fractured friendships

Choosing one over another

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There are many times when girlfriends have to choose one friend over another (for example, you can only have one maid-of-honor)---and decisions like this aren't always easy.

Read Andrea Boyarsky's article in the Staten Island Advance, Delivering the Big Hurt, where she asks me and some other experts to weigh in on the issue...

 

Fractured Friendships - A Reminder

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By hitting the SUBSCRIBE button on the right, you can receive blog entries from The Friendship Blog (Fractured Friendships) in your mailbox as soon they are posted.

If you haven’t been checking in here regularly, you may have missed some of these posts that appeared this month:

Co-rumination: Is it healthy for adolescents to rehash their boy problems?
A research study looks at the impact of adolescent girls who constantly talk to one another about guy problems

Bonding when things go bad

A post about a female support group called Dating a Banker Anonymous (the women who started the group later admitted that their story, published in the New York Times, was an exaggeration)

Reader Q & A: By love possessed
A reader writes about her overly-possessive friend

A "good enough" friend
A reader is haunted by a friend who has told her she isn’t “good enough”

Girlfriendology: Inspiring Female Friendships

An interview with Debra Hauppert, the girl behind Girlfriendology, an online community for women that aims to celebrate, appreciate and inspire women

For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship

Part 1 of an interview with wedding expert Sharon Naylor, author of 35 wedding books

What to do and say when your friend gets a pink slip
A link to my podcast on Girlfriendology on how to handle a friend who gets fired

She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy
My advice on how to recognize a friend who’s not a friend

Friendship by the Book: Second Chance by Jane Green
My thoughts about this latest book by chick-lit author Jane Green

Valentine's Day: Not Just for Lovers

A new look at what Valentine’s Day means to friends, a memorial tribute to my dad

Double Trouble: Losing two friends at once
A reader writes about her misfortune of losing two close friends in close succession

For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship - Part II

The second part of my interview with wedding expert, Sharon Naylor

Just Do It: Putting a fractured friendship behind you
A reader expresses her discomfort in getting past a friendship that has fallen apart

Reader Q & A: Unable to let go
A reader is unable to let go of a toxic friend who always causes her great pain

Friendless in Seattle
How can a middle-aged woman be unable to keep a friend?

Friendship and Money: She's fired, you're not

The first part of an interview with journalist Emma Johnson, who covers money and finance topics for MSN.com

A writer asks: How could my colleague and friend undermine me?
A colleague of mine expresses her disappointment at being shafted by a writer-friend

Till Kids Do Us Part: A BabyCenter.com interview on pregnancy, motherhood and friendship

Kristina Sauerwein’s two-part interview with me on BabyCenter.com

And the month still isn’t over! Well, it almost is---and if you live in the Northeast like me, we'll all be happy when the bitter winter months morph into spring.

My blog readership is on a steady ascent, thanks to you. My book is slated for publication by Overlook Press this coming September, finally.

Please continue to visit my blog and share your questions, comments, anecdotes, stories and thoughts about your friendships (including the ones that got away)---and to share the URL with your real friends, Facebook friends, and MySpace friends.

I'd also very much appreciate your signing up to be my fan on The Huffington Post and chiming in there when you have something to add.

In friendship,
Irene
 

For Better or For Worse: Weddings and Friendship - Part II

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Marriage is a milestone that often alters a couple’s relationship with each other, as well as with those around them. For the new bride, it can herald profound changes in her relationships with girlfriends.

In a recent post (February 9, 2008), I interviewed wedding expert Sharon Naylor about the challenges that planning “the big day” poses to the bride’s friendships. In this follow-up, I asked Sharon about the impact of marriage on female friendships.

How does the transition from being single to being married affect a woman’s relationships with single friends?


It changes the dynamics of the relationship a LOT. Depending on how frustrated the single friend is with her dating life, and how envious she is of your good fortune in finding true love, it can be a very trying time for her…and thus for your friendship.

If you’re the first friend of hers to get married, that can be traumatic because the issue of marriage is now Out There, bringing pressure to her life. And if many of your friends have gotten married, she may REALLY be feeling pressured because you’re another in a long list of her former single friends to ‘win the prize’ while she is still waiting for hers.

What can the new bride do to minimize tension?


The solution here is to nurture or create a dimension in this friendship that is not about dating or relationships at all. And this is a tough task, because some brides find that the only thing they had in common with some friends is the topic of dating, the drive to couple up.

It might be that these friends went out to clubs or had 99% of their conversations revolve around bad blind dates and online dating profiles, breakups and breakdowns. Some female friendships are bonded by the drama of dating life. And when you exit dating life, there’s a big void in the friendship. Yes, you’ve been out of dating world for the entire time you’ve been with your fiancé, but this sad single friend hasn’t heard the door slam closed until your engagement. Not that she was hoping you’d break up. It just wasn’t completely official yet. And she may feel abandoned in her singleness.

What responses might you anticipate from the girlfriend(s) you leave behind? How might she be feeling?

“You’re not going to want to go out anymore,” worries the single friend, who also might be slapping on a big, fake smile when you talk about your fiancé’s romantic birthday plans for you, or what you’re doing on Valentine’s Day. If this friend has been overly dependent on you, if you were the only egg in her basket, your marriage is bad, bad news for her.

Your friend is now alone in her quest, with no true allies, and may feel like she’s slipped to the bottom of the totem pole. And you might find that you no longer enjoy her sad-sack company, her complaints, her refusal to raise the bar and pursue men who are better for her. You might not want to entertain her pity parties anymore. So the friendship…like any relationship that has no common bonds…can fade away.

How can you minimize the inherent risks to the friendship?

If you do wish to nurture the friendship, start by subtly creating new shared interests, such as asking your friend to sign up for an aromatherapy class, or get a museum membership so that you can go to exhibits and lectures, or sign on for dance classes at the gym you both go to. Exchange novels you’ve both loved and talk about them over coffee. Add new facets to the friendship so that it can survive your change in status. Such variety and shared interests are healthy for any relationship, especially female friendships.

With new dimensions, you might not mind your friend’s occasional dating dramas so much…they could make you feel grateful for your new husband as well as give you a satisfying feeling of being a supportive friend. You’ve just transformed that into a smaller percentage of your relationship.

Can matchmaking efforts help keep a female friendship intact?

One mistake newlyweds make is wanting to set single friends up with all of their friends. Sure, the intentions are good, wanting your friend to be as happy as you are, but unless the friend is truly enthusiastic about your help, you might put too much pressure on her to endure the company of a guy friend who’s not right for her, and you two as a couple could get embroiled in their relationship issues.

It’s far better to invite your friend to events where she might meet someone. That’s where your newlywed life could be of great benefit to her. You’re not pushing, choosing, dodging news of a breakup, keeping secret the fact that the guy you introduced to her is also seeing three other girls, etc.

Why is it important to focus on friendships after your wedding day?


Having many healthy female friendships with positive women who inspire you and add many gifts to your life makes you a better spouse with a full life of your own. Your man is not the only egg in your basket, so to speak. You’re not overly dependent on him. Your circle of friends is a strength in your life, and studies show that having a great sense of community is good for your health, keeps stress down, strengthens your heart, and has many other perks.

Any other comments you would like to make about female friendships after marriage, Sharon?

The sad reality is that sometimes they don’t survive because you no longer have anything in common. Or, a bridesmaid acted so jealous and rude at your wedding that you never want to speak with her again. It was the last straw. Or you just drift from single friends, or some friends voluntarily get absorbed into their new husbands’ worlds and abandon their own friends as the incarnation of their New Life.

Friendships have a life cycle, and they do depend on mutual commitment and shared evolution to survive as long as they’re meant to---for as long as they’re healthy for both parties. A wedding, being such a huge life transition, naturally tests all manner of female friendships, with some friendships getting stronger and some falling away.

When I got married in April, my closest friends from college were my bridesmaids. They all traveled from distant states to be there, and our friendships were strengthened partly because we stayed so close through phone and e-mail conversations for years…we saw each other perhaps once a year due to our busy lives, but the connections we’ve always had were strong.

Being together, walking through my neighborhood as cherry blossom petals came raining down on us, then sharing the wedding day and seeing our husbands bond like brothers has reignited our need to see each other more. We’re all turning 40 this year, so we’re meeting at a resort town halfway between our home states, staying in a haunted bed-and-breakfast, shopping, going to wineries, and having a fabulous couples’ getaway to mark the big 4-0. Fortunately, my friends’ tenure as bridesmaids, even from a distance, further solidified our bond, and now we’re adding more dimension to our friendship by making it a priority to plan more face-time.


Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books, including The Bride’s Survival Guide, and has been featured on Good Morning America, Lifetime, ABC News, The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet, and in InStyle Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Modern Bride, Southern Bride and many additional magazines. She is the iVillage Weddings expert and Planning in Peace blogger, as well as a top columnist for Bridal Guide.

 

Double Trouble: Losing two friends at once

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QUESTION:

Hi Irene,

This is a strange tale and quite honestly if I knew what to make of it all, I wouldn’t be writing. I have two best friends: the first (BF1), a girl I grew up with and with whom I have a very deep and social relationship; the second (BF2), a girl with whom I went to University and have a close relationship like a sister.

I moved in with BF2 last year after I moved away from my hometown where BF1 lived, but I was only a 20-minute drive away so I didn’t think this would be a problem. I was used to spending every weekend and holiday with BF1 (BF2 lived further away until we moved in together). It is worth pointing out that BF1 has had an issue with BF2 in the past over something trivial.  

BF1 kept cancelling dates with me and many months were going by and I had only seen her twice. She told me she might not be coming to my birthday party as her office party was the night before and she might be hung over. Devastated, I wrote an email telling her I was sad she couldn’t come, and asked if she wanted to talk to me about what had been going on over the past 8 months as I missed her. She responded with vitriol telling me that I thought I was too good for her and how dare I say she was a bad friend.

I responded with an immediate apology. I said I was deeply sorry for whatever hurt I had caused and I wanted to sort this out as our ten-year friendship was worth so much to me. I was met with silence. I have since pleaded with her on five occasions via text and email to speak to me to sort this out but I have never gotten a response.

BF2 knew how devastated I was about what had happened and even went so far as to say how angry she was with BF1. BF2 and I went on holiday last summer and one night she exploded at me telling me that I was an emotional drain and she couldn’t stand me sometimes. I cried and begged her not to be so cruel but she continued by saying that nobody tells me what they think of me so she was going to.

She was shouting that I take everything I have for granted (the back story of this was I was a model and she apparently has an "issue" with this). She had recently been dumped it is worth pointing out. I responded trying to calm her down, saying that I understood she was under a lot of pressure at work and the situation with her ex had been dreadful and that I was always here for her. Maybe I should have just shouted back, I don’t know.

Anyway since then, I quit my job. I had the extremely distressing incident of being sexually assaulted at work then driven out of my job. The perpetrator was my boss. To make ends meet, I had taken a job that BF2 apparently didn’t agree with morally. This job does not affect her in any way; I kept it very separate from our friendship together.

However, she now won’t even spend time with me. She spends every weekend with someone else. She never wants to talk to me anymore, is moving out, and she is planning her birthday without me. She declined to come to my parents’ anniversary party that she comes to every year, my sister’s wedding, you name it. She makes me feel disgusting. All I want is for us to be friends again. Surely, our friendship is worth saving? I would do anything for her and love her so much.

I lost my childhood best friend to a violent crime when I was 19 years old so I can’t lose the only other friend I have ever loved. Do I have too? What can I do? I am so lonely now and feel like my social life is non-existent. I don’t know what I have done. I would apologize for it, if it would help. I now feel that I am a toxic person who nobody wants to love or to be close with because once they get to know me, they will discover they hate me. I know this sounds irrational but I am so low that I’m almost suicidal. Please help me.

Signed,
Feeling Like A Toxic Friend

 

ANSWER:

Hi,

I’m so sorry that this has been such a difficult time for you. It is very stressful to move, experience a sexual assault, be forced out of your job, and lose your two best friends over  a relatively short period of time. The trauma of a sexual assault can be emotionally devastating, especially when the perpetrator is a boss whom you may have trusted. All of this has to be unnerving.

For whatever reason, it sounds like BF1 may have felt abandoned when you moved in with BF2. But you have given her multiple opportunities to patch up your friendship and she isn’t able to do so at this point in her life. It’s always hard to give up a friendship with so much shared history but I think you need to put that one aside for now; you don’t have any other choice. You may be able to reclaim it sometime in the future.

When BF2 ended her relationship with you, she did it in an unnecessarily cruel and uncaring way so I can understand how you might be reeling from it---particularly when it comes as one in a series of losses. She was very judgmental about your job choice and I’m wondering if you are uncomfortable about that choice as well.

Given how lonely and depressed you feel, you should contact a mental health professional to help you work through these losses and move forward. If you have any thoughts of suicide, you should contact a suicide hotline immediately.

Although you have a track record of being able to make and keep friends, it sounds like you have lost confidence in yourself and your ability to be a good friend. An objective person, like a therapist, may be able to help you think through and resolve the impact of these traumatic events. At the same time, try not to isolate yourself and succumb to feeling like you are toxic. Look for opportunities to be with other people, including your family and other casual friends.

Best wishes,

Irene

 

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

 

 

She's Just Not That Into You: Six ways to know when a girlfriend's a frenemy

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He's Just Not That Into You decodes the rules of heterosexual dating. But the relationship between girlfriends can be just as powerful, irritating, and unfathomable as any relationship with a guy. Here are my six ways for women to recognize when "she's just not that into you."

Read my latest post on HuffPo, SHE's Just Not That into You

 

 

A "good enough" friend

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QUESTION

Dear Dr. Levine,

I recently got into a fight with a girl named Linda, whom I considered my best friend. She said I was never a "good enough" friend for her, and I told her that I thought I couldn't be her friend because she was spreading gossip about me.

We both agreed that it would be better if we just tried not being friends for a while, but now I'm sad because I don't have my best friend to talk to. Is there a way I could still patch up our friendship?

Signed,
Ariel

ANSWER


Dear Ariel,

All friendships have their peaks and valleys and when times are rough, even the best of friends may say things that are mean, even if they don’t mean them. However, before you decide to patch up your friendship, you need to think about whether you miss your best friend Linda or you miss having a best friend.

If you decide that you really miss Linda, you need to open a dialogue with her about what happened and how it can be resolved. Depending on what feels most comfortable, you can call, email, or text her and tell her how you are feeling (I prefer email because you are less likely to catch the other person off-guard). If she is open to you, this may not only be an opportunity to patch up but to strengthen your friendship.

If she doesn’t respond or, after you make this overture, she still maintains that you aren’t a “good enough” friend for her, you have to accept her decision and find another best friend who appreciates you as much as you appreciate her. Good friends need to value one another.

Let us know what happens!

My best,
Irene
 

Escaping from a toxic triangle

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QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I'm a 40-year-old woman who feels like she's back in junior high. I have three kids who are very involved in sports and activities. Over the last four years, my husband and I developed a group of friends with kids the same ages. My closest friend in the group was a woman named Susan.

Recently we went away with Susan and her DH (dear husband), and another close friend Jenny and her husband. It was a terrible trip. Jenny was pretty much a bore and ruined much of the weekend. She ganged up against me and afterwards, my best friend Susan ignored me for an entire month or more—not answering phone calls, walking away from me at school events, etc. I finally confronted her at a baseball game. She called me names, and said she was tired of defending me to "everyone." I asked her what she meant and she said I was mean and biting.

Susan and I have been on three family vacations together: One was great, but the other two were terrible when Jenny and her family were involved. I can't forgive Susan for the cruel things she said to me and for walking away without giving me a chance to speak. She spent weeks talking about me behind me back—poisoning other friendships with Jenny and even my neighbor. Next thing I knew, she was calling me for rides for her daughter, dropping off Christmas cookies, and baking us bread. She recently asked if my DH and me wanted to drop by for drinks.

I have no desire to befriend her again. Jenny and I started to patch things up after our trip but this weekend, she told me that she wanted me to know that her family and Susan's were going on vacation together this summer. She wanted to know if my family would think about a "separate " house at the beach.

Some days I feel like I'm in some sort of depression. I wish these people didn't bother me, but I feel terribly betrayed. Our kids are all in the same activities and I can't get away from them, I've even considered moving our family to another state. Being made a fool of embarrasses me but I don't intend to suck up to anyone to get them to like me.

I'm having a hard time coping...Thanks for your help.

Signed,
Patsy

ANSWER

Dear Patsy,

The reason why you are having a hard time coping is because these women have either been nasty or have been giving you mixed messages. Sometimes women are blinded to the foibles in their friends for the sake of the kids—until they get clobbered over the head. Because you and your children once enjoyed spending time with these two other families, you may consider these women “friends,” but don’t make that mistake. True friends aren’t petty, cruel, and divisive. You need to find a way to extricate yourself from this adolescent triangle and find friends with whom you are more compatible.

Susan and Jenny have drawn a line in the sand; they plan to keep you at a distance---in a “separate house.’ Is this acceptable to you? If you agree to remain a friend on their terms, you will continue to feel hurt. Opt out of the triangle now. You don’t need to make abrupt changes but begin to treat these women as parents of your children’s friends, not your friends. Let your kids take the lead in determining whether they want to get together with the other kids. I’m not sure how old your kids are but children reach an age when they want to make their own friends anyway.

Begin mingling with other moms and try to put these toxic women in the periphery of your life—downgrade them from friends to acquaintances. I promise you will feel better about yourself. Just because these women are acting like girls in junior high doesn’t mean that you have to play in the their playground.

Best,
Irene

 

Reader Q & A: Dumped Times Two

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QUESTION:


Hi Irene,

 

My name is Veronica and I live in the UK, I’m not sure if you take emails from people from the UK, but I felt compelled to email you about a situation that is bothering me involving of a couple of girls who I thought were friends of mine.

 

I have known these two girls for a number of years. We have boyfriends who are all friends and would go over to each other’s houses for christenings and on nights out for birthdays, etc. I saw them during the week as one of them has kids, as I do. Last year all seemed okay, until this year when things seem to have fallen by the wayside with the girl who has the children.

 

Every time I asked if she would like to meet up, she was 'busy' or working. I got a bit paranoid after the fifth time and thought, “What have I done?” She is on good old Facebook, so I removed her from my friends list.

 

These two girls are best mates, very close, but thought I got on with both of them. When the one with the kids was avoiding me, I concentrated on still being mates with the other girl, who I had always assumed was the nicer one and who did not gossip, etc. I was wrong. Recently, for my b-day, I asked if they could make it out for a drink but they were both too busy. I always make the effort for theirs---but not even a happy birthday did they wish me!

 

I made up my mind there and then that they are not worth it, but still spoke occasionally to the girl without children. She was feeling down and I said I hope she was okay and if she ever wanted to pop round and talk she’s more than welcome to. She told me hadn’t gone out for ages.

 

A week later I saw her and the other girl with three other girls I know, out on a night out. They did not talk to me until one of the girls came and got me. The other day I emailed the girl who was feeling down asking, “So, how are you?” Then she told me to stop hassling her! I was upset by her reaction and admittedly I panicked and send her three texts saying I hope we can sort things out and a voice message.

 

The next morning she said she can’t be bothered with me anymore, so I went ahead a deleted all these girls off my Facebook friends, I know that sounds petty, but why have them nose at my profile when they are not my real mates? One of them told me I was weird for doing so. I am fed up with these girls’ attitudes. They have tried phasing me out for ages and have now managed it but I want to know why.

 

The only thing I can think of is that I attended a wedding of the cousin of the girl who has the kids and she was not invited, as they do not get on! Hope you can advise me, this may sound so shallow but it’s doing my head in!!

 

Yours faithfully,
Veronica

ANSWER:


Dear Veronica:

 

When you ask a friend to get together five times and she comes up with one excuse after another, it means she doesn’t want to get together. I know this feels disconcerting because you were good friends in the past. And I’m not sure what accounts for the change in your ex-friend’s behavior but, as painful and confusing as this feels, it is common for people and friendships to change over time.

 

In terms of the second girl, you were supportive to her when she was depressed—and then she accused you of hassling her? She is telling you quite directly that she doesn’t want to be involved with you. Again, you can only guess the reasons why. One possibility: Since she is best friends with the first girl, it may be difficult for her to maintain an independent relationship with you.

 

These girls sound mean, insensitive, and SHALLOW. Defriending them, both in real life and on Facebook is the right thing to do because they are no longer your true friends. Stop trying to understand their motives because that really doesn’t matter. Move on and find another friend who is interested in a more reciprocal friendship.

 

I’m sorry this has happened to you and hope this is helpful. By the way, being dumped by female friends is a universal problem! The only cultural difference is that you call them “mates” and we call them “friends.”

 

Best,
Irene

 

Reader Q & A: Mean Girls

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QUESTION

Hi Dr. Levine,

It's been about 5 months since I broke up with my boyfriend due to conflicting schedules, frequent disagreements and life stresses. This guy was friends with my ex-girlfriend for over 15 years and I was friends with her for 10 years.

He took me to this party and I had no idea what was going on. My ex-girlfriend and her best friend, who I also knew from high school, completely snubbed me; I said "Hi" and got no reply along with very nasty looks. Anyhow, I invited my ex-girlfriend to my sister's wedding. That's how close she was to my family. I sat at the party for three hours with no communication from anyone except my ex-boyfriend. I then decided to leave, and told him I knew something was up.

The following day, I had tried calling this ex-friend with no pick-up, I attempted to speak to her online, no reply. I then managed to speak to her best friend online. She didn't hold back. She told me I failed to make a good impression with his friends from the get-go, for example, that I used my now ex-girlfriend by calling her when I had rough patches with my ex-boyfriend. She went on to say that I could break-up with my boyfriend over this because now I have the perfect drama-filled excuse.

Let me inform you Irene, I am 23 years old, not a teenager. I thanked her for her honestly. She immediately called my now ex-boyfriend to let him know what was said. I asked him if her would defend me. He said no because they have their opinions. He admitted that they have been telling him that the relationship wouldn't work out.

My best friend emailed these girls because she saw the damage it was doing to my body. I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks and feelings of hopelessness, and had a drastic weight loss. My now ex-girlfriend stated she felt betrayed because she never heard from the guy and me once we started dating. I think "life" is the issue. I started working as a full-time nurse, dealing with teenage girls; and basically trying to support my ex-boyfriend as he went back into school, quit smoking, and focused on his life. My best friend also asked my ex-friend to return my call, but she never did so.

The hurtful part is that a week after the breakup, she was hanging out with my ex-boyfriend, and they have maintained their friendship since. I spoke to my ex-boyfriend recently, and he told me he never believed the things they said about me, but he has to remain loyal to them and doesn't think we can ever get back together.

I knew he was toxic for me, so I had to set limits and stop supporting him emotionally because it was draining. But why can my ex-girlfriend maintain contact with him and not me? I do miss her but I know our friendship could never be the same again. I thought about contacting her, but fear that she won't pick up my call. Then I tried online messenger, but learned that she had blocked me from her MSN.

I am terribly hurt and feel rejected, guilty and confused. I understand that I was entering a new chapter in my life with a new job, a serious relationship, and basically growing up. It was difficult to carry on the relationship, but it's the backstabbing I will never understand. Is it worth contacting this individual? There will be Christmas parties as well. Do I attend those? Sometimes commuting to work, I fear running into these girls.

Signed,
Having Trouble Coping

ANSWER

Dear Having Trouble Coping:

I understand how painful it is to feel let down by a boyfriend and a girlfriend at the same time. First, I want to congratulate on having the courage to break up with a boyfriend who was focused exclusively on himself and was insensitive to your feelings. You did the right thing.

The behavior you describe at the party sounds like teenage behavior. Whatever the age of these women, they were acting like "mean girls." There is absolutely no reason for you to contact this mean, disloyal, toxic friend who dumped you and rejected your overtures, choosing instead to befriend your ex-boyfriend. She has to know how hurtful that would feel to you, yet she didn't care.

It sounds like you have a good career and I think that the best Christmas gift you can give yourself is to move away from these low-life people. Perhaps, you can make new friends with colleagues at work. It's up to you whether or not you want to place yourself in the position of attending Christmas parties where you might see these mean people. Would you want to be snubbed by them again? That's a good possibility.

My advice for you for the New Year is out with the old and in with the new! Taking control of this situation will help you better cope, and make you feel less hopeless and insecure.

My best wishes,
Irene

 

Reader Q & A: Dealing with a pattern of fractured friendships

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QUESTION:

 

Dear Irene:

Add me to the list of people who stumbled upon your blog with relief. It's really good for me to hear that this is not an entirely uncommon problem, and some of the posts on this blog have been very helpful to me.

 

I'm definitely one of those people who seem to be prone to friendship problems. I have this pattern of going through a friend every two years. It's weird and embarrassing (my family has even pointed out to me that I can't seem to hold on to friends.) I'm working really hard on honest self-evaluation to identify the pattern, but I haven't found one overarching tendency, just a couple of smaller ones. I'm considered going to see a therapist to work out these problems.

 

Friends have dumped me because I was relying on them for too much support when I was depressed (I can't blame anyone for that.) But I've also been rejected for reasons unknown (A good friend rarely invited me out and when she came to my city to visit, she visited our mutual friend and told her not to invite me.) I've also dumped some toxic friends. One friend had many mental problems I couldn't handle (she knew I suffered from depression by weaseling it out of another friend, even though I very rarely talk or complain about it.)

 

Right now I've been avoiding my "good" friend of two years and trying to figure out if it's worth just cutting the cord. I'm sad that I keep doing this, but all the bad signs are there, I feel anxiety when I know I have to see her, and relief when I don't. I've tried to look at her positive attributes, but she has said so many mean things that I feel sick when I have to see her. One problem might be cultural. She's a different race than me and always makes fun of blonde girls (I'm blonde.) She also makes lots of mean comments about how she is annoyed by short girls, even though she also calls me short. The worst thing though, sadly, involved a guy. I told her once that I had met someone that I liked, and she didn't seem that interested, supportive, or excited. But she's rarely supportive of good things that happen to me in general.

 

I don't want to go through life not having any friends that knew me when I was young, but I also don't think this is a friendship worth saving. And I'm not sure if there is a way I can tell her this. Thanks for listening.

 

Signed,
Dorie

ANSWER:

Dear Dorie,

 

First, I want to tell you how much I appreciated your candor in sharing your friendship problems. Your honest self-appraisal is the first step in resolving them.

 

One suggestion: Pay attention to the quality of your relationships rather than how long they last. It sounds like your "good" friend is downright mean to you. Saying cutting things and not being supportive doesn't have to do with race and culture; it's a personality issue. She doesn't sound like a good friend and if you don't enjoy being with her, I hope you'll move on to greener pastures. You deserve relationships that are supportive and reciprocal.

 

I don't know if you are still depressed or whether your depression has been effectively treated, but clinical depression can impair friendships. It makes you see the world in a negative light and it's also very difficult for another person, even a friend or spouse, to be around someone who is very depressed.

 

It sounds like you are very eager to have some healthy friendships; that is a laudable goal. Since you recognize a pattern of friendship problems that you can't explain, I think it's a great idea to speak to a professional to gain more insight into what is going on.

 

Thanks for sharing your story; let us know how it goes.

Best,
Irene

 
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