• Handling Breakups

When a close friend backs away

Published: September 20, 2016 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
What do you do when a close friend backs away from a friendship?


Dear Friendship Doctor,

I am stuck in a confused state over my friend of three years. He is a gay young man and I a straight young woman. We are both quite independent and happily so.

We were very close for two years and it had got to us confiding in each other when we were having not so good times, but something changed suddenly within him last year and he began pushing me away. He never told me what the something was though. He ended our friendship six months ago with the excuse that my saying I would like him to spend time with me like he does everyone else came across as jealousy to him.

We reconciled soon afterwards as he realized it was a feeble excuse and that he cared about me, to quote “more than you know” and wanted to work on regaining our friendship. Since then I gave him every opportunity to do this. We happily spent time together, occasionally by going on walks and meeting for lunch. All was fine until I left town two months ago.

He started to behave oddly before my leaving: my sharing good news and accomplishments were met by curt two-word texts and my leaving became an issue as my wanting to see him to say goodbye seemed forced: I had to nearly beg to see him before I left…I was angry and confused, but I ignored it all as I didn’t want the jealousy thing to come up again.

I tried to be as positive as possible and as low stress a friend as could be. However upon my emailing him a happy email inquiring about him and his preparations for some big events, I received a response of brief answers with complaints and negativity but not a single question or even “How are you?”

I found this hurtful and odd and emailed him back asking just that and did he want me to write him at all, to which he said, “It’s time to move on and stop communicating.” I didn’t expect that. Even an “I’m too busy for emails but write if you want” response would have been acceptable. I can understand that but I don’t get this sudden never speak to me again route?

I’ve asked why but never received a response. So I wrote him saying I would write when I had time, hoping that was what he needed. Still– no response. A month later, I asked him to reconcile and even shared a few details about what I’ve been doing and asked about him and his life with no response.

It’s now been two months of immense sadness and psychological trauma while trying to live my life and I still don’t understand it despite reading blogs and forums galore. I really wanted to work things out with him as I will soon be returning there and don’t want to avoid my friend that I care for and miss.

Do you think he is capable of responding after something like this, maybe at least to end things properly instead of leaving me in limbo? What kind of advice do people have for this “I was wrong, care about you, I want to earn your trust back” but then repeating the same mistake without any reasons? I’m so confused and hurt so any words of advice and support will be helpful.

Signed, Miranda


Hi Miranda,

This may not be what you want to hear but my sense is that for one or more reasons your friend hasn’t expressed, he’s decided to place distance between you.

Maybe he reconnected with you briefly because he thought your impending move would bring a natural end to the friendship.

Except for that time, he’s shown little interest in having extended chats with you, sharing his life circumstances or asking about yours. As you say, things have changed.

In fact, he’s told you point blank, “It’s time to move on and stop communicating.” At this point, you have no choice but to take him at his word and respect his wishes. Back off and give him the space he’s asked for.

I know how painful it feels to be “dumped” without having any say in the matter but his changed behavior may have more to do with him than it does with you.

You will need to bring closure to this friendship on your own. Try to fill your life with other friendships and do things you enjoy. No friendship should be this tough or painful. With the passage of time, you’ll realize you deserve better friendships than this one.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Comments (7)

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  1. Jade says:

    Miranda, something simalar happened to me. I know what it is like to be dumped by a good friend without any explanation. The signs were subtle at first. She barely texted me back over the last few months. The frequency it was she would get back to me was less and less. I did a lot of soul-searching and a lot of questioning. I realize the relationship is one-sided. I knew this woman for about 10 years through my husband. She was my sister-in-law and we share the same birthday. We seem to click instantly. When our mutual friend and sister-in-law get cancer we communicated frequently over her health because we helped her out a lot before her passing. We lost our beloved sister-in-law over a year ago to the Battle of cancer. We promise to stick with each other through the hard times. I was okay with being the one site communicator because she would at least call me back. We always had a great time together. We had similar values morals and like the same things. She used to invite me over to watch a movie and spend time with her family. Her kids love me. I don’t have any children but I am very good with kids. Over the last few months communication is stopped. She made several excuses then opted out of getting together many times. I tried asking her what was going on and she reassured me that it was nothing and there she was busy. On our birthday, she said she was sick. I wished her to get better and give her a little bit of time like a week. I contacted her to ask if I can bring her present over and I never got a response. I want up having to throw away because it expired. Finally I told her in a joking manner that I should just mail her a card because I can’t get through to her. She got angry with me and told me it was needy Behavior. I don’t think waiting a month for a response is being needy. Anyways long story short I sent her one last text saying that I would love her to communicate with me and I would not pursue her anymore. She hasn’t spoken with me since. Yesterday she drove right by me as I was walking on the sidewalk give me a dirty look and sped off. I basically told one of our mutual friends that I hated her and wanted nothing to do with her. Now she knows that I’m really angry with her. There’s never any closure and I acted out of anger because I was hurt. I must now accept that the relationship is permanently damaged. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do or you’ll never get an answer as well. It’s easy for people to say well just move on. They are right it is the only thing we can do is human beings. This comes with The Grieving. Just like a death it takes time to move on from the loss. I know there’s nothing I can do to make her be my friend nor will I ever get an answer as to why she did this. I know sometimes I’m a little bit needy I need to work on my self-confidence. I’m not saying that is your situation. If you are a confident person it’s still okay to feel a little bit of sadness from this but don’t blame yourself. I am sure you are a very good person and you will find another friend who will treat you better. Always look for the signs. You must ask yourself these questions. Is the relationship communication always one-sided? Is this person reliable or do they constantly cancel plans? Do they look very different lifestyle from you? Have they giving you criticism that they don’t like some of your values are virtues? For example being childless. I gave everything to my to my old friend. She knew that I would have done anything for her. Clearly she didn’t feel the same about me. I do have friends who accept me unconditionally. Those are the people you need to surround yourself with. Keep yourself busy and find yourself a hobby that has nothing to do with your old friend. If you have mutual friends or family members like I do it may be difficult to avoid them completely. You must do what you have to do to heal. Don’t lash out at this person for not choosing to be a part of your life. Not everybody is comfortable with communicating because it is difficult. A strong person will be honest with you. Find the strength within yourself. It is their loss not yours as long as you treat people the way you want to be treated. I fully believe in karma. As long as you keep being a good person only good will come in your life. The only thing that will help right now is accepting a loss and healing with time. Always remember to be yourself and don’t sacrifice any part of you just to please somebody else. You are worth it!

    • Gail says:

      It hurts terribly to have this happen– ghosted is the expression.I too was friends with a charming man who suddenly told me he didn’t want to be friends any more. I was devastated. There was nothing I could think of that would have offended him. We had a pleasant relationship sharing lunch or breakfast– not a romantic relationship at all. Just fun conversation that I felt gave us a special bond. Yet, I would always come away feeling sad that a real connection was not made or that he never bought into my friendship, though he gave time and attention. He told me he was gay– I respected that.
      If we would have drifted apart naturally, I could handle it– the fact that he made such a point of telling me straight out I see as a way to hurt me, and that’s what bothers me. I was a good friend.
      any attempt to talk on my part was met with a nasty reply which I think is meant to put me off, yet it only confounds me.
      I had to let this go– very hard. We were friends for 4 years.


  2. Amy F says:

    When reading your letter, I couldn’t help to think that that perhaps you were over analyzing the friendship and creating a lot of angst for yourself by personalizing the natural ebbs and flows of friendship and boundaries. You’re talking about his “earning back his trust”, but you also may have to earn back his trust that you won’t try to micromange the relationship, his every reaction to you. The fact that you’re asking what he’s capable of, instead of looking st your own part in the scenario leads me to think that perhaps you are merely mismatched. You seem to need a higher level of reassurance than he wants to give. That doesn’t make either of you right or wrong or a good bad friend. You’re just incompatible at this point in your lives.

  3. lua says:

    Sorry you got dumped by your friend the way you did, but unfortunately it happens. At least he told you he wanted to cut communication. As much as it hurts, you know it’s time to move on. I agree with the other posters, spend time with other friends and stay busy. Just let him go and wish him well. Rejection does suck. But friendships are optional. Good luck and stay strong.

    • Kim says:

      Im going thru this w my friend..we hung out 2x a weeks texts daily more then try cuz she still working. We had dinner the other pm and had a few drinks and lol like always..always good time when we hang out..both agreed to that here. Well the other day she text me “i dont have time for you in my life and it’s nothing you said or did here!?” i was crying amd hurt mad among other feelings and emotions. It’s been 2 months I sent her very short text saying thinking n miss you hope all is well w you job amd family (mostly sisters my friend is single n no kids) I got a response back..im fine thank you have a good PM. Im devasted for why and how come she’s doing this. She was kinda quiet about her personal life..when her mom died i was there cooked her meals etc amd when she was diagnosed with covid I wemt to store for her etc etc. I know she was suposed to move end of month bit idknif she did or not?! What can i do???? PLEASE help me..i miss her much here

  4. LauraSL says:

    Sorry you’re going through this. It’s so painful. I would “do the do things,” i.e. get out and keep busy. This will help put the loss in perspective. See other friends and keep busy. Exercise, preferably in a social setting like the gym or a class, should boost your spirits.

  5. Liz15 says:

    So sorry for you Miranda, it really hurts to be let down. One of my friendships that ended and broke my heart got so much head space that I was letting it overcome me. Finally I had to say stop it to myself every time it came up. For me it went through so many stages of grief, denial, sadness, anger, but eventually you can move on to other friendships and he won’t be your main focus. Hope that you are feeling better soon.

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