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to call it a day with this friendship?

(23 Posts)
exhaustedbyennui Thu 14-Jul-11 16:43:53

My (ex?) best friend is male. Before I launch into this I want to ask you to put out of your mind any ideas that the boundaries are blurred or there is anything between us. It just is what it is - he has a girlfriend, and I'm married to a man I adore with a baby on the way. My friends have always been almost exclusively male and I have never had a 'friend becomes lover' situation arise.

Since he met his gf last year he seems to have changed a LOT. He is constantly letting me down, making false promises, and his behaviour is very 'odd'. He doesn't have the time to commit to our friendship like he used to, which I totally understand, but when we do see each other it's usually after several let-downs and a load of stress, and leaves me feeling a bit like I'm another chore for him. I've asked him a few times if he wants to call our friendship a day but he is adament that he needs me in his life, I'm his rock etc etc. I know he's very unhappy with the new gf and he also has a lot of issues with work/ex-wife/kids. For example his gf hates his tweenage kids and they hate her, and he is not allowed to be with them or even mention them at the same time as her. She's very demanding, I feel for him, but he's a grown man if a very weak-willed one so it's up to him. When we do meet it's usually him moaning about work and his relationship, and he doesn't have time for (or isn't interested in) what's happening in my life. Despite this he's still great company and we have lots in common and a real laugh when we're together.

Looking back over the time we've been friends I realise I've done him some MASSIVE favours and he has done very little for me, which could just be circumstance of course because I haven't really needed any favours from him. Recently I did ask a favour of him (relating to my DH being away just before the baby is due and my worries about if the baby comes early) where he could've really stepped up, but he didn't because presumably he is worried about what his gf will think so I suppose that's fair enough.

We're now for some reason I can't fathom having a bit of a 'contact stand-off'. We haven't had a fall out or anything, but the same thing happened last Summer and in the end I cracked, and he replied that he had been "just about to" text me which was of course total rubbish. I don't want to be the one to make the first move again because it feels like I'm being pushy.

I felt constantly stressed out when we were in contact (because of him letting me down all the time) but now I feel stressed out because I don't know where I stand or if he's ok! Really I should just forget the whole friendship and move on, but I must admit I miss him, and I'm pretty sure he is in a bad place - I can't bear the thought of making things worse for him.

Extra information is that both of us have very few friends so really I need him as much as he needs me, especially with a baby on the way. Also we work for the same company albeit on different sites but there is a chance of us running into each other and I think we might be both about to work on the same project together.

I would describe him as being fatally flawed and I tend to be attracted to these kind of characters and friendships! We are sort of kindred spirits I suppose, he has been treated badly himself. He is a genuinely lovely guy with a brilliant mind, but is hopelessly disorganised and bad at managing time and prioritising. Every so often I get a sweet text from him saying he knows he's being a crap friend and he's going to sort it out because he's terrified of losing my friendship, but then nothing ever changes and as I say I've heard nothing now for a while.

It seems like he just wants me to hang around in the background until he next needs a mate, which isn't much of a friendship is it? Is this fairly typical behaviour with friends who meet new partners and should I just hold out til it passes (if it does) and then forgive and forget all the let-downs for the sake of remaining friends with someone who could treat me like this?

anothermum92 Thu 14-Jul-11 16:52:25

Message withdrawn

lesley33 Thu 14-Jul-11 16:58:46

It is fairly typical for friends in the 1st flush of love/lust to neglect their friends before taking up with them again. But this is not whats happening here.

I think you should get on with your life and try and not think about him. If he does contact you to arrange things, only arrange something at a date and location that would cause you no real inconvenience if he cancelled e.g. coffee at yours.

Has he never listened/been interested in listening to what is happening in your life? If he has then his behaviour is obviously because of the situation he is in. If he has always been like this though, I would question continuing the friendship.

I know its easy to say when you are in your situation, but I see people continuing to be friends in RL with people who are essentially just takers in life. If he has never been interested in what is happening in your life, then he sounds a taker.

It also might be worth exploring with a counsellor why you are attracted to friends like this.

exhaustedbyennui Thu 14-Jul-11 16:58:49

Thanks. I've tried the sitting down and explaining thing and he just nods and says he'll change and begs me not to give up on him, but then nothing changes!

The new gf doesn't know about our friendship (hmm), he says she'd be outrageously jealous and he doesn't want to deal with it. She's entirely separate from me and lives in a different county so it doesn't really matter either way to me.

I think you're right I'll just quietly drop it for now even though it makes me sad.

exhaustedbyennui Thu 14-Jul-11 17:06:07

Thanks lesley, you also talk a lot of sense smile

He was always interested in my life before but now it's like he couldn't care less. Part of me wonders if it's to do with the baby (I don't and wouldn't go on and on about it at all, but as a life-changing event for me I had hoped he might be a bit more 'there') but it can't be jealousy as he has 2 kids and says he can't even contemplate having a baby with his current gf with their relationship like it is (she desperately wants one).

I probably need to see a counsellor for many reasons!

cookcleanerchaufferetc Thu 14-Jul-11 17:11:55

Don't crack this time and let him come to you. It is sad that the friendship has gone down this route yet again but I don't think you can do anything to alter it. I would step back and let him come to you. With a baby on the way he really should call to see how you are, or if it has arrived. Good luck.

Let him go and devote your energies to making new friends. It's not worth running after him yet again, you will make yourself miserable and TBH it sounds like he is much less bothered about the friendship than you are, anyway. He might just like the idea of you being there in the background if his GF dumps him, but there is no need for you to hang on waiting for him.

wannaBe Thu 14-Jul-11 17:32:40

I don't get this notion of actively dropping a friendship tbh.

In all honesty, most friendships go through stages, and it sounds as if this is what is happening here.

You say that he used to be interested in what was happening in your life, so it's not as if he has always been of the take take take type without giving anything in return - it's just that at the moment there are other things in his life.

You can of course not continually be the one to always make contact, and ultimately if it is a worth-while friendship he will talk to you again when things settle down in his own life. There's nothing wrong with sending the odd text - you don't have to be meeting up constantly to still be friends iyswim.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Thu 14-Jul-11 18:01:40

IMO, unless they are irretrievably broken (which doesn't seem to be the case here) friendships which are based on shared interests/experiences/sense of humour etc are for life.

There may be periods when you don't get to see or speak to certain close friends very often; months/years can go by without contact because life happens, but when you do get back together you simply pick up where you left off and it's as if there's been no break.

You're both adults with lives of your own and often it's enough to simply 'be there' for each other and just communicate 'big news' without being in each other's faces or pressing for meetings.

I suggest you get on with your life and cast around for some new friends - maybe one or two female mates who live locally will fill any lack you may be experiencing because this particular friend's attention is currently elsewhere.

FTR, when it comes to my core group of solid friendships I don't see much point in keeping score of who did what for who when, or favours given but not returned, but if I were to feel continually put upon it wouldn't be a friendship; it would be a chore, and I'd move on.

springydaffs Thu 14-Jul-11 18:03:31

"I don't get this notion of actively dropping a friendship tbh."

Totally with you on that wannabe - I don't get it either.

Friendships go in phases imo (did somebody else say that?) and you can have friends that are hopeless, completely unreliable, takers, but great fun and great to have around... as long as you don't expect any more than they offer. He sounds quite lazy and a bit blokish (oh yeah, I was just about to call you) and his relationship sounds stressful so he is feeling squeezed on all fronts and, surprise surprise, it's your friendship that falls off the end of his world. Sounds like you mean a lot to him - I expect he means it when he says you mean the world to him - up to a point - and that he'd be gutted if your friendship ended but he knows he can count on your to always be around. Don't feel sorry for him though eh. His relationships sounds a bit miserable but ime blokes know how to look after themselves, it's built into their DNA in a way it isn't with women. Generally, that is <covers for self>

What you're getting from him is all you're going to get - re waxing and waning - and if that is too much for you then step away. If it isn't then just wait it out until he's got a bit of space in his life to maintain your friendship. Don#t forget that he's a bloke though - a gay friend of mine said this to me once (I may be gay but I'm still a bloke springy) - and they just don't maintain friendships in the way women understand is important. Generally, that is.

swash Thu 14-Jul-11 18:13:28

Agree with not getting the notion of actively dropping a friendship. Just tell yourself he isn't available for the foreseeable future. You will find that you have less time for friendships when the baby comes (and for the first few years) anyway.

littlemisssarcastic Thu 14-Jul-11 18:15:30

If his relationship is so dire, and his new g/f hates his DC, why is he still in a relationship?
I can't understand why he isn't telling his g/f about his friendship with you?

dramaqueen Thu 14-Jul-11 18:39:13

I have to agree with springy about it being a bloke thing. I have a gay friend who is completely useless at texting or phoning, but we have a wonderful friendship. It has taken me a few years to realise that for him our friendship doesn't depend on who contacts who. I still do most of the getting in touch, but he is always there for me when I need him and vice versa.

Men have a completely different view on friendships, but it doesn't mean he thinks any differently about you.

exhaustedbyennui Thu 14-Jul-11 23:29:47

There are some sage words indeed in these replies - thank you all. You've all helped me straighten things out a bit over something that I'm finding quite upsetting.

I will accept that it's just a phase of the friendship - I must admit that hadn't really occurred to me as I am quite black and white, not to mention I don't really have much of a history with close friendships sad so I have no frame of reference. I will let things drop for now and hope things pick up in the future when he's got some space, but I'll wait for him to let me know rather than chasing it.

littlemisssarcastic I can sort of understand him not telling his g/f about me, from what he says she's the jealous type - she is jealous of his 13 year old daughter so really I have no chance! It doesn't really bother me. My DH was totally ok with him til he started messing me about all the time and letting me down, now he really struggles with why I'd want to be friends with him, so it's not as if we'd be going out as a foursome or anything.

It's not a gender thing - some people are just less good about keeping up with friends than others are. Oh and don't have a big showdown with him FFS, there is no quicker way to make yourself look like a desperate loser than bleating at someone about how they are not paying you enough attention.

You do sound as though you need a few more friends. If you have so few friends that you get distressed when one of them has other priorities, you need to make an effort to acquire a few more: friends are something you can't really have too many of.

EveryonesJealousOfWeasleys Thu 14-Jul-11 23:34:25

He sounds like an emotional vampire to me. I was on an excellent thread where a couple of posters make some really well written points - will see if I can find it.

You don't 'need' him, you need your rose tinted idea of him. When your baby arrives you will not have time or energy to put up with him I suspect!

EveryonesJealousOfWeasleys Thu 14-Jul-11 23:36:56

Other thread here - excellent posts by VelveteenRabbit Wed 13-Jul-11 08:28:27 and fastweb Wed 13-Jul-11 09:22:01.

Have a read, it might sound a bit familiar.

shakey1500 Thu 14-Jul-11 23:46:11

This sounds so like my oldest and dearest male friend. He is utterly hopeless in keeping in touch, answering his phone etc etc. In the past it has driven me to despair. But, as with your friendship, when it is good, it's blinding. We have such a giggle and pick up where we left off every time. I am also a "black and white" person in that, it is a particular bug bear of mine when people don;t return calls, stick to arrangements. He knows this and is always very apologetic but just doesn't get it! Not wrong (for him) just different (to me).

So, I have reconciled to myself that I love him MORE than I hate the fact he can be crap sometimes. Feels better.

exhaustedbyennui Fri 15-Jul-11 09:49:32

Trust me there'll be no showdown, I feel I've come across as pushy enough as it is. I think because he's so hopeless at sticking to any plans that, when I do, even that makes me feel that I look desperate and pushy and it's almost like I should let him down the same amount, if that makes any sense.

You're so right I need more friends, but the ones I've had in the past have all let me down in the end, so I just need to maybe choose a bit more wisely or else not invest so much in other people, then it won't hit as hard when something goes wrong.

Weasleys thank you, great thread... I'd feel unfair to say he 'drained' me because it's only lately that it's felt like that and only due to him being in such a bad place, and plus I don't really mind it so much if offloading to me is helpful. It's more the constant letting-down and what seems to be a lack of respect for my own time/life that bothers me because I feel that no matter what I had going on I wouldn't treat a friend this way (and in fact I might need them more). But it takes all sorts to make a world doesn't it.

littlemisssarcastic Fri 15-Jul-11 10:50:17

I think I feel rather sorry for his girlfriend tbh. sad

motherinferior Fri 15-Jul-11 10:53:04

I've got a very old friend who's like this. All you can do is send off the odd text/email over the years, on an 'I'm not going quietly' basis, and wait for them to have the energy to respond. In my case, it took about 10 years - but then we caught up again.

exhaustedbyennui Fri 15-Jul-11 13:30:44

I think the most upsetting thing is the feeling that it's all over, and not having had a chance to try to 'save' things or say goodbye - and I get what people here are saying about friendships not being actively dropped, but it feels like he's the one who's done the active dropping and I don't even understand why. I think there's some mind games going on where he's thinking that I'm thinking I'm better off without him so he's staying away, but I don't want him to! He doesn't know what I'm thinking.

I just think if he'd at least text then I could reply and be all 'light n breezy' and he'd see I still want to be around for him, but I can't be the one to make the first move iyswim. It's my birthday today so I had hoped I'd at least get a text, because to me it's the perfect opportunity for him to make the move, but he hasn't.

littlemisssarcastic why? because he's so hopeless, because he has a friend she doesn't know about, or because he tells me how awful their relationship is? or all three?

littlemisssarcastic Fri 15-Jul-11 16:03:54

All three, yes. Your friend doesn't seem to consider other people very highly. Does he see his DC very often? I imagine it's difficult if his girlfriend is that jealous tbh.

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