Dear Wendy: “My BFF Dumped Me Because My Husband Is Friends With Her Ex”
I have been friends with an interesting lady for about six years. She even was a bridesmaid in my wedding in July. My problem is this: she and her boyfriend of four years had a pretty nasty breakup a few weeks before my husband’s and my wedding; no one was really in the wrong, they were just really terrible together and the relationship should have ended years ago. Before they broke up, she and her boyfriend and my then-fiance and I would double-date. My husband and her boyfriend ended up really hitting it off and becoming close friends, a status they maintained following the break-up. About a month ago she decided that she had to cut her ex, and everyone connected to him in any way, out of her life, including me. I feel a huge sense of loss because she was perhaps my closest friend, but I never wronged her in any way other than not demanding that my husband end his friendship with her ex as it seems she would have had me do. Should I leave any thoughts of renewing the friendship and move on? Should I call her and ask her to go to lunch? I can’t help but hope that, in time, she will become a more stable and mature person and we can resume our friendship, but at the same time, I am still reeling from the betrayal that I feel. — Missing My (Immature) Friend
If the breakup is still fresh — and I’d say, in general, for a relationship of more than two years or so, anything within six months could be considered “still fresh” — I definitely wouldn’t write the friendship off just yet. Look, there’s no question your friend is behaving irrationally and immaturely, and you have a right to feel betrayed, but she’s also been your closest friend for six years and is hurting badly.
Reach out to her. Tell her you’re very sorry she felt the need to exclude you from her life simply because your husband has maintained a friendship with her ex, but you miss her friendship tremendously and you’re concerned about her and how she’s doing. Try to reach her by phone, but if she won’t take your calls, write her an email. Tell her how much she means to you and how it’s hurt you not to be able to see her or talk to her. Tell her you’re happy to give her time and space if that’s what she needs, but if she feels she was hasty in cutting you off, all she has to do is say the word and you’ll be there for her, no judgment on your part.
Breakups can make people crazy. Sometimes, if it’s been awhile since we ourselves were in the midst of one, it can be easy to forget how gut-wrenching and soul-sucking they are. It’s a good friend who can see past the crazy to the person who’s wounded and hurting and say, “Hey, I still love you. Even if you’re acting like a total loon.” And it’s a strong person who can eventually look past her own pain and see what a loon she’s being and thank her friends for sticking by her, especially when she most needed them. For your friendship’s sake, I hope you both can step up and be bigger people.
A few years ago, I was in a relationship with this guy “Rob” which, in retrospect, was really abusive. I have thankfully broken up with him and after two years of dating much kinder guys, have gotten over the emotional abuse. I have since blocked him on Facebook and never see him because we have gone to different colleges. However, my best friend from home, who just barely tolerated him while we were together because she saw how he treated me, has kept in contact with him, to the point of having a meal with him over Thanksgiving break and not telling me about it until later. I know she has no feelings for him romantically and she is the sort of person who needs to catch up with everyone when she comes back from college. But she knows that the relationship was bad, and I hinted at the more serious aspects, and yet she still continues to keep in touch with him every couple of months. Am I being unreasonable by being hurt by this? — Friend in Need
I wouldn’t say you’re necessarily being unreasonable for being hurt; we can’t control our feelings after all. You expect a certain amount of loyalty from your best friend and her remaining in contact with your emotionally abusive ex doesn’t meet your criteria for loyalty. But I’m not sure you’re being entirely fair to her. You say she knows the relationship was bad, but what does that mean? Most of us have had bad relationships, but it doesn’t mean the people we’ve had them with are bad. Maybe we were just badly matched, or the timing was bad, or we made a few dumb mistakes.
If we all went around completely cutting people off for ever being in bad relationships with people we care about, we’d have far fewer friends and social connections. You say you “hinted at the more serious aspects,” but, again, what does that mean exactly? Hints aren’t always heard or understood. It seems to me if you expect your friend to not have anything to do with your ex, she should really know that explicitly, even if you don’t feel comfortable telling her exactly why. If you don’t want to give her all the details, you can say, “Stuff happened between us that I really don’t want to get into, but it was bad enough that your ongoing connection with him makes me uncomfortable.”
She may decide that whatever happened in your relationship two years ago isn’t relevant to her and her connection with your ex, and which point you need to decide if this is really something worth getting upset over. You say you’re happy now. You have nothing to do with your ex. And he’s just one of what sounds like many, many people your friend keeps in touch with. It’s not like they’re besties spending every weekend together or something. Maybe they exchange an email here or there and grab lunch together once a year or so when they’re both home at the same time. I say ignore it; it doesn’t affect you, and he’s not worth giving any more of your energy to. He’s certainly not worth getting in a fight with your friend over.
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