• Resolving Problems

When Friends Let You Down: What to Do Next

Published: August 21, 2022 | Last Updated: August 21, 2022 By | Reply Continue Reading
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Friendship Doctor offers advice about what to do when friends let you down, responding to a reader’s hurtful experience. 

QUESTION

Hi,

I recently got back in touch with a childhood friend whom I always held in high regard. He had recently visited me, and I ended up paying for most of his travel and expenses, wanting to be a gracious host.

When an opportunity for me to get a free airline ticket came up, I discussed the idea of visiting him, and he agreed to the visit. I paid for our groceries and dinners and even cleaned up his place to ensure it was tidy.

My friend asked me to help him with the light bill and laundry expenses because it was a strain on him and his roommate. He told me they had to move furniture around, and they had to cover their religious altar. Basically, he said I was in the way of their religious routine and daily living.

When he basically told me I wasn’t welcome ever to visit again, I cut my trip short and left some money for electricity, along with cleaning and laundry expenses. I managed to find a ticket to fly out early, and he seemed surprised.

I’m still feeling hurt and shocked. We had been close friends for decades, and I was there for my friend during recent surgeries and his recovery from them.

There was no remorse on his part. Although he agreed to the visit, he acted like I showed up at his door and crashed. Sorry, my first language is Finnish, so my grammar may be lacking.

Signed, Juho

ANSWER

Hi Juho,

When friends let you down, it is normal to feel hurt and disappointed. In this case, I’m not quite sure why your friend acted this way.

Were your expectations of this friendship realistic? It seems like you went overboard in both paying for his expenses to visit you and in covering all the expenses of your visit to him.

 Is there such a big disparity between your income/economic level and his to warrant this? Would he have come to visit you if he had had to pay for his visit?


Here are some general tips for what to do next when friends let you down:

REASSESS YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF THE FRIENDSHIP 

When friends let you down assess whether your expectations of the friendship were realistic. Yes, you’ve known this friend for quite some time but was this rude behavior out of character or in keeping with the past? Has the friendship been reciprocal or has he always been on the receiving end, and you on the giving?

When you do an “autopsy” or look back on this friendship, you may realize that you misjudged his character and the quality of your friendship.

COMMUNICATE YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT

When friends disappoint us, it’s important to try to understand what happened from the other person’s perspective. It sounds like your friend may be experiencing challenging financial problems. Even though you were very generous in paying for his expenses and yours, he may have felt humiliated by your generosity.

If you still care about the friendship, after your hurt and upset have settled down, see if you can speak to him and find out how he is doing. When you hear his side of the story, you may find that his behavior has more to do with things happening in his own life than it does with your visit. Was he uncomfortable because of his roommate? 

Discussing this will help you understand this rather odd and offputting behavior, so you can heal and move forward. You can also let him know how much it hurt you.

DECIDE WHETHER YOU WANT TO KEEP THIS FRIENDSHIP

Depending on the nature of your discussion, you may decide that you want to maintain the friendship (since you have so much history together) but downgrade it to a more superficial relationship (e.g., occasional communications by phone or email.) 

Alternatively, you may realize that this friendship is no longer satisfying for you. Not all friendships, even very good ones, last forever. This is especially true with long-term friendships because people change with different life experiences.

LEARN FROM THIS UPSETTING EXPERIENCE

It sounds like you can feel good about yourself because you are a generous and supportive friend. But are you making good choices regarding friendships? 

Is your circle of friends so limited that you feel desperate— willing to keep an unsatisfying one at any cost? If so, allow yourself the opportunity to foster healthier relationships that are more reciprocal and satisfying.

I hope this is helpful and that I have understood the nature of your friendship dilemma.

Best, Irene


Also on The Friendship Blog:

Expecting…..And Feeling Let Down By Friends

Tags: , , ,

Category: Disappointing friends

Leave a Reply