Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Childhood Friend Won’t Leave Me Alone!”

best-friend

I am in my early thirties, married, and a new mother of one. A couple years ago, a few close friends and I started playing tennis one evening a week. We all loved it and it gave us a chance to catch up between busy schedules, work, etc. When I found out I was pregnant, I chose to quit tennis and my friends all kind of stopped as well. Recently I asked if they wanted to pick up where we left off and they did.

My friend Melissa got word of this, which has been causing me stress. She and I grew up together and were best friends in high school. We partied hard. Then, in our early twenties we kind of grew apart but kept in touch. She was even my maid of honor. But for the past few years I have been getting slowly annoyed by how much she lives in the past. She keeps making the same jokes, telling the same stories (more dramatic and overly-fabricated each time) as when we were teens and has this constant craving for attention. And every time I do or like something, she copies it and is like “OMG, we’re so the same!” We are so not the same though (For one thing, she quits everything she starts. Plus, she dropped out of college and married a simple-minded, right-wing guy…).

Anyway, she heard my friends and I took up tennis again and she kind of invited herself to tag along a few weeks ago, because she wants to play tennis too all of a sudden. It’s been a real bummer. She keeps clinging on to me and interrupting my friends’ conversations because she doesn’t know what/who we’re talking about (our lives). She keeps making jokes no one laughs about. She even texts us when she’s early because she doesn’t want to enter the sports club alone! She tries so hard to fit in, but it’s just not happening. To be honest, I don’t even want it to happen. Because they’re MY friends. We’ve got a good thing going without her!

I don’t think my other friends really have a problem with it (they do feel sorry for her), but I am so out-of-my-mind annoyed. Playing tennis with my friends is my moment to work away the stress of the week, not to add more to the pile. I want to have real conversations with my friends again. I don’t want Melissa to ruin this. Sometimes I feel like she thinks we’re a team, the two of us. We’re so not!

So what should I do? I feel awful about feeling so hateful towards her, but I just cannot help it. I can’t even look her in the eye anymore and I don’t want to share anything with her. I’ve been hoping she would quit the sport, but she just loves it.

I’m going to hell, aren’t I? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! — Zero Love

Well…do you want to be friends with her at all anymore? It doesn’t sound like you do, which is fine, and if that’s the case, then this is as easy (well, “easy”) as breaking up with your friend. It will be uncomfortable to hurt her and you’ll feel guilty, but you’ll basically be free of her forever. You can break up with her essentially by telling her you’d rather she not play tennis with you anymore — that you enjoyed the dynamic of the group as it was and that the number of players was perfect and that having an additional person — even someone you’ve known for a long time — throws all of that off. I’m pretty sure she won’t want to be your friend anymore after that. So if you’re looking for an excuse to get rid of her, there you go.

If, however, you prefer keeping her as a friend but at a much, much longer arm’s length, it will be a little trickier. You can’t ask her not to play tennis with you anymore because that will hurt her enough that she won’t want to be friends with you (and, again, maybe that’s what you want…). What you can do is stop playing tennis yourself. If this is a woman who can’t go into a sports club alone, she probably isn’t going to continue playing tennis with your friends without your being around. Or, maybe she will, but you won’t be involved anymore to be annoyed by her. Still, it’s worth a shot. Find an excuse — like the holidays or a work project or an illness or a vacation or a combination of all of the above — that will keep you from playing tennis with your friends for a couple months. Once the habit of meeting together every week is broken, your friend, who quits everything she starts anyway, will have moved on. Or, at least, that’s the hope, anyway. And once she’s moved on, you can start playing tennis with your friends again.

If that doesn’t work, you could try telling your friend that you don’t feel like you get good one-on-one time with her when she plays tennis with you and you’d rather get lunch together or get coffee or go for a walk. This may backfire though because she may want to do those things in addition to playing tennis with you and your friends, and spending even more time with her might be the last thing you want. Which brings me back to my original question: Do you even desire her in your life at all anymore? And, if so, why? Out of a sense of obligation? A connection to the past? A feeling of nostalgia? Guilt? None of those is a good reason to remain friends with someone you don’t like or enjoy.

Your life now has such small pockets of free time — much, much smaller pockets than when you were in high school and first befriended Melissa. As a working mother and wife myself, I know how precious your time is. You want to protect it. You want to be a little selfish with it. Because after you give your time to work and mothering and being a good wife and taking care of the home and meeting various family and social obligations, there’s just a teeny sliver of free time left for you. I get it. So you have to be really picky about whom you share that little bit of time with. You need for that time to be rejuvenating and uplifting so that you’re recharged for all the work and energy the rest of your life demands of you (because even if that work is often fulfilling, it’s still exhausting). This is the time in life to weed out the people who either don’t fill your current needs or whom you don’t imagine filling your long-term needs either. It’s one thing if Melissa doesn’t fit into your life now, but if she’s someone you don’t imagine wanting in your life a decade from now either, then she’s not worth the effort to maintain ties with.

It can feel very callous to let go of a friend. But… it’s not that different from ending a romantic relationship that no longer works for you. You end a romantic relationship to free yourself from any tension or discomfort the relationship creates as well as to make yourself available for a better match or to fill your time with activities and hobbies and people who bring more joy and fulfillment to your life. And that’s essentially what you’d be doing by leaving a dead-end friendship, too. You just have to decide if you’re ready for that step. Do you see a future together? Do you want her in your life in ten or fifteen years? If so, are you willing to deal with her presence in the short-term? Is having her in your life now, even crashing your tennis club, worth the potential of being life-long friends with her? If not, then a friendship breakup is probably the best answer.

Readers, have you ever been in this position? Have you dumped a friend? Or been dumped? How did you handle it?

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

33 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Sara November 30, 2015, 10:09 am

    I dumped a friend. We-e-ll, I took the route I shouldn’t have as an adult and ghosted her, but I found it to be necessary for my mental health. And I I felt SOO much better after I did it.

    This friend was always a little needy, but somehow I was able to handle it. Maybe she had other outlets she dumped that need on more. Over the years though, there started being less friendship and more need, and I got to the point that I cringed and got anxious and stressed every time she emailed, called, or texted. (and she was one of those that would reach out over and over and over and over again if you didn’t reply within what SHE thought was a normal response time.) Most of her calls were because she needed a favor or needed some emotional support on the same topic I’d given her support on about 50 million times before. Rarely did she just want to catch up.

    I talked about it with other friends, agonized over how much the “friendship” was stressing me out, got guilted by the whole “you’ve been friends for so long!” shtick. When the thought occurred to me that I didn’t have to actually be friends with her anymore, it was astonishing and magical. Astonishing in that I never thought I had an out, magical in that I instantly felt the load lift from my shoulders.

    I deliberately chose to fade instead of talk to her about it because she was one who NEEDED to talk over every little thing ad nauseam , and I was completely done with what she needed. While I know that ghosting is not the right thing to do, it felt right for me, and I don’t regret it at all.

    As I said, I felt instantly better. It was amazing how much stress that friendship placed on me. In the weeks after I made my decision, some of the friends that I had vented to, who had listened but didn’t fully comprehend, starting bearing more of the brunt of her neediness since I no longer made myself available. It was sweet justification to have them come back to me with, “Oh my GOD, I get it now! WTF?”

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    • avatar

      Sara November 30, 2015, 10:10 am

      I swear I put paragraphs in that thing. Is there some magical character I have to type to force the line spacing to appear?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy November 30, 2015, 11:37 am

        Place a period between your paragraphs and that’ll do the trick.

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    • avatar

      freckles November 30, 2015, 10:20 am

      Oof your friend sounds like mine that I mention below. SO needy. Called or texted over and over even when she didn’t get a response. Couldn’t let go of anything. It was exhausting. I ghosted too and I felt so much better after I did, because I too would get so stressed and anxious every time I had to hang out with her.

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    • avatar

      Ange November 30, 2015, 4:07 pm

      I could have written that word for word. I ghosted too, only because if my friend was still rehashing drama school incidents from 10 years ago at length at 11pm on a work night there was no way I was getting out of a break up alive.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 30, 2015, 10:17 am

    “she kind of invited herself to tag along a few weeks ago”

    You must have kind of agreed that she could tag along. In the future, don’t allow someone to invite them self along if you don’t want them there. You cut off a bigger problem by dealing with it in the moment. You could have told her that you would have to check with the group first because everyone has known each other for a while or you could have told her you had just the right number of people for tennis and one more wouldn’t work well. You could have told her it was a friends group and it was important to the group that you not add another person. You needed to establish a boundary to protect what was important. Since you didn’t do that at that moment you let the situation grow into a bigger problem. I know that doesn’t help in this moment but let this moment be a lesson learned so that you don’t repeat some version of this in the future with some other unwanted person. This is a life skill.

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  • avatar

    freckles November 30, 2015, 10:17 am

    Ooh goodness yes. I had a friend that I was never very close to, but she seemed to think think we were closer than we were. But it just wasn’t working for me. I didn’t really have that much fun hanging out with her, she was rude to my actual friends a few times, she would invite herself to stay over my apartment for various reasons. Ugh. So I stated ghosting her. I’d only answer her texts 30% of the time, and when I did answer I would always be busy. Then I stopped responding altogether. She made it so awkward though because she didn’t get the hint. She continued texting me, and then turned to calling and leaving voicemails, and even sending emails. It probably took 6-8 months for her to stop contacting me. And she still invites me to parties, even now.

    Breaking up with a friend is hard. I probably should have just put on my big girl panties and told her I didn’t want to hang out anymore. But we weren’t that close to begin with! It wasn’t like this was my bff of ten years. I felt ghosting was the appropriate level of response to our level of friendship. And once she kept contacting me I really didn’t want to talk to her at all.

    LW, as far as breaking up with your friend, I get it. I really do. I don’t think you’re being mean here. As Wendy said, you just want to hang out with people who bring you joy. That’s healthy. I agree with Wendy though that you need to figure out if you want to be friends with Melissa at all going forward. It doesn’t sound like you do. And if that’s the case you need to treat it like breaking up with a bad bf. Take her to coffee. Sit her down. Explain that you used to be close, and you treasure the memories you have together, but you feel as if your lives are diverging and you don’t feel you have as much in common anymore. You could also say you appreciate her making time to spend with you by playing tennis with your friends, but you don’t feel it’s working, so she doesn’t feel as if she needs to keep coming. Hopefully she’ll get the hint. You know her better than we whether this is something she’ll get and realize you want her to stop coming. If not, you’ll just need to be direct and use what Wendy suggested.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna November 30, 2015, 10:29 am

    I experienced something similar once and didn’t really find a good solution for it. It was more complicated because we had some mutual friends, so she was part of the package with that particular group of friends. She also invited herself along to activities I was planning with others, it was annoying. Ultimately that friend group dispersed (we had all met when we were exchange students), otherwise I probably would have been stuck with her or would have had to give up the other friendships as well.

    Since it sounds like you won’t risk alienating your friends over it you could use the nuclear option and just tell her you’ve decided you don’t want to be friends anymore. I think it’s justified, particularly since she never asked for permission to join in the first place, but it will still likely come across like an asshole move. Before you do this, consider if there could be any fallout: Are there any people you care about that she could turn against you? Is she the type that would flip out?

    If you think being direct would just create drama, I like Wendy’s second option of temporarily not playing any tennis. It’s pretty smart I think. If you start again after a few months you can just not let her know, and if she finds out you can find an excuse, like that the number of players has changed or whatever.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. November 30, 2015, 10:47 am

    I have dumped two friends. One was a friend of long standing, 30+ years. The other was a friend of ten years. In the first case, it was an easy decision: this woman was needy and entitled. She played the martyr whenever she was called out. She told lies to me and about me to other people. Among other things, she demanded that I drop everything and drive her around whenever she wanted (she didn’t drive by choice). And, she thought nothing of “lending” me out to other people who couldn’t drive, without asking me. So, I cut her off. And I’m still the bad guy.
    *
    The second friend was a little tougher. I felt we’d been drifting apart for a while. Spending time with her became a chore. It’s a bad sign when your mind wanders towards others things you could be doing when you’re with someone. Then, she did something that I had trouble with morally. I decided I just didn’t want to be friends with her anymore. I thought I owed her an explanation for my distant behavior, and so I sent her an email explaining my position and inviting her to talk. She took a week to get back to me, which only confirmed the feelings I was having that our friendship did not matter that much to her. When we finally did talk, not much was said. A friendship of ten years ended in ten minutes. But I knew that when I sent the email. You can’t ask someone to change a fundamental part of their personality. They are who they are. Your job is to decide whether you can live with them as they are. I decided I couldn’t.

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  • avatar

    cdobbs November 30, 2015, 10:53 am

    LW you sound like a horrible person….one of those people who is totally cliquey and looks down their nose at other people….do the poor girl a favour and just tell her you don’t want to hang out any more…..but if your friends still want to hang out with her they should be allowed….i’m just picturing the adult version of mean girls

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    • becboo84

      becboo84 November 30, 2015, 11:13 am

      Agreed! I really lost sympathy with the LW when she referred to the woman’s husband as “simple minded.” What a snob!

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes November 30, 2015, 11:17 am

      This occurred to me too. Looking down your nose at someone because they dropped out of college and married a simple-minded…what the what? I cant even go back and look at what she said bc I think it is pretty offensive and an unnecessary detail to the narrative.
      *
      I think in this situation, with how ticked off LW is, that ghosting might be easiest and in the long-term, most effective. But seriously, why not give her a bit of a heads up first? Sit down with her over coffee and just tell her the basics here- not that she has become She-Who-Annoys-You-By-Her-Very-Existence, but that her clinginess at tennis has put you off. THat her terruption of every story is excessive, and if she would just listen, she would probably understand the story and the ppl in it better. And dont get caught up in a play-by-play of every interaction she has had with the tennis group. Just tell her you needed to say that. and that honestly her antics have made tennis less relaxing for you. So if she could please pay a bit more attenition to that stuff, you would really appreciate it. And end that convo, move on to another topic. If she is incapable of doing as you ask for say, 2 weeks or something, then phase her out of tennis however you can.
      *
      I agree though- no need for Mean Girl antics. She is obviously kinda lonely and a bit socially awkward. Dont cut her out for that, cut her out if she refuses to take some constructive criticism to heart.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 30, 2015, 12:13 pm

        The thing is, LW should not be friends with someone she does not even like. Everyone gets to decide who they want in their lives. I agree that LW wasn’t nice in her description of this woman, but that’s because she simply doesn’t like her. So the answer is not being friends with her.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous November 30, 2015, 5:17 pm

        Totally agree with this. This is the same kind of thing that women are told to do with men… oh he’s nice, just get to know him, just talk to him maybe you can change the behaviour you don’t like… no. If you don’t gel with someone, you just don’t. There’s no need to bend over backwards to keep a friendship you don’t even want.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh November 30, 2015, 11:27 am

      While I agree that some of her terms are over the top and she may look down on her, I think it’s also easy to become extremely annoyed by everything someone does when you’re not in to the friendship/relationship anymore.

      You don’t have to remain close friends with everyone you’ve ever been friends with. People grow, change and drift apart. Forcing yourself to remain friends with people you no longer get along with just isn’t worth it. And not worth it for the other person either.

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    • avatar

      keyblade November 30, 2015, 12:53 pm

      I agree that the letter writer comes across poorly. She takes no responsibility for the situation at all. Learning to assert boundaries is uncomfortable, but if the letter writer only wanted to play tennis with her new friends, she should have been willing to level with her friend by letting her know that she preferred to keep her social circles separate. Sure this might have caused some momentary tension and discomfort. Still it’s better to open yourself up to others unflattering opinions than to keep up appearances while secretly indulging anger and pettiness because you chose not to assert yourself..

      Friends outgrow each other. But it does sound (at least to me) that the letter writer looks down on this lady. She sounds like she hates that this “friend” sees herself as an equal to the letter writer. I can’t tell if this bitterness is because the letter writer is frustrated with her own inability to say “no”, or because she is pissy that the “friend” dares to consider herself comparable. But I wouldn’t want to sit with those ugly thoughts about my former Maid of Honor.

      I think it’s time to woman up and be more honest. Let this “friend” have the opportunity to find genuine friendship with others who will be happy to have it. I see no point in continuing to fake feelings that just aren’t there.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie November 30, 2015, 10:56 am

    Faded out from friends and been ghosted by friends. It happens, don’t feel guilty. Some other things to consider – if you are going to ghost her, be prepared for her to physically show up without an invite. So you and your friends might want to keep things off of facebook and other social media. Especially if you’re planning to drop tennis for a month or two – don’t put that back out on the internet because she will expect and invite/invite herself.

    Although your new friends are not really friends with this person, consider how your behavior sends a message. Being up front and honest in your dealings with this person will show your new friends the person you are; ghosting her and talking behind her back does the same thing.

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  • avatar

    ron November 30, 2015, 11:58 am

    I think you should show some compassion for this woman, whom you were recently close enough that she was your MOH, a significant commitment on her part.

    You seem to be embarrassed that this friend/former friend is seen by your current friend group. She dropped out of college and married a guy you see as a simple-minded right winger. She starts and stops projects. You think her life is a mess. Doubtless she agrees with you on that. She seems to need the weekly tennis time even more than you do and your new friends seem to accept her or at least haven’t complained about her presence.

    It is natural that her initial entry into a new group was a bit awkward, but she will gradually come to understand the other events and people that you talk about. You say she dwells in the past. Likely that was a brighter time for her, it’s also her connection to you. Are you sure that your problem isn’t just that in talking about her past, she also talks about your past and says things you don’t want your new friends to know about you? Have you more or less left your past behind and reinvented yourself?

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  • avatar

    Kay November 30, 2015, 12:25 pm

    I’ve had to dump a friend for my own sanity and went with telling her a version of the truth: I’m busy. “I can’t spend time on chat because I’m busy right now.” “I’m sorry I couldn’t call you back, things are very busy.” It was true, and it didn’t force us to have a big blow-up fight (we had mutual friends, and she was very needy and entitled and would have bad-mouthed me to everyone). It worked, I’m happier, and I’ve been able to remain an acquaintance with her and keep things cordial.
    *
    LW, you are also busy. You’re a new mom! You have a job! You’re married! Busy! Nip the tennis thing in the bud and then don’t make more plans. Be polite but firm. You’re totally within your rights to draw boundaries and redefine friendships, and end ones that aren’t working anymore.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones November 30, 2015, 1:17 pm

    I had a friend of almost 30 years who I have slowly ghosted on. We were best friends in our 20’s and 30’s when we were single and during my more wild years. She has a history of making morally questionable choices such as not handling her finances well, accruing debt, declaring bankruptcy every 10 years , getting involved with married men, cheating on her current men, visiting psychics instead of therapists when life was challenging, dropping out of college, etc. I always chalked it up to the rough childhood she had and I was cast in the role of teaching her to live better and make better financial choices. She was married for 12 years but he left her due to all the craziness. She is in her late 50’s now and is still looking for the perfect man to complete her. She moved away over a decade ago but we still kept in touch and spoke on the phone. That has devolved to texting occasionally. I really love her and do miss her, but her choices in life are so divergent from mine that creating lots of space is the best option.

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  • avatar

    LW November 30, 2015, 1:37 pm

    Hello, I am the letter writer. I’d like to thank everyone commenting here, from those sharing their own experiences, to those calling me a horrible person.
    .
    Make no mistake, I feel like a horrible person. This was a woman I used to be so close with, and now I don’t even want to pick up the phone when she calls. And I do feel for her. I’m really surprised at my own reaction here. But it’s there, the ugliness.
    .
    I’m not embarrassed when she tells stories of the past. My other friends know these stories. It’s just that she tells them wrong. I’m not talking about who’s right or wrong in these stories – it’s that she mixes up herself with me and that’s insane.
    .
    I call her husband simple minded because he is a racist.
    .
    You’re right, it is my own fault that she’s playing sports with us. I should have said no. But at the time she asked I wasn’t really that annoyed by her yet. But I guess I should’ve known. It’s now that I see her every week, that I’m going crazy. And also I thought she would quit pretty soon. Because she always does.
    .
    Finally, my description of her is the way it is, because I’m hating on her right now. I don’t look down on anyone (except racists) and I don’t care if someone drops out of college.

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant November 30, 2015, 1:46 pm

    Look you don’t have to remain friends with anyone you don’t want to, and ending your friendship with her doesn’t make you a bad person.

    Still before you cut ties, I encourage you to think about the situation compassionately. She sounds like a lonely insecure woman who may be unhappy in her life. It sounds like your tennis get togethers are a refuge for her, and you may be her only friend. Is it *really* that bad to have her tag along? I mean it’s not like it’s one on one time with her. Maybe play singles and have her pair off with another friend so you can block her out. Maybe make tennis an every other week and have lunch with your friends on the off weeks without her?

    Again, if you can’t handle her anymore, I think you can end your friendship with her with no guilt. But I’d still ask yourself if it’s really that bad – if it’s not it might be good karma to give her occasional social interactions.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar November 30, 2015, 1:53 pm

    I blame you. If she isn’t friends with anyone else in the tennis group then how did she find out about tennis – if not from you? You want tennis time back then do as Wendy says and suspend it over Christmas and don’t invite her when it starts up…and don’t post it, IG or whatever people do to their lives these days so that the world has to know what you ate for breakfast.
    .
    Your contempt for her is clear though. So end it. How horrible for her that she thinks so well of you and you think so little of her. I’ve walked away from several friendships in my life. There is no way to end it so you are the good guy. But if you actually want to end it – you truly don’t care.

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  • avatar

    for_cutie November 30, 2015, 1:54 pm

    Per some of the advice, I don’t think ghosting is the answer. She is needy and will continue to reach out until she gets a response. You need to talk to her and tell her you need a “friend break.” Un-invite her to tennis. It will be ugly, but it sounds like your feelings for her now are also ugly.
    .
    I’ve gotten that way with people – I cannot stand being around them because of all of the little emotional injuries they’ve inflicted, mostly unknowingly. Over time anything they do gets to you, because you cannot get past your perceptions of them.
    .
    Be the bigger person and address it directly. Also, you should give a heads up to your tennis friends so they know if she’s suddenly not coming – or comes to make a scene. Do be aware, that your preferred tennis friends might see you differently after they experience how you treat a life-long friend who really hasn’t done anything wrong.

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  • avatar

    keyblade November 30, 2015, 2:48 pm

    letter writer, I have been in your shoes. I had a friend who kept clinging to the past because we had nothing in common in the present. There is only so much high school reminiscing one can handle on a weekly basis. Still, you are responsible for continuing relationships that make you feel horrible about yourself. Nobody else can direct your ship.

    It’s not wrong to want to end a friendship. Nor is it wrong to be friendly and inclusive out of a sense of charity for someone. Where it gets messy is when you take a formally close friendship and pretend it hasn’t changed out of a sense of obligation to be charitable. That’s when the giver starts feeling resentful and guilty and the benefiter stops having the opportunity to grow and find better suited, authentic relationships.

    There is no easy way to tell someone you don’t enjoy them as much as they enjoy you. This is why many people just put up some distance/boundaries in how often they choose to socialize with others they feel a dampened connection towards. But this sounds like you really need your time with your tennis friends. I would apologize to your old friend and tell her you made a terrible miscalculation. Tell her it is too difficult for you to get enough interaction with your tennis friends with her tagging along. It pulls your attention away from your present friendship with these other ladies. Ask her to make her own independent plans for playing tennis.

    It is likely her feelings will be hurt and she may not choose to continue the friendship. Or she may distance herself to a casual level that is more comfortable for you both. It will be sad but it won’t kill her to make some new friends.
    P.S. If you don’t want people to see you in a negative light, I encourage you to avoid taking a voice of contempt towards simple-minded people. I can understand judging racism, but (even implied) intellectual superiority often invites heavy scrutiny.

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    • avatar

      LW December 1, 2015, 2:37 am

      Thank you keyblade. In my native language, the word ‘simple’ doesn’t have such a strong negative meaning. So I didn’t realise that the word ‘simple minded’ was so offensive. Maybe ‘closed minded’ would have been a better fit…

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  • avatar

    Michelle November 30, 2015, 5:31 pm

    I only really dumped a friend once (a few times more recently I’ve just quietly let a friendship go; I’m not sure the other people have ever actually noticed).
    *
    For several years this former friend (whom I’ll refer to as FF) and I were very close; then we began to grow apart (mostly when I moved out of state). After awhile I noticed that she had stopped taking any kind of initiative in keeping in touch – no phone calls, e-mails, nothing. When I briefly moved back to her area, we resumed the friendship somewhat; at one point, she asked me to stay with her for a few days during a winter storm – because of a mobility disability, she couldn’t drive, and asked if I would help with some local errands. I was happy to do this and to spend some time with her.
    *
    Around this time I met my now-husband, who lived (well, still does) in the Intermountain West. FF got very odd about our (the fella’s and my) relationship. She kept saying things like, what if it doesn’t work out? What if you have to move? Well, what if it didn’t? I had a college degree and marketable skills (I’m a teacher), so I had faith in my ability to financially support myself regardless of where I live. FF had a rather sad history of looking at all the ways her own romantic relationships could fail, so tended to peremptorily (if you will) ruin relationships before they went on to long – pick fights, freeze them out, etc.
    *
    FF eventually met The Fella, whom she said she liked. The Fella and I got engaged; I moved out to the Intermountain West; I sent out Save the Date magnets; I sent out invitations to the wedding, which was going to be held close to where my parents – and this FF – live.
    *
    FF never responded to the wedding invitation, so I e-mailed her to see if she’d gotten it. Her response is that she hadn’t realized she hadn’t received the invite because she was “so busy.” (At some point she said she would have “eventually” realized she hadn’t gotten it.) FF said she wasn’t sure if she could come or not because she may or may not have to be available to show her apartment to her landlord; apparently FF’s roommate wasn’t reliable – to which I responded that this was my wedding, not an everyday occurrence; I needed an answer; and I would hope that my wedding (my first, and hopefully my last) would take precedent over showing her apartment to her landlord. (Why this couldn’t be explained to the roommate and landlord and negotiated was never mentioned.) Eventually FF said yes, sure, she’d come. And since I knew she couldn’t drive, I included a plus-one on her invitation and offered to help her get a ride otherwise.
    *
    Perhaps not so surprisingly, FF never showed to my wedding. After a week – a full week – I posted some pictures on FaceBook, to which FF commented to the effect, hey, they look great, looks like you had a good wedding! No apologies for not showing, nothing, in any form, in any capacity.
    *
    That’s when I e-mailed her directly, telling her why I was hurt, etc., etc. FF replied that “clearly there had been a misunderstanding,” at which point I just told her bluntly what I thought (no, I did NOT curse), laid it all out, told her that among other things I had the impression that she just wasn’t interested in maintaining our friendship (given her almost complete lack of initiative in staying in touch, and unfriended her from all social networks. I got accused of being passive-aggressive, and things went downhill from there. She was genuinely upset at me and didn’t see why I was hurt.
    *
    I think I just outgrew the friendship. Clearly our friendship had lost steam some time previously, and/or my having moved on, moved so far away, and gotten married changed the nature of our friendship. (Having talked to a few others, I am not the only one whose friendships can change or just fall away as a result of marriage.) I still don’t quite know what sort of reaction she would have expected. We had always been honest with each other, and I didn’t feel I could just “ghost” her because it would have eaten away at me. Nearly five years later, this still serves as an reminder to me of how not to have a friendship.

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    dinoceros November 30, 2015, 6:34 pm

    I don’t judge you, LW. I think everyone, even the folks who are appalled, has disliked someone for what might seem to others like invalid reasons. The difference is that they aren’t telling everyone about it. We can all say “you should have done this or that,” but that’s with hindsight. I have accidentally invited people to things all the time. For example, they asked what I did over the weekend, and I tell them, thinking that most people wouldn’t invite themselves, but sure enough, they invited themselves. And it’s really awkward to say, “Oh, sorry, I don’t want you to come.” Anyone who is that quick-thinking to come up with a polite response when someone unexpectedly invites themselves somewhere is really impressive. I think what some people are also forgetting is that this is only happening because the other friend can’t read social cues. Sometimes it’s hard to deal with that because the normal ways of handling situations don’t apply, so you’re left with either being blunt or letting it go.

    So, I wouldn’t feel that bad, even if people are trying to make you feel that way. It’s one of the unpleasant parts of being human, that annoyance really does affect us more than we’d like to and sometimes another person’s lack of social skills means that we have to be the bad guy occasionally.

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    • avatar

      LW December 1, 2015, 2:23 am

      Thank you very much, it’s exactly what happened: I told her I was excited to go play tennis again, she said she’d love to come and I was caught off guard.

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      SasLinna December 1, 2015, 4:03 am

      Exactly, this sounds like a person who does not read social cues correctly and behaves awkwardly overall. This may not be her fault (some people just have trouble with social interactions), but it’s also not something you need to accept just because it’s not her fault. It’s OK to not want to be on the receiving end of her annoying behavior.
      It’s difficult to reject people like that because they have usually experienced it many times before and are anxious to be accepted by others, just going about it in the wrong way. So they’re likely to be even more hurt than a person with average social skills.

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    Sabrisa December 1, 2015, 12:23 am

    I’m curious, what did you say when you realized that her husband was racist? How rude is he with racism? I can totally imagine myself getting in this situation (because I’m not proactive with saying NO or saying “I don’t like what you’re doing with your life”). In Canada we don’t have as many openly racist people in the same way I imagine Melissa’s husband is racist. So due to never knowing many of these stereotypical Fox News people, I don’t know what’s the regular thing to do when your friend marries one . Does no one ever say, “did you not notice your boyfriend/fiancé/husband is ignorant/racist?” Wondering if you had been completely honest back then it would have ended naturally (or she would have evolved?)

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    • avatar

      LW December 1, 2015, 2:30 am

      I’m from Europe, and a lot of people are racist towards Middle Eastern immigrants here. So is her husband, who mocks their culture and religion openly. The first time I heard it, I mentioned it to Melissa, who said she agreed with him. After that we just stopped talking about that subject and further grew apart.
      .
      We have other friends in common, and the few times we all meet up together everyone just responds with awkward silence when he says something racist. We wait a few seconds, look at each other and then change the subject. It’s painful.

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      • findingtheearth

        findingtheearth December 1, 2015, 12:38 pm

        This I can understand. My dad’s family is racist. I told them I know it’s their point of view, but they will not say it around my daughter.
        .
        Now I can fully see why your friends may be uncomfortable around her as well. Can you call her out on it and explain it makes you and your friends uncomfortable?
        .
        Also, I was ghosted by someone who I thought was a good friend once she got engaged. It was really painful, but it made me realize her character was not good. Talk to your friend, at least to tell her you need more alone time because of having a kid.

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