Earlier this year, I shared a personal crisis with a long-time friend of mine over dinner. She showed interest and asked questions. She got teary-eyed as she listened. She assured me that she was there for me at this difficult time. I felt supported and validated. She hugged me tight as we parted ways.
Not a call. Not an email. Not a text.
Nothing. For months.
When we saw each other again for the first time—granted, this was in a group setting—she never once pulled me aside to ask how I was doing. She seemed happy and well.
I try not to make assumptions about other people. I try not to judge, because you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life.
When my husband gets impatient with a slow driver ahead, I tell him to pretend it’s his mom. When he rails against the guy who cut him off on the highway, I suggest that guy may be taking someone to the ER. And I try to adapt that line of thinking to times when I don’t understand the behaviors of people I care about.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever forgotten to check in with someone who was struggling. Or you’ve felt too awkward and avoided making contact. I know I have. We are all human.
I try to extend that grace to others.
The thing is, this friend and I were meeting for dinner because she wanted to clear the air. She’d betrayed my trust by sharing something I’d told her in confidence, and she was eager to make amends. So I accepted her apology and, in a show of good faith, I opened up about my difficulties.
Now here I am again, feeling like crap—angry at her but also angry at myself for letting my guard down. I trusted a good friend and, while I felt supported in the moment, she dropped the ball.
My husband, who is buddies with this woman’s spouse, tells me to reach out to her, to clear the air. He’s invested in our couples’ friendship.
Really? How many chances does someone get to do better?
(And no, I checked and she does not subscribe to my emails so this is not a passive-aggressive way of telling her I’m pissed.)
Other girlfriends, some very new, have done a better job being there for me in my time of need. I am learning to lean into those relationships.
I deserve better. We all do.
YOUR TURN: Let us know in the comments: Has this happened to you? How have you dealt with friendship disappointments or uncaring behaviors?
Oh boy… your coping mechanism for handling behaviors you don’t understand is a great way to deal positively with something in a stressful moment. Love that! I’m sorry about your friend. Leaning into relationships that nurture you is a lifelong process and surprisingly for me, those relationships are many times not the ones you expected. Sometimes that is a sad commentary but the reverse of that coin is that a new person gets to shine. There is a delight in finding out that what you might have seen as a dingy penny in your friendship jar happened to be a surprise rare value!
Love the “dingy penny” idea! And yes, I so agree that figuring out how to be a good friend and set boundaries with friendships is a lifelong process. Thanks so much for your support.
Your experience is very evocative for me. Yes, I have been the person who is out of touch, but rarely when I know a friend is going through something important. Yes, I have used the techniques you’ve described to try to understand the behavior from the other person’s point of view. But I lean toward close friendships in which confidences are shared and consistent mutual support is present. In fact, I’ve found myself equally confused when a friend “hits and runs” in talking about her own life — occasionally vulnerable and open but then boundaried and superficial. It’s not that all friendships have to be heavy, or super intimate all the time. But I think the best ones are steady and predictable — we know when and how we can count on a friend and they know what to expect of us. Unless this girlfriend has been a really important person in your life, it may be best to change your expectations of the relationship, enjoy what you can of the couples’ friendship, and look elsewhere for your true support systems.
Boy the whole “hit and run” thing is so confusing! I am all about steady and predictable, yes! Thanks for sharing your validating thoughts.
Oooh. That’s tough. I’m no role model for sure, but if you tell her how you feel, you’ll be able to judge by her response in the short-term and over a week or so if she really cares. If not, drop her. I’m sorry this happened to you.
Thanks so much Karen. We’re all doing the best we can, but at some point we need to set boundaries!
Oh Hélène, this is all too familiar. It’s the ‘friends’ that are there for the story but not really invested in your well being.
As Maya Angelou once said: ‘When people show you who they are, believe them the first time!’ It’s a tough one to put into practice but it lets you know who’s really there for you in the long haul.
I miss you Suzy! There for the story, totally resonates with me. Maya is wise but yes, hard advice to follow.