It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Zero Love” who was annoyed that her childhood friend, whom she’d drifted apart from, was crashing her weekly tennis date with her new friends. “Playing tennis with my friends is my moment to work away the stress of the week, not to add more to the pile,” she wrote. “I want to have real conversations with my friends again and I don’t want Melissa to ruin this. I feel awful about feeling so hateful towards her, but I just cannot help it. What should I do?”
Keep reading to see how she handled the situation and whether Melissa is still crashing tennis.
I felt bad for her, but she’s been talking about the same things for the last ten years: people she doesn’t like or looks down on, situations in her life that she hates, her feelings of burning out, crazy future plans… That’s literally all we ever talked about anymore. I might mention something going on in my life for five seconds and, bam, back to her. I don’t like people who make it all about them or who keep complaining about stuff that they can change or at least change their perspective about. I have been urging her to seek counseling, but she keeps postponing it. She says her doctor prescribed her with a “soft” antidepressant, but as much as I tell her that that’s a bad idea without actual therapy, she keeps taking it even though it clearly doesn’t help. There’s only so much you can say to a person to help, until you realize that they will not seek change and that this is a never-ending story.
I thought about what you said, that I had to decide if I wanted her in my life – at all. I read the stories of the commenters. A normal friendship shouldn’t be causing these feelings of frustration. And reading my own letter again, I saw that the hate just oozes out. I mean, of course, I don’t care about someone dropping out of school or having a husband I don’t really like, but I started hating every possible thing about her, including those things. I didn’t like myself being this frustrated anymore.
Originally, I tried avoiding her while I thought about what I would say, but she then flat-out asked me if I didn’t like her anymore. So I told her that I thought we had grown apart, that I didn’t feel like our friendship was the same anymore, and that I didn’t know what to tell her anymore when I kept hearing the same complaints from her. It was sad and intense… She got defensive, obviously, but told me she’d leave me alone. She then said she still wanted to come play tennis, and I told her that that’s what started this whole thing. She ignored that and said she’d come, but thus far she hasn’t.
Ironically, for the first time in years, I remember the good times we had. I miss her, but I think it’s the old Melissa that I miss. She was awesome, fearless and ambitious. I don’t know what happened to that person, but I do know I can’t help get her back. I think she’s feeling depressed, and has been for a while now. But again, I am not her therapist. It may seem harsh, but this is not my responsibility; it’s hers.
Thank you very much for your kind and thoughtful advice. It opened my eyes, since I had never even thought about seriously ending the friendship. Who does that, right? Thanks to the commenters as well, for understanding and sharing their stories.
Thank you for your update! Of course, ending a friendship is sad. But it sounds like yours ended a long time ago. And life is too short to spend our limited time with people we aren’t obligated to spend time with and who don’t enrich us in some way. Maybe you gave Melissa some food for thought and she might feel inspired to start making some proactive changes in her life to be happier and healthier. Anyway, as you say, it’s not your problem to worry about, and I imagine it must be a relief to know that.
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at email@example.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
keyblade January 18, 2016, 1:35 pm
Thanks for the update. I think people and women in particular often pressure themselves to stay put and live with the resentment rather than be the “bad guy”. I think it goes back to wanting safety and solidarity but not having a lot of training in putting up boundary when something or someone is consistently draining of us resources we really don’t want to give. Its good to hear from someone who was willing to be honest with herself and her former friend with good intentions in mind.
Sketchee January 21, 2016, 8:45 pm
I love this letter. Sometimes being a good friend does mean saying exactly what you said. And spending time with things you love and people who are more compatible for where you are right now. Trusting people to solve their own problems and be okay without you, that’s a really kind heart and act.