But that’s just me. One is a girl I have known since I was 12. This is the second time I have walked away, after a 12 plus years separation. It hurts and I miss her, but it hurts more to settle and be with her and watch her self-destruct.
    I personally feel the world is becoming a ruder and more self centered place in general. People are so self important, and forget to think of other’s feelings as a rule. I would rather be alone more, than unhappy more.
    Be kind, but keep your distance is my best advice. Best wishes!

    • Leeanne says:

      This response is 4 years late but you are absolutely right. I hope this reader took your advice. When I think of what could have happened…the least of which was having her son standing alone in a schoolyard wondering where everyone was, it makes me shudder. A complete disregard for your child and trying to blame you are definite deal breakers for me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed reading this letter and the response to it. This situation especially resonated with me because I frequently have been the injured party who subsequently was blamed by the hurtful party. I don’t understand how some people can twist the facts around to make the sinner appear the saint. In fact, this has happened to me twice at work recently, and I may have to leave my job because of it.

    Honestly, I’m not without faults. But I know when I am the injured party and when I’m not. It’s disappointing when you are unfairly portrayed as the one “in the wrong” in a situation such as the one described. Obviously, the friend in the meeting abrogated her responsibilities toward both her own child and her friend’s. Failing to accept responsibility would be a friendship-killer to me, but everyone must make that decision for themselves.

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