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Just after Thanksgiving I began to suspect that I had been dumped out of a decade-long friendship. No explanation; no fight or conflict leading up to it. Just a matter of a dwindling of forwarded emails; a lack of response to my text messages; a failure to return phone calls; and one ignored Christmas card. It was, quite simply, just over.

If I’m to be honest about the quality of the friendship itself, it had gone toxic some time before our break-up, and instinct told me to take a deep breath and be thankful for small favors. The regular give-and-take that I had always understood friendship to be had become, for me in this particular relationship, a give-and-give-some-more.

For so many years I felt I had been doing this other person a favor with the gift of my friendship. I’d stuck with her through her never-ending dramas and drunken battles with an abusive (and equally-alcoholic) husband. I believed her when she told me that she would be lost without me, so I stayed and I endured, for the sake of my friend.

Frequently, against my better judgment and the caution of my husband, I did everything I could do to help my friend through her constant trials. I was in the friendship for her, or so I told myself (and everyone else who asked about the odd pairing the two of us made). She needed me, and in spite of the dread I sometimes felt when her name showed up on the caller ID, I was there for her.

I had always figured (and thought about more often than I cared to admit, I guess) that when the time came to cut it off (because surely in a go-nowhere situation such as that, the time would come), I would be the one doing the cutting. I was often resentful of the role I’d been cast in the never-ending drama that was our friendship, and I frequently imagined the day I would be free of the responsibility of it all.

Last week I got an email from the friend that had so clearly dumped me. It was a casual “Hey, I lost your number! I’m getting married next week and would love it if you could come” message. It didn’t offer an apology or much of an explanation for the sudden departure from ten years of near-daily contact. I have not responded to the email, and I’m not entirely sure if I will. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say to this person I thought I knew so well, and who I thought (perhaps a bit in vain) should be grateful for the attention I gave.  

The very idea of friendship has become an interesting concept for me to ponder. What does it mean to me? And does it mean the same thing to me, generally speaking, that it means to other people? What do I expect from the people I call friends, and if they don’t live up to those expectations, is that a statement about them? Or about me?

And, maybe most importantly, am I living up to the expectations my friends have of me?



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • I’m a believer in an open discussion. It’s not always pleasant, and most will shy away if you let them, but if you follow through and have your talk at least you will know where you stand.  

      I think all of the people that are givers by nature don’t expect anything in return, however, as human beings we expect people to have integrity, and be honest in any relationship that we have with them. When someone acts like your friend did you feel betrayed, and I think she should know. What she does with that information is entirely up to her, but at least you get it off your chest. No reason to carry negative energy around.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      UK Girl wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • My illness taught me a lot about friendship and the quality of friendship – it pared down my address book quite dramatically and also let me with a whole load of time for my real friends. Suddenly all the drama queen's and toxic time lechers left my life as I was too ill to listen to 3 hour rants about dumb head husbands or errant boyfriends or come and get them out of scrapes ...
      I now have a core of around 5 friends who I would do anything for as I know they have done amazing things for me like bath me and carry me to the toilet ....
      My reflection on this is quite selfish – what would your friend do for you – would she go the extra mile if you were in trouble .. if you can answer that in a heartbeat she is a friend if you hesitate then leave well alone.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Jenni0811 wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • The give give give ~ without getting what you need in return can work with any close relationship....friends as well as spouses. By the time I left my first relationship, my description was “I feel like I had the life blood completely suckled out of me“. Often there is nothing left to give and you feel as you do...broken & drained, while the other person goes on their merry way. Of course....you have just given them all the energy you possess! My belief is that this personality trait will not deviate. You need to be relieved that they apparently have found someone else to “suck the life” out of. Do not feel guilty if you do not acknowledge their email, or any attempt to contact you. They are doing it for their sake only....it will give them a feeling of control if they can keep you at their beck and call. Put them behind you....this is the way you can end and have control of the toxic relationship.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Linni wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • i have just recently expirenced this situation..

      my friend was very “needy” and me being who i am, was always there for her.. through ALL her ups and downs, heartaches, the loss of her job, and the never ending on and off relationship with her boyfriend..

      She has just fallen off the face of the earth, and it has left me feeling sad, but in the same breath, relieved.. i no longer have to hear the drama, and hear the negotive stuff about her boyfriend..

      Maybe she is tired of asking me ” what should i do? ” and i give her my HONEST feelings about the situation..

      first it was her phone calls that stoped, and then her returning my calls, and then her texting stoped.

      i have let it and her go, as i realize that my time with her is over.. its a tuff situation to be in Heather..good luck to you my friend!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Sunkist wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • I am wondering what this friend has ever done in return for you, meaning has she ever been there to help you when you needed a friend.  It sounds like a very draining friendship for you.  I feel that maybe its best if it ends.  To be honest, I would not want to continue a friendship like this, I would rather be with friends that bring me up and are part of a both give and take relationship, not all take.  Just my thoughts.  

      You sound like a very giving person, always giving of yourself.  That’s fine, but there is a great unbalance here and I just don’t think its fair to you to continue the friendship.  

      I have been in this situation as well.  Good luck with whatever you choose to do.  happy



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • I truly appreciate the diversity of perspective in the responses here!

      The friendship that I’ve written about was not always one-sided. When we initially got to know each other we were both divorced and worked together and had a lot in common. We started out as party buddies and evolved into a strong friendship. Even though we were very different in our life histories and future goals, we found commonalities that drew us together at that point in our lives.

      Over time we both got remarried and started moving in different directions. My party days pretty much came to an end, and that was always a point of contention for my friend. Although she would say how happy she was for me to have found the love of my life, she was frequently upset with me when I started to pass on the club-hopping or the free-for-all parties. During the past five years she was drunk 5 night out of 7. If I got drunk more than once a month, it was a news-maker.

      Shortly before the last time we spoke, my friend’s divorce had just become final and she had taken up with another guy she met while out partying (I’m sure this is who she’s marrying). She had just recovered from a falling-out with her mother over the whole situation and moved in with the new boyfriend. This all took place in just over a month’s time.

      I was frequently overcome with the drama and drain of my friend's life, but I guess a part of me wanted to hang on to the glory days of our friendship when we both found so much comfort in not being alone in our loneliness. I do realize that, in the last few years, by being disloyal to my friend in my thoughts, I was being a bad friend. As unhappy as I'd become, I wasn't doing anyone any favors by pretending. I guess I just always hoped she'd continue to evolve, so that our relationship could, too.

      Thanks so much for all the feedback and sharing of your own experiences. I keep coming back to the old adage that seems so appropriate right now (and I’m going to paraphrase the hell out of!):

      Anyone who said being in a good relationship is easy has never been in a good relationship.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Daphne wrote Feb 27, 2009
    • Heather...i first began reading this blog the day your wrote it but was too sick to pay it the attention i wanted to.  Today, i searched it out and want to comment (albeit, after the fact).

      As far as friendships go, i believe that there are different standards of friendships, based on our needs at the time.  It sounds like your friendship with this woman served a need you BOTH had in the beginning.  Your needs changed and she didn’t serve some of your newer needs, therefore she didn’t “fit” you as well as she once did.  IMO, she knew this...but was unwilling to amend her position.

      Friendships are selfish...but the best kind of selfish!  If we didn’t need other people, we wouldn’t have friends.  A healthy “need” will beget a healthy friendship. “Needy” is not healthy.  

      The true nature of a friendship is the give-and-take and only those friends who are collaboratively selfish enough to lovingly provide what their friend needs will net the rewards of a truly fulfilling friendship.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Cheryl Guy wrote Mar 3, 2009
    • So I’m curious, did you reply back to her? I had to let go of a friendship a few years ago & it was tough but I knew it was the best thing for me. I was about to get married and she was causing so much drama because she hated the fact that I was marrying my husband. (She used to be married to his brother) When she wouldn’t support me and be happy for me then I knew she was not a true friend. She was thinking of herself and her anger toward my husband’s brother instead of my happiness. We had been close friend’s since we were about 13.  

      In your situation it seems to me that if you were already foreseeing the friendship ending one day then I would just leave it alone and let it be done. Hope it all works out well!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Mar 3, 2009
    • I chose to not call my friend back. Her having lost my number didn’t ring true (good eye, termagsea!), particularly when we used to text message daily. Besides, when all else failed, there’s any one of the four email addresses she had for me.

      I’m not sure why she chose to reach out to me now, but I don’t want to know badly enough. All indications were that the new guy was a lot like the old guy, and that’s more drama than I want anymore.

      Ain’t it funny how the more things change, the more they stay the same?

      Thanks for all the comments!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lisa Middlesworth wrote Mar 3, 2009
    • Heather, I think you have made a wise decision. It seems that she has her own agenda.
      You don’t need to add to the daily drama and toxins that we don’t have much control over.



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