- 8 years ago
- Wedding: June 2011
I’ve been friends with one of my bridesmaids since high school. Her life was always a bit more tumultuous than mine, so we fell into roles of the “listener” and the “talker”: she would call with her (usually relationship-related) problems, I would give her advice, she would agree that it was good advice, we would painstakingly disect her life to figure out why she kept making the same bad choices, and then the next day she would do the exact opposite of whatever we had discussed. This went on for over a decade. Obviously, this was incredibly frustrating, but I loved her and I never wanted her to feel like she couldn’t come to me with problems, so I kept listening.
Last year, she had a very messy break-up, and I realized in the aftermath that my “advice” was just enabling her to not get the help I believed she needed from a professional. Not to mention the fact that I felt solely responsible for whether or not she would come out of her obvious depression OK, which was additionally stressful because we live in different states. After talking to a lot of people, especially other friends who had battled depression and unhealthy relationships in the past, I realized that I had to set up boundaries for our friendship so that she stopped relying on me as a therapist. I wrote her a long letter outlining how much I loved her, how worried I was about her, and how I felt that the way we approached her problems was not helping her and was really hurting me. I ended by saying that until she sought some kind of counseling, I couldn’t be her go-to person to talk about relationships anymore. Her response was 5 words: “That makes sense. I understand.” She never sought therapy, and (for the most part) she has stopped talking to me about her ex.
This is all background to the current problem, really. We still talk semi-regularly, but now that I’ve asked her not to talk about her immediate problems, I’m noticing something: she doesn’t seem to care about my life at all. When called me only when she was in a crisis, I made the excuse that we didn’t talk about me because her problems were bigger/more important. And immediately after I sent the letter, I made the excuse that she was angry with me, or that she was still getting her life in order and felt it painful to discuss mine (since I was doing well, with a recent engagement and success at work). Now, however, she has made huge strides at work, has made friends and gained recognition, and still she never asks about me. In the last 6 months, I’ve gotten engaged, achieved a major career milestone, have been on three significant trips, and, perhaps most importantly, have found out some very upsetting medical news. She never asks about any of this. I have tried to subtly insert news about myself, but she always manages to move the conversation back to her. Today, when I brought up an appointment related to my medical news, she said it was good that I could see a doctor about it, and then immediately changed the subject to her own successes with work.
I love this girl, and we’ve been through a lot together. I want our friendship to be strong when she stands beside me on my wedding day. But right now, I can’t tell whether she even wants to fill that role, or whether she has any interest in me whatsoever. How do you tell a person they need to care about you more? Has anyone out there dealt with something like this? My other bridesmaids are wonderful friends who I know would do anything for me–the two others who know about the medical news have written, called, sent funny postcards, etc. since I told them the news. How do I deal with the fact that she doesn’t feel the same way?