When a Friendship Dies

I have a friend who we’ll call K.  K and I have known each other since 4th grade.  I won’t go into the intricate details of our friendship but, we were best friends in the full sense of the phrase.  Until about a year ago…

When K graduated from college, she moved to NYC.  She found a nice apartment, was hanging out with her sorority sisters and had a great job.  She was pretty busy with work and friends down there and I was pretty busy with the same, just three hours north.  We still managed to stay in touch, though and still saw each other on occasion – her parents still live locally and she would come home to visit.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve grown apart (to say the least).  At first, it was because our schedules didn’t mesh but, we would still see each other when one of us was in the others town.  Then that stopped happening.

It pretty much ended when K was home for a long weekend several months ago.  We had made plans to go out on Saturday night for dinner but she had to do something with her family first and was supposed to call me when she was done.  Despite my calls and text messages, she didn’t end up calling me until 11pm, by which time I was already tired and not up for going out.  We agreed that I would meet her at the train station the next day for breakfast before she headed back to the city.  She was supposed to call me in the morning.  That never happened.

This was just the beginning of what has become the end.  Following that incident, I was in the city and, despite repeated texts and a tentative plan, in the end she ignored me and we didn’t end up seeing each other.  Since then, she has been home and made no attempt to get together with me or even to say hi while she was here.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming her.  I’ve been in the city and haven’t bothered to contact her.  I haven’t called or texted or reached out in any way…mostly because I’m just done with trying.

Over the years, our friendship has pretty much been on a down-slide.  While we were still friends, we no longer had similar interests.  We didn’t want the same things out of life.  We had different friends and different ideas of what a friend should be.  Basically, our friendship had died a slow death.

Here’s the thing…I’m fine with the death of our friendship but I feel like there’s a huge pink elephant in the rooms – neither one of us has acknowledged to the other that our friendship has died.  I feel like we have unfinished business.  On my most recent trip to NYC, I considered calling her to see if she would meet me for brunch; the whole point being and means to an end.  I feel like I need to clear the air.  To say:

You were one of my best friends.  I still love you but, it’s obvious our friendship has died.  I’ll still be there if you ever need anything but, lets not pretend that we are a big part of each others lives anymore.

Unfortunately, I found out she was going to be away that weekend so it didn’t happen.  A friends said I should just call her and say what I have to say but, I feel like this is too personal for a phone call.

What do you think I should do?  Should I let it go and let life take its course?  Or should I find a way to clear the air?  Have you had a similar experience?

19 thoughts on “When a Friendship Dies

  1. I have a similar story to share, that may (or may not) bring perspective to your story.

    I forged strong friendships with two guys from college long ago. I met one guy my freshman year, We’ll call him R. R and I started out just chit chatting around on campus, and then we started spending time together in the college “pub” area. We got along well. Turns out we both were wrestling fans, both loved video games, and both of us had misanthropic views on life.

    My sophomore year, I met a guy, referenced here as B while doing my group chemistry tutoring. Turns out he was in a band, and I had just started playing guitar, so we had that in commmon. He invited me to his bands’ shows and we even got together to jam on guitar.

    At some point in that year, we all started getting together for lunch. And it turned into an obligatory thing. Every friday, we would convene at 11:20a (after class), and literally spend the whole afternoon eating and having a great time.

    Throughout grad school, I kept in touch with these guys (the only real people I communicate with from college days, besides my ex-wife, but that’s another comment 😉 ). Things were great; we got together regularly, found activities to do, and spent alot of time together.

    R always was the type to be clingy and give people a hard time for either not hanging out, or whatever. Then we started blogging, and a whole blog war ensued (which was partially responsible for me being asked to leave graduate school), and that started driving a wedge between us. Then my grandfather passed away. Things were busy and I had to leave town. I had a quick chance to call B to tell him to inform R. When I got back into town, the sympathy I got from R was “Well, just because your grandfather died doesnt mean the whole world has to stop.”

    I’m not trying to re-live old memories, but I was definitely hurt by this. I stopped talking to both R and B. Actually, I ran into B a few times and I treated him unfairly considering the circumstances. He was trying to make peace, and i wasn’t open to it.

    Back in July (2 days before my 30th birthday), I was going through a pretty hardcore depression. I took a chance, and invited B to hang out with me and my other friends. What went through my head was, “let me start rebuilding with B and things w R will come back.”

    Almost a year later, I am really happy that I reunited with them. I get together regularly with them both, and things are just great. It’s like we haven’t missed a step. It feels really good knowing that something from my college years is still running strong (especially right now, since my recent separation).

    Moral of the story: sometimes a break is a good thing.

    • Thanks for sharing! It definitely adds some perspective to it. K and I have had serious breaks in the past where we went for a year or two without speaking and then got back together and were able to be friends again. The toughest part is deciding if I should say something or just let it go. I feel like, by not saying something, there’s some type of unfinished business. However, if I do say something, I don’t want it to be an argument…just a conclusion.

  2. Doh! I got so carried away, I forgot to address that! I personally dont see the value in approaching it. And just for the record, I’ve also been know to be generally passive in dealing with these types of situations.

    I dont really know the other side, but they could be dealing with some things internally that make it difficult for them to reach out and offer the type of friendship you had in the past. I know that for my own reasons, until recently, where I’ve made a bunch of new friends, I was a bad friend because I made myself unavailable.

    I know it’s hard to be there and be expecting something and to not get it, but I’m a firm believer that time does wonders to friendships!

    • You make a really good point. We have gone through our ups and downs and in the downs, we sometimes didn’t talk for a year or more. I guess I just feel like this is different from those times, though, because there was no fight and no cause that I can see. However, as you said. she may be going through something and can’t be a friend right now.

  3. I feel like this is what happened with a bunch of my HS friends when we all went to college. Granted, the situation is different, but there are a lot of parallels. And in that case, with one notable exception, we all just went about our lives and slowly faded from each others memories. It’s probably easier that way, although if you need that sense of closure, I’d suggest you make it happen.

    • A lot of my high school friends drifted away when we all went to college. This was a little different because we made an effort to stay in touch and continue our friendship. In a way, it feels like the high school/college thing is happening, just delayed by 5 years.

      Thanks for the help!

  4. I’m with derryX. Some things are best left unsaid. Even if all she is “going through” is everyday life. That she has been unresponsive is hurtful, I know, but it’s hard to say what the root of that unresponsiveness is–not wanting to communicate with YOU, or just not wanting to communicate, period.

    I’m not going to pretend I don’t know the people involved here, and K has always been “flighty.” What she thinks she wants changes from moment to moment. While that might have been more tenable in a friend as a teen (sometimes even endearing), it’s harder to take in an adult relationship.

    But here’s the thing. Not all of our lasting friendships have to be “close” ones. It’s okay to drift apart. We make new friends who come and go through our lives. Very rarely we have to exorcize a poisonous person from our lives, but more often, some bonds just loosen with changing lives, needs and circumstances. What you have to decide is if you can live with the loose bonds or you’d prefer no bond at all. Having a faceoff of some kind–having to put a name on it–may force a complete severing of bonds and a permenant loss.

    Some of the people who have turned out to be the best friends I have had in my life are people that I have not talked to for years at a time. They may not have been constant companions, but they have turned out to be beloved pillars in my life who turned up at the very moments when they were most needed, and vice versa.

    A friendship doesn’t have to die just because it isn’t as strong as it once was. I’d save the bond cutting for those who are actively destructive in your life. The fact that you agonize about it would seem to indicate that she still means a great deal to you. If I was in your shoes, I’d let that lie. Let her continue to mean a great deal to you. If she reaches out to you again on another trip, manage your expectations accordingly.

    Just my two cents!

    • Oh! And, thanks mom! You’re probably right. It’s just been weighing on my mind.

      A lot of it is because when K went through this with another friend, she flipped out and was all sorts of ticked off. While I don’t feel the way she did, it’s still frustrating to deal with someone repeating behaviors that they despised and made such a big deal about. To go along with that, I don’t want her to turn around and do the same thing to me that she did to the other person.

      I guess I should just let life take it’s course and just adjust my expectations.

  5. Perhaps I should create an alter ego that can comment anonymously! 😉 Then, anytime anyone gives you sage advise, you’ll always suspect it’s me! Don’t go too far, derryX. You’re the kind of freind I like her to have!

    • When I saw Holly and that they were familiar with the real names, I kind of figured it was your mom, Cassie!

      Cassie’s Mom – I dont know what you mean about going to far. I’m a well-raised Italian boy; I never go too far!

      • Ha, ha! I meant don’t go too far AWAY! I like to know the girl has got some good friends nearby,

  6. I feel like what you’re looking for is a bit of closure (which we all want) but unfortunately, i’m not sure you’ll get that from her. I’ve recently gone through a painful friend break up with someone who I was super-duper close with. In the middle of it, my boyfriend said “babe…i think you really need some closure.” I thought about this for a long time and realized that even if I said what I wanted/needed to say to her, it would make me feel any better. If anything, it’d make me more sad because it really was the end. I guess what I mean is that sometimes we need to make our own closure and realize that friends come and go – doesn’t mean that she won’t come back. Or maybe she’s just a once-a-year-drinks type of friend. Those are nice to have too. Hope it all works out!


    • You always have fantastic insight love. Thank you.

      As a side note, I totally thought of you the other day when I was putting on my flip-flops. I was thinking “I wonder if Meg would think it’s too early for these.”

  7. Well maybe I’m old fashioned, but like Meg said, maybe you need closure. I know I usually do when something like this happens. Thank God I did. Something similar happened to me about 8 or 9 years ago. Finally I picked up the phone and called my friend because it didn’t make sense to me. Turns out she was offended I wasn’t able to make it to a party she had and she was genuinely hurt but my not being there. She didn’t realize that the reason I didn’t make it was because I was on the other side of the world…. If I hadn’t made that phone call we may have never spoken again. Thankfully I did and we were able to talk through the problem and to this day she is one of my best friends 🙂 Good luck whatever you decide….

  8. Pingback: The Rest is History « No Day But Today

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