Dear Wendy: “I Feel So Disconnected From My Friends”

About two years ago I moved far away from home to pursue a master’s degree. During that time, I went home on a few occasions, and each time invited a group of girls who I consider my best friends out to catch up. I sent them the occasional e-mails and texts, but with so much studying, I was unable to call or send out lengthy updates with much frequency. When I went home this past time, the weather was really bad and I got snowed in, making it impossible to attend a get-together we had planned. I tried to organize separate meetings with all of them, but they basically seemed too busy to meet before I went back. Fast forward to present: I was doing some “Facebook browsing” and noticed my friend said something to the effect of “My fiance and I” blah blah blah…. I knew she was dating someone, but I had NO IDEA she was engaged. Well, a few days later I got an email from her telling me to save the date for their wedding. I emailed back, congratulating her and asking about the engagement details. Apparently they had gotten engaged back in April (it’s August!) and she neglected to tell me. I feel very disconnected now; I know we’re all busy with work, school, careers, etc. and it’s not like I was the only one not in contact regularly (it works both ways, right?). Am I in the wrong for not sending them lengthy updates or making more of an effort? Is it irrational for me to be angry that I wasn’t told about something as important as that? Do I say that I’m upset or just accept that we’re probably all “growing apart”? — Out of the Loop or Out of Friends

If sharing big news like engagements is something you and this particular friend in question would have once done immediately in the past, it would certainly seem you’ve drifted apart. But as much as you don’t have to simply “accept” it, you really don’t have the right to be “angry” about it either. Hurt, yes; angry, no. After all, you guys drifting apart is as much your fault as it is hers, right? You’re the one who moved away. You’re the one who has been too busy to call your friends. You’re the one who couldn’t make a planned get-together because of bad weather and then got upset when your friends couldn’t meet you at your convenience (I have to wonder: wasn’t the weather bad for them, too?). Of course, friendship is a two-way street, just as staying in touch is, but you can’t get angry with people for being as out of touch as you’ve been. You can’t get angry with people for not putting any more effort into your friendship than you have. How is that fair?

Look, if you want to ensure the rift between you widens even further, you can go ahead and express outrage over feeling disconnected. You can be mad at your friend for not sharing her engagement news sooner. But if you want to try to regain the closeness you once had, you can pick up the freakin’ phone, call your friend and tell her (with your voice!) about how happy you were to hear her good news. You can then tell her that getting her news so long after the fact made you realize just how much you regret losing touch with each other. You can say, “I was surprised to hear you’ve been engaged since April and I didn’t hear about it until just now. But I was sadder to realize it’s been over four months since we talked. I’m sorry it’s been so long!” You aren’t taking full responsibility here, but you’re acknowledging your part in losing touch. It’s called being gracious and it goes a long, long way in maintaining relationships of all varieties — romantic, platonic, familial, and professional.

Are you wrong for not “making more of an effort” to stay in touch with your friends? Well, you are if staying connected is important to you. You can’t just move away and expect to stay on everyone’s radar when you don’t make much effort to stay in touch. You can’t expect to sustain a friendship with occasional emails and texts — especially when even those seem to be few and far between. You have to reach out. You have to share your life and ask your friends about theirs. You have to let them know you care — that despite your busy schedule and your demanding course-load and the distance between you and the length of time between your visits — you still care. And you have to admit to yourself that if you go several months without reaching out to your friends, maybe you don’t care all that much. Maybe in your loneliness — and your business — you’re more concerned with having friends than being one. And that, OOTLOOOF, is the fastest way to ensuring you have none.

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