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Unbalanced Friendship

(16 Posts)
IWorshipSatin Tue 22-Jan-13 10:04:45

I have a 'friend' who I used to be close to and considered my best friend, but he started being really unreliable, letting me down all the time and just taking my friendship for granted really. I posted on here about it and was advised that he was a 'taker', just using me when he was in between girlfriends and exciting jobs and a million other things, and I realised that was all true. I spent loads of energy trying to work out what I'd done wrong all the time (when he let me down or went quiet for weeks on end) and it was all really wearing.

I didn't want to have any big showdown because, in truth, he hadn't done anything different it was more that I'd seen his true colours (of how little he valued my time and friendship) and I decided that I didn't want to rely on this person any more as a close friend. The advice I got was to phase him out and just be 'too busy' whenever he contacted me, so I've been doing that for a while now. But I feel now like I've entered some crazy mind game tournament with him that I don't really want to be a part of. You know when you're not interested in someone at school and that makes them more determined to want you to like them - it feels a bit like that. So the more I'm 'too busy' the more he pesters me. Yet it seems like it was perfectly fine for him to be too busy for me and mess me about all the time! I think it's about his ego, like he doesn't want to have to put effort into the friendship but he expects me to so that he feels 'wanted'.

What makes this all harder is that 1) I don't have many friends at all and I'm in a situation at the moment where it is difficult to get out and meet new people and 2) I work at the same place as this person. It's taken a lot of willpower to phase him out but I feel that mentally I'm in a better place because I'm not letting him sap my energy as much. I'm just finding it difficult and I feel that I've been a bit unfair in not actually explaining my intentions. He's a bit of a bumbling professor type, so I think he genuinely has no idea why I might be acting this way (it will seem very out of character, I think, as I'm generally quite a ... communicator... if that makes sense).

He sent me a text a few weeks ago rambling on about cars, and saying he'd parked next to my car at work and wished he could've seen me, that he missed me. I didn't respond (although I intended to, but I was leaving it a while in the spirit of 'phasing out') and then I've had a few texts since saying "I guess you are upset with me" and asking me to get back to him and let him know I am alright (yet I know he doesn't really care about my welfare, I think it's more about who's court the ball is in or power or ego or something).

We did have a conversation a while back where I let him know that I felt he wasn't putting as much into the friendship as I was, and he replied "oh but we have the kind of friendship where we can go for months without contacting each other and when we get together again it's still great and we have a great time and it's like we've never been apart". So he was telling me that was the kind of friendship he wanted, but then is pestering me when I don't respond to texts even though he doesn't respond to mine??? It doesn't make any sense. I don't know where to go from here, do I just keep ignoring him/phasing out, or do I let him know why I'm doing it, do I send a blunt text saying "please stop contacting me", or do I just delete his number and forget about the whole thing and smile if I see him at work?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 22-Jan-13 10:19:13

Is he a friend in the truly platonic sense or is this one of those awkward situations where one or other of you would like to be boyfriend/girlfriend? All seems rather emotionally charged for people who are just supposed to be mates.

Rather than ignoring him which seems pretty silly, why not resume contact but on your terms rather than his? If you're free to meet up, meet up. If you're not free (or you'd rather not be free) then don't meet up. Rest of the time, put more effort into making new friends.

DIYapprentice Tue 22-Jan-13 10:24:06

I don't quite understand why it has to be all one way or the other. Why does he have to either be there all the time, or not at all? I think if you can get the friendship back to a level where you see him occasionally when it suits both of you then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Don't rely on him, but see him as someone you can go out with every now and then and have a laugh with.

Simply send him a text back and say 'Sorry, really busy right now. Will get in touch with you in a couple of weeks'.

dequoisagitil Tue 22-Jan-13 10:25:30

I think I'd send a text to say 'stop contacting me'. You feel better for him not being in your life, so that's your answer. You don't need someone who drains you. Let him know he's dropped at this point.

You need to find time to build a better social circle for yourself as well.

IWorshipSatin Tue 22-Jan-13 10:35:07

It's truly platonic - we're both in relationships and he's quite a bit older. I don't see any 'signs' from him that he wants to be my boyfriend! You're right when I read it back it does seem emotionally charged.

"Why does he have to either be there all the time, or not at all?" He doesn't - but it seems unbalanced that he expects me to be there at his beck and call but then lets me down constantly. I don't think he values me as a friend and there is a big part of me that feels it's run its course and that I should respect myself a bit better. But I can't outright say that to him.

dequoisagitil Tue 22-Jan-13 10:40:29

You can tell him the friendship has run its course.

It just seems very simple to me - you feel better for him not being in your life, so make it permanent.

june2013 Tue 22-Jan-13 10:40:31

I was also going to ask if it was just platonic? Does indeed seem emotionally charged for 2 people who are just supposed to be friends. Not sure why he is pursuing you like this and why you feel you have a responsibility towards him.

I think you need to stop feeling guilty - easier said than done, of course. You are making choices for yourself and it is your right to do this. You could say to him, listen I'm not upset, I just have a lot on at the moment. And leave it at that, don't let him persist or guilt trip you into things.

I've dealt with so many (too many) guys like this, usually in a romantic context I have to say, who wanted everything on their terms. It always took me a while to figure this out, I was young, naive and looked up to these 'charismatic' and 'charming' guys... so I gave them what they wanted, but to be honest, it never ever made me happy, even if they weren't asking for anything particularly constraining for me - just all on their terms. I remember one day I put my foot down with one guy in particular - at this point we were supposed to be friends. It's too complicated to explain in detail, but when I did say no, I'm not doing this on your terms, I am deciding what I want to do, he couldn't get it (of course I'd never done this before so he couldn't understand that perhaps his behaviour wasn't acceptable), he harassed me for a while, called, insisted we meet, threatened to come to my house, etc. It took me a while - but I realised, this is not friendship. This is not providing me anything enjoyable! I cut him out altogether, not suggesting you should do this, but maybe think and make a list of why you are / want to be friends with him and re-evaluate the relationship.

Most importantly, decide on your rules, stick to them and don't feel guilty!

MarilynValentine Tue 22-Jan-13 10:54:29

You could always reply, 'I'm not upset with you, it's just like you said yourself a while ago: we've got the sort of friendship where we can go without seeing each other for months and its ok! Am really busy atm, will be in touch in a couple of weeks or so. Take care!'

A chummy sort of a brush-off.

Although I'd be tempted to just say, 'I really wish you well, but you just haven't been there for me in the past. Am happy to chat when we see each other at work and I'm not angry with you.'

IWorshipSatin Tue 22-Jan-13 10:55:22

I think it's the work issue that is complicating things. If I didn't have to see him at work then I'd have much fewer (less?) qualms about it. He's senior to me, although not in my direct chain of management.

It does feel now a bit like we were in a relationship, but we don't owe each other anything do we.

IWorshipSatin Tue 22-Jan-13 10:56:54

Marilyn I like that - both are true but will probably go with the first as I'm a coward.

dequoisagitil Tue 22-Jan-13 10:58:22

Yeah, I like the chummy brush-off.

Cosmosim Tue 22-Jan-13 11:13:03

I would approach this differently - pretend you're one of those fake Hollywood types who are always suggesting you "do" lunch (but never call)... Easy breezy but all words and no actions. He'll get fed up with you and drop you. In the interim, when he pesters you, comment on the neediness in a lighthearted jokey way (about women running the other way or some other stereotype)

MarilynValentine Wed 23-Jan-13 10:17:03

Hey IWorship did you get in contact with your friend/ex-friend?

It's not easy, friendships are so difficult to handle when they start to unravel.

IWorshipSatin Wed 23-Jan-13 14:56:50

Marilyn - thanks for asking. Events have sort of got in the way of things as I was just leaving the building to go for a meeting and who should I run into... we had a slightly stilted chat where he proposed we go for lunch. I tried to remember the 'chummy brush off' and said something like "yes coffee would be nice, we'll have to get in touch in a few weeks when we're both less busy, I'm sorry I've got a meeting I'm supposed to be at now". It is harder when you're on the spot like that!

I am starting to wish I had sent your second suggested text last night tbh and then it would be all done and dusted.

MarilynValentine Wed 23-Jan-13 19:33:05

Sounds like you did pretty well! Keep doing that every time you encounter each other and he'll soon get the message.

Maybe a part of you wants to let him know that he's let you down and he doesn't get to enjoy your support any more. Definitely understandable. I think that urge is mixed up with wanting to be honest and somehow even giving him the chance to repair things.

The chummy brush off is all about distancing and disengaging emotionally - a confrontation holds the latent desire for returning to proper friendship, sometimes. I've recently had to decide which tack to take myself. Went with chummy and it's working fine smile

JuJuBeans Wed 23-Jan-13 20:40:50

I was in a very similar situation recently. I became friendly with a guy I was working with, purely platonic, we just got on very well. Then I was transferred to another department and saw him less frequently. I carried on emailing, the odd phone call and so on. After a while I realised that it was almost always me initiating the contact, he only ever made contact when he wanted something or needed a shoulder to cry on. I just wasn't getting much in return for my investment in the friendship. Maybe that sounds a bit cold, but if you aren't getting much back, if it isn't adding anything good to your life, then pull the plug. I stopped initiating contact. We are still in touch every now and again, but much less than before and that's fine, and much less to worry about.

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