Lopsided Friendships and Hurt Feelings

Dear Robin:
Hello from Sacramento! I’ve had the same problem for several years, and I can’t seem to figure out how to handle it. My friend forwarded your blog to me so I thought I’d give it a shot – cheaper than therapy, right? Ha ha.

I’ve been friends with someone since childhood. Our kids are friends, at one point we worked together, and we live in the same neighborhood. Whenever we get together we have a great time, but generally she isn’t a great friend.

Here are the main things that bother me: I am always the one to initiate plans, she rarely returns texts or phone calls, she never checks in with me even when she knows I am going through a hard time, she can be really curt and bossy and I think the only time she bothers getting together with me is when she doesn’t have anything else to do. She has had a couple setbacks in the past few years and I was totally there for her, but when I need her she is nowhere to be found.

How do I handle my disappointment and feelings of rejection surrounding this friendship? It’s always bothered me, but for some reason lately I’m feeling even more hurt and anxious about this woman.  This isn’t the first time I have felt this way about a friend, but this particular situation is really getting to me.

Please don’t use my real name. Call me,
Sad in Sacramento

Dear Sad:

I’d be sad if I lived in Sacramento too.  You have my deepest sympathies.

Maybe this woman is a terrible friend because you are so whiny, needy and pathetic.


Ask yourself at this moment: how did I just make you feel?  Pretty shitty, right?  If my answer to your question ended right there, would you come back to me for advice?

I doubt it.  So why are you chasing this “friendship” with a woman who appears to make you feel bad about 95% of the time?

Friendships are like romantic relationships: sometimes they are intense but short-lived, sometimes they last forever, and sometimes they are very lopsided.  

Have you ever dated someone who was way more into you than you were into him?  That’s your friendship with this woman – you adore her but it sounds like you are her friendship booty call (without the sex, I assume).  I hate to break it to you, but she just isn’t that into you.

What you have here is an acquaintance, not a friend.  When we chatted via email back and forth, I learned the following things about you:

1. You have a great job;

2. You are happy in your marriage and have two wonderful children;

3. You have many close friendships to rely on; and

4. You are really pretty!  I know that because I looked at your Facebook page.  That fact is really neither here nor there, but I thought I’d bring it up in hopes it would give you cheer before I write the following:

This woman either doesn’t give a damn about you or she has an incredibly lousy approach to friendship.  Either way, you have got to stop throwing good money after bad, and by “good money” I mean mental energy.  That’s not easy but it’s also not impossible.

Please use the AskDesCamp Feeling Sad Analysis Process™ to get to the bottom of this:

1. Figure out why this particular woman makes you feel so bad about yourself.  From our conversation I understand that she has always dominated your relationship and has had the same general personality since you were kids in grade school.  Also, she was very popular while you were not.

2. Determine what role you play in the situation.  Frankly, you are way too available and I’m guessing you come off as a little needy.  Your problem is that you keep running after someone who clearly doesn’t want to be a part of your life.  

STOP IT!  Have you no pride?

3. Nail down why you play that role.  You told me your mom divorced your father and moved to New York with her new husband when you were 10, and that you’ve only seen her 5 times in the past 25 years.  

Do you think it’s possible that being abandoned by your mother at such a young and formative age has created a tendency in you to seek out unavailable women?  You indicated you have felt this way about other women in the past, so it sounds like this may be a pattern you need to recognize and break.

4. Identify your alternatives.  I know you have many other friends and a few hobbies, not to mention a fairly demanding career.  Stop focusing on this woman and turn your energy to the things that matter: your family, your job, what you do for fun and the rewarding friendships that you are lucky enough to have.


In particular, I suggest you spend more time with your friend that sent you the link to my blog.  She sounds awesome.

All joking aside, and for me that is tough, my personal experience with this sort of thing has led me to the following conclusion:

Some of us grew up feeling awkward, unattractive, lonely and disliked.  Despite whatever wonderful things we may have done with our lives since the horrible hell that is adolescence, these feelings of inadequacy are planted deep within the soil of our soul and eventually the roots of this poisonous weed begin to strangle our psyche.

Oh man, that is some BAD writing right there.  Hoo, boy!

If I close my eyes and imagine myself back in the 80s in grade school, I see a sad little girl with a bad haircut and a ridiculous unibrow sitting on the sidelines as every other girl gets picked for a team before I am finally the last one standing.  As I walk to join my teammates for the dodgeball game, I hear many of them let out an audible sigh.  

Deep within many of us are similar memories of a difficult childhood and a consistent feeling of rejection by our peers. If you could go back in time and hug that little girl that was you and tell her everything is going to be OK, wouldn’t that be wonderful?  

But you can’t, because you aren’t Superman with the ability to reverse time by spinning around the earth really really fast.  That would be so cool, by the way.


What you CAN do is stop this destructive pattern and embrace the people and things in your life that make you feel good, not bad.  I’m not saying you need to have some big conversation and breakup session with her, but my advice to you is delete her number from your phone and stop reaching out.  

This woman adds nothing good to your life, and that doesn’t mean she is a bad person.  She may be a very good friend to others – but she isn’t a friend, good or otherwise, to you.  Accept it and move on.



This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. denise

    Clearly been there..very good food for thought. Excellent !

  2. Ali Whiting

    Spot on !!

  3. askdescamp

    Reblogged this on Ask DesCamp and commented:

    As I sit here in beautiful Palm Springs waiting for my husband to join us today, I am somewhat perplexed and frankly sad and disappointed in two people in my life whom I considered very close friends. In truth, what happened yesterday (the purposeful twisting of and reporting of something extremely innocent into something malicious) was not unforgivable, but rather the last in a long line of signals to me coming from both these women that they did not share the same feelings for me that I did for them.

    This is my year, and one in which I am cleaning house. No, I am rebuilding. I am burning this old piece of shit down to the foundation and renting an emotional jackhammer to break that up too.

    There is no more room for people who just aren’t that into me. And I would tell them both, but I realized that they wouldn’t care – so why bother? They won’t even notice that they don’t hear from me anymore. And that says a lot, doesn’t it?

    And so I sit, listening for the sounds of my best friend coming in the door to greet me with a kiss and hold my hand while I walk into the radio station Monday morning. And I feel a wonderful lightness of being and promise for what the rest of this year and all those that follow will hold: love and passion for my work and quality time with quality people who care for me as much as I do them. Everyone else, frankly, can go get fucked.

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