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Sad about a friendship that seems to be slipping away

(69 Posts)
Biscuitsneeded Sat 14-Jan-17 19:38:26

I feel very silly posting this but I have realised it is eating away at me. I'm nearly 45, for goodness' sake. I make friends easily, have loads of people who class me as a good friend and have a busy social life. I've lived in my current city for 12 years - I moved here when pregnant with DC1 and met a woman at a postnatal group who I really clicked with. She's bright, funny, shrewd, shares my values and world view, and is someone I have really treasured over the years. She and I, despite being very gregarious and sociable, are both the kind of people to whom others pour out their troubles but are actually quite reserved about telling our own - except to each other. She is the only person other than DP (and a nurse when I miscarried) who has ever seen me cry as an adult, and I also know when she is pretending all's well and have been able to worm things out of her in the past when other people wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong. I have loved my tactful, thoughtful,discreet and wise friend.
But for about 6 months now I have the distinct impression she doesn't want to spend time with me. If a mutual friend organises a large group thing, she comes. But if I suggest coffee, or a drink, or coming round to mine, she either isn't free or she cries off at the last minute with a rather lame excuse. She IS genuinely very busy. She has a very demanding job, busy kids, a lovely but slightly unwordly academic husband which means she is always plate-spinning (as am I), so it's possible she just genuinely doesn't have any time, but I feel like she's avoiding spending any time with me. I popped round unannounced just before Christmas and she seemed genuinely pleased to see me, but I only had half an hour to spare and otherwise I haven't seen her on her own (and only twice in group situations) since last summer. I feel like she's just not that interested any more. If that's the case it would hurt lots but I'd still rather know.
I feel like a 7 year old getting upset because their best friend has gone off with someone else. But this is the person I have held in the highest esteem other than my own family for nearly 12 years. I don't want for company. I have lots of lovely friends. But it's this one in particular I want to spend time with, and I'm so confused by her behaviour. I know the advice will be to just ask her if I have done something that means she doesn't consider me a good friend any more, but I know her and she would deny anything rather than rock the boat. I feel she's just hoping she can gradually shake me off.
We had a vague but not definite plan to meet for coffee today, but she texted this morning with reasons why she couldn't. Fair enough. I have responded by saying 'no problem, let me know some dates you could do coffee or an evening drink'. I don't want to be the boring needy friend. But I'm honestly a bit baffled and my feelings are hurt.

CockacidalManiac Sat 14-Jan-17 19:59:10

It's truthfully said that we make our own family as adults, and it's perfectly normal to love your friends.
It's also perfectly normal to have a grief reaction when we lose friends, as we do when we lose other intimate relationships.
It doesn't make you needy.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 14-Jan-17 20:19:57

Thank you for responding. It does feel like grief.

CockacidalManiac Sat 14-Jan-17 20:22:05

It's the same process as splitting up with a partner; the grief of losing the relationship, plus there's the rejection element of being 'dumped'. It's a difficult and long process getting over a treasured relationship.

AtrociousCircumstance Sat 14-Jan-17 20:22:56

Did anything happen around the time she started being unavailable? Did you and she have any notable conversations that might have affected her in some way?

Slimmingsnake Sat 14-Jan-17 20:28:59

I have a close friendship just like you describe..Sometimes I feel like I give to much away,like I'm to vulnerable,I withdraw a bit and leave things for awhile,just having some space....a friendship like you describe can be very intense...mine with my close friend got like I described and I had to back off for a while...she gave me space and we are ok now...

junebirthdaygirl Sat 14-Jan-17 20:30:48

Do you think she might have difficulties in her personal life which she doesn't want to discuss at the moment. When my dh was ill with depression for a while l avoided close friends as l wasn't ready to talk about things. Eventually l was ready and my friends were brilliant.

pocketsaviour Sat 14-Jan-17 20:35:02

I also know when she is pretending all's well and have been able to worm things out of her in the past when other people wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong.

I am wondering if there's something massive going on for her and she isn't ready to share it with you, and is avoiding you precisely because she knows you'll know that something's not right.

CubanHeels Sat 14-Jan-17 20:36:02

What june and slimming. I have a very close friend whom I'm currently avoiding talking to, because with her I can't avoid a 'proper' conversation, and there are things I'm not ready to talk about right now.

MizzEmma Sat 14-Jan-17 20:36:54

I know just how you feel. We moved to a new country last year and one of my closest friends seems that have cut me off.

I've sent texts, WhatsApp messages, emails, FB messages and an actual letter with her birthday card. Nothing back for months and months.

It doesn't feel great but I've decided to let her be. Friendship is a two way thing. Both parties need to work at it.

Lots of my other friends have messaged/Facetimed/sent cards. I'll focus my energy on them and leave the ball in her court.

Some friendships are forever, some are just for season.

WetNovemberDay Sat 14-Jan-17 20:50:04

I had this with my best friend of 25 years. For her it was because shed embarked on an affair. We grew apart because although i could see her point of view and witnessed a whole load of events leading upto it, she knew i didnt approve deep fown. The affair lasted 5 years and it all came to a head. Her husband found out etc 18 months ago. Theyre back together and so say v happy. She now doesnt seem to have time forbme because she is making it up to her dh. I suspect im being kept at arms length to avoid any slips of the tongue and detail slipping out of me or me being asked about it by her adult children or husband.
It hurts. Its been a slow gradual decline and its only been the last 12months ive properly realised. I miss her so much. Ive cried and had whole days feeling v v down about it. It is a grief. I often think "cant wait to tell xxxx all about that" then realise she wont be available anyway so its pointless trying.

I dont mean to hog your thread just wanted to let you know its a real grief and i guess normal. Like all grief its a long bumpy road.

Lilyloo456 Sat 14-Jan-17 21:04:41

No helpful advice from me I'm afraid as I'm going through a similar thing. And it does feel like grief. Today's her birthday and she's all over Facebook saying she out with her mates blah blah blah. Just hurts. I suppose it gets easier with time? And sometimes we outgrow people? X

MontePulciana Sat 14-Jan-17 21:17:41

Going through similar here. Friends for 7 years, we all went abroad in 2014 for a wedding. Friend cheated on her DP with 2 random guys and has basically slowly removed herself from my life and others who were on the trip. I think she feels incredible guilt and couldn't bare it. She got pregnant aa soon as she was back and they have a DS now. She obviously just wants to start fresh. It was hard for me to grasp at first.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 14-Jan-17 21:40:08

I wondered that too. This happened once before when we went for ages without seeing each other and when I finally did see her I asked her if there was anything going on and she said there wasn't, she was just really bad at saying no to people (which is true!) and disorganised and over-committed, and felt terrible that she had been so unavailable. So I feel that to ask again would make me like the needy seven year old who can't handle the fact that her friend has a life outside the friendship. I suspect the truth is that she just doesn't view our friendship quite how I do.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 14-Jan-17 21:48:58

Thanks for all the replies, they make me feel like I'm not being so completely immature. I don't tend to fall out with people, and most of the friends I've made in life are still my good friends now (I still meet up with my university friends at age 45 and we would all travel hundreds of miles for each other if needed, so it's not that I don't have great friends) - but this one was my closest friend made in this city where I expect to remain, and I really thought we'd be friends for life. Reading all your posts makes me wonder whether there really is something she can't talk about. If I could bloody well get her on her own I might be able to get a sense of that, even if she didn't want to talk about it, but she's doing too good a job of keeping me at arm's length.

springydaffs Sat 14-Jan-17 23:19:59

I'd avoid someone like you like the plague. That sounds so horrible - but ppl who have the knack of eliciting everyone's deepest without divulging anything about themselves give me the shivers. Friendship is a two-way thing. Someone who withholds is not interested in true intimacy/friendship, there is a distinct imbalance.

Perhaps your friend isn't on the same page as you. You say she can't say no - can you?

AJudyKate Sun 15-Jan-17 00:44:15

I am avoiding some good friends right now.

I am basically miserable for no very good reason, having a proper mid life crisis: parent dying, job stressful and shit, marriage unsatisfying.

I don't want to lie to my good friends and say it's all ok as they'd see through me.

But I equally don't want to lay all this on them like they are my therapist. Particularly the marital issues. I feel like if I can't discuss it with DH I shouldn't talk to anyone else.

So I am avoiding them. And as time goes on it gets worse. How can you not call for months and still have the right to rant on about your shit life?

Any chance she feels the same?

onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad Sun 15-Jan-17 07:20:58

It does get easier, I went through a very similar thing with a long term friend. We'd been friends for 25 years since we were in our early twenties, we'd shared a flat together, laughed, cried, told each other the intimate details of our lives. We were bridesmaids st each other's weddings and so on. Some huge changes happened in my life and she became distant and uncommunicative, would cancel long standing arrangements to meet up, avoided making new arrangements to the point of rudeness and so it went on. Despite me having many other good solid female friendships I grieved for my friendship with her as though I had lost a lover. It was horrible and I hurt badly. But, gradually, gradually I recovered, I backed away and spent time building other fledgling friendships and working on friendships with those people who really wanted to see me and were prepared to invest their time in our friendship.
Now, a couple of years on, I barely think of her and the pain has gone. Interestingly, we met up again recently and it was nice to see her and we had fun but the intensity had gone and I felt relaxed and calm about the whole thing. She has crossed my mind once or twice since then and we'll probably meet up again later in the year but the yearning for the friendship we once had has dissipated. I would back away, feel hurt, go through the grief of losing what you once had but re- emerge in a healthier and stronger place.

peanut2017 Sun 15-Jan-17 07:46:35

Totally get it! It's hard and it is grieving of sorts. One friend moved away and we just have drifted, another friends mother was sick during summer & friend went off radar for months & wouldn't let me support her & is still keeping me a bit at arms length when we used to speak every week, now it could be once a month if even.

Another is a busy mother of 3 who works full time so I totally get it but I miss them & even though husband is fantastic you need your friends.

Maybe a bit like my friend, something could be going on for her? We always think it's something we did when it could be something that they can't share at the moment. It's hard

redcarbluecar Sun 15-Jan-17 08:08:40

I get this and sympathise. I think that to an extent we have to allow people space to handle relationships in their own way but it's hard when you still want to spend time with someone and be there for them, and they don't seem to need / want that. I'm trying to adjust to something similar at the moment. I haven't lost the friend in question, but we aren't communicating in the usual way - I think one reason is that she's unhappy and doesn't want to offload onto me. I wish she would, but you can't force these things.

From what you've said, I wonder if your friend genuinely is really busy and has stuff going on which is stopping her from catching up with you as normal. It sounds encouraging that you popped round unannounced and she was pleased to see you. I think maybe you just need to hold your nerve and give this one some time. Hopefully the friendship is changing rather than slipping away.

Thinkingofausername1 Sun 15-Jan-17 08:45:33

Maybe she felt you were being to reliant on her? I had a friend like yours. Two actually but they became so intense that I felt, I couldn't breathe and I had to completely cut them off. I should have explained why and now on talking terms with one but she knows it won't be how it was.maybe just ask your friend if you have upset her or offended her at any point. Also people have stuff going on that no body behind closed doors knows about. Just ask her it won't do any harm

swimmerforlife Sun 15-Jan-17 09:04:45

I agree she's could be going through some difficult issues in her personal life which could be why she's avoiding you. The only advice is to give her some space and stop hassling her for meet ups, maybe she may come back in a few months when she's ready and explain why she has been so distant (then you can decide if you still want her in your life etc) or it might be the end of the friendship.

It is hard but I think you're going to have move forward in your life without her. I've been there, best friend of 6 years decided she didn't want to know me after moving cities (ended it over the phone after months of her avoid me), took me a long time to grieve for that friendship.

We didn't speak for a decade but we're back in contact now, too much water is under the bridge for us to be close again, however we have some sort of casual friendship now.

ChicRock Sun 15-Jan-17 09:11:55

I also know when she is pretending all's well and have been able to worm things out of her in the past when other people wouldn't have noticed anything was wrong

Have you considered that sometimes she might just want a light hearted meet up to chat nonsense and take her mind off things, without you "worming" her problems out of her?

I'd find your behaviour incredibly intrusive and would avoid you.

If you're such good friends then she'll divulge whatever she wants to tell you when she's ready.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 15-Jan-17 10:24:24

Springydaffs and ChicRock, you make me sound like some kind of joyless anti-dementor who goes around feeding on other people's misery! I'm not like that. Springydaffs, our friendship is of course two-way. I am fairly open with most people - happy to talk about worries and moans etc. It's just that I've been raised to be very 'British' and when something is really bothering me to the point where I might lose emotional control I tend to put on a brave face. I recognise that same characteristic in my friend, that's all. And we both admit that that's what we do. Chicrock, I'm not intrusive. I can't bear over-sharers and steer clear of emotional leeches. And yes of course I do silly lighthearted chat. If I've come across differently then I've described things wrong, or only one aspect of things, that's all.
She's actually texted this morning, saying she's got loads on and can't wait to be shot of one particular responsibility. She's dodged my question about when she is free but maybe she just isn't, at all. Thank you all those who have responded and said to give it time. I may just have to accept that it's not quite the close friendship I thought it was, and enjoy it for what it is. I don't think she's annoyed with me, so that's good at least.

CubanHeels Sun 15-Jan-17 10:30:00

I'd avoid someone like you like the plague. That sounds so horrible - but ppl who have the knack of eliciting everyone's deepest without divulging anything about themselves give me the shivers. Friendship is a two-way thing. Someone who withholds is not interested in true intimacy/friendship, there is a distinct imbalance.

springydaffs, that's very harsh. The OP's post in no way suggests she goes about winkling confidences out of people for kicks - there are people who like to confide, and people who appear to elicit confidences. I know, because I am one of the latter. I certainly don't go about asking leading questions, and there are times I would rather not be confided in, but I clearly give off some vibe that says 'Confide in me.'

And in a sense, that vibe is right - I am a 'safe' and discreet person to talk to. I never gossip, and if you tell me something, no one else will ever hear it from me.

But I am not someone who likes to confide myself - if something difficult is happening, I will only talk to my husband about it, and talking to friends, until I've come to terms with something myself simply isn't helpful, or something I want to do, even with my closest friends.

I don't think I 'owe' anyone confidences purely because they've confided in me. If they feel 'I told you about my miscarriage, and feel completely betrayed that you didn't tell me you were seriously ill', then they are of course at liberty to do and to withdraw from the friendship. Personally, I can't think of anything worse than someone feeling she is supposed to reciprocate a friendship with 'equivalent' revelations.

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