Discover more from Friendship Rules
Two Friends Drifting Apart
As the ties between two long-term friends become more tenuous, a woman wonders whether the friendship is worth saving.
Six years ago my friend of 35 years and her husband purchased a second home in Florida. She has a large family and many friends who frequent her new place and keep her occupied.
She’s a kind and generous religious woman and keeps busy with church and mentoring, and helping out with the business she and her husband own.
I have always known her to be a "princess." She is the youngest of five sisters who dote on her. She is married to a wonderful man and is a stepmother and grandmother. I am happy for her.
I, too, have had an amazing life until the past few years. That’s when I lost my parents and our business failed. Our dreams for retirement have been dashed. Our only son battles alcoholism. (Thankfully, we are close, and he is seeking help)
My friend has always been supportive, but I am a private person, and while she knows more than anyone, she doesn't know everything.
We discussed my visiting her two weeks ago and couldn't get our schedules aligned. We both felt the other was not flexible. When we spoke, she told me she felt she had been doing all the giving in our friendship for a long time. I had noticed a decrease in her cards and gifts (she loves to give) but assumed it was because she was busy.
I recently celebrated a birthday and heard nothing from her. This is a first in our relationship.
I do not feel I am in the wrong and take offense to her feeling she does it all. I sit back and watch everyone going well for her, everyone doing for her, etc., and don’t see it reciprocated. She really does believe she does it all.
I’m not interested in trying to convince her otherwise, but I need to convey to her that I am a different person: a woman who feels lost without her beloved parents, a parent scared for her son, and a wife watching her stressed-out husband trying to keep his head above water.
What I know for certain is that she really cannot relate to my pain. Do I accept that our friendship is on a different plane and move on? I am concerned she could not accept my honesty and sugarcoating things will frustrate me. Thank you.
Your life has certainly taken a turn, and we’re so sorry you are going through these difficulties.
Your frustrations and hurt are understandable. Your once-close friend is growing distant; not there for you when you need her, and feeling like she is somewhat “put upon.”
That’s certainly a tough thing to deal with at any time, but especially now when you’re feeling so vulnerable and suffering so many losses. And to make matters worse, when you compare your life to hers, it feels one down.
One thing to think about is this: Is her life really what it seems? You paint a “perfect” picture of it. A doting family, a person who is so giving to others, one who hasn’t a care in the world.
It’s important to remember that things are not always what they seem/appear to be. Everyone has their issues, but not everyone puts them out there for all to see. As you stated, your friend doesn’t know everything about you - so it’s possible the opposite is true - and you may not know everything about her.
Even a “charmed” life has some hidden scratches.
That sentiment aside, it might help to reach out to her and tell her that you really need her right now. You did say she doesn’t know everything about your life. Might she act and feel differently if she knew more about what is happening in your life right now? Explain that you’re facing several major problems and losses simultaneously and need her friendship now more than ever.
The test of a true friendship is when you go through bad times and need someone to lean on. If she is a true friend she will be there for you. Even if her life is easier, she should still have room for empathy.
If she feels “put upon” or tells you she is too busy to deal with your problems, you must question whether the friendship is worth keeping. Given that you have been friends for so long, it seems worthwhile to make the extra effort to find out.
Irene & Sheryl
Things are not always what they appear to be in friendship and life.