When a friends says, It has nothing to do with you~

Published: September 17, 2011 | Last Updated: September 17, 2011 By | 3 Replies Continue Reading

QUESTION 

Dear Irene,

Please forgive my English as it is a
second language for me. I’m Spanish, 30 years old, and male. My best friend and
I were very close friends from an early age. We were born the same year, were
neighbors, attended the same high school, and were even in the same class one
year. Our parents were also friends. 

When my friend turned 18, his family
moved to another country. Nonetheless, we remained very close, called each
other weekly, went to vacations together, and met each other once a year either
in my country or his.

During the past ten years, we have both had very different lives: I attended
university, met a girlfriend who ultimately became my wife, and found a job
that pleases me (It may look "great" but things are a bit more
complex, though fine, but that’s another story!).

On my friend’s side, things appeared to be fine, though much more complicated.
He had a hard time completing university, and struggled to find a lasting love relationship.
But even though we lived thousand of miles apart, we kept discussing everything
— from girlfriends, to jobs, to very personal feelings, and opinions.  Everything was perfect, at least that what I thought.

Last year, an exceptional event happened as my wife became pregnant with our first child. During the first months of pregnancy, business was as usual with
my friend (calls, occasional vacations, etc.). I know he had a hard time
passing one of his last exams.

Then, all of a sudden, in July of last year everything stopped. No emails, no
text messages, no calls, no Facebook messages. Nothing. He never return my
calls and never answered my messages – after begging him to tell me what was
wrong, whether he was fine, and had I did something wrong.

Because I was worried about him and didn’t understand what was happening, I
asked other friends if they had news of him. They said he was perfectly fine. I
learned that he moved to the capital city (he used to live in the suburbs), and
changed his lifestyle. He has started nightclubbing a lot, was living with a
roommate, had met many new people, etc. He has opened up and changed a lot –
positively. I could see on his Facebook page that he appeared to be very happy.
At the same time he has "closed down" to me, and only to me.

After many more attempts to get in touch with him, he finally send me a message
where he barely said that he was ok, and that the "breakup" had nothing
to do with me. I’m afraid that our friendship is now completely over and never
thought that it would be such a hard experience.

I feel deeply saddened by this situation. I don’t really understand what has
happened and why it was so sudden. His situation is not enviable yet, as I
believe that an uncontrollable feeling prevents him from remaining friends with
me. Maybe it’s because I am married and have a child, and as he is still
single, he no longer enjoys being with me. I don’t know. I still miss our
sincere relationship.

Irene, I would be very grateful if you could give me your insight on this
situation. 

Many thanks,

Javier

 

ANSWER

Dear Javier, 

Although most of the posts here are
from women, men have friendship problems, too. Thanks for writing and being one
of the trailblazers! 

 

Anyone would feel as pained as you do when
another person – without any communication or opportunity for input – summarily
ends a close friendship with a long shared history. You have to feel like the rug
was pulled out from under you. This is especially so since you worked hard to sustain
the friendship in spite of distance and because you value friendships the way
you do. 

 

When a friend "dumps" you like this,
it’s hard not to take it personally. By saying it "has nothing to do with you,"
I think your friend means that the growing distance between you, in terms of
lifestyles, was what caused him to shut down. One possibility is that he may
not feel comfortable communicating about the changes he has made because they are
discrepant with your values and lifestyle. Or he may harbor a secret he doesn’t want to share. 

 

At this point, you have reached out to
him several times and he hasn’t been responsive so you need to accept the boundaries he’s set. I agree with him that you should try not to take it
personally; it has more to do with him than you. Perhaps, over time, your
friend will realize what he has given up and feel more comfortable talking to
you. In the meantime, concentrate on all the positives in your life (including
your own ability to be a good friend.)

Yo espero que mi Espanol fue tan bueno como su Ingles!  

I hope this help!

My best,

Irene

 

Some prior posts on The Friendship Blog
about male friendships:
 

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is incredibly painful when a friend drops direct contact with you without any explanation. I am going through this right now. I have asked her if anything is wrong and been told that, no, nothing is, but then the contact has stopped again for several months (and this isn’t just a fading out or a matter of being busy — several direct attempts have gone completely ignored, without even a one-line “I’m busy right now” response, and the stony silence is palpable). It is devastating when you start to feel like a pest just for contacting someone, and you also can’t just keep asking if something is wrong. So the “silent treatment” friend puts the shut-out friend in a terrible spot that they might not even realize is as agonizing as it is. I can’t imagine doing this to anyone who isn’t actually a dangerous person, but sometimes people feel that avoiding confrontation is better than being direct — that silence is less painful than hearing what could be an ugly truth. I do not agree with this at all, but I also can’t expect everyone to be just like me.

    Right now I don’t see how I’m going to get over this without closure. But hopefully I will be able to find peace.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I had a friend of thirty years, S, who “dumped” me in a similarly mysterious way. We had been college roommates, had been in each others’ weddings, given each other baby showers, had playdates with our sons, she came to my mothers funeral.

    A decade ago, S and her family moved to another state, and for the first few years, we visited each other and kept in touch. Then, following the death of her mother (when I was trying to reach out to support her), S stopped returning my calls, cards and emails.

    Like you, Javier, I was devastated, and after five years of painful silence I know the enigma will never be resolved. But one friend, J, gave a good insight. J said, “Your friendship no longer resonated for her.” Whatever changes were taking place in S made it somehow impossible for her to retain her ties with me. It was nothing I did “wrong.” It was just that it was too difficult for her to follow whatever path her life was taken while keeping in touch with me.

    That doesn’t mean I cannot feel hurt or even angry about S’s one-sidedness in deciding the future of our friendship without sharing any of her feelings with me. I do feel angry about all the pain she has caused me. I believe a more evolved, empathetic person would have not have dealt with her own life changes by letting an old friend feel somehow betrayed.

    But I accept the fact that, for whatever reason, S couldn’t tell me what was going on for her. And we never can fully understand what is going on in another person’s life, even if we think we know. It was her own humanness, immaturity, self-centeredness, or perhaps the complexity of her situation, that led to her inability to square her own personal journey with her relationship with an old friend.

    Over the years, I have learned to be philosophical about it. The “resonate” insight helped me a lot. I have learned a lot about forgiveness, even though S is most likely not sorry and I know I will never get to experience any kind of explanation, much less reconciliation. This is when forgiveness is most difficult, perhaps an almost impossible goal to attain. I keep working at it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Your friend changed. One day he decided he wasn’t living the life he wanted to live. He wasn’t the person he wanted to be. So he cut ties from his early life – his childhood. And unfortunately that included his friendship with you. Psychologically he tied your life with his life as you had so much in common. But he wants to be a new person now. And he thinks you won’t approve, so he’s kept you at a distance.

    This is all about him, not you. Make your peace with him and set him free.

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