- 4 years ago
I am just wondering if any bees can relate to my “toxic friend” dilemma. I feel so torn after having 2 close friendships go awry in the last 6 months. Details below…
With the first friend, we have been friends for 15 years (since college). She tends to have very high expectations of her friends and, to be honest, sometimes it feels like work to keep her happy. Example: when she was planning her own wedding a few years ago, I discovered she had written on a public forum that I, along with several of her other friends, “sucked” because we didn’t show enough interest in her wedding planning. Only a few weeks prior, I had gone to her venue and taken panoramic pictures so she could refer to them as she chose her decor. I uploaded those pictures into a private Facebook album to share with her maid of honor so we could all work together in helping her. I went with her to choose her dress and made a champagne toast when she decided on ‘the one’. I defended her dress choice when her mother said it was ugly. I scoured the flea market with her for a certain type of vase she wanted for centerpieces. And then I logged in to my computer to find that she was talking shit about me online for allegedly not caring enough.
Fast forward a few years… she now has a child. My husband and I don’t have kids. She tells me that she feels like she’s on a “mommy island” and nobody can relate… however, many of her close friends have kids or are expecting. I helped throw her a very thoughtfully-themed baby shower. I ask about her child every time we talk, I was the first non-family member to babysit him, and I buy him little gifts often. Long story short: I try hard to be a good friend even if I can’t relate to being a parent. Recently, she backed out of a commitment that required me to go out of my way to compensate… she stated she was simply too stressed with all that’s going on in her life to do what she had promised. I realized she was stressed, didn’t say anything about it, and went the extra mile to make up for her lack of follow-through. I even sent her a supportive message of encouragement the next day. I didn’t say anything until the following week, when she again acted as if her time mattered more than anyone else’s now that she’s a parent… and so I fessed up and told her I was annoyed. I actually used the phrase “mildly annoyed” to be gentle. Like other times, she did not take well to being criticized in even the mildest form. She unfriended me on Facebook, blocked me from her Gchat, and professionally packaged some trivial items she had borrowed from me and had them shipped to my house (we live in the same town). She then emailed me to say that she needed “some space” from me. The only other disagreement we had in the last year is that, when I told her a few months ago that I was going through a rough time, she went into a rant about how she has her own problems and had to go on a high-dose antidepressant in order to be able to deal with her child, and she couldn’t understand why I wasn’t on an antidepressant too. I told her that I respected her treatment decision but didn’t necessarily feel that it was the right path for me, and she got mad and ignored me. Just like she is right now. I imagine I am not supposed to contact her until she decides our “break” is over. It has been very frustrating – and quite perplexing – that me saying I was “mildly annoyed” led to this extreme a reaction.
The second friend I have known for over 10 years and we have also been very close friends. She has a history of intensely stormy relationships and has frequently “cut off” other people – including some of her closest friends – for perceived wrongdoings. Our friendship managed to weather the ups and downs of her moods until recently. She and another mutual friend asked me to hang out on a Saturday night. I suggested about 4 different ways/places for us to go, but neither of them could agree. I said I was game for anything and worked to find a compromise for the two of them. My friend then accused me of neglecting her feelings because she had asked me to hang out first (this sounds so middle schoolish as I’m typing it). I then snapped at her and – this is the part where I could have done better – confessed that she has upset me multiple times lately with insensitive things she has said (such as criticisms of my home and the fact that we let my husband’s special-needs brother live with us). I know I shouldn’t have brought up old hurts, but in that moment, I was just so frustrated with her and wanted to point out that she has a tendency to be incredibly insensitive herself. And that night I had been trying so hard to make activity suggestions that would make HER happy! Ugh. In the following days, I asked her if we could work it out and both work on our communication patterns in order to make our friendship stronger, but she stated that she did not need to change anything about herself and, if I wanted her to change, I shouldn’t be friends with her in the first place. I didn’t ask her to change WHO she was, just how she communicates sometimes. She refuses. How can I work with that?
Sorry for my rambling. I just wonder if any bees can relate. Should I keep trying to “save” these wounded friendships? I have a lot of friends, make friends easily, and get invited to more social outings than I can usually attend. Still, I don’t like “throwing away” friendships and I think it’s important to work through rough patches with people I have a long history with. On the other hand, maybe I should just let it go, clear out cobwebs of negativity, and refill that space with healthier and more positive relationships.