• Other Friendship Advice

Worried about my partner’s failing friendships

October 9, 2012 | By | 7 Replies Continue Reading
It’s extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible, to fix someone else’s failing friendships.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I have been with my partner for three years. We are in our 30’s. He has had a pretty rough life (as far as not having consistency in where he lived, worked, close friends passing away, etc.). The past few months have been especially hard because all the people he considered to be his friends don’t talk to him anymore.

He is devastated as he has helped them all over and over and over again, and has gotten nothing in return. These friends all came together as they all struggled for a just cause. Now it seems like they have “moved on” from just causes and are profiting off of the cause, whereas he is still fighting for justice and doesn’t forget where he comes from.

He is a very talented visual artist and musician who doesn’t get credit when it is due (among his old friends who are also very involved in the arts). One example: One musician wanted him to play clarinet one day, and when others found out that he was coming, they cancelled the whole band playing that day.

I don’t know how to support him as his friendships keep on dying off more frequently. He is really lonely and hurt not knowing why this is happening. It doesn’t make sense for grown people to have a clique in this age bracket. It reminds me of something that high-schoolers go through.

Signed, Allison

ANSWER

Hi Allison,

You sound very compassionate and supportive but I’m not sure you can do much more than you are doing now in terms of improving your partner’s friendships.

Your partner seems to have had a series of problems and disappointments with his former friends. What concerns me is that the problems have been so severe that these people are no longer talking to him. Is it possible that your partner is doing or saying something that comes across as alienating to other people? Is there one insider among the group, someone he still feels close to, that he can ask?

You can continue to listen, encourage, and remind your partner of his talents but you can’t directly oversee or “fix” his friendships. He is very lucky to have you in his corner.

Best,
Irene

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Category: Husbands, boyfriends, and friendship

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The common denominator in the demise of these relationships is your partner.
    Is he choosing the wrong type of people to befriend? Maybe.
    Is there something about him that’s off putting or that becomes too suffocating for his friends?
    Is he un-objective in the demise of these friendships?

    I’d recommend group therapy for your partner, groups can serve as a microcosm of what’s occurring in everyday life.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Another clue is that the poster, Allison, mentioned that he hasn’t had a stable life and has had some past trauma. Frequently, unstable childhoods don’t prepare people emotionally to deal with social situations in a constructive manner. He could have had very poor role models in terms of how relationships work and may be unconsciously repeating those maladaptive patterns. Or he may have chosen friends with unhealthy relationship habits – toxic or utilitarian-type people who use you and then discard you. Lots of unanswered questions.

    If I were with Allison, I would try to encourage some kind of counseling to help him cope.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know why they wouldn’t take part in something if they knew he’d be involved. I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that part of your story. I know for me sometimes I have become involved in projects, causes, volunteer things, even some jobs, and for me the alliances I formed were ones I wanted to think of as friendships. But sadly my feelings weren’t reciprocated. I never understood why. But it seemed to be the case. In the case of your partner, does he have any idea at all of what could have gone wrong? Could it be they were jealous of him and his talents?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This theory seems to have some merit, but why would people not take part in something if they knew he was going to be involved?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m trying to understand the situation. Your partner met these people via a cause they were all working on? If so, did he think of them as more than just "comrades in arms" and as friends, and is it possible they just didn’t see him the same way?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think you will find that cliques exist throughout life. Look at any place of work. It’s definitely not grown-up behavior, but it seems to occur everywhere.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Irene’s question here — ” Is it possible that [your partner] is doing or saying something that comes across as alienating to other people? — seems like a wise question to ask anyone on this blog who is having problems. It is a reasonable question to ask of ourselves.

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