Best friend - relationship morphing - update [Title edited by MNHQ](104 Posts)
I've a friend locally who I've had a very close relationship for 25yrs. We've been through lots together and live close too, in the normal run of things we see each other a lot. Also good friends with her dh.
These things have caused my friendship with her to change:
My psychotherapy, coming to terms with the the end of my marriage, a falling out we had a couple of months ago re her lunching with my EA ex and his gf while I was going through a shitty time re contact and him playing the 'doting but minimalist dad', which she couldn't/can't understand (mutual close friends don't get why she couldn't see it either). Also her refusing to acknowledge that I can see her dh's uncompromising ways (which would get a rousing LTB on here) are driving her to get some pretty bad physical symptoms because of how anxious/stressed she is. Plus she's been a unnecessarily condescending about me going out dating - a definite whiff of 'well it gets you out of the house, dear, how sweet' rather than 'yey, good on ya' (am certainly not pushing my down anyone's throat - there's not much to report).
Such are the shifting plate techtonics. I just feel like the friendship feels pretty awkward at the moment. I managed to avoid over Xmas (declined NYE invite and NYD walk). She is now texting re lunch date.
It's all very odd. It's the first time our friendship has moved off its terra firma in 25 yrs. How should I handle it???? I can't just avoid her but equally what the hell would I say to her??? The reality is she's having a tough time. But she made it clear talking about it is off limits. I think it challenges her perceptions of me as the struggling ea victim when I'm not that person any more. It's like she wants to be a 'parenty' friend to me, but I don't need it now. In reality she's having a crap time but she still wants to keep the old dynamic and stop me from identifying the blatantly raw deal she's getting from her dh. I til now I've always been v supportive of her DH. But recent events have made that difficult to keep up. It's a but ridiculous now. Yet she's trying to keep up the regular lunch/coffee date thing and carry on as normal.
Help! how the hell do I handle this????
Tried to make this brief. Failed.........
Im not sure how it can be resolved, but definitely don't end up in the bird-with-a-wing-down box she's trying to push you into! You've just become free!
Perhaps a time where you slightly withdraw from her would help? I don't mean permanently, still meet for coffee and stuff but keep the things you talk about a bit impersonal. I think you have to respect her wish not to talk about her relationship, and equally you have the right to not talk about your personal stuff with her if she's going to push her own agenda on you.
Maybe what's needed here is a sort of quiet renegotiation of the friendship.
People do change over 25 years too. It's possible that an underlying tendancy to try to be a tiny bit controlling is coming out too.
Btw, she does really have the right to have lunch with your ex, but it's gotta sting and that could be another reason to quietly keep your distance until you've found a new form of the friendship.
hope some of these ideas will help?
She has the right to lunch wth your ex. But it's fantastically disloyal of her. And you can respond in any way you choose. When members of my family behaved similarly, I initially said 'why did you do that?' and said it was very disloyal of them. When they continued their active friendship with him with him as he continued to be very abusive, I broke contact. I wouldn't hesitate to do that with a 'friend'.
Yeah the ex/lunch, was all about the timing. I was really struggling at that point, literally working full time incl weekends/oncalls and wheeling the dc out on a sat morning for him to parade among friends and make himself look like a a amazing dad while I was frazzled working literally all weekend including oncalls. He is a truly second rate dad (aren't they all) and refused to do anything but my work hours with the dc. At that time she knew I was struggling emotionally/practically, trying and failing to get out and have a life. She had barely seen him in 2.5yrs and partook in this spontaneous cozy lunch with him+gf during this period, without batting an eyelid. Just explaining the context of the lunch incident. Thanks for the insight. I think some time out, if I can engineer it easily, would be the way forward. The weird thing is I am sure she has no idea. Which itself seems so odd. So I feel like at some point I'll have to explain why I'm withdrawing....
Some people make an art form of 'having no idea'. If she's like that then it probably isn't worth explaining. If she is able to take it on board if you explain your feelings, then it might be worthwhile.
I think there is a tendency to think that if someone has been a friend for a long time then they are classed as a good friend. The reality is that people change a lot over time and sometimes old friends will always see you a certain way. A relationship breakdown can also make you re-evaluate who is important to you in life.
Sounds like this friendship isn't really what you need right now - you probably can't let it fizzle out completely but maybe make yourself less available and gently distance yourself from her.
She has lots of friends but sent me a message over Xmas to 'her special bestie'. I think she was trying to reaffirm that. It's not like I've got it wrong about the closeness. We've really propped each other up over some horrific stuff. Plus enjoyed very wild times together (used to work in a very creative industry and have spent weeks and months travelling together).
But, I take the point that she maybe only wants to see me as the person I was, even though I'm so much happier and emotionally better than I've been for years (albeit naturally lonely at times, single parent and all that). The odd thing to me is that she's a therapist. But I feel like she is totally not grasping that I am recovering and getting stronger and no longer 'in that box' as OnceAMeer put it.
That lunch thing would be enough for me to call a halt to proceedings. Na-ah I can't accept that.
Perhaps she taken on this faux parental role bcs her life, relationship, is so shit she has taken on being your manager.
You could disabuse her of that.
You know what, she can be a tad controlling re giving a certain perception of herself. I've certainly felt that when she's chatting to people she wants to make a good impression to.
Think I'm now on the receiving end now that I'm not really buying into things with her
And, I guess, being financially self sufficient and taking new opportunities. I'm maybe uncomfortably on the up from where she's standing....
Actually just wondered whether lunch with the ex was a deliberate act of sabotage????? Ok that's a step too far. This is helping me figure it out though, thanks.....
I know she has the right to have lunch with your ex etc but bloody hell that would really make me re-evaluate my friendship with her! Surely any normal friend would steer well clear of him if she wanted to stay friends with you. I would be asking wtf they talked about and would feel pretty badly betrayed tbh.
Indeed. I went mental and refused to pick up the phone to her. She claimed not to know what she had done wrong and got very hurt and upset. Was a horrible standoff that day. She even said 'but what if I meet up with them again...' WTF!
Later on having had this cosy lunch a mutual friend was musing with me (in the context of sorting contact out with ex and dc) about ex's gf's job and circumstances. Bestie the chimed in and clearly knew lots of detail about the new girlfriend's work situation, but then added 'or something' to try and make it look like she didn't really know that much........
it really does sound feasible that she's not moved on and you have, and she's struggling with that. If she doesn't accept it gracefully though (and hopefully she will), the time will come that you have to either go back to the way you were, or to move on without ... if she chooses not to adapt and accept the friendship is changing.
I guess even therapists have their blind spots sometimes =)
Is it worth actually raising the whole thing with her? is she the sort of person who could listen and really make an effort, or would it make things worse? Though ... her reaction to you telling her how you felt about the lunch with the ex isn't very encouraging.
I see this from another viewpoint. It sounds to me that until your broke up with your Ex that you were perfectly friendly to and about her DH. Might she possibly feel that you are trying to encourage her / drag her down the path you followed now that you. It sounds to me that she's trying to maintain the friendship you have.
Although the lunch with your Ex was weird.
Sounds as though she doesn't want to take sides nor is your unsolicited relationship guidance welcome. The friendship may be fizzling out.
Well it might look like 'unsolicited relationship guidance' but when you feel your close friend is on a collision course and is suffering constant chest pain from anxiety then I'm sorry but there comes a time when you have to express concern.
I feel that our friendship was formerly based on ploughing on through the shit, but now it's not, I can see she is about to go over a cliff.
Drop I've never been subjected to the condescending stuff before, so you can't say she's just 'trying to maintain the friendship - or if she is she's now doing about it in a way that makes me feel a bit controlled.
If one of my best friends had lunch with my Ex and his GF they would no longer be my friend.
But then... my friends wouldn't do that.
It's so disloyal it's just unreal.
That right there, would be enough for me to end the friendship.
I agree with Penfold.
You're making this about you rather than respecting her.
You say you were in an EA relationship, surely you can try to think back to how that was before your relationship ended and then had counselling to deal with it?
It takes time to see the situation you are in, still longer and a lot of work to be ready to face up to it fully. You're expecting her to be understanding of you now you're a long way through your journey of understanding when actually you're the one who should be able to understand her more readily than she can understand you.
Nah Joysmum you are wide of the mark. I would never, ever, ever criticise anyone for staying in a shit relationship. All I want to do is express concern for her welfare and for her to actually be real and say that living with him is making things tough. Because constant chest pain is not fucking normal. Is it. I would never advise anyone to leave a relationship, I cannot think of anything more futile. When things have been awful for me she's often enjoyed psychoanalysing my situation. But now it's the other way round I'm not allowed to go near her situation. Hard when your mate is on a crash course. Harder when your mate is trying to keep you in a box.
Honestly? You sound like a pain in the backside who has to analyse your friends life because you've been a analysing yourself in psychotherapy. You want to apply everything to her.
Stop trying to fix her and her relationship! Leave her alone.
Also, if she was friends with your ex then she done nothing wrong. People shout have to pick sides when a relationship breaks up!
Am not fricking analysing her!!! FFS!!! I'm just worried about her!! Honestly you lot!!!!!!!
Anyway ask said in my OP I Just feel I can't be friends with her in the same way, any more. She's making me feel uncomfortable and looked down on and pushed away. It's hardly the crime of the freaking century!!! This is not AIBU!!
or is it
You've changed, the friendship has changed. Time to move on and enjoy your new and bright future.
But you just seem concerned with getting her to 'admit' he's making things tough. Constant chest pain isn't normal, but maybe it's got sweet FA to do with her relationship.
I don't think you can see this right now, but I think this is as much about you as her. Maybe you should just accept things have run their course. You don't seem to have many nice things to say about her. Your example of her being controlling because when chatting with people she wants to give a good impression is pretty strange...doesn't everybody want to make a good impression when talking to people?
But you ARE trying to analyse her
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