My boss forwarded your blog to me and I haven’t stopped laughing since. I love your style and how direct you are, so I decided to see if you can help me (but go easy on me!).
I have a friend who is really unreliable. We make plans and she cancels at the last minute, she often doesn’t return calls or texts, and generally I am starting to feel like I can’t count on her. We always have a really great time when we are together, so I don’t think she doesn’t like me or anything like that.
I’ve read your blogs about ending friendships but here’s why that’s hard: her husband is my husband’s best friend. I can’t make some big pronouncement ending the friendship because I don’t want any drama for myself or my husband.
We do things as couples about five times a year, and it’s funny, she never cancels those events! That’s another thing: we always host and they never reciprocate. Basically they always suggest doing something at our house. And they have a really nice house so it’s not like they can’t host once in a while.
Anyway, my feelings are really hurt and I’m not quite sure what to do to feel better. What’s your advice?
-Feeling Disappointed and Left Out
Can I just say first that your boss is the coolest boss ever? OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about you.
What you have here is a traditional one-way relationship.
I don’t always advocate a direct “break up” with a friend, and since your husbands are buddies I would say this situation calls for a more discreet approach.
However, it’s important to note that when I emailed you yesterday, you told me you have never addressed this issue with your friend. For that, you deserve a chiding.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: USE YOUR WORDS.
She can’t read your mind, and from her perspective she probably thinks you don’t mind being treated like a doormat. After all, you’ve accepted this treatment from her for 7 years and never said a word about your feelings. She is treating you exactly as you are allowing her.
After we chatted a bit and I got a better idea of her personality, I’m going to guess she is not capable of being the kind of friend you want. She sounds like a selfish and self-centered woman who is also dead set on climbing the social ladder in your town. I say that because you have noticed a pattern of canceling on you when a “bigger better deal,” comes along.
I know this woman. I don’t mean that figuratively, I mean I think I actually KNOW this woman. But enough about me…
OK, here’s my advice for you. It’s actually quite simple and should be rather painless:
1. The next time she flakes on you, make a pithy comment about it, followed by a serious one. Disarm her with humor and then be direct and honest. Here’s an example:
“I got your text canceling lunch – thank for letting me know. By the way, can I have your pie crust recipe? I know someone as flakey as you must make a superior pie crust! LOL. But in all seriousness, this happens a lot. I just want you to know it hurts my feelings when you cancel, and also when you don’t return my messages. Is there something going on we should talk about?”
2. Watch what happens next. If she apologizes and becomes a better friend, great! But I’m guessing she won’t. Here’s what you do next if she continues being a flakey and unresponsive friend:
You will gain zero life points by confronting her again, much as you will gain zero life points by stewing over this woman. I hate to be blunt (well, that’s an obvious lie) but she isn’t thinking about you nearly as much as you are thinking about her.
You told me you have a pretty solid number of good friends who treat you as well as you treat others. So stop wasting your time and emotions on people like this woman and redirect that energy into the good people in your life.
My sister and I were having this same conversation the other day: why do we put so much thought and time into unrewarding relationships? I for one have decided that I’m not doing that anymore.
Sure, you will (and should) spend some time mourning the relationship and coming to terms with its end, but after that you must make a conscious decision to let it go. Part of letting go is taking an inventory of your relationships with your other friends and devoting yourself to those relationships which are reciprocal, loving and without regular feelings of ick.
Finally, the next time she suggests you host a dinner party, tell her no. Again, USE YOUR WORDS.
“Hey, Bitchface, thanks for suggesting we get together next weekend! While I appreciate your love of my cooking, I would like to do this dinner at your place. I’m dying to see that new print you picked up at Z Gallerie and hear all about your position on the Art Committee at the club. We will bring a bottle of wine and see you at 7:00!”
Let me know how it goes. Having been through this before, I can tell you it sucks at first but then you feel much better for it.