"Stories" from the Collective (YOU)


My Friendship Troubles

by Anon

My friendship with someone is changing in a way that I don't like - now we hardly seem to see each other, and when I ask if anything's up I get an irritated "no". Why is this happening?

"Relationships Q&A with You, Me and Paula Renaye"

QUESTION: Is my friend being manipulative?...


MORE FROM Anon...

I am so confused about a friend who is acting very manipulatively lately. It is not the person I remember them to be, so I'm trying to figure out if I did something or if I was blind to the way they have always been.

I guess I shouldn't even call them a friend. I have known them for years in varying degrees of friendship. At this point, we see each other occasionally but not frequently. I try to keep in touch with them, but on their side it is less frequent that I hear from them.

I had dinner with them earlier in the year and things seemed okay. At the end of dinner they seemed anxious to leave, like they didn't have more to say or didn't want to stay further, but it was also late and I don't want to read too much into it.

A few months later I attempted to get together for a birthday and was met with a "I'm too busy right now to even worry about that" and so I let it go and passed it off as getting them at a bad time.

I tried to get in touch with them over the summer to see if things were okay with us (because I was a little concerned about the change in tone from them) and didn't hear back. I asked if I had done something wrong, and the response was "no" - and they had no idea why I thought that. I took it that I was overreacting and let it slide.

A few weeks later I asked them to get together with me and they agreed, and then didn't bother to get back to me again when they were free. I was a little irritated and frustrated by their behavior and let them know that. I might have gone a little overboard in my frustration, and was met with an angry retort on their part and we haven't spoken since.

I'm feeling very manipulated by this person.

I try to keep in touch and be a friend. I try to ignore the moodiness and not take it personally, but when I do and try to understand if it is something I did wrong I am told it isn't happening. Then, when I tell them I am upset that they broke plans I get blamed for overreacting to something, because I never told them when I wanted to get together with them.

I don't feel like I know what they want.

Their actions say one thing and their words say another. I think for awhile that I've been reacting to their actions but they always tell me things are fine. Now I find that they are irritated with ME for not realizing it was their actions I should have been paying attention to all along and not their words.

Someone, it is all my fault - why do people act like this?



STEVE'S ANSWER

Clearly it's not only romantic relationships where there are issues, where communication can be a problem, and - perhaps most importantly - where things can change not to our liking...

"My friend, why have you drifted so far away? All motion is relative, maybe it is you who have moved away by standing still."
-- Unknown

When I read your question, Anon (you didn't leave your name), several thoughts came to my mind about my own 'suffering' when it comes to the changing nature of friendships. And so I will answer to myself, here, and maybe you can take something from what I share.

1) Friendships change - they ebb and flow, and sometimes they even end! This is just what happens in friendships, as in relationships of a romantic kind. I might like it, but that's not going to make any difference to this truism about friendship

2) Obsessing over any friendship never helps that friendship. Whatever is or is not happening in your friendship there comes a point when all you can do is your best and leave the other to do theirs. If they choose to not want to spend time with you any more then so be it.

3) Just because a friendship changes in a way that you don't like doesn't make that friend a bad person. Friendships change, relationships change, life IS about change. And the best thing we can do for ourselves is to embrace this changing nature of all things, whether we like it or not. Resistance to what is 'is' where suffering comes from. And that suffering affects only one person, Steve, and that's YOU!

--

Anon, re-read your carefully considered and well-worded question. And see if my answer about my own struggles with changing friendships cannot also apply to your struggle with this particular friendship.

The last thing I'll say is that you are a wonderful person, deserving of great friendships with people who care about you. Not everyone will treat you like this, however, and that's fine just as long as you recognise what YOU deserve and act accordingly

I wish you well
Steve

PS YouTube can often provide great relationship answers, as in this case: "How to win back a friend: Is this a friendship worth saving?"

Comments for My Friendship Troubles

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Friendships Fade
by: Anonymous

It seems like as we grow older meaningful friendships are harder and harder to maintain. I don't really have any friends now. I have my family and work acquaintances. I'm "friendly" with people, but my responsibilities and schedule don't allow for deep friendships. I miss them but I don't see how they will ever happen again. Here's what I mean: http://daisybrain.wordpress.com/2010/12/21/musings-on-friendship/

Relativity of Relationships
by: Hanson G.

I really like some of the topics that have been discussed here about relationships. All of them really do remind me of the fleeting nature of things - not only in regard to relationships with others, but with the whole world! It all reminds me of how willing/capable I am of "going with the flow" of things.

We all really, by nature, have tendencies to "cling" to things, because maybe deep down inside we know how impermanent people, places, and things can be - and we want something to hold on to, to help us feel "safe" and taken care of. A kind of primordial instinct programmed into our minds? We "fantasize" about how we can make THINGS last, not wanting to face the reality that they really don't.

On a cynical note, I recall a quote my deceased brother came up with a while ago :

"The secret to success is to look good at a distance."

There is a wry irony in that, because it reminds me of the dillema many of us face (esp. in more intimate relationships) about deciding when to get into others' "territory" and when to retract from it. It has to do with the skills of knowing when to set boundaries. But, more importantly, how secure/confident we feel about ourselves when we're up close to people. And how much easier it is to feel secure from afar.

I found a similar analogy in Tibetan Buddhism : a teacher (lama) is like a stick of incense, from afar his scent is so fragrant, but if you get up close to him, his smoke will burn your eyes.

Just some thoughts. Thanks for letting me share.

Friend? Give it space
by: Sandy

I agree with Steve. Friendships ebb and flow. The question is: Is this really a "friendship"? Often times our "friends" tell us who they are by their actions. But because we want them in our lives we ignore the messages.

It's time for you to assess if you really want this person in your life right now. What is the payoff for you if they stay? or if they leave? Why don't you feel you can ask your "friend" to have a discussion about friendship? Are you willing to be vunerable with them? (Perhaps losing their friendship...)

Realize that vulnerability is a part of true friendship.

If you don't feel comfortable discussing how you're feeling with them, give you and them some space. I look at friendships from a spritual point of view: if it is intended for it to last, it will. If not, it won't.

I had a close emotional friendship with a person which lasted over 30 years but then we grew apart. It seems that they had some experiences (which had nothing to do with me) that they did not feel like sharing with me. And since up to that point, we always shared everything, that was a sign of a breakdown in communication. I could not get around that block, so I let the friendship go. Every now and then we keep in touch. I think that is the level of friendship that the both of us can handle at this point. I've let them know if they ever want to rekindle our relationship, to let me know. And now, I'm at peace. I hope they are too.

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