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dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

Have you ever given up on a long-term friendship?

Asked by dammitjanetfromvegas (4593points) February 3rd, 2016

I’m trying to wrap my head around some revelations I’ve had concerning my best friend of 38 years. I’ve realized she’s not the person I used to love.

She was exaggerating truths to prove a point and admitted to feelings about me she’s had all these years. I thought being best friends was about being completely open and honest with each other. Apparently that wasn’t the case with her.

I’m thinking about slowly distancing myself because I can’t do fake. I’m honestly hurt and I can’t see myself being close with someone who can’t be honest with me.

Have you given up on a relationship you’ve had for years? I’d love to know what happened and/or how you handled the situation.

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32 Answers

filmfann's avatar

One of my closest friends made a remark about my wife (“you never would have married her if she wasn’t pregnant!” She wasn’t.), and I simply hung up the phone, and didn’t speak to him again. He was never a good friend (supportive, etc.), but was a lot of fun to be around.
Friend betrayal is a hot button for me.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Very few friendships last for life. The ones that do are remarkable.

Often, people move away, and long-distance relationships are difficult to maintain. More frequently, though, people simply change and grow apart; a distance of minds rather than miles. Your friend isn’t the same person you met 38 years ago, and, honestly, neither are you. It sounds as if your friendship didn’t have the foundation needed to weather those changes and stay solid. Most don’t.

Letting go of a long-term friend is a grieving process. It’s a sort of death, stepping away from a relationship that was once so central to your life. I fully understand why you feel sad.

marinelife's avatar

My friend gave up on me. She cut herself off from me after telling me her marriage was rocky and then deciding to stay with him anyway (I would have supported whatever decision she made). Lately, we have become Facebook friends and it hurts to see her referring to someone else as her best friend. It still hurts after 15 years. We were best friends for 30 years.

But sometimes you grow away from each other. She apparently harbored all sorts of judgments about my decisions that she had never voiced.

Strauss's avatar

It happened to me. A friend I’ll call Kevin and I had known each other since the early 1970’s. We ran in the same social circles in our home town, and were both musicians, in our early 20’s. We had many adventures and road trips together, including the trip in 1979 that ended in New Orleans. He left that town after a couple weeks, I stayed a couple years, after which I moved to Austin. He came to visit me in Austin, and decided it would be good for him to stay there as well. I stayed in Texas for about 8 years, he came and went several times (nothing to do with our friendship, he had other reasons for moving). In 1988, shortly after I had become engaged, I saw him playing music on the street. Pleased to see him, I stopped and talked for awhile. I asked him where he was staying. “The world is my home, the sky is my roof!” he answered, waxing poetic about his homelessness. I made a mental note to speak to my fiancee about putting him up for a while, until he got back on his feet.
I said to him, “Have you heard I’m engaged?”
He replied, “Yeah, I heard you’re gonna marry some (N-word) chick!”
His blatant racism threw me for a loop. I had never seen this side of Kevin. I responded.
“Well, she is the woman I love, and we are going to be married in September.”

I wished him well, walked off, and have never seen or heard from him since.

Pachy's avatar

Sadly yes—with my brother.

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I have let go of 4 long time friends in the last 15 years or so due to varying issues,
One turned out to be manipulative and had lied to me about something and when confronted couldn’t handle it. 2 others were extremely judgmental and domineering and I got sick of their never ending judgements and opinions about everything. The 4th was a former neighbor/friend/biz. partner that I knew for 15 years and I had overlooked a lot of her emotionally unstable and bitchy behaviors for a long time until I decided that it was time to move on and the friendship had outlived it’s shelf life. As we grow and change it is natural for some of our relationships to fade away.

Deal breakers for me are those that are too immature to have a rational, adult discussion and hear what another is saying to them without resorting to childish he said/she said, crap. I also do not handle those that run hot and cold and feeling as if you have to keep your guard up at all times because you never know when they are going to have some hissy fit about something.
Nope…I am one of the easiest people in the world to get along with, I am emotionally consistent, honest, diplomatic and able to engage in rational discussion to solve problems.
Be true to yourself first and foremost of all and if someone is not willing or able to self reflect, apologize or work with you to fix a problem just move on and clear your head space of the drama they bring into your life.

somewomenarenicemaybe's avatar

I find that hindsight is 20/20 when I think about my old friends that I haven’t seen or talked to in years. The more time I don’t see them the more I remember crappy things they said about me or little digs they made that I brushed off at the time and the less I miss them. I guess my point is that people aren’t perfect so when you’re around them you adjust to make the relationship work. They were never really good friends just people that were convenient to hang out with at the time.
Then there’s the one’s I think about that I should have been nicer to that were great and I just wasn’t mature enough to understand how good they were to me.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It did happen to me, and I think it’s a big mistake to consider slowly backing away. It’s the sort of self punishment comparable to gradually releasing a hot frying pan.

jca's avatar

I have three friends that I consider “best friends.”

One, I’ve known since I was about 3. We grew apart in high school and then started getting in touch more when her kids were young and I was a young adult.

The other I’ve known since I was around 18. We also grew apart when her kids were young and then got more friendly about 10 years ago.

The third, I’ve mentioned on here a bunch of times in the past year. She suffered some trauma (illness and subsequent death of a loved one) and then became mentally ill. She can be argumentative and demanding. Demanding in terms of that I don’t have much time to see her or for phone calls. I try to explain that I don’t have much time to see my other friends either, because I am a single mother who works full time. When it comes to phone calls, it’s hard to schedule with my caring for my elementary school aged child. When I see her, we may argue when we’re out or she may text me two days later about some trivial thing that I said. I have tried to hold on but it’s been very tempting on several occasions to say to her “you know what? Let’s give this a break.” I don’t want to do that because I am trying to be understanding that this is not the “real” ____ that I used to know, and so I try to be tolerant.

@dammitjanetfromvegas: Can you share more about what’s going on with your friend?

Love_my_doggie's avatar

I agree with @stanleybmanly about dropping that hot frying pan, tearing off the bandage, or whatever saying works for you. A slow goodbye, rife with rejection and bad feelings, would be more painful.

msh's avatar

Instead of distancing yourself which effects both of you forever, why not sit down and write out what you feel, and what you need to do now. No need to be nasty or false. Just say that life has changed and you feel that you need to take a different pathway now.
Have the integrity to at least give them an agknowledgement of your friendship.
Dumping, running or avoiding leaves everyone involved with questions and hurt.
You owe a friend at least that much dignity.
Then go on knowing that you agknowledged what was and the changes you need to make, all without assigning blame or accusation.
Hurt feelings last a long while, as you can read.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

@jca It started with a political discussion. I thought she was the most compassionate person I knew. We met in second grade and grew up just three houses apart. This discussion was about the left wanting to take the right’s hard earned money to support lazy welfare recipients. She’s a member of the Tea Party. She tried to use examples of our childhood using anecdotal evidence to support her opinion. She stated that she grew up poor (she didn’t. I practically lived at her house so I know). She then told me she hid it from me because my family had it so much better (we didn’t). Apparently she was jealous of me this whole time. It makes me question our entire relationship because of her exaggerated truths and never telling me how she felt about me. I accepted our differences the past several years and always used her as an example of a strong, caring woman, but now I’ve lost respect for her and I don’t think I can handle our differences and stay close.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I am answering without having read the thread. I’ll go back and read when I have time.

Yes, I had to completely break off a friendship of 14 years. We were very close. I told this friend things that I have never told others before or since. (We were not romantic partners or even close to that.)

We had some difficulties off and on as in any relationship, and in the end, I realized we got over those difficulties when I succumbed in every single instance. I always had to admit wrong. It was never a two-way street. Then I began to realize I’d been manipulated over and over again for all those years. Then I began to see the passive aggressive nature of my friend. Then I began to see more.

The last difficulty ended when I brought all this to my friend’s attention. I provided times and dates of my claims. My friend could not function when confronted with facts, and the anger then targeted at me was extreme.

I ended the relationship. I have not spoken to my friend since, and I’m better off.

I do not know if this is at all analogous to your situation, but perhaps you can take something from my story and use it to help yourself.

jca's avatar

@dammitjanetfromvegas: As far as the political discussion goes, that’s why I avoid discussing politics too much with anyone.

Did she say she was jealous of you?

If she’s exaggerating, that would annoy the crap out of me but maybe she got the impression the way kids sometimes do, based upon something unrealistic (i.e. your mom always cooked the best food), or something.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@dammitjanetfromvegas You’ve been friends for 38 years. I’m hoping that she hasn’t been consistently jealous and resentful for all those years. A heated disagreement can bring out the worst in people, causing them to reinvent the past or dredge-up old grudges. If she’s been pretending to like you for nearly 4 decades, she’s an excellent actor and a shallow person. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, which seems fair, she’s behaving this way because she can’t defend her Tea Party beliefs, is annoyed that you’re correct, and is attacking you in a nasty way.

As Victor Hugo wrote, “Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.”

Jeruba's avatar

I did. We’d been close for about ten years. She was a single woman, and she was on family terms with us: got invited to our Thanksgiving dinners, for instance—even when we went to in-laws. There were presents for her under our Christmas tree. We traveled together. She started investment funds for our children when they were born.

Then suddenly she got weird. I don’t know how to describe it. She seemed to have unexpected new barriers in parts of her life. She began to behave unpredictably and threw me off balance. What crossed the line was when she sent me a letter criticizing the behavior of my five-year-old, who loved her, for having failed to pay adequate compliments to her on the dinner she cooked. She said that if her guests couldn’t appreciate her offerings, they wouldn’t be welcome. This after she’d had dozens of meals at our house. He was just a little boy, and his “Thank you” wasn’t good enough. (And of course my husband and I had uttered all the appropriate words of praise and thanks.) I had no idea what to make of that, but I knew I just wanted to stay away.

Around that time I was talking with another friend (who didn’t know her). This friend had been through the ins and outs of therapy. She said, “It sounds like someone has identified you as part of a dysfunctional pattern.” I wasn’t sure what that really meant, either, but I got that my former friend was distancing herself and that I couldn’t do anything about it. I agonized over whether I was abandoning a friend when she was in trouble, but in the end I chose to protect my son from unjust accusations and inhospitality.

I saw her at events sometimes, but kept a cool distance.

Twenty years later she sent me a letter apologizing for some nameless “behavior.” I tried to find out what specifically she was referring to, because I never had any clue what had really happened, but she didn’t answer me.

It still bothers me sometimes.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Whether you distance yourself, break it off completely, or try to salvage the friendship is up to you. You know the situation best.

In a perfect world, you would be able to have an afternoon together and curl up on the sofa each with a cup of tea and talk. You would each tell your story and be heard and not judged. You would each cry, and all would be well.

Only you know how much of that is possible. None? A tiny bit? Some?

Here’s my philosophy:

We are all hurting from the past. Some of us grow up in all ways and move past the hurts and move on with life. Some of us can’t do this for one reason or another. (The reasons are as numerous as there are people on the planet.) When we who have moved past our pain encounter those who can’t, all we can do is listen. Full stop. We cannot change the other. All we can do is support the growth of the other in whatever way the other decides to grow.

Now, in some cases, the other will choose a destructive way to grow. We then have a decision to make about how to “support” this. We can break off all communication and bluntly explain we will not tolerate the destruction. I think you can imagine the pain this will cause the other. We can give examples from our own story about how we grew and matured. These must be our own stories, and we must not use the word “you” even once when telling these stories. The other must be left alone to draw their own comparisons with their own story.

Some other ideas should the other choose destructive growth might be to simply disappear. In my experience this causes heartache for all parties. I would never feel peaceful disappearing. I need closure. You might decide to fully support the destructive choice and become a cheerleader for the endeavor. There’s also the idea of simply withholding your opinion of the choice and offering support when the pain from the destructive choice comes.

I got this somewhat long list of alternatives from a realization during a romantic partnership. The man I was seeing was not available when I wanted. He kept his own calendar, and I had to take him when he told me he was available. I was miserable, and then I had an epiphany. I could want more than he was giving and continue to be miserable, I could take what he was offering and enjoy that, or I could end it. I chose to accept what he offered and be happy. It later ended, but I had fun while it lasted.

I think what I’m trying to say is your friend is hurting, and she doesn’t know how to deal with the pain. She may not even be able to identify the pain. She’s probably harboring unresolved pain from childhood, the origins of which may be lost in time. It is not your place to help your friend get over this pain. It is not even your place to point out she may be in pain. Your job is to understand her pain and accept her anyway. All the while, loving and accepting yourself. Sometimes those are incompatible, and you must choose to nurture self before nurturing the other.

I am reminded of a quote from Ram Dass, “We are all just walking each other home.”

Can you continue to walk with your long-time friend, or do you need to take care of your own walk? Only you know.

chyna's avatar

Yes I have cut ties with my best friend of 35 years. When I think back on it, I was always the one initiating shopping trips, going to dinner, etc. She called me almost daily and would talk for an hour, but never really wanted to do anything. I would guess that we only saw each other 4 times a year. Her husband said she wouldn’t go anywhere with him either.
For the last 2 years before I cut it off I noticed she started criticizing everything I did. From places I would go “why are you going there” in a hateful tone to the color I painted my walls and the type of curtains I put up. It got so that I didn’t want to tell her anything. So then her birthday came up and I wanted to take her to dinner. She kept blowing me off and I finally pinned her down on a date and time. I called her that morning to verify. She picked a place that was an hour away. So I called 15 minutes before we were to leave and she was taking a nap and said she needed to mop her floors and take a shower first. That broke the camels back. Obviously she wasn’t even looking forward to going out. I told her to just forget it and haven’t talked to her in 2 years. Actually I was relieved.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

@chyna She sounds emotionally disturbed, especially the part about never wanting to go out or do anything. The way she sabotaged her birthday dinner is just bizarre. What stable, healthy person wouldn’t want to be treated to a nice celebration with a good friend?

jca's avatar

@Love_my_doggie: Or if she didn’t want to go for some reason, she should have said “Thank you anyway, but that’s not something I want to do.”

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Yes, I have. Apart from family situations, one particular incidence involves a friend I’d known since primary school. We were best mates. When we were in our late teens when her behaviour and lack of support in a situation I was going through made me realize our friendship was all about me supporting her. When I needed some care and consideration, she wasn’t there. We lost contact and when that contact was restored a few years later, history repeated itself. It was at that point that I broke all contact. She’s been in touch since and I’ve ignored her messages. It was clear to me that we had very different attitudes to being a good friend.

Mariah's avatar

My best friend in college started picking fights over stupid shit and I decided I couldn’t do it anymore when he slammed his door in my face because I jokingly called him “Ass McAss.”

It hurt. I can’t even imagine what you’re going through – that’s an incredibly long friendship to lose.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

My story is similar to all the above. I’ve lost a few old friends along the way mostly due to the difference in speed in which we grow up and/or situational changes. Lifestyles change and become incompatible, or we reach different stages of maturity at different times—or not at all.

I had one very good friend, a great buddy. We were both about twenty and into a rather wild singles beach lifestyle, with a little college squeezed in. Over the years we got married, divorced, changed professions a couple of times… I went to Europe for ten years and we seamlessly picked up our friendship where it left off. We both became RNs. Forty years. He began doing some unethical things. Not illegal, but unethical. I couldn’t let it pass. He acted like nothing was wrong, as if I was overreacting. It went on for about a year and I began to distance myself from him. I eventually avoided him completely. He was a really good pal at one time.

The last time I saw him was about 2010. We bumped into each other at a restaurant and it was brief. Around 2012 I read his obit in the newspaper. I did the right thing. But what a pain in the ass. He was the only person on earth that knew me in certain stages of my life in succession, he was the only one who was there and knew stuff we’d both experienced at time and place that will never happen again. Not even my wives ever knew all of it. I always thought we’d end up a couple of menches on benches feeding the seagulls and laughing about old times. The whole thing pisses me off. But that is life.

I have another friend who I visit every once in awhile on the West Coast, We’re cool. He goes back to high school, but he wasn’t right there all the time, nearly every day, except for one decade, from 1973 to 2010 like the guy I described above.

Coloma's avatar

and sooo…. the moral of these stories are, one must be an island unto themselves, their own best friend, and others that come along and are proven worthy are the frosting on the cake one has baked for themselves. Hell, since I’m waxing poetic, lets have a song ey? haha

msh's avatar

Question comes to mind from what @Coloma writes.
Doesn’t every friendship have bumps and bruises? If it were as perfect as it appears at some points, you haven’t gotten older. Your foibles become those of adults. The secrets are more in depth. Is it the fun of the times people remember that the company gets credited for?
There is always disappointment, that’s a given. Yet there are great surprises also.
Do we give our best friends more rope than we allow even a partner? Then when we believe they know us best and would understand- they’re gone or have changed?
Who changes? What changes do these people, we believe we know, go through that we didn’t go with them? Or were we oblivious to their ways all along?
No one can be your everything. Not even best friends.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@msh, I think often we do give our friends more leeway than we do our partners.

I suspect the reasons we are surprised when our friends behave badly are similar to when a partner behaves badly. The trait we suddenly find dismaying has always been there, we’ve just been oblivious to it. For some reason, we’ve been seeing our friend through rose-coloured glasses. That was certainly true in my case. She’d always been selfish. I’d been so busy supporting, I’d failed to ponder over whether the support was reciprocal. Her callous attitude when I was hurt and needed support was shocking to me. Her later behaviour confirmed she hadn’t changed.

As to @dammitjanetfromvegas, I suspect there’s also a degree of people growing up. As we grow up and become more confident about our beliefs and attitudes, we may be more open and outspoken. In this case, I doubt @dammitjanetfromvegas‘s friend has changed her views dramatically. She’s probably just not been very open about them. Now she has, and those views are so different to @dammitjanetfromvegas‘s views, it’s hard to accept them. So I don’t think people have changed as much as the differences have become very evident.

When that happens, we have to decide whether those differences are things we can accept and/or ignore, or whether they’re deal breakers.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

I don’t feel so alone with all of these stories. Thank you everyone. I wish I could be a better jelly and thank everyone individually. I want you all to know that I read every word and I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

YARNLADY's avatar

I let an old friendship just fade away. We met when we lived in the same apartment and our sons were the same age. We both had foster kids and we were very close.
We kept in touch by mail and some visiting over several years after we both moved away, but then her youngest started having some serious family problems, got divorced and finally committed suicide. A couple of years later her oldest son also committed suicide. All this time, my son was still making his way as best as he could, and I had three lovely grandchildren to talk about. She stopped sending greeting cards and letters, and so did I.

Coloma's avatar

@msh Of course no one can be your everyone, but with age comes wisdom and discernment and if a relationship of any kind is no longer working or is fraught with any kind of abuse, well..time to move on.

msh's avatar

You have misconstrued a point, I believe, but I appreciate the thought.

Coloma's avatar

@msh I was responding to your remark about friendships going through “bumps and bruises” and not expecting someone to be your everything. I don’t feel I misconstrued anything, simply commenting that there is a limit to the bumps and bruises. haha
Speaking for myself, I have zero desire to deal with drama in my relationships these days, true and healthy relationships of all kinds are easy, not difficult. My best friend of over 10 years and I have never had one little issue of any kind. We offer kindness, support, zero criticism or judgment and enjoy a super, mutual reciprocity.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

not without a fight

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