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I realised my "friendships" were making me really depressed

(29 Posts)
nerofiend Sun 10-Nov-13 12:27:01

I posted a few times before here about issues with friends.

Last year, I decided to have a so called "friends" detox. I deleted my FB account and decided to go cold turkey. I informed the people I really wanted to be in touch with about this, and let the others go.

I was surprised to see how few "friends" noticed or cared if I was on FB or not. Only one single person e-mailed me before I did to tell me that he noticed and that he still wanted to be in touch.

It was tough, really tough, but I realised how superficial our lives are becoming when it comes to friendship and that it seems to be all about quantity - of likes, or followers, or fans - and not quality.

It was really tough to lose touch with a couple of people who I thought were good friends, but was quite relieved to see the truth about the relationships too.

There was one particular narcissistic friend who I felt was always competing with me in terms of achievement, always putting down my own achievements in life. Whenever something went well or bad in her life, I felt I had to be a cheerleader, an member of a celebrity audience, living my life through her experiences, while my life experiences were always ignored or disregarded. This caused me a lot of anxiety, as I considered her at the time a very close friend, and at times I was so upset that I was unable to sleep at night.

My group of friends is really small now. I lost touch with people who I thought were going to be close to me all my life. It's not great, I know, and maybe I should have handled things differently for the sake of keeping in touch. But I was forty this year and was so sad and depressed to realise that there was nothing there where I thought there was true friendship.

It's been a big loss but I have to say I feel stronger and freer somehow. Stronger for having learned a few lessons about friendship, and freer because I'm no longer chained to relationships that make me feel bad about myself. Co-dependency is ten times worse than loneliness. I've learned that.

Have you had a similar experience with friends when you hit your forties? I'd love to hear from you.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 10-Nov-13 12:54:42

I went through this process when my marriage broke down age 30. I'm ancient enough that this is pre-FB (yes there was such a time smile ) but, even so, a crisis like that really shows up who your real friends are and who is just tagging along because you're a mug kind hearted soul. Have operated a smaller, more select group of 'friends' since, I don't suffer fools or users, and have learned to differentiate between friends and acquaintances.

whitesugar Sun 10-Nov-13 12:54:42

I had the exact same experience when I hit 40. I have people pleasing tendencies and was friendly with some toxic people because I felt I couldn't get out of the friendships. When I hit 40 someone asked me when I was going to start doing what I want to do. I gradually stopped contacting anyone who made me feel like crap. I didn't offer any explanation and got a great thrill from just saying hi and breezing past them. Trust me these people were a pain in the arse anyway and everything was all about them.

I truly believe that some friendships have a shelf life. I had friends whose children were in school with mine or we worked together. Once those links ended we didn't have much in common

I am in my mid forties and had a very close friend from school who was a pain in the arse even back then. I had stuck by her all through the years out of a sense of loyalty and ties with the past. She is extremely passive aggressive and the last time I spent time with her over a year ago she did her usual act of criticising my choices and pretending her life was perfect. I have not contacted her since and all I feel is relief.

Ending friendships that were not working has given me confidence to do what I want in lots of different situations. I find it very liberating being able to chose who I want to spend time with. I would say though that my list of friends has gone down massively and there are times when I think I could end up with no-one. I don't think this will happen as I love chatting to people. People probably think I am quite gregarious but as I have got older I realise I am actually quite solitary. I admire your stance, well done.

nerofiend Sun 10-Nov-13 13:32:04

Cogito and Whitesugar, thank you so much for your replies. I can tell you know where I'm coming from.

It's good hearing other experiences, as in a day and age of people having so many "friends" everywhere, especially on-line, you don't hear so much the other stories, the friendships that died and the pain this caused.

As I walk into my forties, I realise that I don't want to have a million friends on FB. I'm not that kind of person. I'd rather have a couple of good friends in real life than a hundred of superficial ones, who only play the role of cheerleaders or fans, but are nowhere to be seen when you need them or when you just want to share something with them.

When a romantic relationship ends, there seems to be more of an acknowledgement of the loss and pain that this entails, but when it comes to friendships, we're just supposed to suck it up and move on easily. This hasn't been easy for me at all, but I'm getting there!

Thanks for reading smile

Pawprint Sun 10-Nov-13 13:52:41

Facebook has both brought up ghosts from my past and helped me bury them. A few ex boyfriends, some girls from school who bullied me, some old friends who drifted out of my life.

I don't know why I don't delete more of these ghosts - I have unfriended some. I am certain I will never communicate with them again on any meaningful level.

However, there are lots of people I do keep in touch with on FB regularly - family, friends who live far away.

I think you were right to step away. Social networks are fine if they make you happy. If not, life is too short to bother.

I think, also, that some of my FB contacts are just people who don't really go on the site much.

Real life friends are much more important.

JackieOHH Sun 10-Nov-13 15:47:57

Same thing happened to me when I turned 40! Not sure what it is about turning 40, but seems to happen a lot.
I was friends with quite a group of women, one I'd known 20 years, one who I friended when our girls started primary school ( they're now 17), one who was my friend as we lived near each other & had a fair bit in common...
I see none of them now. My best friend ( the one I'd lived near) was such a negative person, never happy for me ( I lost weight at a group we both attended and she was the only one in the group who didn't congratulate me!)... She was rude & objectionable & I put up with it for far too long.
The one I'd been friends with for 20 years changed a lot when she ditched her husband, she started hanging out with other 'single slappers ladies' and they were all false. As the OP put it, they're her fans.
Finally,the one I met when our girls started school, I found out shed said some very cruel things about my dd ( she put on weight as she had to go on steroids for a very serious illness)... I cut her dead, I'm not putting up with that shit.
So now they are all friends & hang out together,...the only thing that gives me the rage is that I know, deep down, they all strongly dislike each other for various reasons!! But they are all so fake & false it's pathetic.
I'm glad I'm out of it. I spend a lot of time on my own, but I'm WAY happier!

Joysmum Sun 10-Nov-13 15:54:35

Another one who's just turned 40 and realized I make me happy, hubby considers it his mission to make me happy and visa versa. A lot of my family are just relations and we're not close.

I come on a couple of forums and Facebook to Leto up with the world but the people and things that matter are regulars in real life, not just flung together by circumstances and likely to cease if those circumstances/situations change.

whitesugar Sun 10-Nov-13 15:57:50

My DD coming 17 and it never ceases to amaze me what utterly vile things that other mothers say about young girls. It gets back to me through my DD and everytime I hear something I just think thank God that I have no contact with those vile women.

skillsandtea Sun 10-Nov-13 16:07:45

Wow, I could have written this post! I too turned 40 this year and have stepped back from so-called friendships. We live in a small village where everyone's children attend the same school. There is so much fake niceness and you never know what people are actually saying about you when your back is turned. I tried for a long time to fit in but every time I came home from a social event I felt wretched. People pretending to like you when you know they don't give a stuff. I always feel like I go out of my way to help others but it's rarely appreciated or worse, I get kicked in the teeth and wish I never bothered. Problem is that my kids are friends with theirs at school so it is hard to detach myself completely. Luckily they've only got a couple of years or so left at primary school so there will be fewer reasons to have to keep on seeing everyone. Don't get me wrong, there are some that I do really like and are genuine but it's all so inter-linked so I'll never avoid the crap totally.

skillsandtea Sun 10-Nov-13 16:08:13

That felt very therapeutic to write it down!

SweetSkull Sun 10-Nov-13 16:08:36

I have a '"friend"' for about 6 years ( I am 36), I just could not understand exactly why, but I never felt 100% comfortable in her presence,always felt bad about myself and about my life after meeting her and always had to make a great mental effort to meet her but we were meeting on regular basis weekly, going to each other's house, going out together with kids...I was so afraid of loosing her friendship even tho I wasn't happy being her was very weird and I always convinced myself it was worth for the kid's sake.
Than I started to realise what was really going was like emotional abuse and I was co-dependent, she needed me to feel superior and better about herself and she would be nasty to me in a 'nice and friendly' way that I would not even notice until dwelling later on.
It is complicated to explain and understand, but now I avoid, avoid, avoid her company at all prices. I had to spend a few hours with her during the half term as she took her kids to do the same place I went and I had to be on my guard at all times. One little minute off guard and she came down on me like a ton of bricks and I am yet to recover.

Don't waste your time in company of people who don't make you happy, that is all I can say.

NK5BM3 Sun 10-Nov-13 16:21:32

Hello fellow 40 year olds! grin I recently turned 40 too and one of the things I did was declutter my fb list of friends. Particularly one who was a very good friend (by virtue of us living v near each other) but once we moved, it all went pear shaped and there was no effort on their part to keep in touch. I wish I can defriend my toxic sister in law but I can't. I have put her on acquaintance though so I don't have to see her posts if I don't want to.

About the Neighbour friend, I realized that our friendship was based on what we could do for them... We were constantly helping them out etc. now if only I can get rid of SIL.. Life would be great! grin

Shellywelly1973 Sun 10-Nov-13 16:22:32

Something very similar happened to me with regards to friend's around my 30th birthday.

I often doubted if I did the right thing though as I now have few close friends & at times i realise quite isolated. I don't ever feel lonely though so it can't be too bad a decision.

As I approached my 40th birthday I realised how bad certain members of my family make me feel. I've gone NC with a sister & aunt. I have very little contact with my mother. I've seen her once this year. I speak to her about once every 10/14 days.

Its like decluttering...!

HogFucker Sun 10-Nov-13 16:54:16

I've also had a bit of a declutter in the last few years. I don't think it was age related as such, but more about realising I just didn't want to be around certain people. Generally they were people who had a tendency to be negative about others and I guess I didn't really trust them 100%, or they were rather precious.

There are still a couple I have to stay in contact with due to the children, but when I meet this couple I always feel rubbish afterwards and have successfully ensured we meet less and less regularly. Again, one is precious and likes to have a bit of an audience, the other drops little negative critical bombs that aren't very nice.

I've found it all very liberating and wish I had done it years ago.

AngryByrd Sun 10-Nov-13 16:56:04

I actually had a rude awakening a few years back myself.

DH and I had our first child together and all of a sudden no one was happy to be around us. For two years I felt that my happiness had made me become ugly to others and that I was unknowingly being horrible. Then my son had to be DX'ed with ASD and all of a sudden I was surrounded by people who were actually happy that something terrible had happened to my innocent child.

The toughest pill in the world to swallow is knowing that those who are supposed to love you the most are happiest when you are miserable. Even my Mil+Sil decided that she knew all along that 'something was wrong' and then was able to capitalise on my son's dx at family events as if it had happened to her (all the while ignoring the pain my husband and I were going through). We literally had to support each other out of bed every morning; walk through a neighbourhood of smug 'pity'. Condescending friends and family who told us about residential care homes and the likes.

We moved away; I deleted FB. I got to know myself again. Our son progressed and DH and I learned that our happiness was our own. No one was entitled to share in it. We now are surrounded by the loveliest, kindest friends and neighbours. Some of our family members have come around and are trying to make the effort. Mil will never be capable of being happy for me or my son; I feel terrible seeing my DH watch his mother be passive aggressively vile.

(I think she is just jealous because she wishes her own daughter could have found love by now and had a family--but this could just be me and a bitter musing.)

HogFucker Sun 10-Nov-13 17:06:23

How horrible AndryByrd sad

wodalingpengwin Sun 10-Nov-13 17:50:03

AngryByrd, sorry that happened to you. I recognise this though, there are a lot of people out there who secretly relish misery in other people's lives. Schadenfreude is a very human trait. It's particularly horrible when people 'borrow' your sadness to make their own life seem more dramatic.

OP, I had a good de-clutter at one point, yes it is sad but also rather freeing.

skillsandtea Sun 10-Nov-13 18:22:23

Why are people like that? And one-upmanship.. Why can't people just live and let live? There's always a nasty undercurrent. The only people I really trust are immediate family and my 2 oldest friends who I've known for over twenty years.

nerofiend Sun 10-Nov-13 22:35:10

Thanks all for sharing your experiences with difficult friendships.

AngryBird, I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your in laws but it is so good to hear that you managed to find a safe and supportive environment for your family and for bringing up your son in the end. It's good to know that that is possible and that we shouldn't give up trying to find true friends. You made the right move.

I can't believe that grown up women can be so evil to teenage girls. I think we as women are all well aware of how hard it is to be a woman in this world dominated by men. We should care and support each other, especially the younger generations. When I see girls and women being nasty and bitchy to each other I just get depressed.

It's enough that we will get a lot crap from a world designed by men for the main benefit of men. We should give each other a break.

PukingCat Sun 10-Nov-13 22:44:19

I am not sure i would notice a friend going off Facebook. Not unless they posted stuff all the time and it suddenly stopped.

I lost most of my friends in my twenties. My best friend it turned out had been telling lies about me to everyone and then something happened which brought it all to a head. Suddenly I lost all my friends because they had believed the years of lies, so when she did the final massive lie it was easy for them to believe.

I had no idea that had all thought i was capable of such things. But when people lie like that, small lies over a long period of time, it is very convincing.

I have lots of acquaintances now but not sure how many true friends.

nerofiend Sun 10-Nov-13 23:03:57

PukingCat, I think something similar happened to me with this group of friends of which the narcissist friend was a central part. I get this gut feeling that she had been lying and saying bad things about me behind my back and that's why my other two good friends stopped contacting me. The worst thing of all is that I can't defend myself as I'm not going to call or contact anybody anymore. Too much drama for me at the moment.

The narcissist was overly adept at playing the poor victim when it was convenient to her so everybody went "oh poor A". Then if something good happened to her, we all had to go "A, you're so great". It was mentally draining, believe me.

Sorry for the rant but it's so cathartic to be able to have these thoughts and feelings out. Thanks once again all for reading.

PukingCat Mon 11-Nov-13 08:11:03

I couldn't defend myself either because these people were her friends before they were mine so i wasn't really that in touch with them independently. Perhaps they weren't really friends at all but they were certainly the major part of my social life and people i got on very well with. I really liked them and they seemed to enjoy my company too and we had things in common.

What would happen is that she would see me getting on well with someone and make a little jealous comment about it. Later when we were alone she would tell me something horrible they had said about me which i would believe because well why wouldn't i. Next time i saw them they would look at me weirdly or be at bit off with me. Of course looking back it was clearly that she was telling lies all over the place.

I haven't seen any of them for years. Its not nice to know that these people i like might not realise what she was doing (and is probably still doing) and that they must think Im a horrible person sad

Our paths never crossed for me to set the record straight.

It had an major effect on my dhs life as well in ways i won't in into, but unfortunately a friend of his and wife believe her lies as well and blame me for what happened. I've told them everything that happened but they just don't believe that anyone would be that horrible. So they think its me sad

They said i should just keep her at a distance so that it didn't effect anyone else, not seeming to understand that even keeping her at a distance is bad for me because she still tells lies about me.

This was more than ten years ago now but still upsets me so much. I thought we would be friends for life but she has turned out to be a psycho evil liar.

PukingCat Mon 11-Nov-13 08:13:08

Thinking back she was very controlling. She liked to be the centre and have all her friends around her all getting on nicely, but not too nicely. So she played this game.

Laura0806 Mon 11-Nov-13 10:25:49

Im sorry Op for your experience and everyone elses. I too have had a very similar experience to some, in that when one particular ( and v close) friend treated me horribly and excluded me from our group of friends socials, not one person showed me any true support , it was all about keeping up appearances and the peace. Now I can understand that to a certain extent and wouldn't expect anyone else to fall out with her too but to go along with what she said without any challenge and continue to meet up when its very obvious one of us is missing without any sort of question, well they are not friends in the true sense of the word. I also know they aren't really friends to the girl in question and she has been quite vile about most of them so whilst I should ignore, I can't help but let it get to me from time to time but of course I would never tell them. I too (like skillsandtea) am in a village and I wouldn't say theres too much overt nastiness but there is the sense that there is quite a facade of niceness that isn't real and because its a small community you can't escape it. I am learning ( been a slow process) to not be hurt, to not put myself out ridiculously for anyone ( as I would before) who asks but to concentrate on a few people who have been very good friends and to smile and nod poiltely at the others and treat them in much the same way as they have to me, as acquaitances. I agree makes one stronger even if the experience was horrendous xxx

TiffanyTortoise Mon 11-Nov-13 13:26:50

Hi I too can relate to feeling a friendship has become too negative to go on with. I have a long term 'friend' that I am trying to distance myself from as I dread contacting her and feel drained afterwards. I feel like it's all about her and my life isn't important or of interest to her. (whether it's good or bad things) This has been going on for many many months. I feel very sad about it and also guilty but have got to a point where I can't continue with it.

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