Ask Alle: I’ve been friend-dumped!

It’s Monday! Monday! Gotta get down on Monda-ay! Wait, what do you mean those aren’t the words?

Anyway. It’s about time for a brand new episode of…

Alle Malice has a B.A. in Psychology, which is basically a degree in seeing through other people’s bullshit. She also has a B.A. in English, but that’s not really relevant. Though she does not pretend to have it all figured out, she does have enough figured out to be helpful.

I had this good friend for whom I was always there for through all of her crazy drama, then one day I needed some emotional support from her and she friend dumped me without an explanation. Ideas as to why someone would do that?

Okay. The way I see it, there are three possibilities here:

  • It’s her.

Some people are selfish. Some people structure friendships so that it’s all about them all of the time, so that they can shunt the burden of their problems and bad choices onto someone else, so that there’s always someone else to feel worse when they feel bad. These people can’t handle it when they have to give instead of take, and so they dump the friend in need rather than admit that they only want the current of the relationship to run one way. They are horrible and tiring and you are better off without them, trust me.

But the thing about these people is that they’re really rare in their concentrated form. They also stand out a mile away. Because of this and the fact that she was a good friend (implying that you knew her well), it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she pulled the vanishing act if this was the case. Since you’re confused about the outcome, though, I don’t think it’s terribly likely.

  • It’s you.

Has this happened to you before? Like maybe more than once? Nobody likes to hear this, but maybe you’re the problem. Maybe describing her problems as “crazy drama” is your way of minimising someone else’s serious situation. Maybe your friend can’t take care of you right now, maybe your issue revolves around a situation she can’t help with, maybe your idea of emotional support is being allowed to bitch and whine for hours while taking no real steps to fix the problem (that shit is hard after a point). I know it’s hard to be logical while you’re in the throes of Big Problems, but take an honest look at your actions here.

  • It’s both of you.

This is by far the most likely scenario. Sometimes friendships are toxic in the same way romantic relationships are toxic and neither person notices it because they’re so involved. So here we have two good friends. One of them goes through a tough time, then goes AWOL. The other friend gets pissed off and demands explanations. So we have a total goddamned flake and a judgmental bitch. Sounds awesome! Appletinis for everyone!

So, she “dumped” you. Did she sit you down and tell you that it’s not you, it’s her and she hopes that you’ll be happier without her in your life? No. She phased you out of her life, albeit quickly, which is generally what you do when a friendship has become too difficult or painful to continue. I’m really not sure if this is the “mature” way to handle things, but sometimes it seems easier to let a friendship die of neglect than have a massive high school style throwdown. It’s certainly the way most friendships end as you get older, not with a bang but a whimper.

If I only learned one thing through my many, many psychology classes, it’s that people always have good reasons for the things they do. These reasons may suck or make no sense to anyone else, but they ALWAYS make sense to the person who acts on them. Cultivating a close friendship is fucking hard work, and I have never known a single person to just drop one for fun or because they’re bored. Look at the relationship. I bet you a million dollars that you’ll be able to figure out why your friend isn’t around anymore.

Now, here’s what you can do about it.

You can work on yourself, first and foremost, to make sure that you’re being treated by everyone in your life–this includes friends–the way you should be treated. This means with kindness, compassion and respect. Friendships are not give and take; you do not help someone through a tough time because you expect payment in kind. You give and give, and the other person gives and gives, too. That’s a healthy friendship. It’s fine for there to be times where one person gives more than the other, because that’s life. But if the situation is too imbalanced for too long, that’s your cue to start limiting your investment in the relationship.

You can work on the way you treat other people to make sure this doesn’t play out again. Basically you have to ask yourself, “Have I been a dick? Who have I been a dick to?” Fix it. There is nothing weak about apologising when you’ve been wrong. Like in romantic relationships, it’s possible to establish & then get stuck in negative patterns. The last thing you want is for this entire dramatic scenario to play out again with a different cast of characters.

Finally, find a way to get closure. You may want an explanation and you may want to say your piece, but first figure out if it’s worth it. You can call your former friend a hurtful bitch to her face, but she might say something worse. You may find out why you guys aren’t close anymore and it could be horrible. It may seem like a good idea to yell at this girl and tell her what a cow she is–believe me, I understand that urge–but hello, that’s probably the kind of thing that contributed to the problem in the first place.

Whatever the case, when you’ve closed to door, let it be done. This means no backbiting, no rumour-spreading and no badmouthing her to mutual friends. If people ask why you don’t hang out anymore, the harshest thing that should come out of your mouth is “We’re just not close anymore.” Learn graceful habits now, and they’ll take you a long way.

(So will writing angry letters/emails and not sending them. It sounds hokey, but it really is a good way to blow off steam, the best way I know how, actually. But trust me: DO NOT SEND THEM. All it’ll do is make you look crazy, and even if that’s how you feel, it’s not at all what you want.)

Just know that at the end of the day, the only thing that heals wounds from any kind of breakup is time. Give yourself plenty of it. Every day you’re going to feel a little bit better until one day, it won’t hurt at all anymore.

That’s a promise.

One thought on “Ask Alle: I’ve been friend-dumped!

  1. I agree with just about everything said here except for one – the lack of badmouthing to mutual friends. You just never know who are mutual friends and who are not, so heed the sage words of advice from the generations of way back when and do not say things you wouldn’t say to their face to anyone. I’ve dated some crazy girls and quite frankly, the nastiest thing I can say about them is that they need to find their own inner happiness, and sadly they won’t find it being around me. And it’s true – they have found their own happiness now, and they’re much less crazy.

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