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longgone's avatar

Have you ever had a friendship become distant, but then go back to normal?

Asked by longgone (7360 points ) April 2nd, 2014

As recently admitted, I don’t like change.

My sister and I are friends with another pair of sisters. We met when we were all under six, so we’ve known each other for a long time now. We share many of the same views and we were raised similarly. We’ve made up countless games, we’ve spent holidays together, and we had regular sleepovers. These are the kind of friends who know our distant relatives’ names and get invited to family gatherings. They’re special.

Now, for about six months, things have been “weird” between us. We meet up about once a week, if even that. We used to get together two or three times in that same amount of time – for about six months preceding that, weekly sleepovers were the rule, not the exception. It’s these little changes that get to me.

All this started, I think, with plans to share an apartment. While my sister and I would have taken the plunge, our friends decided they wouldn’t risk our friendship. I believe that, and I get it. Moving in together can damage relationships. It may have been the right decision, anyway. Trouble is…somehow, we’ve managed to damage our relationship anyway.

We’ve talked about the matter three times. Every time, the conversation ended in tears, but we felt better. Until things got back to what is now normal.

Worst of all, I wonder whether I may have caused all this: As some of you know, a friend of mine died last June. I was pretty whiny and sensitive for a while, and I wonder whether that may have been too much for our relationship.

Sometimes I can’t help but think I should give up…but I’m not anywhere near ready to. I want those two back.

TL;DR I miss my friends. Tell me things will go back to normal, please.

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18 Answers

janbb's avatar

It sounds like you were saying that things were getting back to normal? I don’t think a deep friendship like that would be permanently harmed unless there was a grievous hurt. Have you asked these friends whether your loss had anything to do with the distance?

I’ve had childhood friends from whom I’ve had long stretches of distance and then the closeness resumed. I hope you get back on a regular footing soon.

johnpowell's avatar

I have had things go both ways. I have grown distant with great friends and things stayed that way. On the flip I have also restored similar friendships.

It was all up to me and the effort I put in. You can’t expect them to do all the hard work patching things up. Actually, it is safest to assume they will do absolutely nothing.

longgone's avatar

@janbb I said, “Until things got back to what is now normal.”

Was that what you meant? Sorry, you’re right, it’s easy to misunderstand…I haven’t asked them, specifically, but I have apologized for putting a strain on our friendship. They told me “that’s what’s friends are for”, basically.

@johnpowell Hm. Yeah, and I’m doing the opposite. I’m pretty much waiting for them to “return” at this point. The thing is, other than talking, I have no idea what to do. And talking hasn’t seemed to help.

Thanks, you two!

janbb's avatar

(Hug) I wouldn’t want to lose such a special thing either. Yes, that wasn’t clear to me when I first read it; that you meant the new normal. What does your sister think about it? She’s a fourth person in this group.

longgone's avatar

@janbb Thank you. I’m definitely in need of a hug right now. My sister agrees with me, but is quicker to see positive trends. She’s also better at dealing with change.

janbb's avatar

Well, it does seem like the only thing to do is more talking and expressing your desire to resume the old footing.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Adult friends, juggling and worn out by life’s demands and obligations, can go months without seeing each other or even talking on the phone. If you’re spending time together every week, that’s truly remarkable.

longgone's avatar

@janbb If only talking weren’t so exhausting.

@SadieMartinPaul I guess. Then again, while that may happen even to best friends, I don’t think it’s typical for these things to change overnight. At least, I hope it isn’t. Thank you!

Cruiser's avatar

Yes, many times. Shit happens in peoples lives that create demands that get in the way of normal routines. I would just ask said friends how things are going and is anything new going on in their lives.

dappled_leaves's avatar

The relationship you have sounds quite unique to me. Once per week already sounds like a lot for a group of four adults. It is hard to imagine feeling like that’s not enough group time.

You’ve said that you think part of the problem might be the loss you’ve suffered, but if all of you have sat down to talk about this on three separate occasions that ended in tears, you must have a bit of an idea what’s going on.

Are you reaching out to any of them as individuals, to do things one-on-one? Or are you only interested in the feeling of being in a “family”? Do you feel like they are avoiding you, or do you think they just want to move on from the “sleepover” phase?

I know that some of the friendships that I formed when I was young felt like they were never going to end – but over time, I realized that no matter how much effort I put into keeping us all together (and it was a lot), eventually we had to drift apart. We were growing in different directions. At the time, it hurt a lot, but now I’m somewhat grateful that it happened. I’ve met so many other people since then, and experienced so much, that I would not have if we’d remained a close-knit group.

cheebdragon's avatar

I can go weeks or even months without thinking about contacting one of my friends. We all have our own lives and most of us don’t live very close to eachother so we get together when we can, but it’s certainly not a weekly event.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Does my friendship with Fluther count?

OK so I did have conflict with Fluther once and my relationship with Dr. Jelly seems kind of… distant. But now everything has gotten normal again.

Look here. This is when our conflict got to the peak. Read it and decide for yourself.

gailcalled's avatar

I’ve had only one long-term friendship go bad on me, but we both had changed so much that I decided not to try to rebuilt it.

When I was grieving hard for someone, I lost several friends whom I thought were good ones, but my grief frightened them and they disappeared from my life. I would never try to reclaim them as friends.

I would never call someone who is grieving whiny or sensitive. How can one not be profoundly affected by the death of someone we love? Those who don’ t get it don’t deserve one second of our time and energy.

gailcalled's avatar

eit: rebuild

GloPro's avatar

@longgone A death can definitely alter friendships. I lost one of my best friends of 10 years after his sister and good friend of mine was brutally murdered. He needed to retreat inside himself for awhile. We were able to talk about feeling the gap and the discomfort that was new between us, but we weren’t able to naturally overcome it. I don’t know why, and neither of us were to blame, it just happened. I am sorry about your friend and completely understand any and every emotion you feel relating to the death and your friendships. Just keep communicating honestly and be yourself. If being yourself is whiney and sensitive at the moment acknowledge it and be prepared to ride the wave. Your friends may pull away, but keep making an effort and hopefully you will find that when you return to a happier you, they really haven’t strayed that far after all.

longgone's avatar

@pleiades Thanks for your input!

@Cruiser That’s probably part of the problem. Both of them have a lot to do. Which makes things harder, because my sister and I feel “out of the loop” immediately. There’s so much going on, it’s impossible to not feel like strangers sometimes. At least, if we don’t see each other a lot. Thank you.

@dappled_leaves Thanks. I think our relationship is pretty special. I wouldn’t say “unique”, but rare, definitely. I do have friends I see just a few times a year, and I’m fine with that. These two, though…it’s just hard to lose the closeness I’m used to. We don’t often do things one-on-one. I have no idea whether they want to move on from the “sleepover phase”. I would be okay with that, if it’s what they want. And yes, I do feel like they are avoiding us on occasion. For example, when planning to meet up, they frequently say they only have a couple hours on a given date, and then tell us meeting wouldn’t “make sense”.

@cheebdragon Thanks. I have friends like that, too. Such a change of dynamic is pretty hard, though.

@Mimishu1995 Sure! Thanks for commenting!

@gailcalled Thank you. I’d never comment on someone’s emotional state after a traumatic event, either. I’m just saying that I was pretty difficult. I’m not being hard on myself, I think it was (is, even) understandable to be difficult. I know they think so, too. Regardless, I’m sure they felt overwhelmed at times. I hope that wasn’t what started this. However, sometimes I can’t help but think so.

@GloPro Thanks, that helps. Especially the part about understanding that I don’t want to lose this. I’m well on my way to be happier. I sincerely hope you’re right, and I’ll keep trying. Also, sorry for that, what a horrible story!

longgone's avatar

I feel like – for the record – I should update this:

Things are good. I don’t know what changed, exactly, but – I don’t feel the distance anymore! During the last months, I tried to believe in the friendship, even when I didn’t feel like it. That helped, but the turning-point was probably the trip to Sweden we took a couple of weeks ago. Being around each other 24/7, the “normality” returned immediately, and as strongly as ever. I’m so glad this phase is over!! :]

Thank you!

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