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shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

How far can a close friend go before you decide it isn't a friendship anymore?

Asked by shpadoinkle_sue (7188points) February 26th, 2010

For some people, friends are forever. For others, sometimes difficult choices must be made. What are some friendship deal breakers that have happened or could happen that would make a person end a relationship with a close friend. It’s up to the you to decide what the term “close” means, since it means different things to people. How did or would it affect you?

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20 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Four out of many over a long lifetime might not seem like a lot, but I felt them all keenly and still do. There is no blessing like a dear friend, and to lose even one strikes a deep blow to the heart.

One. Three of us, L—, P—, and I, were very close in college. I was maid of honor at the wedding of L—. P— phoned on the morning of the wedding and made an excuse not to come. She had already turned down being in the wedding party. L— and I never heard from P— again, and it hurt us both for many years. We speculated that P—‘s new husband, who was from another culture, required her to break her old ties. I never learned more, and the ache of it springs on me unexpectedly at times, even after 40 years.

Two. L— and I stayed close for a decade over long distances and then still remained in occasional contact across the miles, but always with deep affection and trust. To this day I have never been closer to anyone than this friend of my formative youth. Then she underwent some kind of a change, apparently associated with a religious conversion, and she moved without telling me her new address. I went to a lot of trouble to find L— through her daughter, and there was one last very strange phone call in which L— sighed a lot and told me I didn’t know what she’d been through—which of course I didn’t. The next call was from L—‘s daughter, informing me of L—‘s death. I still grieve for her and have never understood what happened.

Three. A close friend of many years, close enough to be part of our family birthdays and Thanksgivings, entertained us for dinner once when my older son was five. Afterward she wrote me a sharp note telling me that if he (my five-year-old son) didn’t remember to compliment the hostess for dinner, he shouldn’t expect to be invited back. I was shocked and wrote her a note trying to explain that five-year-olds don’t have adult social graces, but that he had enjoyed himself and that our expressions of thanks and appreciation had included him. She did not reply. Everything chilled between us. Twenty years later she sent me an apology, but by then there was no more contact between us.

Four. After several years of shared events and intimate dinners full of exchanged confidences, a friend and I kept in close touch by e-mail through her many travels. Then I hit a very rough patch in my own life and didn’t keep up. When I got back on track and apologized, she refused to answer and cut me out of her life. This was more than ten years ago. This past Christmas I received an earnest apology and a request to resume our friendship. I responded warmly and with open arms, and I have heard nothing from her since.

I experienced all these changes as grievous losses that caused me great sorrow and heartache. I have other friends whom I treasure and with whom I have wonderful ongoing relationships, but I expect those empty mysteries to sadden me forever.

escapedone7's avatar

There have been many many deal breakers for me. Most were severe. It takes a lot to break me. I’ll give you one scenario. I moved into an apartment complex. In the apartment right next to mine lived a very flamboyant gay man, but he had a funny sense of humor, vibrant and unique personality, and was very friendly. He first came over because he could hear my phone ringing, and he had no phone. He asked if he could use mine. This became a daily thing. He begged for rides and money. He had a lot of talents I noticed. I started paying him for some things. He desperately needed money and was always begging and borrowing. I needed help. I like the principal of making people earn things. Instead of him just begging, I’d have him help me and pay him for things. He did some decorating, cleaning, and other things and I was extremely happy with his work. I ended up paying him to care for my elderly grandmother before she died when she needed someone to sit with her. He even came to her funeral. He was the type to take over though, and I look back and it was like my life became a sitcom, one long episode of the “Phillip” show. He would take over my phone and yell , cry, and have an hour long lovers quarrel on my phone in my living room, tears pouring while he fought with some boyfriend. It was ridiculous.
Sometimes though he was fun. We hung out. We went out to eat together and went shopping together. He loved purses as much as I did. It was fun.We went on the atikins diet together and took turns cooking the high protein dinners. We walked at the park to lose weight. It was like having a girl friend only a guy.
He had a lot of needs and I was better off. So he started coming over a lot, to use the washer and dryer, use my computer, etc. He’d come over every single day several times a day needing or wanting something. He mismanaged his money, spending it all very fast and then not having necessities and using my resources instead. He was a mooch and he kind of took over and didn’t give me much space. He hit on men everywhere we went, and sometimes it was a little embarrassing and at times if the men got angry, it got scary. But he was just, obsessed with flirting with strangers. Sometimes I brought up a concern that Phillip didn’t exactly check ID and it is hard to tell a college age man from a high school boy sometimes. Phil was in his 20s. I was concerned though, that he flirted without regard to the fact some of them looked youngish and I was afraid to be with him if he flirted with someone say, 17 instead of 19. How can you tell? I predicted to him that this could be trouble. He just was oblivious. I started refusing to go in public with him. All he could think about was one thing. I eventually asked him to start using the library computer sometimes, to try to look for other resources outside of using mine nonstop. After that, he got in trouble at the library for hitting on an underage boy. He met the boy at the library when they were on computers next to each other and both checking their myspace. He asked the boy for his myspace, added him, then flirted openly with the boy on his myspace. The boys mom took notice of the remarks that the boy was “cute” and stuff, and called police. Phillip was luckily using the library computer instead of mine. I am so glad I had asked him to start going to the library. He was suffocating me though. The police traced the IP to the library computer, but could tell who was signed in (you sign in with a library card). The police detective visited Phillip and questioned him extensively. Phillip told me he was under investigation by police and banned from the library and told not to come back. Now, mind you, later he was cleared and no charges were filed. However at the time, I had no way of knowing what was going to happen or even for sure what he had done. I just knew it was about a boy and and investigation. Now during this time of turmoil and investigation a friend needed a babysitter after hers suddenly quit. As a favor while she tried to find another sitter, I was babysitting my friends kids, two boys. I asked Phillip to stay away. He thought I should be the supportive friend to be understanding and consoling him during this crises. I wouldn’t open the door. I put the chain on. I had two boys inside. Heck. I didn’t know what to do. He yelled at me through the door crying that all he did was call the kid “cute” and he calls puppies “cute” too and he meant nothing by it blah blah. But I had kids with me, and he was under investigation and I didn’t know really what happened for sure. I didn’t know what to do!!!! I had to say, don’t come over. He was so used to having free access to all my luxuries he was truly pissed. Things turned really ugly when he got mad. Really ugly. He felt betrayed. He wrote long sad letters to me about how he thought his friend would stand by him.. I liked the guy, but under the circumstances was afraid.. I avoided him. I didn’t answer the door if he knocked. I left the apartment and stayed at other places instead of staying at mine. When I tried to go home for things Phil accosted me at my door in a threatening manner, yelling and wanting to argue. He seemed to have stewed himself to bits while I had avoided him waiting to hear about the investigation. Phil just got madder and madder while I avoided him. He got so angry and bitter he started doing things like calling the landlord and complaining about stupid stuff, and things just got bitter. Since this happened I have a new policy to not make “friends” with my neighbors but just be friendliesh. I wave, I don’t pretend to be friends. It got too awkward when things got bad and we had to see each other every day. It was awful. He would bang on the wall and cuss if I even rattled when I did dishes. It was ugly. He was thrown out for reasons that had nothing to do with the investigation. The landlord had his own reasons (nonpayment of rent) , thank goodness. But, to be fair, Phil seemed extremely hurt by the whole thing. Later phil told me there was a sex offender with the same name as he has, and that’s why the police took it so seriously, but once they looked into it all charges were dropped. He may or may not have meant the comments to be innocent. Even though he used me, I think he did think of me as a friend and was truly hurt. However bottom line his life was centered around only himself, his desires, and was inconsiderate of anyone else. I was working in a profession that… well let’s just say I had reason to not like being seen with someone making a scene and stuff. I wanted to keep up a reasonable professional reputation. My career aspirations aren’t exactly being a drag queen. He didn’t seem to care about anything but his next lay or getting stuff. As ugly as it got when we ended the friendship, It was less stress to be enemies with him than it was to be friends. I will never forget him though.

partyparty's avatar

If a friendship becomes ‘one way traffic’ where you are doing all the text messages, phone calls, cards, letters etc then it can’t be a friendship.

A true friendship should be mutual contact, caring about each other. If that isn’t there then you might as well move on.

escapedone7's avatar

sorry for the novel. It would make a nice readers digest story.

Short answer it takes a LOT for me. Usually if the person is a danger to myself or my family, if they are getting in trouble with the law and I am afraid of getting in trouble by being around them, if they are doing things that might jeapordize my career, if they are using drugs, that sort of thing. It takes a lot before I abandon a friend. A whole lot.

mary84's avatar

When “friends” aren’t there for me when I need them the most, it’s definitely a deal breaker and unfortunately it’s happened to me a lot. I’ve gone through a lot of difficulties the past few years (like most people) and during my most difficult time one by one of my so called “friends” stopped calling, texting even talking to me. They just cut off all communication and made it painfully evident that as soon as our friendship wasn’t only about “doing fun things”, but actually being there for each other, then they weren’t interested in being my friend anymore.
It’s also happened quite a few times that so called “friends”, even people I thought were my close friends, only get in touch when they need or want something from me, such as looking for a place to stay, looking for a new job etc. In such cases they’ll call me and will want to “get back in touch” again, but as soon as they’ve got what they wanted they magically “disappear” again. That’s also definitely a deal breaker.

To put it like this: If it turns out that a friend, and by that I mean any friend not just close friend, ultimately doesn’t care all that much about me and only wants to be my friend whenever it suits him/her, then I’d not call them my friend – close friend or not.

Cruiser's avatar

I had an ex friend rat me out the the Federal Marshals which made my life a living hell for 2 months. I still hate his guts to this day 20 years later.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Betrayal is no fun.

marinelife's avatar

Pretty far with me. I am the forgiving sort.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Cruiser Why did he do that?

stardust's avatar

The loss of a friend causes such heartache.
I am going through this at the moment and it’s difficult. In my situation, I feel I would go the extra mile for my friend; I am there for her, etc, etc, but I feel it’s very much a one-way friendship.
I had some very difficult times in the past and she was unable to be there and show her support. She was also unable to communicate this. So, when I came through those times, we rekindled our friendship –
We never discussed any issues, even though I was deeply hurt by the way she responded, or rather didn’t, to what was going on in my life
She can be quite cold – I have tried talking to her, but she doesn’t respond. There’s always awkward silence & a lot of tension afterwards.
When I spend time with her, I come away feeling drained.
That’s a deal-breaker for me.
Past experience tells me the friendship isn’t solid

mollypop51797's avatar

My answer tot his question is very alike to another question I answered a few days ago. So, I will just give the same answer here :)

“I was talking about this recently with a friend. Here’s what I think, if you’re willing to give someone a chance, that means that you should be willing to be in for the ride. I think that being in for the ride means that you’re willing to deal with the ups and downs and that you’re willing to give them a chance to be you’re friend. I think that fighting will only strengthen your friendship, but you’ll eventually realize that they’re not meant to be your friends and that you gave them a chance. The only thing about this is that, I personally, never know for sure when their chance is up or when I’m just being nice. When I want to be a friend to someone, I am saying that I am willing to overlook their flaws, and focus on the qualities that I enjoy the most. However, I am wondering, when do you know that the chance has been given? I believe that getting mad at them a couple of times doesn’t mean that you give up on them because things didn’t go as smoothly as you want it to. I think we ALL know that nothing in this world is perfect, friendships, people, etc. And I think that being able to forgive makes you stronger. But, then there is the whole part where you’ve forgiven over and over, and that’s when I say. Get over them! If you have to forgive them this many times, and you realize that they AREN’T the type of person that you believed in the beginning, it’s just done. Recently, I have lost a friend who I thought was going to be my best friend. But I have just recently come to realize that she isn’t who I thought she was. I thought I could handle it, but the more I forgave her, the closer I got, and the meaner she got, the more it would hurt. I’ve learned from her that I don’t ever want to have the same qualities, and I’ve learned that I gave her too many chances since it’s been about a year of dealing with her behavior, however this only applied to what happened to me. Now, basically I’ve learned that fighting is okay, but letting her hurt you over and over again isn’t the type of person you want to be friends with. In other words, you will know when their chance is up, or you’ll at least learn. I don’t know when because we all will find out a different way, but once you learn it it’s something you’ll never forget. You’ll never forget how to ride a bike, and you’ll never forget how. So, once you learn from mistakes, and giving too many chances, or giving too little, you’ll know for the future when their chance is up and when you should move on. Did this make any sense?”

Basically what I’m saying, is that if you’re willing to be their friend, you can be somewhat “blind” to the opportunity in finding new friends. It can be this way if you’re so happy that you find a new friend, that in the beginning you’re not seeing any of their flaws. Then after some time, when you’ve really been exposed to that other side of them, you can either realize that they’re not worth it (if their flaws are so hurtful and inexcusable) or if you’re willing to tough it up and deal with it. For me, from what I said above, I’m saying that I gave my friend that chance, when i saw their flaws I thought that its OK, I can deal with it, I forgive and let go. But, I gave them way too many chances, and i got hurt by them way more times than I should have because I was blind to the expiration date of their chance.

CMaz's avatar

When the tongue enters the mouth.

partyparty's avatar

@marinelife Don’t you ever feel you are being taken advantage of though?

evandad's avatar

If they know they’ve hurt you in the past and then do the same thing again it’s time to let them go. A real friend doesn’t do that.

Cruiser's avatar

@Dr_Dredd He had been arrested by the feds and my ex best friend thought it would help him to finger everyone remotely associated with his bad behavior. Cost me $2,500 to defend my honor.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@Cruiser Ooh, that sucks. Definitely not a friend.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Jeruba Thank you for sharing that! I am sorry – it really does sound so painful, all that these people have done.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

In my life I can only think of two friends whose departure from my life has left me sad. The first friend in question was a best friend of many years but as the years went on, we developed different passions (hers remained based in the daily grind of people who, to me, were too cliche and simple-minded…and mine, in her eyes, went in a ‘crazy radical direction with a touch of academic elitism’) and ways to look at the world…eventually she said a couple of hurtful things regarding my sexuality and later regarding my need for a logical conversation (very important, when it comes to friendship) and how she just wants it all to be about emotion…and I’m supposed to forgive this time and again even though she acts like a child…this doesn’t fly with me, I cut her out…another person became more and more traditional as the years went on, she met a person who steered her in that direction and much of what I talked about threatened her a lot and she eventually lost contact with me more or less on purpose.

thriftymaid's avatar

Deception is a real deal breaker for me.

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