• Keeping Friends

Why Don’t Friends Just Talk About It?

Published: April 8, 2010 | Last Updated: October 26, 2021 By | 33 Replies Continue Reading

A woman asks why friends don’t just talk about it when problems surface in a relationship.


Dear Irene,

When a woman feels that she has a problem with a long-term friend or friendship, why does she not simply sit down and work it out? Why doesn’t she just talk about it?

Why does she prefer to let the friendship die instead of trying to repair it?

How can she just turn her back after so many years?

It seems to me that women only remain friends as long as everything is perfect. As soon as a problem arises, they cut and run. Why are we such cowards?

Signed, Lucy


Dear Lucy,

Like any other relationship, friendships are rarely perfect. Friends make seamless accommodations for one another all the time.

When larger issues or conflicts arise, they can suddenly create a wedge between two people. Perhaps, it’s something one friend said or did that hurt the other person, or something she didn’t say or do when she should have. Given the many myths associated with female friendships, it’s easy to hold close friends up to unrealistic standards, and to feel disappointed or betrayed when they don’t measure up.

So why don’t friends just talk about it?

  • Some women are afraid of dealing with a conflict or disagreement, even at the risk of losing a good friend.
  • Some women don’t know how to broach an uncomfortable subject because they lack self-confidence or experience resolving friendship problems. It may feel easier to avoid the problem and ditch the friend.
  • Some women decide, rightly or wrongly, that a friendship is irreparable. Perhaps, words were exchanged that were so hurtful that they can’t be taken back or undone. Or perhaps, things were building up for some time and this was the proverbial last straw.

More times than not, problems between friends CAN be resolved with open and honest communication. Think about it: There is usually much more to be gained than lost by trying to resolve a misunderstanding and if it doesn’t work out, you are no worse off for trying.

Thanks for your question that reminds us that the risks are worthwhile if the friendship is a meaningful one.

Best, Irene

Tags: , , , , ,


Comments (33)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    The few times I have run away from friendships, can be attributed to the point mentioned by Irene – the friendship was irreparable. Come to think of it, the few friendships where I made an effort to talk, rarely worked out. More often than not, conversations turned into arguments. Disagreements can either strengthen or weaken friendships.

    Laura’s comment is a good one – one that we often forget or have hard time accepting. The reality is that not all friendships last a lifetime. Sometimes, friends drift apart naturally, without a problem per se. Friends come and go in different stages of life – moving, changing schools or jobs, getting married, having kids and retiring. Friendships can also never be perfect. In my mind, a friend would turn her back and end a long-term friendship if there has been ongoing problems in the friendship. One-sided friendships rarely last a lifetime.

    Laura also made a constructive point. Friendships, whether it be bad or good, always teach us a lesson or two to be a good friend. Friendships where I ended due to certain problems, taught me how to prevent these problems from arising again and how to resolve them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Almost all of my best friends ditched me when I underwent a crisis. After that I realized that most were self absorbed and that I am probably better off making new friends.

  3. Anonymous says:

    my best friend and i havent been talkin for a weeks now. she says it is because she doesnt like the way my boyfriend treats me. me and my boyfriend have alot of fights and arguments but we talk about it and understand eachother. we just learning wt each other likes and doesnt like maybe that is why we fight. but after his birthday he was drunk and he said words he shouldnt have said. that is the reason my friend is not talking to me for. she told me to dump him or our relationship was over.
    what should i do in this situation i love my boyfriend. he has never been violent towards me, he cares for me, we have arguments that’s all. and my best friend does not want to be a part of it. so me and my best friend’s re;ationship is over because i didnt not break up wit me best friend. is it my fault for wanting to be with a man and shouldnt a friend be there for me no matter what man am with?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear Anonymous, I so agree with you ! I wish religion could stay out of this blog, I will never understand why why why christians feel they have the “Right” to just blast in, and make recommendations that Jews (I am a Jew) pray to their deity? Pls respect us, we respect you christians.

  5. Irene says:


    I hope you will find forgiveness in your heart and stop beating a dead horse.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Cindy says:
    “Never was it my intention to hurt “Annonymous”, by stating my opinions. ”

    Yet, you called me a hater, hateful, sad, intolerant, and other derogatory words. Look at your post for the words you called me. Are you saying you didn’t think those words would be hurtful? I didn’t use words like that toward you. I didn’t state my religious beliefs, either.

  7. Cindy says:

    Irene, I am truly sorry for any misunderstaniding. You have a wonderful and insightful blog which I have found very comforting and helpful. Never was it my intention to hurt “Annonymous”, by stating my opinions. By the way, I too, have found annonymous to be very hurtful indeed. I wish everyone including annonymous nothing but the best. Thank you so much for allowing all of us regardless of our beliefs to state our opinions. I never had an agenda or pushed my beliefs on anyone. I wish you and yours a Blessed New Year. And thank you again for your amazing work! Cindy

  8. Anonymous says:

    Yes, Irene, I am indeed very hurt by the derogatory comments made about me and my character.

  9. Irene says:

    I think that this dialogue has, indeed, gotten off topic and has also turned hurtful. I hope this is the end of this disagreement so other readers don’t feel uncomfortable posting. Thanks for your cooperation~

    Best, Irene

  10. Anonymous says:

    With every post, Cindy continues to denigrate me. Now it’s “hateful” “bitter” “resentful” and “intolerant.” Yet she says let’s move on and we have strong opinions. I have not given any opinions about spiritual matters. All I have stated, and I have indeed stated it strongly, is that this is a friendship site about friendship problems and I wish Christians would stop coming here to infuse it with Christian dogma. Other religions and spiritual groups do NOT come here and do not. I don’t see agnostics and atheists do that, either. Only Christians of a certain stripe. They have done it repeatedly. I have spoken up, strongly, that I wish they would stop. I call this “equal time.” I have not been the one to bring up the topic of spiritual or religion in the first place. I have simply responded. Cindy’s derogatory comments about my character reveal much about Cindy. Cindy’s words speak volumes. Cindy, there are numerous blogs and sites pertaining to Christian friendship that explore Christian tenets and beliefs with regard to friendship. I hope these help you.

  11. Cindy says:

    In my first post, I was simply trying to clarify what I felt Debbie was saying. You seem very resentful, bitter and intolerant toward Christians and that is why you appear like a hateful person to me.
    I apologize for calling you that though, as I was wrong to do so. We both have strongly different views and just disagree–that’s all. And that’s okay. Why don’t we just agree to disagree and move on. I wish you inner peace and hope that whatever problems we are each having in friendships heal. Cindy

  12. Anonymous says:


    Cindy claims to be open minded and tolerant, yet she said this:

    SIGH -ONCE AGAIN, ONCE AGAIN another sad, judgemental hater in the world, putting down the Christians…YAWN…

    You called me a hater. I would never call you or anyone that. Your calling me a hater speaks volumes about YOU.

  13. Anonymous says:

    P.S. The fact that YOU CALLED ME A HATER speaks VOLUMES about YOU and your so-called open-mindedness and Christianity, Cindy.

    I never called anyone a hater. Would never think it or do it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is NOT a Christian or spiritual blog. It’s a blog about friendship problems. Christian pushers always come on this site and use the topic of friendship as an excuse to push their Christian agenda. People from other religions do not do this, only the Christians. Yes, it bugs me to no end. Everything you have said has been said a thousand times before whenever someone dares to speak up and complain about a Christian pushing their views. You completely misunderstood my original post 1,000 percent.

    The Christians bring up the topic of religion here. Their comments are always allowed to stay. People from other religions do not do this, only the Christians. I am speaking up in equal time to present my views. And my views are this:

    This is a site about friendship problems. This isn’t a site about Chrstian dogma.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m a Christian, and my understanding of the Christian faith is the it is love, empathy and forgiveness, that we are about. It is not about hate or attacking people. I’m not here, though, to talk about my beliefs, as I know that this is a site that is focused on friendship, not spiritual issues. People who claim Christian faith are not acting Christian when they do not respect others, let alone act mean-spirited. I’m here because of my lifelong friendship problems and my brokenheartedness over a currently estranged friendship. This is a wonderful site. My love to all of you. Peace.

  15. Cindy says:

    I am not highjacking anything, nor did I misunderstand you at all. I was just trying to clarify things. It certainly was not my intention to offend you. You were the one that seemed rather disturbed because someone (Debbie) mentioned Jesus and prayer in correlation to friendships, problems and concerns. Sorry, but to me that DOES seem rather intolerant seeing that no one is pushing their beliefs on you AT ALL, but merely sharing how THEY cope with friendship problems and concerns! So what! Why should that bother you so much–irregardless of whether or not this is a Christian site! WHAT–according to you, if one wants to share a thought about God and friendship together, they should be prohibited from here? I didn’t know this was an athiest or an agnostic site either. Excuse me, but no one is preaching to you, just sharing their ways of coping. If you don’t like it or agree, fine for you. More power to you!
    I am an open minded loving person toward all people NO MATTER what their spiritual beliefs or lack thereof. None of us is perfect and we are all just humans trying to get by the best we can each day. I judge no one and feel no prejudice toward anyone as you so obviuosly do.
    SIGH -ONCE AGAIN, ONCE AGAIN another sad, judgemental hater in the world, putting down the Christians…YAWN…

  16. Anonymous says:

    No, I didn’t misunderstand the post. You’ve misunderstood mine. And you’ve called me intolerant and you’ve told me I shouldn’t be so offended so easily.

    Sigh. Once again, once again. the Christian community has come onto this blog which is about friendships and have highjacked the conversation. I have never seen Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, etc., come onto this site and do what the Christians do.

    This blog is about friendship problems and concerns. It isn’t about praying to Jesus, etc.

    I did not bring up this topic of “religion.” The Christian folks brought it up and the posts were allowed to stay. So I am responding in equal time.

  17. Cindy says:

    I think you misunderstood Debbie’s post. She did make it very clear that she was aware that this was not a Christian site. I think what Debbie meant was that we should practice prayer, (and in her case and mine we pray to Jesus Christ ) for healthy and kindred friendships–(but it could be to whatever higher power you have faith in.) OF COURSE she meant here on this earth–with eartly friends that are alive! I agree with you, as Debbie probably would that certainly, we should try to salvage our earthly relationships if they are meant to be! By “Divine Connections” I am sure she did not mean dead people. She meant that she prays to Jesus to put good and kindred people (live ones) in her path. Another words we use our faith of choice as a vehicle for good people to come into our lives. We have all suffered and been hurt by the wrong/bad friendships, and that is exactly why we ask God to guide us to the right ones. It actuallly works! I really don’t see how that could be offensive. Sure this is not a Christian/Jewish/Hindu or whatever site-but I do think it is healthy to be tolerant of other peoples beliefs and not become so easily offended. “Divine Connection” means having faith in and praying to a higher power so that our earthly lives and the people in them will be good for us. “Divine Connections” has nothing at all to do with death or the afterlife. Blessings to you and yours for a healhty and joyous 2011.

  18. Cindy says:

    Dear Debbie,

    Thank you for your inisightful and very wise thoughts!
    I too am a Christian woman and totally agree that friendships are indeed a covenant relationship, and that we must pray to our Lord for the proper friends for us as obviously not every relationship is right or meant to be. I prayed to God for a very long time for divine connections and He has certainly put some wonderful ladies in my life. Some have been friends for a moment in time and a couple are lifetime friends, I am grateful for all of them. Of course Jesus is the first and most important friend in my life and as the Bible says He stays closer than a brother and will never leave you or forsake you!~A healthy, joyful, blessed and beautiful New Year to you Debbie and to all the caring people who read the Friendship Forum.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the notion that some people stay in a friendship they aren’t really compatible with.

    I don’t agree with the notion that instead of trying to salvage an earthly friendship we should pray to Jesus for divine connections. That may work for some people, BUT NOT FOR EVERYONE. We were put here on this earth to exist with other people while we are alive. This site is about earthly friendships and how to understand them. This site is not about Christianity.

    It is extremely insensitive to tell people who are hurting from bad friendships here on earth that they should simply pray to Jesus for divine connections.

  20. Anonymous says:


  21. Anonymous says:

    Dear Friends,
    All of these comments are helpful. Women friendships are held to higher standards. Women prefer, sometimes, to walk away from a friendship than to repair it. Sometimes when people walk away it is not just about us. Sometimes people have their own flaws that allow them to stay too long in a friendship that they are not compatible with. Also appreciate what you have learned and liked in the friendship and let it go.

    The last point I want to add is God. I know that this is not a Christian site but the reason why there are so many problems in friendship is beause we do not understand that friendships are a covenant relationship. Read the bible and you will see that people who were friends were friends for life and worked through conflict. You also cannot be friends with everyone which instead of trying to make friends with different people, especially looking for a new friend to replace the one you lost, ask God to give you divine connections.

    Dear Jesus thank you for being the one true friend that we can always rely on. Happy New Year and I wish everyone on this site forms divine connections. Debbie

  22. Bad Friend. says:

    I have just ended a close friendship of nearly 20 years and feel like a horrible person. I know I have hurt my freshly-ex friend terribly at a vulnerable time in her life (her mother is terminally ill). She is disabled and in chronic pain and has been for the whole time I’ve known her.

    There was never going to be a good time for the argument I finally initiated that resulted in the breaking of our friendship. Her live is made of tragedy and drama. She has a caustic wit that I enjoyed tremendously and I will miss it.

    I have been increasingly aggravated by her chronic lateness and her (well-earned) victim mentality. I simply stopped feeling friendly toward her and, increasingly, felt I was being false in our friendship.

    She is completely enraged. Today, she let herself into my house and took all pictures I had of her and her son. I don’t blame her for being angry. I feel completely rotten. I also know this has been a long time coming…

    I fear for her and, truth be told, I fear her wrath.

  23. Irene says:

    Thanks for your note and I’m glad that The Friendship Blog has been somewhat helpful to you. I understand how painful such a situation as you describe must be. Usually when we can’t understand something, there is something we don’t know about.

    My best,


  24. Chris D says:

    This site has offered me alot of comfort these last few months while I’ve been going thru some issues regarding this very topic. She just refuses to talk to me in person. After cancelling meetings that she had initiated with me, because of her husband or kids or the weather, I’m starting to wonder if its her husband that doesnt want this relationship repaired, not her. She has plenty to say to me if we email, and keeps saying she has the time to meet, just doesnt know what to say. It’s almost like she thinks a couple conversations via email are going to clear everything up. I can’t believe she wouldnt want to fight harder for a friendship over 20 years in the making, longer than she has even known her husband. This article gives me some ideas why she may not want to fix this, but I am putting the meeting date/time/place in her hands and waiting for HER to decide to end this friendship. If I decide to just end this altogether, my conscience and my heart would kill me. I could go on and on about this forever. I just dont understand her.

  25. LogicDictates says:

    After having so many ‘friends’ vanish out of my life for reasons still unknown to me, it is my belief that we should at least try to address issues in our friendships. Whether that makes or breaks them, at least we know we’ve tried.

    And that is just what I did. Because I know what it’s like to be ignored all of a sudden, I attempted to ‘speak’ with my friend about our friendship. I wrote ‘speak’ like that because I knew if we had a verbal conversation, I wouldn’t have got a word in edgeways, so I wrote it in an email and suggested we get together to talk about it. Her response? She ended the friendship. I was so relieved! The next day she said she wanted to talk about it but I thought, no, she wouldn’t let me speak as has been the dynamic of the friendship so I declined her suggestion.

    Here’s the story: http://www.opendiary.com/hear_me

    All names have been changed.

  26. Martha says:

    Laura, I really appreciate your wise comment, and have written it down for further reference. I get into the poor me, why don’t my friends call me mode. Your idea that friendships have no pact or agreement is very helpful, and I will look at my part in the relationship to see what I have to do with the situation. I am going to think of friendships like butterflies–it is wonderful that they alight by me for awhile, and when they go for no reason, I will be grateful for their time.

  27. Katrina says:

    I have been through many friendship breakups myself. Mainly I hate those girls for sounding so bossy and arrogant- I’ve got this and that, I’m better than you are. One recent case was this woman called Athineu (her first name starts with E and can be found online as a ‘famous’ writer). She must have esteem problems, always talking about how much neglect people had done, or abused her. I felt sorry, yes but it appeared this person dumped on me and labelled me funny names like douche bag, nagged.
    Now it’s enemy status! especially after labelling others weird names but not explaining.

    2. How to tell if someone has bipolar disorder? and refuse to be counselled due to denial.

    3. What should I do to avoid such traps in future? We can’t exactly pre- screen a friend behaving like this, it takes quite some time. Depressed/ arrogant people are selfish, can’t they wake up that the world does not revolve ONLY for them?!
    Hope you will reply me, or anyone with experience….

  28. Stevie says:

    “Why does she not simply sit down and work it out?”

    One of the things this relates to is the idea that women are communicative, but men aren’t. Many of my women aquaintances talk a lot about problems, but beat around the issue instead of addressing it. A lot of people seem to think that talking a lot is communicating. It gets frustrating hearing them complain that their man or friend isn’t paying attention, or not getting it, when they just won’t be clear.

  29. starrlife says:

    I know for me I was always embarrassed to feel so deeply for a friend and felt very vulnerable just saying how much I cared and could be hurt in re: friendships vs romantic relationships. No one told me that you can be in love with your friends and communicate the same way as you did your boyfriends. Now I say what I want to but I have to really coach myself and gear myself up to say, that hurt me, I love and value you in my life— it’s hard but worth it to keep your dear friends. just my 2 cents.

  30. Irene says:

    I think you are right that clearing things up isn’t the instinctive response. It is the one that requires thought and preparation, especially to do it right!




  31. Irene says:

    I agree with you that there are many times when friendships are too negative and toxic to save them.On the other hand, clearing up misunderstandings and getting over temporary lapses can preserve otherwise solid friendships. Wisdom comes in discerning the difference between the two.
    Thanks for posting!

  32. Laura says:

    Lucy – part of psychological maturity is accepting that each person is a free agent, endowed with the right to exercise free will. If a person feels that a relationship is taxing emotionally, toxic, and adding nothing to her life but aggravation, then she has the right to let that friendship die. It is a childish fantasy that all friendship lasts forever. It’s not a marriage. There is no pact, legal or spiritual, that the friendship should last forever.

    In my experience, the people that hold the view that friendships should last forever and that a friend has to be there every minute are suffering from psychological problems OR have unrealistic expectations of imperfect, flawed human beings. One person cannot be your be-all and end-all of friendships. That’s reality.

    The issue is that when we judge others as not trying hard enough to keep our friendship intact, we have to do some soul-searching ourselves to see if we are part of the problem. What did we do to contribute to the strained relationship? Why are we holding these expectations of others? Having a perennial attitude that “it was her fault” doesn’t help refine a person’s character; and in fact, it’s a turn-off for people.

    And finally, sometimes people make poor judgments in forming relationships with people that they are not truly compatible with and later realize this, and when the first dent in the friendship occurs, they just bow out. Call it cowardly but it’s a way of saving face and avoiding conflict with a person, especially the emotionally unstable, the needy, and the assertive.

Leave a Reply