I have this friend who I’ve known for several years, who I would consider one of my closest friends. But recently, she’s been acting a little bit… To put it simply, mean. She’s been making some hurtful comments that have come out of nowhere, but I tried to ignore them because we were such good friends and I didn’t want to throw it away. And I also sensed she might have been going through something she was keeping to herself.
Anyway, the two of us often carpool to book club together. Because she
doesn’t like to drive and has frequent issues with her car, I often pick
her up and bring her to book club. It is in the opposite direction of
the restaurant where we usually meet, so it’s an extra 20 minutes of
driving for me in either direction, but I didn’t mind doing it and I
never made a thing of it. And if I ever had an issue where I couldn’t
drive, she would pick me up, but 90% of the time, I was picking her up.
Ditto when we got together to go elsewhere.
Recently, I texted her to find out if she could be the one to drive to
the next book club, because for reasons I don’t want to get into, I
wasn’t sure if I was going to have my car available. She didn’t respond,
so I sent her another couple of texts, thinking maybe she hadn’t seen
my first text.
When she finally responded, she sort of blew up at me over text message.
She told me I was selfish for asking her repeatedly to bring me to book
club when she had been ill the last few days (which I didn’t know). I
showed her text messages to my husband, and he was totally shocked,
especially given how many times I have driven her. After some of the
complaints I had lately about her, he said that I shouldn’t speak to her
But after years of friendship, I felt I couldn’t do that. So I basically
wrote her an email explaining to her nicely that what she had written
had hurt my feelings and why. A day later, she responded:
“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. We will always be friends no matter what.”
That response really bothered me. Because she didn’t apologize, first of
all. Saying she didn’t mean to hurt my feelings is not an apology. An
apology involves the word “sorry.“ She didn’t even offer to drive me to
the book club to make amends. Furthermore, I didn’t write to her to be
reassured that we would be friends. So the second statement was odd,
especially considering it’s been weeks since then and I haven’t heard
from her so I am feeling like if I don’t reach out, we are no longer
What do you think? Did her response count as an apology?
No, definitely not. I had an ex-friend who did things like this all the time, and it was incredibly hurtful. I understand how bad it must feel to have someone you were close to start acting poorly towards you. It seems like you are taking care of yourself and standing up for yourself, which I'm glad to see. It's so hard.ReplyDelete
I probably would have let it go but the insulting comments were increasing over the last several months. That one was especially a slap in the face, considering how I'd gone out of my way for her so many times.Delete
I would count it as an apology, because I would interpret it as her being unhappy with herself and perhaps embarrassed about it. But I'm also someone who tends to give people a lot of letting stuff go before I decide that I need to speak up/change the relationship.ReplyDelete
With your friend... I think if you sense there's something going on, there probably is. I would maybe let her know that you've sensed that there's something going on and that you're there for her if she wants someone to talk to. And also give yourself some space from the friendship-- keep the connection and the tie, but let some distance grow. And choose how much you're going to let get to you. I've had some relationships where someone's snipe level started growing, and recognizing that it didn't really have anything to do with me allowed me to not feel badly about what they were saying/doing. In one case, it took a few years, but the person eventually sorted out the problem in their life and she went back to normal. (She was seriously burned out at work and in a very low-paying field on top of that. It took switching fields for her to become happier.)
I strongly suspect there is something going on. But she hasn't been willing to talk about it, and I don't want to be treated as a doormat. So I would leave the door open if she reached out to me, but I'm not going to reach out to her.Delete
I think it's half an apology. It's certainly not as bad as saying, "I'm sorry you were offended" which isn't an apology at all. She is at least acknowledging that she did something that negatively affected you.ReplyDelete
I think the second part about us still being friends somehow bothered me more. Probably because of a conversation we'd once had in which she implied I needed her as a friend more than she needed me, which I was arguing that close friendships should be equal and there shouldn't be an alpha friend.Delete
I think your friend does have some problems going on, but that doesn't give her permission to treat you badly. She only gave you a half-apology. I would recommend finding another way to get to book club. Then wait and see if she reaches out to you. If not, move on. The friendship wasn't a two-way street. If she does reach out, tell her you've noticed she's been a little irritable for the last few months. Is there anything going on? Is there anything you can help with?ReplyDelete
The book club is in the past. She missed any opportunity to help me out there.Delete
I have decided I will still be her friend if she reaches out to me. But I will NOT be giving her anymore rides. That is done.
I recommend talking to her face to face before you toss your friendship. Texts and emails cannot convey feeling you can see face to face that go unsaid. I lost a friend of 20 years this past year because she wouldn't pick up a phone to tell me how she was feeling and what she needed me to do to help her. SHe was offended I didnt automatically know what how she wanted me to respond to her personal crisis.Because I refuse to guess peoples feelings anymore. I am too old for that nonsense.ReplyDelete
I do feel sort of compelled to do that. Her instinct in this sort of situation is to shy away from conflict, but she can't do that if we are at least on the phone.Delete
I agree with the Anonymous comment. I have a few additional thoughts:ReplyDelete
1) Whether something is going on or not, you're not obligated to try and help her sort through it... especially if she has been loathe to talk about it already. It may help you to understand where she's coming from, and it could possibly make her feel better, but is it really worth it?
2) If you're already considering terminating your relationship with this person (or at least, setting it adrift) and feel that you have nothing to lose, then be up-front and direct. Let her know that you've been feeling hurt and don't enjoy your time together anymore, and for the specific reasons. Possibly suggest some things that she could do to resolve the situation. I know it's "conflict resolution 101," but it can be difficult to actually initiate it.
3) Lastly (and sort of getting back to the ending of point 1), you shouldn't feel obligated to go through with any of the above. Whether you find out her problems, or whether you try to engage in conflict resolution, it's going to take energy out of you and possibly add stress. Your relationship could be a lot better for it, but "is the juice worth the squeeze?" Or would you really be better off to just let the relationship idle, and possibly die?
What I wrote above may seem a bit cruel, and I don't mean to say that we have no obligations to our friends. But if a relationship is bothering you this badly, then it's worth taking a look and figuring out if it's still worth maintaining.
Maybe she's behind in the readings?ReplyDelete