Earlier this week, I answered a letter from a woman who was feeling conflicted about a thirty-year friendship. The friend in question, whom she’d known since she was a baby, had been cheating on her husband and just making all-around terrible life choices for her and her young son. This prompted a bit of debate in the comments about whether she should dump the friend or stick by her side.
I got an email from a reader who wanted to see this topic discussed more in-depth in an open thread, so here we are. She wrote: “It would be interesting to see how people select friends and how they decide the friendships are no longer working. Do people support their friends regardless of their personal choices and behaviors? Do they instead only maintain friendships with people similar to themselves? Do they base their value in a friendship on length, comfort (ability to confide), availability (when the other person is consistently available to spend time with them), common interests, etc?”
So, what say you? How do you decide whom to befriend and which long-time friendships to continue investing in? Is it simply a matter of shared values, similar lifestyles, and availability? Do you stick with people you’ve known forever, no matter how dissimilar your lives become? Do you try to find friends who fit different roles in your life? And what do you do when a friend starts doing stupid shit, like cheating on her husband and moving her young son into so sketchy man’s home? Inquiring minds want to know!
* If you’ve got a suggestion for a future open thread topic, email me at [email protected]
Kristina June 10, 2011, 5:09 pm
Interesting topic. A few of my closest friends have pretty different lifestyles from me, but it has never gotten in the way of my friendships. I think similar values and morals are most important to me for my friendships. One of my best friends is 22 and waiting until marriage to have sex (not just for religious purposes) and she very rarely drinks, and has never been drunk. I’m different from that, but we still remain the best of friends even though our choices are different at times. Another best friend is only 20 and is already engaged to her first boyfriend. I don’t necessarily agree with her getting married so young and getting married to him in the first place, but I also don’t let my opinions affect our friendship because she is grown up enough to make her own decisions and face the consequences regardless.
Though, as I’m still young, I worry about my friendships with these close friends and how they will turn out when we start going through very different phases in life.
Lydia June 10, 2011, 5:15 pm
I had a friend in high school who was always a little flakey, but I could deal with most of it. That is, until she fell in love with a 30+ year old man, converted to Islam for him and married him. All before she was 18. All of this did not necessarily have to be a problem, if it wasn’t for the fact that she didn’t tell me any of this after I had expressed concern about her relationship with this man. In fact, at times, she actively lied about it.
I saw her once more after high school, when she had given birth to her first child a few days after turning 19. It was then that I realized how much she had kept from me and that there was no longer any point in investing in the friendship.
convexed June 10, 2011, 5:22 pm
Hmm. Well, as for choosing friends, I think often the people we are most in proximity with (coworkers, classmates) tend to become our friends kind of organically, as we become familiar with them and share a routine or values in common. For instance, at a nonprofit, everyone there might value social justice, or in an art degree program, you will naturally encounter other creative types. And, from among these individuals, maybe a few will somehow really resonate with you, or you will ‘feel’ a connection with, despite differences in lifestyle or, say, taste in music. Though on paper I would say I choose friends from a similar background or in a similar ‘place’ in life, in reality I can’t account for how or why I develop a deep bond or love with those I do.
Once that bond is in place, I pride myself on being loyal, a caring and present and non-judgmental friend. I think the greatest compliment that I could receive is being called a great friend. Again, theoretically I would not end a friendship over bad decisions, or flakiness, but in practice, these issues matter a lot if they interfere with your bond. Like, if a friend going through a hard time starts to take it out on you, treating you badly, or disregards your feelings, then it’s appropriate to distance yourself, because no one deserves abuse or cruelty, even or especially from those they ‘chose’.
But, that said, when a friend who has hurt me comes back to repair the friendship, I will hear them out and consider their apology/amends/etc with an open mind and heart. If a friend is being a jerk, and you know it’s not about you, but their own immaturity/inability to see clearly, it’s a great strength if you can rise above that and be the bigger human, and often, it comes back around to you when you need graciousness and patience from others. But, you really have to be thoughtful and aware of when a line is crossed, and someone’s behavior is so personally damaging to you that it threatens more of you than just that friendship.
Skyblossom June 10, 2011, 6:03 pm
Once we had our son just over 20 years ago we had much less time to spend with friends because kids are time consuming. Before kids we socialized in a large group of people who were lots of fun and who had a wide range of behaviors. At that point we weren’t picky. For the last 20 years my husband and I have both spent time volunteering and currently I have three volunteer activities and those also take time. We both have a large group of acquaintances whom we know to varying degrees but we have a limited number of good friends.
Once we had children we had so much less time for friends that we have ended up with far fewer friends but they are truly exceptional friends. We are now picky because we have to be because we only have so much we time we can give. We’ve shed some people that we considered good friends for a while. One neighbor, who seemed incredibly nice, turned out to have lived with her husbands family, including his brother who was twice arrested for molesting children while living with them. They allowed him to molest their two sons repeatedly. I couldn’t be friends with someone who wouldn’t protect her own children and who I knew I could never trust with my own children. We were also friends with a couple where the husband ended up cheating on his wife and he destroyed their family. We are no longer friends with him. I will not have destructive people in my life, or in the lives of my children, but if we meet these people in public we say hello and are polite but we would never spend an evening with them or invite them into our home. We have learned to be picky to protect ourselves and our children. Our experience is that people who make poor decisions can’t be trusted around our children and we don’t want them in our life.
We have excellent friends that we love to spend time with and we have one couple in particular that we have a standing date with every Friday evening. These are people we can discuss anything with, laugh with and share our lives with. When we spend the evening with them we go home in an excellent mood. Our friends kids are kids we feel comfortable having in our home and in our lives. I think that when you have kids you end up filtering everything through whether that person is appropriate around your kids and are their kids okay around your kids. Then I need to have chemistry with them. I need to enjoy their company and value their advice and so does my husband. We need to both like the husband and wife in a couple for us all to be friends.
Kim June 10, 2011, 6:22 pm
I’ve had a BFF since high school with whom I’ve managed to remain friends with across 13 years and a couple of big geographical moves. We’ve both changed: I am more socially conservative than I used to be and she’s more devil-may-care than ever. There are a lot of decisions that she makes that I think are destructive and counterproductive but I still love her and offer advice and ask advice from her about my own life. She knows when I don’t approve of a person or a behavior but I try to keep it light and I try to be sensitive to when she’s done listening to my opinions on her life. We’re still similar enough and invested enough that the friendship is worth hanging on to and I think that’s why we’re still friends.
L June 10, 2011, 6:46 pm
I usually find my friends based on a shared interest. In my case it is/was usually music (many of my high school and college friends were in band, and I was a music major).
I’m very fortunate that in high school I found the best friends a girl could ask for. We all just connected really easily. A few of them knew each other before I came along, and I just sort of fell into their group. We became a core group of 5, and we always had (and still have!) so much fun together. We were in many of the same extracurricular activities in school, and eventually these girls became the sisters I never had.
Fast forward 9 years to the present, and our group is still intact. We’re all in different places in our lives, but every time we get together, it’s like we never left. It doesn’t matter if the last time I saw one of them was six months ago, we always carry on right where we left off. We still do stupid things together. I can still talk about anything and everything to these girls. We can make pretty much ANYTHING fun; I helped one of the girls move a week ago, and it was the most fun I had had in weeks.
When you have friends worth keeping, you’ll know, because they’ll always find their way back into your life even if you haven’t seen them in forever!
ReginaRey June 10, 2011, 6:58 pm
I love my best friends and would do anything for them, but there was a time two years ago when I nearly broke off my friendship with one of my very best and longest friends. Backstory – I’d been casually seeing a guy for a few months while in college. He was a rebound from a bad breakup, and it wasn’t that serious, but we were still exclusive. One of my best friends spent a lot of time with me and the guy I was seeing because she was also single, and we all got along really well.
After about 3 months, I got tired of the “what are we?” and just asked. He decided he’d rather be friends because he didn’t want a girlfriend. It upset me, but I wasn’t going to pine away for him. A few weeks later I left the country for a study abroad trip. The day I got home, I went out to dinner with my best friend and the dude, as a friendly catch up sort of thing, and they announced to me that they were now dating. I laughed, because I honestly believed it was a joke. When I found out that it was NOT a joke, it became ridiculously uncomfortable.
Turns out, they had been hanging out almost as soon as the guy and I had broken it off, and had started “officially dating” the day I left for my trip. I felt betrayed by my friend not really because she was dating him, but because she didn’t ask if it would hurt my feelings or be awkward for me to see them together. The fact that she had seemed to care more about snatching up this dude the second I went away, instead of waiting 2 weeks until I got back to ask me how I felt, was mind-blowing.
I don’t think we’ll ever be as close as we were before. I got over the whole situation a long time ago, but it put this unspoken tension between us that has never fully faded. I guess I don’t trust her like I did before, and I’m less likely to share things with her. It’s not purposeful, just an innate reaction I now have. It’s sad, but there are definitely some things that can permanently damage a friendship.
G June 13, 2011, 9:31 am
Why are people thumbs downing this?!? Sounds like Regina handled this situation with a little more maturity than a lot of people would have. A lot of us (rightfully so) might have hit the roof!
Firegirl32 June 13, 2011, 1:32 pm
Maybe because the grabby-snatchy BFF? They didn’t like that – not necessarily the way Regina handled it? Not sure though…
Beckaleigh June 10, 2011, 7:05 pm
Kids totally change the dynamic of friendships. I became a mom when I was 15, so being a mom is all I’ve really known. I have a few best friends who are always there for me, but its definitely hard to spend time with them when they are so focused on the next happy hour and I’m focused on cheerleading practice. But, at the end of the day, I know that if I ever need them, they will be there.
honeybeenicki June 10, 2011, 10:37 pm
I’m sure it is hard to be such a young mother. One of my best friends (the oldest I mentioned in my post below) had her son right around that same age. She lost a lot of friends in the process and has told me repeatedly that I’m the only one that stuck it out during the rough times when she first had him. Some friends have since wandered back in, but I know she remembers them disappearing. Personally, while it was hard for me to wrap my head around her being pregnant (I was in denial – I had decided it was an immaculate conception because she was my virgin friend), her son is the best thing that ever happened to her and I love him like my own even now.
Jshizzle June 10, 2011, 7:14 pm
My friendships are a mosh of loyalty/common ties/shared interests. My friendships that I have kept involve good and trustworthy people who care about me. Friendships developed in university and beyond, are a little more difficult for me to maintain because the length of time spent together with shared interests can quickly diminish as people figure out who they are. I haven’t gotten to the stage of super ugly divorces, affairs, etc., but I sure hope that never happens.
MsBorgia June 10, 2011, 8:28 pm
Most of my long term relationships have ended because I and the other person both changed in conflicting ways (and boy did they conflict). Mostly what happens is I unwittingly do something to piss off the other party, and they don’t tell me and then explode at me instead of handling it constructively. I have had some very close friendships end with some very cruel words, and I felt that they weren’t worth investing in if the other person only wanted *my* behavior to change and wasn’t willing to work on me with it.
Besides that, my relationships tend to just fade out due to distance, lack of interest, or lack of commonalities. I have also decided to end short-term relationships due to conflicting values, i.e., the other person holds beliefs or conducts their life in a way that I simply cannot respect. For example, I unequivocally ended a four year friendship with a man who said that women who don’t fight back or scream during rape are to blame for what happens for them. BYE.
Katie June 10, 2011, 8:35 pm
my friends are the most important things to me. there are 8 of us, we met in high school, and now 3 years after graduation we are still all super close. i dont really have a family (just a mom, dad and sister) so they are all really my family to. we get annoyed with each, talk about each other, bicker sometimes, but we are always friends in the end. we have gone through almost everything- cutting off contact to hang out with our boyfriends, then coming back after finding out the guy wans’t really worth it, one of my friends almost getting kicked out of her house for dating her older brother’s (loser) friend and a different friend telling the older sister (all of our respective families are pretty close because of all of us), dance teams, birthday parties, debate clubs, student council, and all the drama that comes with high school. and we have survived me going out of state for college, and 2 going about 3 hours away for college. i guess we are all quite similar, but we all have different ways of thinking. im sure that years in the future we will be going through weddings, divorces (hopefully not!), kids, ect… one of my favorite things that we do is stay up super late, and have these deep long conversations. we talk about god, politics, the existence of aliens, how big the universe really is, evolution, you name it. we have come to some pretty mind blowing conclusions on those nights, and most of the time they dont even involve alcohol! haha. i guess all my friends are very open-minded people. i love that about them to.
the only time I have cut off ties with a friend was when after a boyfriend and I had gone through a very messy breakup, they started dating and didn’t tell anyone. i was in a different state for college, and i was feeling particularly homesick and was so exicted to come back for christmas my sophomore year, and then i find out from my own sister like a week before that they have been dating for MONTHS. while that may not be enough to cut someone out of your life, the nail in the coffin was finding out that around halloween time, all of our other friends were going to some party and hadn’t invited this particular friend who ended up dating my bf. she called me, crying her eyes out about how they didn’t want to hang out with her. i totally stopped what i was doing and talked with her about how i loved her and if i was there i would hang out with her and all this- then around christmas time, i find out that they had been having sex about a month before she called me. this girl had the audacity to be sleeping with my ex, and call me bawling and wanting my sympathy. i felt so utterly lied to and betrayed that I couldn’t be her friend anymore.
i think that everyone has a line, you know. something that no matter who did it, you would have to stop talking with them. i think that at its root, mine is lying. i cant stand that.
SpaceySteph June 11, 2011, 5:47 pm
I was really close with my high school friends through college too… but now its been 7 years since high school graduate, 3 since I graduated college. We all were far flung in college but still had holidays at home to get back in touch. Now we’re even farther flung and not as much going back home … our friendships have been reduced to occasional facebook interactions.
I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but you’re going to have to try even harder to maintain these friendships post college. Good luck.
Jess June 12, 2011, 11:57 am
I’m 27 and my best friends are still my high school group. Of course I have my college friends too, and my friends from my current city, but my HS friends are still #1.
Brooklyn June 10, 2011, 9:08 pm
It seems that my friendships have evolved as I’ve grown older. The friendships that don’t grow with me haven’t stood up to time. Generally I don’t loose friendships to conflict and I can avoid relationship interferences to due judgment and personal differences. However, I can’t tolerate behavior that harms others. Esp when those harmed are manipulated, lied to, or innocent (cheating, harm to children, DWI, etc).
When I was in HS and college I tended to stick with friends who I grew up with or had class/work with. Now that I am in my upper 20s, I find that I am much more selective. I value my close friends more and I worry about the rest less. I always try to work out differences and repair damaged relationships. However, I don’t fret about it like I did when I was younger. I’ve learned to differentiate friends (people I count on and confide in) with acquaintances (people I spend time with and enjoy to talk to, but don’t communicate with when we don’t see eachother much).
caitie_didn't June 10, 2011, 10:02 pm
Hmmm…..I’ve had several close friends for many years. We’ve drifted apart and have been closer together at various points, but have always managed to remain connected. I think the reason we’ve managed to stay friends is because we have similar values and life goals. I’ve tried being friends with people whose values and morals were different than mine but just can’t seem to make it happen. I’ve drifted apart severely from a couple of university roommates, because our lifestyles are just tooo different- they like to party a lot, use drugs and one has a long history of cheating on her boyfriends. I can’t keep up with their partying, and don’t really agree with how she uses and abuses boys like that.
As for cutting off friendships- I’ve only done it once, because I was tired of the abuse I was getting from this (former) friend.
ArtsyGirly June 10, 2011, 10:10 pm
I had to deal with a similar situation. I met my best guy friend the first day of high school. We had a lot of common interests and spent a great deal of time together especially after we ended up going to the same college even sharing the same dorm. Anyway he started dating a mutual friend which made me rather uncomfortable – while I loved him as a friend he has a HORRIBLE track record with women.
He never ended a relationship, instead he would cheat on his girlfriends blatantly until they caught him and were the ones breaking up with him. Seriously in every relationship from the time we were in high school this was his pattern. I hoped that it would be different this time but of course it wasn’t. He slept with another mutual friend and then lied (starting that he was wasted and it was a mistake when in fact he had been sleeping around for months).
After I found out what he had done I stopped speaking with him (as well as the girl he cheated with since she knew he was in a committed relationship). I decided if he had such little respect for the women he dated I could not continue to hang out with him – there are times I miss him, but not enough to hurt his ex who is still my friend.
honeybeenicki June 10, 2011, 10:33 pm
The two best friends I have just kind of fell into my lap. I’m pretty young (a few months to 25), but my absolute best friend that I would do anything for has been my best friend for about 16 years. We have very different lifestyles now, but that seems to be a benefit for our relationship. We met in elementary school and even though sometimes we lose touch for a few months because of family or work or whatever, we always make time to at least get a call or some text messages in and can pick up like we never spent any time apart.
My other best friend made me be her friend. I don’t mean haha funny you’re my friend now. We met 10 years ago at a school orientation. I was upset about switching schools and intended to not make any friends but she was relentless. She just wouldn’t leave me alone and eventually I just relented. Earlier this week, I got back from flying across the country to spend a week with her (she moved to a different state 4 years ago).
So really, I didn’t purposely set out for these meaningful long-term relationships, but I wouldn’t give them up for anything. When it comes to supporting my friends when I feel they are making wrong decisions or when I question their judgement or I don’t approve of a life choice, I stick to a very strict set of rules:
1. I tell them in the best non-judgemental way that I can that I don’t think it is wise or whatever it is I disagree with and WHY.
2. I remind them I love them and would do anything for them.
3. I tell them that while I don’t support their choice, I will support them and I’m always there.
4. I stay out of it unless they are truly in danger (ie: I know one of my friends is a serious alcoholic and self destructive and I don’t just let it go. I don’t harp on it, but I refuse to be around her if she chooses to drink – especially since I don’t drink at all).
5. I’m there when it ultimately falls apart.
This seems to work pretty well for me. That way, I know I did my best to tell them how I felt but made sure they knew I was still there for them no matter what their decisions are and generally, I’m the first person they come to when it does fall apart.
Christy June 11, 2011, 10:48 am
Haha I made one of my best friends be my friend too. She transferred into my college during the semester I studied abroad, and we worked together my senior year. She was pretty anti-social but I kept including her in activities and essentially forcing her to come to parties, and she got much more social because of it. When we worked together that summer we requested to live together (because otherwise we’d have been stuck with strangers) and we ended up talking a lot. Now we’re great friends, if long-distance, and it’s all because I made her be social.
honeybeenicki June 11, 2011, 5:40 pm
See, we all need people like you to force us to be your friend 🙂
Britannia June 10, 2011, 10:49 pm
None of my friends and I have met under “normal” circumstances. I did not have friends growing up as a child, so I met my first real friend when I was 12, at the Teen Court program Tucson has, which takes teenagers with minor offenses to court and makes them go through classes and community service instead of clogging up the harder system. I was volunteering as a regular jury member and sometimes as the prosecution, while she was there for petty theft (typical lip gloss stealing). She took a shine to me after finding me sitting in a corner and reading during lunch break; we stayed friends for almost 8 years.
Then, these past few years, she really put me through the wringer. She partied, which I did too, but she also did hard drugs on a fairly regular basis. I distanced myself from her until she pulled out of that phase… we were both young, and I tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t hear any of it and told me to eff off. Then we got very close, seeing each other constantly and having fun again, but then when I was in a car accident last year, she just plain vanished. Once I was strong enough to be able to see people again, she never came around. Now, she just texts me sporadically crying about the latest drama in her life. I usually send her a consoling message or two but don’t spend too much time on her, because she’d never reciprocate the favor and she never wants to see me unless she needs a couch to crash on or a house to have sex in or smoke pot in. I don’t really consider her a friend anymore.
I do have two great friends, now, though! They’re as different from each other as night and day, but they are both very considerate, intelligent girls who are great friends and don’t take advantage of other people.
One I’ll call “R” – she is slightly younger than me, loves irony and violent video games. We met under strange circumstances – doing a lingerie shoot for a local photographer we both had worked with in the past. So, the very first time we met, we were in our underwear! We talk for hours about random BS and love hanging out together. She’s in school to be a lawyer. Whenever we party, we always have each others’ backs, and we have similar tastes — right now, we’re working on setting up a 90s themed party which will probably be the biggest party of the summer.
The other one is “J”, who is slightly older than me and insanely intelligent. She’s an astrochemist, and a girly girl who I love to watch cheesy movies with. We both have small dogs, so we like to find new restaurants in town who allow dogs in and try the food there. We can keep a conversation going for HOURS! We also like to go to live music venues and to yoga classes, too. I met her because she was married to (but is now divorced from) one of my SO’s best friends.
Neither of them do drugs, both of them have very strong ambition and even when we disagree on some topics of politics, we have intelligent and respectful discussions, which I absolutely cherish. They’re respectful people who aren’t selfish. I love them! 🙂 They’d make for a small bridal party, but I’m happy with them because I’ve always believed in quality>quantity and they’re of the highest quality a friend could hope for!
Pankakes June 10, 2011, 10:58 pm
It seems like a no-brainer, but respect is the #1 most important thing for me in all relationships. If a friend shows me disrespect, or continues to make choices I can’t respect, chances are it’s not going to last. I usually just distance myself instead of completely cutting someone off, except in one special case…
I met ‘M’ during my freshman year of college. She was a few years older than me and had a dominant personality – always the center of attention, and no shortage of drama, especially with guys. We were ‘friends’ for a little over two years. We were never quite BFFs, but we did hang out often and talk a lot and typically got along. But then she committed three crimes against friendship that sent the whole thing down the drain. (Worth noting: There was considerable time between each event, and when we moved off-campus we saw each other less, so distance and time let me cool off in between and remain on good terms with her.)
Transgression #1: When my boyfriend was overseas for a three-month contract and I started developing a wandering eye, she actually encouraged me to cheat. She herself had cheated more than once in past relationships. Regardless of what I was considering doing, I was shocked and a little appalled that she condoned it.
Transgression #2: When my boyfriend came home, she flirted with him quite openly, asking him to give her backrubs or sitting on his lap while I was right there next to them, and managed to turn more than one board game into a “strip” game. On one occasion she was at my apartment with one of her guy friends, and was apparently so horny and wanted my boyfriend so bad that she pretty much demanded some alone time with him in our bedroom while I sat in the living room with her friend, who I did not know. (Until recently I’ve been a professional doormat in life and at the time was so shocked I let her steamroll right over me. I definitely would have handled it differently today.)
Transgression #3: After getting off work around midnight, I got a call from her, crying and hysterical. I went to her place where she spent three hours drowning me with her problems, most of which were only problems because of her own choices and actions. It was clear she didn’t want advice or someone to vent to, she wanted pity. I’m sitting there, 19 and engaged (to the very same man from example #2), not knowing whatsoever what she wants me to do or say, when she finally calmed down enough to ask me, “So when are you going to ask me to be a bridesmaid?”
That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It became very clear to me that she was not the kind of person I could call a friend (I know, took me long enough, right?). So I put distance between us, and when it came time to make the wedding guest list, she was not invited. I didn’t need her or her scene-stealing drama on my special day. On the day our marriage became Facebook official, she wrote “thanks for inviting me” on my wall and unfriended me. Good riddance! I only wish I would have cut ties with her sooner.
The friends I have and keep are the ones I respect and feel respected by. Disrespect, whether subtle or blatant like M’s, is very hard for me to forgive.
ATM June 12, 2011, 5:46 pm
Your friend sounds a lot like my best friend from high school, who I stopped calling for reasons very similar to your reason #3. She’s an Eeyore, never has anything positive to say about her life. Every time we talk on the phone she just blabs about how horrible her life is, and if I offer any advise to make it better it is promptly dismissed with “It’s not going to get any better.” We became friends in high school because we were both social outcasts and both had the same bleak view on life. After high school, I decided to make my life better while she stayed exactly the same.
She also tried to have sex with my boyfriend, under the guise of wanting to have a threesome with the two of us. We were open to trying that, but then she didn’t want to do anything with me, just with my boyfriend. Luckily, my boyfriend didn’t have sex with her because he saw through her game.
FAKE NAME June 13, 2011, 12:35 pm
I recently have distanced myself from a friend for this reason. She is miserable in her life and I do want her to be happy but the whole reason that she is miserable is because she won’t get off her ass and do something about it. I tried to be supportive but talking to her is emotionally draining and she refuses to see the positive side of everything. I’ve been avoiding her for a few weeks and I feel guilty about it but I don’t have the emotional energy for these conversations. I almost think that if she WAS happy she wouldn’t admit it because then there’d be nothing to bitch about.
The way I see it, if your life sucks, change it! I did, and I still am working on becoming the best me that I will eventually be. Your life is your choice.
FAKE NAME June 13, 2011, 12:36 pm
I meant, “she refuses to see the positive side in ANYthing,” not everything. 🙂
ATM June 13, 2011, 3:14 pm
That’s exactly the same reason I distanced myself from my old friend! I feel guilty about it but it was just too emotionally exhausting to continue the long phone calls that consist only of her complaining and me listening, trying to be supportive. My life is no rose garden but I take the good with the bad and try to stay positive while always striving for improvement.
Thanks for your comment, I don’t feel so bad about it now. I’d love to continue being friends if she would step up to the plate and improve her life and her perspective.
VioletLover June 11, 2011, 10:35 am
Trust is THE most important thing for me in relationships (romantic or platonic). When I was growing up, I didn’t really have any friends…unless there was a group or partner project coming up. Suddenly, the same people bullying me were ‘sorry’ and invited me to hang out with them, and ‘chose’ me as their partner/to be in their group (which I was so grateful for that it took me until 6th grade to figure out what was going on). And as soon as the work was done (mostly by me) they either stopped talking to me or went right back to harassing me. Only one girl stayed friends with me after one of these things, and she said she’d bullied me because she was new to the school, fell in with the popular crowd, and believed the things they’d said about me. Once she got to know me, she realized they were idiots and wanted to become real friends…which we still are, almost 18 years later.
I have a lot of trouble staying friends with someone who is a cheater. If they can betray the trust of someone they claim to love, how the hell can I trust them to not hurt me? One of my best friends cheated on her boyfriend (the first nice guy she’d ever dated) multiple times, with two different dudes. It was really hard to trust her for awhile and our friendship tapered off. But she’s put a lot of work into this relationship and she’s become a lot more responsible since highschool, and we’re getting close again. A different friend and I no longer speak at all, though. She’s 19 years old, cheated on her guy (who I’m friends with, we were all part of the same circle, and I know he’s a great dude) with some 31 year old guy who works at a Long John Silver’s and lives in his mother’s basement (no one will rent to him because he’s been evicted for non-payment three times) and who knew she was in an exclusive relationship. She got really drunk and shacked up with him, then confessed to her boyfriend. He forgave her, asked what he could do to help, and said he still loved her and wanted to make things work. She said “Thank you, I want some time to think about this all, to see if I want to stay in a relationship with you.” Then she kept getting drunk and boinking the new guy and when boyfriend found out and got understandably mad at her, she said it wasn’t ‘cheating’ because she’d broken up with him. She asked me what my opinion was, and I (honestly) said that I should she handled the whole thing poorly, and needs to work on communicating better (NO ONE else but her thought they were broken up), because her ex-bf had deserved better treatment than that. She said she agreed and understood if I didn’t want to be friends, and I said I could still be friends with her, as long as she understood that I was more sympathetic to ex-bf, and didn’t want to hear her complaining about him. A different friend asked me my opinion on the whole thing, and I said “I still want to be there for her, because I don’t think this relationship will end well and she’ll need support, but honestly, she’s being fucking stupid.” She found out I said that, and refuses to talk to me at all and has started telling people I’m a backstabber.
*shrug* She knew my opinion on it and I had told her that I thought she was making an awful mistake but I still wanted to be there for her. But I think our friendship was doomed even if I hadn’t opened my mouth, because after all this, I didn’t trust anything she said anymore.
fallonthecity June 11, 2011, 4:18 pm
A lot of my current friends started off as people I knew only because they were friends with a former friend of mine. My best friend started out as someone I saw at parties, and I actually thought she was a puritanical killjoy at first… imagine! Then, she and I were the only two from high school that went to our university, we were majoring in the same thing, and we actually got along super well! We’ve traveled abroad together, got into trouble together, hung out with each others’ families. I’m even going to be in her wedding two weeks from today. One of my closest friends is an ex boyfriend (although his girlfriend has had trouble accepting our friendship…), and a ton of people I met through him stayed close after the breakup. I even got to be friends with one of my professors after I graduated and we worked on some research together. Anyway, I find friendships in unlikely places… I like to just stay open to people and be friendly to everyone, in general… Cause you just never know!
sobriquet June 11, 2011, 4:26 pm
I think that length of the friendship certainly makes a difference. If I’ve been friends with someone for over ten years and they start to go astray, I’m not going to write them off completely.
Personally, I cannot be friends with someone I don’t respect. My best friend in 2007 was a girl my age (21 at the time) who I worked with. We were inseparable for a good year or so. She visited some friends back home one weekend and came back randomly engaged. I was flabbergasted. She told me she just wanted to be married and have babies and be a stay-at-home mom. This guy was in the army so she wouldn’t even have to see him all the time. FACE PALM. The engagement didn’t work out, but a few years later she is married to a different guy (also in the army) and has a 2 year old. We’re not friends anymore.
Often times, I just simply need space from a friendship. My best guy friend and I had a lot of miscommunication about feelings and things were weird for awhile. We’ll always be friends, but never as close as we once were. However, even if I haven’t seen him in 12 months, I know that if I’m in a bind, he’ll help me. He knows the same about me.
Another friend, my best friend for the past several years, started bringing me down a couple years ago. It wasn’t anything she did consciously, but I fell into a deep depression due to the people we were hanging out with and a stupid dispute we had when I lived with her for a month (NEVER MOVE IN WITH YOUR BFF!). I took a “break” from the friendship. We sporadically kept each other updated on our lives, but that was about it. Now, we’re spending a lot more time together, but I know my limits and say “no” to hanging out when I’m uncomfortable with the people there. [I realize this sounds so vague and shady… apologies.]
I also feel like the friendships you make during a transitional time period go much deeper than others. When you’re transitioning and figuring out the next step of your life, you tend to connect with people on a deeper level. At least, I do.
RavageMaladie June 11, 2011, 5:25 pm
On a totally unrelated note: the ‘friend cheating on her husband’ in the letter that Wendy refers to in this post had a daughter, not a son…maybe it’s projection, Wendy?:P
SpaceySteph June 11, 2011, 6:07 pm
So my best friend has been my best friend since I was 5 years old. We met in first grade and were instantly inseparable. I can’t remember really how our friendship started, and I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t my best friend.
Our lives have changed alot since then. We went to the same school through 8th grade, and then went to different high schools. We didn’t live very close to each other so we kinda faded out over high school, although we always met at least once a year to celebrate our birthdays (2 days apart). The summer before our senior year we met for our birthdays and discussed what colleges we were applying to. There was one in common… and we both ended up deciding to go to that school. The first night I was there, we bumped into each other at a freshman pool party event, spent the whole night talking. At the end of that year we moved into an apartment together. Though we had our ups and downs as roommates, we ended college as close as ever.
There were times one of us didn’t agree with the other’s choices, but we have made it through each one still being friends.
For much of college she dated a guy I thought was a complete jerk. I expressed my opinion about it once, early on. But she told me I didn’t know him, and I let it drop. They were long distance, and she cheated on him. I supported her when she told her boyfriend and dealt with the fallout (they eventually broke up over it and a few other issues, months later).
At the end of college, I started dating a guy she instantly hated. When she told me, I replied that I wasn’t interested in her opinion unless it was going to be to support me. It turned out she was right, he was a jerk, but I think we all need to find that out on our own or we never learn (just as I told her once I didn’t like her college boyfriend and then we moved on). When he broke my heart, she was the first one I called, the first one who took me out to lunch/shopping to stop me from continual crying in my pajamas.
We live 1000 miles away now, but keep in touch by regular phone calls. She’s dating a new guy I’m… ok about. And I’m dating a guy she actually likes! Our agreement is that for anything the other does that we don’t agree with, we will make our opinion known, and then drop it. Later when the red flags start piling up, I’ll think back to her opinion and that she was right about my ex and maybe weigh her opinion a little heavier. I’d like to think I would, anyways. I think its silly to think you can only be friends with people who’s choices you agree with, though, because nobody is gonna do what you agree with 100% of the time.
Nadine June 12, 2011, 9:12 am
This sounds like me and my best friend! we are born one day apart, and met when we were five and have been inseparable (except recently – different hemispheres) ever since. Same schools all the way through, same college, and we share everything. Neither of us have had many relationships, we are more the long-term, stick-with-em types, and we are so lucky that we love each others SOs like brothers, although they are quite different and havent had much time to get to know each other. We can be quite intense together, and tend to dominate conversations…….. which means we prefer to hang out alone. She has never done anything I would consider immoral, and to be honest even if she did I would stand by her. Even though we have both moved away from each other we talk everyday.
She is as good as a sister to me and when you have spent an evening drunkenly power-chucking in a bathtub (to contain the spew) with someone, you tend to expect to see them through everything……….
Skyblossom June 12, 2011, 11:31 am
Your friendship reminds me of my daughter. She met her best friend in preschool and they hit it off immediately and became best friends. The first three years of elementary school they were in different schools but remained best friends. The last two years they have been in the same school and the same classroom and they have been so happy! They also take theater classes together in the summer and they have the same birthday!!! They have so much fun sharing their birthday party and feel that having the same birthday is extra special.
belongsomewhere June 11, 2011, 11:57 pm
I have a lot of trouble with friendships, both gaining them and maintaining them. I’m in college (just finished my junior year) and I have maybe three friends at school, one of whom is my boyfriend of 2.5 years who I live with. The other two are people I’ve had several classes with who I talk to outside of class, but don’t know especially well.
In high school. I floated between several groups of friends. At one point, I was very close with a tight-knit group of girls, but I grew away from them as they became more and more interested in things like anime, which just wasn’t for me. I was close with a girl who left after 10th grade (I just got home from her 21st birthday party–laser tag!), a girl who was rather antisocial, a girl who was very social (especially with boys), a pair of best friends around whom I sometimes felt like a 3rd wheel, and two girls I had classes with who were both very smart and ran in a different circle. My school was very small, so there was a lot of overlap between social groups. My senior year, I got tired of the petty drama between groups of friends, and I was sort of “over” high school (socially and academically–had I known it was an option to go to an early college like Simon’s Rock, I totally would have), so I spent all of my lunch and free periods writing and doing schoolwork.
None of my friends are good at keeping in touch–rather than being aided by social networking/the internet, I think we’re sort of blocked by it. It allows a superficial kind of contact–we don’t actually have to talk to one another because we can find things out without ever conversing. The people I’ve kept in touch with most are the ones who still come back to stay with their parents during the summer, but that number has dwindled (many are traveling and studying abroad, others are in summer classes in their college towns, I’m torn between spending the summer at my parents’ house and spending the summer with my boyfriend at our apartment)–it’s becoming more difficult to be “home” when home is sort of abstract and uncertain at this point.
The friends I’ve really decided to leave behind are the ones who either make the same mistakes over and over again and refuse to acknowledge that they’ve done anything wrong, and the ones who have no interest in talking about anything other than themselves. At a certain point, it stops being worth it to continue friendships with people who haven’t changed in years. Several of my friends refuse to move past high school-style drama, and they whine about roommate issues and totally idiotic relationship problems that I can’t relate to and find totally petty and boring, so I’ve given up on trying to maintain communication with them. I’ve found that many of my close friends from high school and I can pick up right where we left off even if we haven’t spoken in a year. Those are the people I’m hanging on to, I just hope we can all get better at staying in touch, since presumably once we graduate from college we won’t have leisurely summer vacations anymore.
Emma Woodhouse June 12, 2011, 7:42 pm
I’ve known my best friend from college for almost 10 years now (yikes!). We’re very different in a lot of ways but we’ve been there for each other through a LOT and we share a strong faith and history. I love her very much.
That said, within the past year she has broken my trust three times regarding a guy I really like but whom she didn’t think I should be with (a mutual friend whom she introduced me to). She went behind my back and meddled in my friendship/relationship with this guy three times when I specifically asked her not to talk to him about me. It’s a long story, but ever since those things have happened, I’ve had a very difficult time trusting her and wanting to share things with her anymore. It’s broken my heart because I really treasure her but I just can’t shake the paranoia that she’s going to break my trust again. Very sad. Breaking trust is so damaging.
Christy June 13, 2011, 8:25 am
I’m back in my college town for the weekend (Sunday-Monday) and I’m staying with my best friend, who I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving. It’s pretty funny–we talk on the phone so much that when we get together we still have the same banter style that we did in college. It’s so exciting to finally see him again! I can still tell what he’s thinking, and we definitely still recognize each other’s “looks” when we’re hanging out in a group. 🙂
leilani June 13, 2011, 9:36 am
I think you become friends with people based on similar interests or lifestyles or senses of humor, but your best friends are the people that you have a deeper loyalty and trust for. In many cases I think this develops because you’ve been friends for so long, but sometimes it is because you have really similar values so it just fits. I’ve been best friends with my 4 best friends since we were 10 or 11, and the reason that it still works, even though our lifestyles aren’t necessarily as cohesive anymore, is that we are just truly loyal to one another. We aren’t competitive, especially not about guys, which is an issue I see tearing apart a lot of other girls’ friendships. We’re always there for each other when it matters. I think if one of them started making horrible life choices, I would be concerned for them, maybe annoyed with them, but it wouldn’t affect our friendship too much because I know they wouldn’t let it get in the way of our relationship, and I would still be there for them throughout it.
kdog June 13, 2011, 10:57 am
I am the kind of person who can go months without talking to my best friends and then pick up right where we left off. Honestly, I think that is the single-most important thing to have in a long-term, lasting friendship. You can be in completely different places, have very different values and still somehow you find yourself on the same page. How does that happen with some relatioships and not others??
Sometimes you can find yourself sitting across from someone who you were sure you once knew and all you find to talk about is the past or something completely un-engaging (word?). When I’m in that situation I always feel overwhelmed by thoughts that maybe I never really knew them or that we were never as close as I thought.
I think the truth is that people can be very fluid, especially about superficial things. If your friendship was purely based on availability, being in the same etc. than it’s bound to happen at one point or another. It doesn’t mean that the friendship wasn’t great while it lasted–it just wasn’t a forever thing. Sometimes you have to live and let live and often that means letting people go. It’s sad, but it happens.
lk June 13, 2011, 2:50 pm
I like people. I let people know in the moment if I disagree with something they are doing or saying or if I think their actions have the potential to hurt someone.
There are people I don’t really pursue very much as companions, but I certainly won’t cut someone off. I can’t think of a single case where I have. Not to say that I won’t say no to an invitation to stay in by myself (I have preferences & priorities) but certainly would never deny someone my friendship.