Mapping out why there’s an ending to a friendship can sometimes be a daunting task. You try to remember where everything started to go sour and you wonder what you did to contribute to the demise of it. If you have any empathy or conscience at all, you mull this kind of stuff over in your mind because real friendships that end are something to be grieved. It’s when I suspect my friendship had become one-sided, or unhealthy at a certain point that I want to dissect it, simply because if I have a problem, or a challenge, that requires introspection, I want to do that look inward and work on myself.
I don’t have regrets anymore because regrets are simply lessons we failed to learn from.
I heard that somewhere and can’t remember where, but I didn’t make that new platitude up myself. It’s a good one, doncha’ think?!
This exchange below is kind of what a map would look like to me. These would be like memories I mull over and wonder if this is when I should have started to make a quiet egress, since obviously when things like this start to happen your red flags should be blowing like crazy in a stiff, cold breeze.
Her: Hey! What are you guys doing today? Want to go for a walk?
Me: That sounds lovely!
Her: Well, the walk just changed into a run around the big park. Is that okay?
Me: My husband and I just talked about that and he would love to join you for the run, but I’m going to stay home. I have stuff I want to do here.
Her: Are you sure? My boyfriend is worried you might feel left out. We really want you to go.
Me: Thank you so much for wanting to include me. I had to convince my husband to go because he wanted to include me too. Don’t worry! I am perfectly content on my own today.
Her: You are a good woman!
Doesn’t that sound like a nice exchange between two friends? It does! Everyone is on the same page. No one wants the others to feel left out. It’s a great connection between people that genuinely care about each other and want to be together on their day off. Except there’s one minor problem and that becomes apparent when one friend lets their mask slip a little.
Me: Do you remember our text exchange yesterday before you guys left to go running? How I had to convince my husband to go because he didn’t want me to feel left out and that I was perfectly content on my own for the day?
Her: Yeah, sure. What’s up?
Me: Everything is fine, but I want to know if you remember what you said to him yesterday during the run.
Her: Did I say something inappropriate? If I did, I’m sorry.
Me: You told him twice to go home and be with his wife.
Her: I thought I was making a joke. I may have said something about his wife being at home. I didn’t mean to imply you were upset about it. I am really sorry if I came across that way.
Me: Listen. He had a good time yesterday. He was texting me the whole time and sending me pictures. The first time you said it, he blew it off as a joke, but the second time you said it, you embarrassed him. If you were to put yourself in my shoes, this is not something my husband or I would ever say to your boyfriend. Not even if it were true. There were other people there that don’t even know us and normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but you know, gossip.
Her: I am so sorry. I think of you guys as good friends. I never meant to hurt anyone. I was just kidding. I would have called but I’m kind of tired. I spent last night talking with a friend that’s breaking up with her husband and she’s so sad and needed me.
This second conversation is definitely one that sends up some red flags. The problem here is you won’t see the red flags if you genuinely think this person is your friend.
Okay first, kudos on you for expressing your boundaries! That was a smart and considerate move to make. This is you, being a good friend to her. You brought the issue right to her and in a timely manner. You didn’t stew about it and you didn’t gossip to your other friends. Now this friend knows where she stands and how to be a good friend back to you.
I might add, kudos to your husband for not calling her out in front of everyone and embarrassing her on the spot. Most men would have carved a new rearend exit for her if she was embarrassing them in front of their friends. Your husband is a classy dude.
It is admirable that the friend is quick to show remorse and to lift up the friendship as important, but the fact that she deflects a few times means she isn’t really that sorry. I guess the apologies could be considered significant here, except for the deflections and the reference back to another friend, that you might not even know, that seemed to need her more. I’m not even sure why that needed to be shared, but it does seem to devalue the concerns you brought to the table, doesn’t it? It’s almost like your concerns and issues mean very little in comparison, even though you don’t really know the couple getting divorced, and it has nothing to do with your husband being publicly humiliated by her.
You did the right thing. You reminded your friend of your own personal boundaries and did it with respect. You even set up a scenario that made it easier for her to process how it might feel if it happened to her. This is supposed to create a sense of empathy and involvement. This is the perfect exchange with someone who truly is your friend, but to have this conversation with anyone else is the highway to hell, for sure. When you have no idea who you’re really talking to, this could be the end of your connection to them. They will find a way to retaliate and they will waste no time doing it.
Mark my words, the next week she and her good friend, the one going through the divorce, the one you don’t even know, will be talking and your good friend will be telling you that her other friends hate you and they think you’re crazy. And Bam! She has retaliated with enthusiasm!
It will happen that way every single time. They are always different people, but all have the same personality traits and habits.
There’s always some kind of drama.
There’s always some kind of malicious gossip about their other friends.
There’s always going to be something in their life they like to complain about.
And because you picked them to be friends with, it means your life will always have some kind of drama. You’ll always be hearing some kind of malicious gossip about their other friends and you will constantly be fielding their complaints about their life.
I know what you’re thinking. You think that once you realize they’re like this, you can just make a quiet exit and never have to deal with them directly. Right? Well, it never happens that way, and you are already a target. From Day One this kind of friend makes sure they tell their other friends how screwed up they think you are. There was never a day when they spoke highly of you. They talk about you to their other friends the same way they talk to you about them. It’s just the way it is.
I guess in some friendships this is an okay circle to be a part of, but when the friend starts to hurt you on purpose, maybe it’s time to just cut your losses and hit the road. It’s all about what you are willing to put up with in order to have some fun occasionally, or to have friends.
As for me, I know who my friends are and I show them how much I appreciate them by being honest and by never reaching out to hurt them. That’s not why I make friends. I don’t make friends because I need to feel superior to them or because I have to hurt others just so I can feel better. I make friends because they are people that I love to be around.
In the dictionary, a friend is described as a person who has a strong liking for and trust in another person.
Today tell yourself that you will have no more regrets that are caused by your friendships. Learn those lessons presented to you by the Universe. Your life is richer when it’s shared with friends and your heart is happier when you learn what a real friend feels like.