Dear Wendy: “My Friend Dumped Me And I Want Her Back”

I’m a senior in college and last year, my friends Angela and Rachel and I lived together and it was a disaster. Angela and I fought a lot as we’re both stubborn and I was depressed after a death in my family so I lashed out a bit. Since then, I’ve spent time dealing with my issues and am in a different place now and I’ve apologized to both my former roommates. But, Angela is still living with Rachel and one day, four months after our last argument, she decided that all the events that transpired were worth cutting me out of both their lives. She stopped taking my calls and answering my texts, (gasp!) deleted me and blocked my profile on Facebook, and constantly hounds Rachel to stop hanging out with me (even though we have classes together), giving her hell if I’m invited over or if she comes over to my apartment. Angela, in the small bit of contact I have had with her, says that no matter how different I think I am now, it doesn’t dissolve the past and she’s tired of fighting, which I would understand if things hadn’t been fine for four months. I’m really good friends with my current roommate and I have other friends, but I still get really lonely. Both of my best friends are gone and I guess I’m just wondering: what do I do next? Should I try apologizing again? Should I give it up and keep myself busy enough to not think about it? –– Three’s Company

Sure, you could try apologizing again, but you’d have to really know what you’re apologizing for for it to be at all effective. It’s one thing to apologize for being a bad friend/roommate in the past, but if things were fine, as you say, for four months before you were dumped by your friends, perhaps there’s a reason you aren’t aware of. If you really want to try to salvage the friendship, your best bet would be to find out why your friends dumped you four months after your final argument. You may not get a straight answer, but if you tell them you really miss them and you’d like to make right what went wrong, you’ll find out whether they have any interest in ever being your friend again by the answer they give.

Personally, these don’t seem like friends I’d want to have. Rachel seems like a spineless weakling to let Angela tell her who she can and can’t hang out with, and Angela seems like a control freak. They may have been your best friends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t forge close friendships with other people — people with whom you don’t have as much animosity and bad feelings to overcome. I also wouldn’t let this broken friendship define you either. You may have had your own issues you were dealing with when you lived with Rachel and Angela and maybe you didn’t communicate in the best way, but neither of them are without their flaws. If you reach out one more time and get nowhere with them, chalk up your “breakup” to bad timing and conflicting personalities that simply didn’t mesh. Hold on to the lessons you learned, and apply them to new — and hopefully better — friendships in the future.

My girl friend and I have known each other for over 20 years, and we’ve been close for the last 15. I spent every day after school at her house, our families are close, and we’ve always included each other in our major events. We used to get together at least once a week. She even invited me to join the same recreational sports league, which has a fall and spring session. But last year, as we started working and our lives became busier, I noticed that our relationship had become one-sided. I would always initiate the dates … and her cancellations became more frequent. When we were together, it was as fun as always; however, the no-shows and wasted weekends were beginning to take a toll on me. She backed out last minute on my birthday, telling me (while I was en-route) that she couldn’t come. A few months later, I dropped everything, including missing several days of a new job, to attend her important family event. We resumed our (increasingly infrequent) dinner dates.

Last winter, she decided to celebrate her birthday on New Year’s Eve, and asked me to reserve the date. She was seemingly undecided on plans, until the day before her party. When I gave her a few ideas, she said “Oh … I made dinner reservations. And then we’re bar hopping. But I can add you to the reservation if you want. We have an odd number of people, so you would just round out the table.” Needless to say, I didn’t attend her party. I tried once more to invite her to a movie premiere; she canceled on me, again, at the last minute. I had to scramble to find a date on such short notice and almost missed the premiere entirely.

Since then, I haven’t seen or talked to her in over seven months. She has never met my boyfriend, and doesn’t know I lost my job. She completely ignored my birthday invitation this year. But, our sports league has started again, so I’ll be seeing her once a week for the next few months. It’s awkward. My question is: how do I handle this? Is our relationship worth repairing? Should I try, or should I consider it a lost cause? My family thinks I should forgive and forget, for the sake of a 20+ year friendship. I’m still hurt. I’m fairly certain that she has no idea how hurtful and rude she has been. I do miss her, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my time for someone who is so careless with it. What do you think? — Almost Ex Friend

If you’re fairly certain she has no idea how hurtful and rude she’s been, I’d definitely reach out to her and let her know exactly how you’ve been feeling over the last year and ask if there’s anything you are unaware of that has caused the rift in your friendship. Sometimes friends just drift apart. Often, friendships — especially those that are very long-term like yours is — go through phases. But none of that excuses the rude behavior on your friend’s part and if you think there’s a good chance she’s unaware of how she’s treating you, I wonder if there might also be a good chance you’re unaware of something you’ve done to hurt her. That may not be the case, but asking if it’s so might soften your case when you tell her how hurt you’ve been. And telling her how you’ve been feeling is an absolute must if you have any interest in continuing this friendship.

It’s true that a 20+ year relationship isn’t something one should simply throw away, but I don’t buy your family’s suggestion to just blindly “forgive and forget.” Of course, forgive once you’ve expressed your hurt and you’ve talked about it and she’s apologized or shows effort on her part to bridge the gap in your friendship. But, without communicating what’s been on your mind, your resentment won’t be released and it will likely stay with you, even if your friend suddenly starts acting like a friend again. By simply ignoring the issue, and hoping once you see each other at your sports league game it’ll be like old times again — if she’s even continuing on with it; for all you know, she’s decided not to do it this year — you’re missing a key opportunity for personal growth and problem solving. This is your chance to actually work at repairing a fractured relationship. Even if, sadly, this friendship doesn’t survive, you will be learning communication skills — like how to express yourself when you feel hurt and how to listen to the person who has hurt you — that will serve you well in other relationships.

Look, confrontation isn’t really a pleasant thing for most of us. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and opens the door to hearing things we may not want to hear. Your friend may tell you she’s been hurt by you; she may tell you she’s outgrown your friendship; she may act like she has no idea what you’re talking about. None of those is really an ideal outcome, but at least you’re expressing yourself and moving the story of your friendship forward — whether it ends badly or not — instead of letting it languish in no-man’s land. I can’t predict whether your friendship will survive and if you can get it back on track, but it’s not hard to predict it’s going nowhere fast as long as you keep acting passive about your hurt and anger.

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