Dear New Shrink,
I am not sure where to start. I have (or had) this friend for the last five years or so. When we met, she had few to no friends, seemed very shy and was definitely without social skills. But something about her made me care about her. She has a good heart and a lot of class, in that she is well mannered and treats people well. We have fun together and as time went on, I got to know her as she opened up and revealed the many ways that she had been hurt and humiliated in the past. I felt for her and really cared about her.
I did notice that she tended to be a bit narrow minded, and lacked the ability to compromise, but it really did not get in the way of our friendship. Recently she told me about a problem she continues to struggle with and I made a suggestion, one I truly thought might help. She wanted no part of it. I shouldn’t have argued, but I did push it because I truly believed it or something like it might help. In any event, it obviously hit a nerve because she has now left a message saying she never wants to see me or talk to me again. This hurts! I was just trying to help and after all these years of my being in her corner, one disagreement and I am history? This can’t be good for her and it doesn’t feel good to me. It doesn’t feel healthy or right. I left her a message asking her to think it over, saying I was sorry but I hoped one wrong would not wash away the rest of a good relationship. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions?
Sad and disappointed
Dear Sad and disappointed,
There is no question that being completely cut off by what you thought was a friend is not pleasant. Ideally, you would at least have a conversation to look at what the misunderstanding might be. If you are truly coming from the caring place you describe, then your friend misunderstood you, or at least misunderstood your intentions. There may also be something you don’t know, something that she never told you, maybe a secret that she could never tell you? We don’t always know everything about our friends and sometimes we can walk right into a trap in trying to help. This is even more so if she didn’t ask for your help.
There is a saying that you don’t really know you have a relationship until you make it through your first fight. While this applies more to romantic relationships, there is a thread of truth to it with friendships as well. Relationships of all kinds are inherently loaded with conflict and misunderstandings are common.
If I were you, I would try to talk with your friend and explain that you realize you stepped on her toes but that you never meant to and hope that she can find it in her heart to give you another chance. Let’s hope she will at least try to talk with you about what her hurt feelings are about and how the misunderstanding occurred.
If she won’t do this, you will just have to let go and move on. Send her lots of good wishes because it sounds like she is going to need it. You said she doesn’t have many friends. You are one of her better friends and this is how she handles her anger at you? It is easy to see why her friends are few. Perhaps it was just a matter of time before this happened. Sometimes we need to pay attention to the things we notice about people in the beginning and we should never assume it is going to be different with us. I don’t mean to sound harsh but why would you think that she wouldn’t turn on you one day? She cuts people off, why not you?
You should also try to reflect about what you may have done to hurt her so much. Most people don’t act like this unless they are deeply hurt. If you can figure it out, and have the opportunity to talk to her again, this may bring you a long way in mending the friendship.
You are correct, this is sad. And it is not healthy but do your best to do your part and hope that your friend comes around, not just for your sake but for her own sake as well.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist with offices in Brentwood. Send your anonymous replies and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Got something on your mind, let us help you with your life matters.