Wine Bottle Lifejacket

Disappearing Friend: Just Add Happiness!

Dear Robin:

After being divorced for several years and going through one particularly bad long-term relationship, I met someone new and wonderful and we quickly fell in love.

After one year, one month, and one week we are still going strong.  So why is one of my best friends (Mary) suddenly so distant?

For months when I spoke about my boyfriend she would always caution me and say things like, “I’m worried about you, you are moving too fast, this is not going to end well.”  I kept trying to introduce her to him but she had zero interest in meeting him.

Now that they have met a couple times, I’ve been shocked at how cold Mary is towards him.

I know you are going to tell me to talk to her but I read your blog every day and I was already planning on that.  I texted her to set up a date to get together, told her I missed her, etc. and really wanted to catch up.  In return I received several bizarre and angry messages basically ending our friendship.

I’m pissed hurt and feel like I need some sort of conversation or closure with this woman.  Has this happened to you? What do you think I should do?

Finally Happy

Dear Finally Happy:

Mazel tov on your love!  Finding romantic bliss after divorce, or as I call it the “Renaissance Love,” is a wonderful thing.

However, please change how you measure and report the length of your relationship.  What are you, 13?  Did you scribble his name all over your Peechee® during health class, when you absolutely should have been listening to the lecture on birth control?

peechee

My theory is until your baby love turns into toddler love, you should refer to your time together only in months, up to 24.

As I told you when we talked on the phone, I’ve already written this blog.  Before I post the link and save myself some work, let’s share with the readers a few important details about your “friendship,” shall we?

Finally Happy and Never Happy: A Finite Love Story 

  • You met when you were both going through very ugly divorces.
  • Even though you consider her one of your “Top Three” friends you report Mary has always been somewhat secretive and vague.  By the way, since I know and love you personally I am deeply offended at her position. Given my lack of knowledge of the list I can only assume I hold no ranking upon it. I expect that to change. 
  • While you picked yourself up after your divorce and reinvented yourself in numerous and impressive ways, she has wallowed in her misery and done nothing to make her life better.  She is, unlike you, a profoundly unhappy person.
  • For the past 13 months Mary has not initiated any contact with you.  The times you have spent together have always been at your urging.
  • You have always dropped whatever you were doing to come to her aid, which she seemed to need more than the average person.  She to you?  Not so much.

I asked you on the phone if when you were single you looked at every man who asked you out on a date as a potential future husband with whom you would enjoy great happiness for the rest of your days.  You wisely said no, and that not every date would turn into forever.

The reason I asked you that question is because many people, especially women, tend to view friendships as something that should and must last a lifetime, regardless of how those friendships change over time.  We should try to look at platonic time-killing partners in the same manner we view potential romantic ones.

We beat ourselves up and worry incessantly when a friendship is in distress or has ended, whether through a sudden terrible event (being caught in a hotel room with her husband) or simply diverging interests and priorities.  

Not all relationships are meant to last, my friend, except ours.  I hope you have installed me into the Top Three now that Mary has scattered to the wind.

I wrote a blog about toxic friendships a while back that applies perfectly to your issue. You can read that here:

Toxic Friends, Life Jackets, and Champagne

That blog described two kinds of toxic friends: 

  1. The ones who are only around for the good times; and
  2. The ones who are only around for the bad.

Mary falls squarely into category #2.  While it is regrettable that her life is a largely unhappy one, given the length of time she has been this way I must draw the obvious conclusion that she prefers the dark to the light.

Mary doesn’t want you to be happy, because then her misery has no company. She is done with you because your current mental state does not please her.  

These types of “friends” are just as worthless as the ones who are only there for you in the best of times.  

Givers and Takers

The last bullet point in that list describing your friendship is an especially troubling one for me, because you and I are very similar people. I think we may have been separated at birth and have sent my mother (also named Mary!) an inquiry via email regarding whether she may have inadvertently left a baby at the hospital back in April, 1969.

Or perhaps she chose me over you because I had the birth markings of a rich and famous writer who would one day shower millions of dollars upon her.  Boy, did she read those splotches wrong.

Tangent!  Sorry.

We belong to a group of people I call Givers.  

Mary (not my mom!) hangs out with the Takers.

I won’t bother defining those two terms because with the exception of the divorce lawyers who log every word I write, my readers are intelligent enough to understand the concepts of “Givers” and “Takers” as those words relate to interpersonal relationships.

I had the opportunity to re-learn this old lesson recently when I shared with a very small number of people a distressing situation I won’t describe here.  I did something I almost never do:

I asked a few folks for time and help and a shoulder to lean on.  

These are people who have long enjoyed my immediate attention whenever they requested it. Some responded as I would have to them.

Some did not.

It’s remarkable what you find out about people when you truly need them.  And, as you have discovered, it’s remarkable what you discover about people when your circumstances change for the better.

My advice to you is the same I gave to myself a few years ago and again recently in the form of a mathematical solution:

If people add nothing positive to your life, but require that you continually add to theirs, subtract them.

You don’t need closure because she gave it to you.  Mary ended a friendship in a text message (fucking coward) and did so because she was unhappy that you are, as you named yourself, Finally Happy.

Closure?  You don’t need no stinking closure!

Seeking closure on such a shallow relationship would be like trying to understand the motivations of a crocodile for eating a rat, or a divorce lawyer for instigating conflict that raises their fees.  Your friendship wasn’t so much a real one as it was a relationship of convenience.  

Now that you are happy, you are no longer convenient.

Bump me up into the Top Three and I’ll show you someone who can be there for you no matter what, as I know you are for me.  

If you choose not to, I will fuck you up, so please send me whatever paperwork is necessary for the change. Move Mary into the “a few dates, no marriage pile” where she can chill with all those idiots you spent time with before meeting the man of your dreams.

 

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Greg

    Givers and Takers. Or, as my ex (I’ll let you decide which camp she falls in…) spit at me in a moment of clarity (for me; blind rage for her; a condition she lives in so solidly she had to have gum surgery from brushing ’em so hard they retreated): “You’re a PLEASER!” I’ve never heard such a kind word uttered with such disgust.

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