Dear Wayne and Wanda,
A good friend of mine recently turned 60 and married an arrogant man whom I intensely dislike. This has affected our 28-year friendship. Our interactions now feel very superficial and, frankly, I don't think we enjoy each other's company anymore.
When we met, we were both single moms, in our 20s with young children. Since then, our lives have taken very different paths. My daughter is very successful and hers is kind of a problem. She has been married several times and I have been in my current relationship a few years. I've had income struggles and she is wealthy. I feel like she judges me for my financial struggles but remains friends out of longtime loyalty. But I'm not sure if I even like her anymore, due to her marrying this guy.
The fun has gone out of our friendship. We used to laugh and share our lives. We have a lot of history and I always admired her. Maybe we are just two different people now and no longer have much in common, and the friendship will just fade out. I am sad, but I guess some friendships end. Should I end the friendship?
Friendship is a funny thing. Romantic relationships typically have a definitive ending, when one or both partners decide the coupling is no longer working out and agree to go their separate ways. We don't have these conversations with our friends. Friendships can go on for years, outlasting many of our romantic relationships and at times can feel so deep and intense that it is impossible to think of a time when that incredible closeness will fade -- when that person won't be our emergency contact, our first call after a massive disappointment, our go-to when we are ready to celebrate.
But, all relationships have this in common: They depend upon the compatibility of personalities and a little something called chemistry. We often choose friends because, as you said, they are fun to be around. We admire them. We see qualities in them we aspire to. Simply put, we choose to spend time with them because we like the way we feel around them.
You no longer like how you feel around your friend. On top of that, she's selected a partner whom you dislike, who isn't a person you would choose to associate with. That's probably emotionally confusing; how could someone you have admired so much choose a partner whom you find so unlikable?
The two of you have been through a lot but, indeed, this friendship is facing its sunset. I don't think a formal breakup conversation is needed. But I would suggest you start putting your energy into friendships that you find fulfilling and have a positive impact on your life.
Not to go all Hallmark on you, but there is something to the saying, "Friends are the family we choose." Many of us maintain friendships that are deeper than the relationships we have with our own blood. For people who travel far away from the family base for school or work (or to get far away from that crazy family base), friends become the people we enjoy holidays and share our highs and lows with, and those we keep closest and value most. And let's be real -- many of our friendship bonds are stronger than those we have with our revolving doors of lovers.
With that level of emotional investment and trust comes the potential for a lifelong connections and devastating endings. Sometimes, you just have to face the facts and move on. Sad, but true. But I'm not certain this particular friendship has come to its end.
When was the last time you two had a real heart-to-heart? You used to have them all the time, but I'm guessing they've been avoided because of all the messy stuff that's come up in recent days, months, years -- annoying husband, different number of zeroes in the bank accounts, grown-up kids, etc.
Are you brave enough to tell your friend how much you love her, miss her and want to reconnect? Are you strong enough to tell her all of the things that hurt you? Are you humble enough to say you're sorry for not being there for her and possibly hurting her?
If you want this person in your life or want to find out if she even can be, you have to fight for it. Even if it doesn't work out, at least you'll have the clarity you need to fully move on.
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