Anyway, throughout these past few months, I’ve been going through the worst time of my life. I’ve had family members deliberately give me COVID-19, I’ve had family members try to get me arrested, some of them tried to literally kill me, and many of them (who are very frequent pot smokers) tried to tarnish my name by insinuating that I’m a heavy drug addict or something for simply smoking a joint or two with them while we were still on good terms. (I should make a quick note here that I was not a frequent cannabis smoker at the time. I only did it on occasions back then, but after they began insinuating, I quit marijuana for good.) I lost my mother, my sisters, my brother, my grandmother and my father because of all of this, and because I was depressed, I stopped eating and lost over 10 pounds within less than a month (I now weigh less than I did when I was 13).
Joe knew that I was going through a hard time. I’d be texting him crying and saying that I needed him because my mental state was at its most dangerous and I’m trying to hold onto my sanity and not do anything I’ll regret. He always responded with “I’m sorry I haven’t been there. I’ve been busy.” I always, I dunno, had hope that he wasn’t being a terrible person and that he was actually busy, and you know what? Maybe he was, but to be too busy to quickly check up on your friend who’s expressed to you that she’s had suicidal thoughts and ideations? I dunno, I just found it messed up. And then today, we had plans to meet up because I needed to talk to him about that, only for him to cancel on me after I’d been standing outside waiting for him for almost an hour.
I didn’t want to explode, but that just did it for me. I went off telling him that he hasn’t been a good friend to me and telling him how I felt. He then said how he’s been so stressed with moving, how he’s been going through a lot that he never talks about cause he doesn’t want it thrown in his face (which I immediately shut down cause he knows I’ve never done that) and how he hasn’t had the energy (hasn’t had the energy to text his friend who made it clear she’s almost suicidal?), and how he’s not here to keep being yelled at by me (which is just “argh! the nerve!”). I’ve reached a point where as much as I still have the super tiniest bit of hope for this friendship, I’m also mentally depleted, and I’m just done. I hate to say it, but I’m really just mentally done. I’ve never had a friendship breakup that hurt like this. Especially at my lowest, when I literally have no one, not even my family. What advice can you give on recovering and healing from something like this? — Melancholy Lone Wolf
I’m really sorry you’re having such a hard and lonely time. And I’m sorry your friend, Joe, has disappointed you. I know you’re hurting right now and you feel betrayed and like he doesn’t care. I’d like to offer another perspective. I think you’ve put an awful lot of expectation on Joe alone to help carry the weight of everything going on in your life. You say you’ve been upset that he hasn’t even texted you, but would that have been enough? Really? You express to someone that you’re suicidal and you think you’d be ok with a quick text reply checking in on you? You’re both so young – 19 is so young – and I don’t mean to imply you don’t have emotional depth to be great friends to each other, but I do know that at 19, I may not have had the insight, the wisdom, or, frankly, the psychological bandwidth to be a sole support system to a friend going through an extraordinary crisis. I feel empathy for you both.
Joe is human. He’s a 19-year-old boy human. He obviously is not capable of being a therapist to you, nor should he be. He doesn’t have the qualifications or the criteria. It’s unfair to put that expectation on a friend – any friend – and then to be so angry when they fail to rise to the demanding occasion. Has he let you down? Yes, of course. Was he rude to stand you up? Absolutely! Could he have extended himself a little more to offer you a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen to you? I think so, yes, but I can also imagine being leery of offering more than he felt capable of handling. I can understand being young and maybe having under-developed emotional maturity and feeling overwhelmed by a friend’s threat of suicide. I could imagine someone without the skills to address such a need just turning away from it, not because he doesn’t care but because he just… doesn’t know what to say or do. And, as he said – he’s been going through his own stuff too, and that’s fair. We all have our own stuff. We all have different levels of energy and time that we’re able to give to others, and it could be that you both are in positions of needing from the other when neither of you has much in the tank to give. That doesn’t make Joe horrible. And it doesn’t mean your friendship is over forever.
I do think it would be wise to take a step back from Joe, at least until your emotional needs ebb back to a more manageable level. In the meantime, I would urge you to reach out to a suicide hotline to speak with someone trained and experienced in helping someone feeling the way you’re feeling. They’ll be able to talk you through next steps, including maybe how to find an affordable counselor, someone you could talk to on a regular basis whose sole job in their relationship with you is to listen and help and guide (with no burden of reciprocation from you!). Call 800-273-8255. Help is available 24 hours a day. Good luck.
After a month, I finally worked up the courage and asked her on a date and she said yes. The date went really well and at the end of the night she said that she had a great time and would like to do it again. Fast forward to a couple of days later and I called her to say hi and she didn’t answer. The next day, I texted her asking her if she’d like to get together again. Much to my delight and surprise, she said: “Yes! But I don’t know when I’ll be free again. The next couple weekends are being taken up.” I responded with: “Okay, cool. I’m sorry to hear that. Let me know if your schedule opens up any time and I’ll rearrange some things.”
Now I can’t stop wondering if she is blowing me off or is she genuinely busy. She has a five-year-old son with special needs who will be going to kindergarten soon. I understand that her son is her priority and that being a single mother is tough and getting time for herself can be difficult. But I’m hoping that when her schedule does free up, she might reach out and we could set up that second date. What do you think? Am I overthinking it, or should I gracefully bow out? — Wanting a Second Date
Yeah, you’re over-thinking it big time. She said she wanted to go out with you again. She said it enthusiastically (well, with an exclamation mark, at least). She’s probably genuine. Why wouldn’t she be? And even if she’s not – even if she has no intention of seeing you again or if she’s actually swept into whatever life is throwing at her and you don’t hear from her again for a while, so what? What is it that you’d actually be “gracefully bowing out of”? The invitation for a second date? And what would gracefully bowing out of that even look like? What, are you going to text her back and say, “You know, on second thought, I’d like to rescind my offer, but I wish you very well”? I mean, come on. There isn’t really a “graceful” way of bowing out of something that isn’t even planned yet. You just want to know how you can gracefully say, “Hey! I like you and I thought you liked me too, so prioritize me!” and you can’t because you barely know this woman. You went on one date. You haven’t earned prioritization yet.
Look, she sounds busy. At least for the next couple weekends. (And to be honest, your throw-away comment that you’d “rearrange some things” if she becomes available makes you sound kind of busy, too, or at least like you want to seem that way. What is it that you’d need to rearrange if you don’t even know when she might be available for a date?). In two weeks, if you haven’t heard back from her, send her a text and say, “Hey! Any chance your schedule has opened up in the coming week or two? I’d love to hang out again if you have some time!” If she can’t find time over the course of, say, the next four weeks to schedule a second date, I’d say it’s safe to say she doesn’t have room in her life for you right now. That doesn’t mean she never will or that she doesn’t like you or whatever. But it does mean that it would be time to move on already. Or, as you call it: “bow out gracefully.”