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When Your Friends Let You Down

When Your Friends Let You Down | Friendship Hacks | Life & Relationships | Friendship Fails | Moving On | Forgiveness

What is it about female friendships that can send us right back to junior high? Most of the time I tend to think that at 37 years old, I am well past all that girl drama. I have lots wonderful acquaintances, but only a very small handful of people I would consider my close friends, my “people.”

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Those are the ones I trust completely, the ones I can pour my heart out to, and the ones who I know will be there for me no matter what, the ones who are immune to all the jealousy and pettiness and cattiness that so often crops up between us women. They are the ones for which no explanation is necessary when we haven’t talked for a while, the ones who can pick up exactly where we left off, like no time has passed. The ones who understand that life gets crazy sometimes, and don’t take it personally.

When Your Friends Let You Down | Friendship Hacks | Life & Relationships | Friendship Fails | Moving On | Forgiveness

They are the ones who won’t ever let me down.

Except, of course, when they do.

What then?

Not so long ago I found myself in exactly this situation. One of my very closest friends was suddenly not so close anymore, and I had no idea why. For a while I tried to blow it off, to brush away that gnawing gut feeling that something wasn’t quite right.  And then, when the feeling didn’t go away, I even called to apologize.  I told her I wasn’t sure what I had done, but it just felt like something wasn’t right, and that I was genuinely sorry for anything I may have done that had caused the rift I was feeling. She laughed it off and assured me that it was nothing, but still the uneasiness lingered.

I wondered if I might just be paranoid.

But as time went on, it became more and more clear that I wasn’t just being paranoid. The uneasiness remained and instead, this friend, the one I had trusted and leaned on, admired and looked up to, stayed up until all hours talking to, the one I would do anything for, was quite clearly no longer interested in my friendship. She stopped responding to emails and text messages and suddenly no longer had time to chat, even though I could see from her social media posts that she was making time for lots of other friends.

When Your Friends Let You Down | Friendship Hacks | Life & Relationships | Friendship Fails | Moving On | Forgiveness

And then, in the moment I needed her most, she completely let me down. I had reached out to ask for help on a project that was very important to me, sent her both a long email explaining what was going on, and two text messages asking her to check her email. She ignored them all.

It crushed me.

All at once I felt like I was 14 years old again. I replayed every conversation, every email, every text message over and over again in my head. I cried. Then I got angry. Then I cried some more. What had I done?

 

Finally, feeling completely lost, I called my friend Edie to talk about it. As my accountability partner, I knew she would probably have some good advice. If nothing else, she would be a shoulder to cry on. I half hoped she would commiserate with me and reassure me that this other friend was just a jerk and I would be perfectly justified to never speak to her again.

But that’s not quite what happened.

While she did commiserate and fully understand exactly why I so was hurt and angry, her advice took me completely off guard.

I think you should give her grace, she said quietly.

Every part of me protested. But she is the one who should apologize! She is the one who hurt me! She doesn’t deserve grace!

No, she doesn’t, Edie agreed. But neither do we.

Oh.

When Your Friends Let You Down | Friendship Hacks | Life & Relationships | Friendship Fails | Moving On | Forgiveness

Chagrined and humbled, I promised to try to give grace, even if I didn’t feel like it. And wouldn’t you know it? Not 24 hours later, an opportunity arose. The friend who had let me down now needed me.

Friends, I had to dig deep. The last thing on earth I felt like doing was helping the friend that had just wounded me without an ounce of remorse or a word of apology.

But I did it anyway.

And you know what? It didn’t fix our damaged friendship. There was no dramatic change of heart, no “aha” moment, no tearful reconciliation. Just the opposite, in fact–in the time since, she has let me down several more times, and I have simply had to come to terms with the fact that our friendship will probably never again be what it once was.

But although it didn’t fix anything, it did make me feel better. It took away the bitterness that was filling up my heart and allowed me to let go of the hurt and anger I was feeling. It has also allowed me to have a lot more compassion, and to see that perhaps the problem isn’t something I’ve done, but maybe just a result of something she is going through.

It often takes a whole lot of effort and intentionality to be a good friend. It means being willing to put yourself out there and to risk being hurt. And, inevitably, because we are making ourselves vulnerable, there will be times where our friends disappoint us and let us down. They will hurt our feelings. They will annoy us. They will forget to show up or say something stupid, or make a decision we don’t agree with. They will be flawed and imperfect and inadequate. In other words, they will be human.

And although we may be justified in our anger or our hurt, the truth is that there have probably been plenty of times when we’ve been the ones to let our friends down, the ones who said something careless, the ones who didn’t come through, the ones in need of grace.  At least I know I have.

In order to have a friend, we must BE a friend, and ultimately that means showing grace when our friends don’t come through the way we want them to. It means forgiving when necessary, looking for the good instead of the bad, and treating them the way we’d like to be treated, the way we’ve already been treated.

Even when we don’t feel like it.

When Your Friends Let You Down | Friendship Hacks | Life & Relationships | Friendship Fails | Moving On | Forgiveness

65 Comments

  1. Tracy
    September 21 at 08:12AM

    Beautifully written article. I’ve also had this happen to me, and your right, Grace and forgiveness are the only way. Even when we don’t want to. We still have to treat others the way we want to be treated. Because you see it isn’t between you and them. It’s between you and God.

  2. September 21 at 08:58AM

    Beautifully said. I think the book Unglued really help me to understand this whole dynamic. I know I may not always come across as loving or supportive, even when I mean to. Sometimes I just don’t know what to do as a friend. The book really helped me just let things go and accept my friends as the humans they are. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it does humble me and reminds me I am in need of just as much (if not more) grace!

    • Anonymous
      November 5 at 08:51AM

      Can you tell me about this book Unglued? Who’s the author? Probably something I need to read!

      • November 5 at 09:30AM

        It is by Lisa Terkeurst. I love all her books!

      • Anonymous
        February 18 at 09:50AM

        Lysa Terkeurst…she is an excellent author and speaker. The book was released in 2012. So it is available online for as little as 5.87 used. New is $16.99. It is in paperback. Publisher is Zondervan. May be available through your Public Library.

  3. MomofTwoPreciousGirls
    September 21 at 08:59AM

    Since grammar school (I’m now nearly 37 as well) I have always seemed to attract “friends” that are users. I would always be there for them. Always be their shoulder. Always lend them money (that would never be returned). Always give and give and give. The,n when I would need them most, they would desert me. Or they would call me and tell me their problems for an hour and never even utter the words “how are you?” before ending the call.
    This was particularly painful about two years ago when the one person that I still called friend began to call me, email me and text me about the problems she was having in her marriage. She had been married less than a year to a guy she knew in high school but had only been talking to about 6 mos before they married. A guy that in those six months, she had already seen go to rehab twice for alcohol abuse. She would sit there for hours complaining about something that she knowingly entered into and then had an excuse for every answer or help I tried to give. At this same time my 5 yo had just started kindergarten and was struggling. We were taking her to doctors and getting her tested. We had gotten an ADHD diagnosis and were trying to work with the teacher and school with very little luck. We were upset, frustrated and scared for our little girl. Through all these calls she never asked how I was. Or how my husband or daughters were doing. And the moment she would run out of breath, she would be in a rush to hang up. So I admit, I became a little passive aggressive and stopped responding to her. Now I don’t really put my trust or faith in anyone else. I’m just not willing to sacrifice what little free time I have, to give to people that won’t appreciate it and can’t reciprocate. it may be a little lonely, but it’s a lot less heartbreaking.

    • Debbie
      September 22 at 05:12PM

      Hi Mom of Two Precious Girls! I’ve been in your shoes! A friend recommended a Christian book to me called “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend and it’s fantastic. I think this topic can be confusing because while we all need to give grace and forgiveness, that doesn’t mean we should repeatedly have to be subjected to destructive emotional behavior from a “friend”. God called to forgive, but we are not called or created to be doormats. When people didn’t want to listen to Jesus and what He was teaching, He “shook the dust off His feet” and moved on. When a “friend” has proven that she is just using you, it is beneficial to both you and her to end the friendship. Two things result from this. The first is that you are freed from emotional abuse/misuse of precious time that is being taken away from your own family, and the second is that if forces the “friend” to examine her behavior, and ask God to help her and take real action steps, instead of just venting her garbage onto you and dragging you down. It protects your heart and God does call us to “guard your heart” so that you are not burdened and your family is not dragged down as a result of the burden on you. I hope this helps! Read “Boundaries”, I highly recommend it!!! 🙂

    • Dianne kinzer
      June 7 at 11:41PM

      I know how you feel. A friend I have had for years and years is just fading away but says nothing is wrong. I am sorry for your pain and mine!

  4. Amber
    September 21 at 10:54AM

    Thank you for this. I’m actually going through the same thing with my only (and younger) sister. It’s and heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. I’m trying to give her grace and forgive her, but it’s so hard when I keep getting hurt over and over. BTW, I’m 38, so I know what you mean by thinking we should be over this by now.

    • Anonymous
      December 5 at 11:47AM

      I’ll pray for you as I think it’s especially hard with a sibling. I’m right there…..

    • Anonymous
      January 1 at 12:17AM

      When my one and only little sister was treated for ovarian cancer, she had a close group of friends that she preferred over me for support. It hurt me down to my toenails and I can’t tell you how much anger I had to choke down on the fewer times I got to see her. But before she died, she changed her Facebook profile to a picture of us together in happier days. I realize now her beautiful friends were an amazing blessing for her last days & comfort, and I know she loved me for allowing her that gift in the end. But I hope you and your sister can read this and insist on a monthly pure fun time together, & take turns figuring out what that is! My prayers from my family to yours. ❤️

    • dianne
      September 11 at 11:27PM

      Hi – feel your sadness. I have learned that there is an ebb and flow to friendships sometimes. They aren’t always strong. Sometimes a strong one will weaken and then return to you. Sometimes, it won’t. I don’t understand it either. I finally told a friend that I was no longer exchanging e-mails. Hers had gotten shorter and very superficial in the last 2 years and did I say infrequent? It freed me from looking for her e-mails and being so disappointed. Sometimes you have to protect yourself. I hope she will come back some day, but it may not happen…sad but true

  5. September 21 at 11:47AM

    This is a theme I keep seeing popping up on blogs I follow and I don’t think I would have noticed if it wasn’t something I’ve been experiencing and thinking a lot about for the last year. This is a great reminder to not see the friend as a relationship goal or a problem to be fixed but as a person, loved by God and going through something on their own. Grace is the only way we can approach them because we know we can’t fix people or force them to do anything. Oh, beautiful grace, it never fails.

  6. Arlene
    September 21 at 03:02PM

    This was the perfect post for me today as I have been going through this with my best friend from middle school. And we are now in our 50s! I just had to keep telling myself that it was nothing I did (since I wracked my brain about what I could have done to upset her), and that it must be something she is going through, even though I have asked and asked — and also didn’t get any text or email replies back from her. I have the book Unglued and now I can’t wait to read it. It’s nice to know that it’s not just me and that women of all ages go through the same struggles.

  7. Amber
    September 21 at 03:15PM

    sometimes grace and unconditional love is letting go of someone. If they are not wanting to respect your healthy boundaries than it is time to let them go. We wouldn’t want to put up with physical abuse so why put up with emotional abuse? Why cheat yourself? there are many other people out there that would appreciate your friendship more. It isn’t helping you or the other person and turns into a unhealthy relationship. If we don’t treat ourselves with love and respect than how can we treat anyone else that way? We need to speak our truth and stand by it no one else is going to do it for us. Based on the law of attraction you are going to keep on getting those kind of friendships if you don’t ask for better ones and let the toxic ones go. That is what we are here for speak our truth and be open and authentic. Too many people in the world to drain your energy on something that the other person clearly doesn’t want and neither do you. I have had to do this myself. I am a recovering people pleaser which from a biblical stand point is not biblical at all. Yahshua didn’t try to people please anyone. He spoke his truth and shook the dust off his feet when they didn’t want to perceive it.

    • Anonymous
      January 18 at 02:38PM

      Completely agree!!!

  8. September 21 at 05:22PM

    Beautifully written. I’ve struggled with this as well and have often wondered how a girlfriend could wound me so deeply. I think it’s because our relationships with other women are so deep and complex. There are so many layers and nuances which simply don’t exist in our relationships with men. We let them into our deepest thoughts and insecurities so it feels like that much more of a betrayal when something goes awry. Good for you for how you handled it. I don’t know that I could have done the same.

    • Anonymous
      October 23 at 08:21AM

      Exactly. I went through the same thing and it has taken me years to move on. I’m still not 100% there but I’m on my way. I just couldn’t understand how another woman could upset me for so long and so much. But you’ve really hit the nail on the head. We had a very deep emotional connection and I trusted her with my innermost insecurities and thoughts.

  9. September 21 at 08:03PM

    Beautifully said, Ruth. It’s not easy, but we do need to show them grace. Thanks to you and Edie for this reminder!

  10. September 21 at 08:14PM

    This really hit home. I had a coworker who was really close to me and just like that she became very distant. She even went as far as to hide her posts from me on social media. To this day I have no idea what happened or where I went wrong, but she eventually came around a little bit and talked to me but never was as close as she was. It is such a weird feeling to have no idea what happened and be left to accept it. Great post.

    Trish
    http://www.thetrishlist.com

  11. September 22 at 07:45AM

    This hit home and as life goes on notice that people will come in and out of your path for a reason. Sometimes we out grow certain friendships. Not long ago I was asked who was my best friend, my “person” I paused for a second, smiled and responded…. my husband. That’s when I realized that friendships no longer mattered because my person had been beside me the whole time. Don’t get me wrong I like friends, I just don’t like the drama that sometimes comes with it. Sometimes it just boils down to jealousy or the littlest thing, a problem that could be solved by with a smile and wave. When you set out to be a positive example for others that road can get rough… Just keep walking, hold your head high and remember that God knows your heart.

    • Anonymous
      April 9 at 08:37AM

      Agreed. I am going through the same thing right now. I was ill. My friends took me in and within a few months told me I had to leave. I was devastated, felt betrayed and crushed. I didn’t think this would have happened in a million years but it did. Just about every day I think about it and how it hurts. I have not tried to reach out because I am still trying to get over the hurt and disappointment. This is a person who I looked up to as a sister. Yes we give Grace and even forgiveness and try to move past it. But the hurt is still there. I just continue to pray about it. I’m glad I stumbled on this page. The stories are inspirational. Thanks.

  12. Christina
    September 22 at 08:47AM

    Just a different thought. Sometimes A friend pulls away because she loves you. In my case, my friend’s husband was making inappropriate comments, stopping by alone without notice, and making me feel scared and uncomfortable. I pulled away from the friendship, because ithere was no way to explain that ” I just had a bad gut feeling”. There was no way to still see her and not him. I still feel sad I hurt her.

    • Penny
      September 23 at 06:58PM

      The most loving thing would be to tell your friend how her husband is behaving so that she does not blindly go through life without knowing that he is actually a sleaze bag. Why would you want your friend to be with a guy who acts this way? This is more than a “bad feeling”, you have concrete examples of inappropriate behaviour. Being a good friend involves being honest, even when it is uncomfortable.

      • Rachel
        September 24 at 03:40PM

        Agree wholeheartedly with Penny. Absolutely tell your friend about her husband’s behavior.

      • Anonymous
        September 26 at 11:09AM

        I did this FOR my friend. I was thrown out with the bath wzter. Of course she defended her husband. What else could she do at the time. Of course, years down the road she was ready to face the truth with 2 babies in tow. Have tied to reconnect to support her ;but no go. Yes, I miss her very much. I pray for her.

  13. CC
    September 22 at 10:00AM

    Female friendships are so tough to navigate. I am 34 but recently reminded that there are still mean girls in the lunchroom. I would love to say that if given the opportunity to pour grace on them, I would take it, but actually, I am almost certain I would not. This has been the hardest truth for me to realize, that I’m not as loving as I really do wish to be. Maybe that’s why it all has happened, so that God could show me a huge area of woundedness in desperate need of healing. I hate to think it had to have gone to such great and painful lengths, but it’s a lesson worth learning, no matter the cost. But it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Sometimes we think we are the only ones that still have these things happen to us, but it’s so not true.

  14. Raylicia
    September 22 at 03:00PM

    That was a large pill to swallow! But such an amazing testimony. One thing that all women worry about, but most do not discuss, is the value of friendship. We all are consumed with our husbands, and children, and jobs, etc. Sometimes you just need a good friend to understand that throughout it all we are still here for each other, and we love each other all the same. I feel bad that your friend didn’t give you the same respect that you would usually give her. It is so hard to be vulnerable by extending yourself despite your feelings and better judgement, and just to be burned at the end. Thankfully you were able to see the brighter side of things and share your story with many women who needed to hear it…LIKE ME!

  15. September 22 at 10:20PM

    This post was so comforting to me because for the longest time, I thought I was the only one this was happening to! Really good friends would all the sudden “disappear” and I had no idea what happened! I am 43, and just last year, I spent two days crying because of how a friend hurt me. I have searched and wondered why friends seem to get really close, then suddenly start ignoring me. I have evaluated my life and my soul and come up with no good answers. All I can conclude is that they were in my life for a short time for a reason, but God always allows me to have the exact right people in my life when I need them or when they need me. Now when this happens (friends disappear) I am not surprised or upset. I just accept that it is time for me to meet other friends, or just appreciate more the ones I have.

  16. September 24 at 12:25PM

    Ruth, my heart goes out to you. I have been there! Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing this truth with us today.

  17. Ranee
    September 25 at 04:08PM

    This has happened to me as well over the last several years but it was two best friends whom were also twins and at the same time but for different reasons. 35 year old friendships. I made my attempts at reconciliation to them both but it honestly is never going to be the same. I had to give it to God. It was keeping me confused and upset. I was trying to handle it myself and we know that never works. I needed Him to handle this and he has. Since I gave it to him a couple months ago, I have felt peace with what he has decided.

  18. September 25 at 09:24PM

    I sat reading this, basically friendless. I have 2 friends who live over an hour away that we chat on FB or text if the need arises, but other than that, I don’t have any close mommy friends where I live. It hit home reading about your experience because I had a friend a few years ago that we went through a lot together texting/calling, etc. Until she started pulling away, and I was still texting and calling and she wasn’t responding.
    Now, we don’t talk at all.
    But I realized, that she was there in my life for a season.
    And in being friends with her I learned a lot about myself and saw how I want a true friend to treat me.
    I am currently awaiting God to send me a new friend (or even better, friends) into my life, but until then, Grace is a good thing to practice!
    Great post!

  19. Anonymous
    September 30 at 05:24PM

    What is grace and how do you give it?

    • Anonymous
      October 1 at 12:49PM

      Grace is undeserved kindness from God that he showed to us by giving us his Son. So I guess it would be underserved kindness we would have to show unto others as well.

  20. October 1 at 03:01PM

    Hi Ruth,
    Thank you so much for writing this post. The same thing happened to me a couple of years ago- right down to my friend laughing it off when I asked her what was wrong. Intellectually I know that this kind of stuff doesn’t just happen to me, but emotionally I was asking myself: “Why me? What I do wrong? Do I somehow deserve this?” Though I am certainly sorry this happened to you, your post gives me great comfort because if it happened to you- who I see as a kind, thoughtful and caring person- it can happen to anybody, and it isn’t because of anything you, me, or anyone else who finds themselves in this unfortunate situation did wrong.
    My first thought when I finally realized my friend was, well, no longer my friend, was “She didn’t care enough about me to tell me what I did and talk it through with me.” And that certainly might be the case. But as I wrote this, another thought popped into my head… what if what she was feeling about me was negative, but doesn’t have anything to do with anything I’ve said or done- like jealously, or envy- that she can’t talk to me about because then she would have to admit to me (and to herself) that she is feeling things that “good” friends don’t feel about each other?
    Now, I don’t have a life that I think anyone would be jealous or envious over- I’m just a regular ol’ person just like everyone else. The only thing I can think of in my sitch that may have caused jealousy on her part was I was able to walk away from the toxic work environment we both worked in and she wanted to do the same but she felt she couldn’t. But, I never rubbed that or anything else in her face… I always try to keep myself humble. But because of all that, if she is feeling the way I think she might be, it might be all the more harder on her that not only did I not rub anything in her face, I cared enough about her to say something when I noticed she was drifting away. If I hadn’t, it may have helped her justify in her mind the way she was feeling about me.
    Now, I know all of this is a whole lot of speculation on my part about my friend, and I have no idea if any of this applies to the sitch with your friend. But, given the information I do have, it is a plausible explanation of what could have happened between us, so I wanted to share it with you in the hopes it might give you some insight of what happened between you and your friend.
    Again, I am so sorry that this happened to you… no matter what the reason is, it is still agonizing to lose a friend who was so very close at one time. Approaching it with grace is a very positive and loving way to handle it, for her but more importantly for yourself, and your decision to do so shows a lot of strength and maturity on your part.
    Sorry this got so long! I hope this has helped in some way.
    All the best!
    Michelle @ The Painted Hinge

  21. Kristle
    October 1 at 05:02PM

    It takes years to learn about someone, and trust is an on-going gift that has to be earned. Let that friend go and don’t look back. Who knows, she may be jealous of you for some reason, whatever, it doesn’t matter. She’s NOT, repeat, NOT your friend. Gift her what she’s giving you – avoidance. Love and respect yourself enough to say GOOD-BYE in your mind and don’t ask why. Life is too short. I’ve found if you have one friend that you can totally trust-not in competition with you or other issues, you’re lucky.
    Let it go and move on.

  22. October 3 at 08:35AM

    I am at the point myself where I feel like I have some friends but none who are close. Also, I just had a friend do something that left me feeling betrayed. Like you said, Ruth, I decided I need to give her grace, but it’s taking a while for me to actually feel like I’ve given her grace even though in my mind I want to. It’s true some friends walk away and they can’t tell you why. I did that to a friend once when I was going through a difficult time and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. The truth was though, I couldn’t relate to her extremely high standards anymore and I knew she would disagree with me on so many things that we didn’t have anything in common anymore. It was time to move on and I decided to work on the relationships I have that will potentially be supportive, fun, and devoted. Thanks for the article! It’s awesome to hear other women being honest about this subject.

  23. Shannon
    October 3 at 01:05PM

    What you describe here is exactly how I felt about you and I, and the friendship we once had.

    • Anonymous
      October 23 at 08:29AM

      Who?

  24. October 16 at 06:34PM

    I enjoyed your article. I thought I was the only person having problems making friends with other women. I think the older we get the harder it is to make good friendships. Unfortunately some people cannot be honest. In a perfect world there would be more honesty going around so we can be true in the way we relate to others.

  25. MM
    October 16 at 08:43PM

    I am in the midst of this right now. In my case, I know what happened; it was a set of unfortunate circumstances that left her feeling hurt. But she won’t even reply to messages or texts to try to talk it through. I’ve been especially hurt myself because I had a cancer scare (false alarm! Hallelujah!), and the most I got when I sent her a message was an “okay” to my request for prayer. When I sent an update about my referrals, I could see she got the message, but she didn’t reply. When I sent her the message that it wasn’t cancer, she sent me a happy little emoticon, but no words.

    It’s really tough because I thought she was my closest friend, period. She’s now acknowledging my social media comments on her activity, but that’s as far as it has gone. My heart is heavy over this, but I’m trying hard to be low pressure but still open. Thank you for this encouragement. I needed the reminder that, whether this “fixes” anything, I need to be patient and kind.

  26. October 29 at 04:03PM

    Oh, my goodness, Ruth! I could’ve totally written this post a couple of years ago. Still to this day, I wonder what happened with a really good blogging friend I had. It went down pretty much like you shared here. It broke my heart, and at first, I took all the blame on myself and thought I must be a pretty terrible friend. I was paranoid, too…and thought I was crazy! But slowly, I’ve been able to see that this is a pattern in that person’s life, and there are some trust issues. As much as I still care and would like to be friends, I guess a one-sided friendship isn’t really a friendship.

    Anyway, thank you for this post. It’s a good reminder to extend grace even when it is difficult.

  27. Terrie Cash
    November 4 at 12:48PM

    A former very close friend of mine placed my 22 year old in terrible danger a few years ago to the point of sitting on the fence of breaking the law. I think my situation is a little different and it took me about a year to get to a place of forgiveness even though it was never asked for and to have grace toward this person. I had to work through that it was freeing to me that I forgive and to have grace on her just like Jesus has grace on me. What Jesus did tell me is I did have to have her as a close friend. Being 50 years old, I never in a million years thought I would have had to walk that road and hope no one ever has to either. It was one of the most painful experiences in my life.

  28. Lost friend37
    November 4 at 12:59PM

    I have really enjoyed reading the comments, it has made me feel like I am most certainly not alone in this. i am trying to work towards a forgiveness that is very difficult, htank you all for sharing your comments on this difficult subject.

  29. November 5 at 09:42PM

    This is a great post! It’s hard not to take something like this personally, and it IS heartbreaking (I’ve had this happen within my close-knit family). This advice is classic and so poignant. I will keep it in mind, always! <3

  30. November 7 at 06:55PM

    So beautifully written and TRUE! Oh the perils of friendship…loving deeply means opening ourselves up to being hurt deeply. I hate that and sooooo can relate! What a beautiful story of leaning into the hard parts not because they deserve your grace, but offering it because it’s who you are. Love you friend. xo

  31. Deb
    December 5 at 09:01AM

    Nope. As an older woman, I have learned to bless their future journey without me. Sometimes I even say to them in my mind “F#%£ OFF! No regrets.

  32. Lotusblossom
    December 29 at 08:57PM

    So what if it’s your mother in law and sisters in law? When my husband and I were first married, I was included in activities when everyone was in town. For probably the last five years, I have been actively excluded, despite their knowledge that I am interested in sharing time with them. Not only this, but my mother in law has shredded me by yelling at me more than once in front of others in the family.

    Unfortunately, I’m not able to just ignore them and move on, because my kids like to spend time with my husband’s family. Also, my husband also seems to be oblivious to this.

    What makes it especially hard is that my sisters in law always are charming when we are all together and they seem friendly and interested, but they will decline my invitations for things like day after Christmas shopping and then go out themselves.

    As I read what I have written, it sounds like I’m paranoid, but this happens regularly and repeatedly. I would love to just write them off, but I feel like that would make things worse. But living with it I’d also humiliating.

    • July 27 at 11:27PM

      Your husband’s family sounds like my ex’s. Is he a mama’s boy? Worships his mom, your cooking will never be as good as hers? Just curious.

  33. Jane
    December 29 at 09:40PM

    Great to read this. I went through it 2 years ago with a friend I thought of as a sister. Could talk about anything. Spent hours visiting, on adventures and even just grocery shopping. Was hurt because she had lied about a trip she planned to be away for my birthday. Something dumb I know. Went through a tough phase with my father being ill during that time and in retrospect I was tired and over sensitive. The next day she sent me a kiss off text. And despite my efforts to reach out, even apologize she simply ignored me and we haven’t spoken since. I was hurt of course, and have spent much time questioning of the friendship and emotional connection was ever real. But I now accept it was just something I had to go through. And that friends that care about you not only realize when you are out of character, but that from time to time you will be upset with each other for valid or dumb reasons but it won’t end relationships

  34. February 18 at 10:12AM

    I can relate – beautifully written post.

  35. Annie
    February 21 at 07:16PM

    Hi Ruth,
    I just Googled “when your friends let you down” and came upon this post. It’s so close to what I’m going through but with me currently it’s three friends–my closest–who are being distant from me. And I am not getting it. I sent out a long e-mail to a week ago, as you said you did when a difficult issue was presented to you, and I’ve yet to hear back. Had I received such an e-mail from her or any of my friends I would have reached out right away–or within a couple days anyway. She’s out of work right now and because she is single with no kids (while my husband and I and our four kids had struggled the couple times he was without a job and I worked just part-time), she should be well off enough to not be struggling, as she made more than me and my husband put together for a number of years. I get it, though, that unemployment is rough and believe me when I say I’ve listened to her for hours on end (that’s no exaggeration) while she commiserated over her jobless situation (It seemed that every time she insisted we get together was when she had something to talk about), so not to respond to me when I’m going through a bump is really hurtful. In fact, she disappeared from our lives for about 10 years after my youngest was born, at a time I could have used a friend’s help or at least a shoulder to cry on.

    My other two friends are in no man’s land as well. One lives in another state and if we don’t communicate by e-mail or text or phone we don’t communicate at all. I’ve sent a couple long e-mails to her, followed up by texts notifying her I’d sent the e-mails, and all I get back is “sorry, I’ve been busy” and no projection about when she might be able to call or reply. (I work from home and have worked all weekend in addition to all week so I am no stranger to busy. I don’t have a 9-5 job, as she does.)

    My third friend was a godsend to me when I was struggling with a family member’s and a friend’s ill health over the past five years. She was an amazing help, especially taking care of my youngest so I could be with the family member and friend. Now that those two have passed away and this friend is now in a bit of turmoil, I keep reaching out to her to get together or talk by phone or e-mail, but I get no response. l know she’s busy (I am too), but how about just a quick text to say all is well or all is not well and let’s talk? I want to be the good friend to her that she was to me.

    I can’t say that I’ve ever ignored a friend’s e-mails, letters, texts, or phone calls to this extent in my life, so it’s very hurtful to me. And since I recently lost that dare friend I was mentioning, I’d think my other friends would be a bit more understanding. But it is what it is, I guess.

    Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

  36. Amanda
    February 22 at 03:48PM

    Exactly what I needed to hear today. THANK YOU!

  37. Ki
    September 19 at 06:43PM

    I have a best friend that I try to please all the time, but I also have a twin sister that always gets the spotlight from everyone. I really upsets me when she gets the spotlight from my best friend too.

  38. SCARLET
    April 23 at 11:15AM

    I read this article a few weeks ago after someone shared on Facebook. I had a bad dream that night that my best friend of almost twenty years was mad at me. I reached out to her that day, telling her that I had a very realistic dream that she was upset with me (at the time, we were talking daily. I had been checking on her a lot bc her stress levels are high due to family changes.) She responded like her normal self and put my mind to ease. The same day, I invited her to an online event that was very important to me. She made excuses for not attending, which was really okay, but I’ve not heard from her since. I have tried contacting her, showing grace–still no responses. I have realized through this experience that she has actually done this every time I have tried to talk to her or plan something during the last year or so. I came back to reread this today for advice. I’m heartbroken.

  39. July 27 at 05:46PM

    Someone I considered a bestie completely shocked me by using me as fodder in her high school level mentality relationship drama. The same old trick – pretend there is a crisis, describe horrible things that shock me, insist unequivocally that it is over & she needs support leaving him, which I of course offer. And then it turns out that this is just a dance they do all the time. And she shows him our text conversation & then BOTH of them condemn ME.

    I’m so pissed at myself for falling for that since I’ve seen it so many times before; I really didn’t see it coming. Your article mentions distancing, flaking, annoying, disagreeing — all this I can totally accept. But I don’t really know how to deal with being used as a drama prop. For me this brings up a question of whether or not the friendship even exists any more.

  40. The Kid
    September 12 at 03:42AM

    I have ADHD (as a 38-year-old woman) and have such limited mental space for keeping up friendships, I’ve become very content with the superficial. Everything else drains me as though I had just run a marathon. I love my friends, but need “appointments” to keep contact with them. If they’re where I am – I’m 100% in friend-mode! But out of sight literally means out of mind for me. It’s horribly embarrassing. I think I may be becoming more of a hermit – even though my life is very busy with kids, teaching, marriage, home-care, church, just like everyone else.

    When there’s not something I “have” to be at, I literally can’t remember the things that are relationship-upkeep. Their problems become second layers to my problems. It feels too heavy that I, more often than not, do nothing. 🙁 But there are no (absolutely no) negative or hateful feelings toward anyone. I just fail miserably at doing relationship upkeep when I’m perpetually running on empty. I swear, my husband was lucky we met before cell phones were common! We would have ghosted each other by accident!

    I worry ALL the time that my acquaintance & close friends wouldn’t understand all this. And I haven’t told them about my ADHD – not even my family or in-laws beyond my parents (I’m also very embarrassed about my diagnosis). I’m married into a highly functional Type A Wonder Woman family who have never dealt with mental health issues like mine, but several close friends don’t believe depression or ADHD are real enough problems not to push through with the right mindset. I look all right on the outside, happy even, but my mind is EXHAUSTING. I am so tired. And I probably look like a neglectful friend or distant sister-in-law , but it’s not because of the person on the other end. I literally can’t keep my head above what is absolutely necessary (which, in reality, is a lot of stuff, and I seem like I’m doing a lot on the outside – but if you ask me to do one more “thing”, I’m going to cry.)

    In a nutshell nutshell: In person = GREAT! long distance = inevitable ghosting 🙁 Please keep inviting me. I need something on my calendar to get out of my rut. If I can come, I’ll come. But I sure as heck can’t be the one to schedule the get-togethers. 🙁

    • Kim
      November 22 at 02:12AM

      You sound like a horrible friend indeed!

  41. Zee
    November 8 at 11:57AM

    Grace or not, nvr doubt your own happiness. I have been let down plenty of times. Thought it was my own fault. Did soul searching and still blame myself. Until it hit me recently that things happened for a reason. People hurt you, because you are kind. And that’s your speciality and uniqueness. No one can give your own happiness but yourself. So let those people do bad unto you, don’t do it to them. I’m 38, very much single(obviously lonely at times n need friends/family for accompaniment) and I often choose to walk away when humans disappoint me. Of course, I will be lonely when I walked away but I know God is fair.

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