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Can I get my friend back?
October 24, 2008 2:29 PM   Subscribe

I found out why a friend cut off contact with me. More details below. Can this friendship be saved?

A longtime friend cut off contact with me back in July and sent me the following e-mail today after I e-mailed him as to why we don't talk anymore.

1. He says I did some minor damage to his house while living there. I'm fully willing to reimburse him for this.

2. He says I'm always late for appointments. This is true, and I admit I need to be better about being on time.

3. I spent a good portion of time lying about my sexual experience. I finally came clean with all my pals back in Feb. This friend seemed to stand by me, but says that I kept lying. I don't think I did, but I am in therapy now for my self-esteem issues that lead me to lie to people. I used to tell my guy friends I was having a lot of sex with women when in actuality I was a virgin. This went on for a number of years. I also would give my friends relationship advice, which this friend found fault with. I think I'm qualified because I've had a couple of relationships that could be called long-term.

3a. He says I'm a two faced person. There were two weekends we hung out before he cut contact. He said that the first weekend, when I was hanging out with the boys, I was acting as if I were a playboy, loved strip clubs, etc. The next weekend, we went to see a movie with an older lady from my work. He says with this lady I was acting as if I was sensitive about women, thought stripping was wrong, etc. I don't see it this way. When I'm out with the guys, I'll say and do things I wouldn't do with an older lady.

4. I inadvertently revealed a bit of personal information about my friend while we were hanging out with the lady from my work.

He closed by saying he doesn't want to hang out with someone like me on a consistent basis.

Is there anything I can say and do to repair the damage, or is this a friendship I should write off?

If you have any questions or need followup, you can e-mail me at liarandloser at gmail dot com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You sound like you've behaved like an asshole. He's already written you off. You don't have a say here.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:36 PM on October 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Whoa -- based on this description, I would definitely not want to be your friend, now or ever. All of these transgressions would be permanent dealbreakers in my book with the exception of the lying about virginity, which I would maybe let go if we were both 13. But I would think it was pretty weird.

Once you have received the help you need, and you've made some new friends, this list will serve as a helpful blueprint of what NOT to do.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:39 PM on October 24, 2008 [3 favorites]


Focus on creating honest relationships with new people. It'll be so much easier for you starting from scratch. Don't lie to them. Really - don't ever, ever, ever even stretch the truth. Don't try to look cool, don't try to impress people. Be yourself, unapologetically. Work on being a good person for the sake of being a good person, not so you'll look good for someone else. Eventually, if you keep it up, you'll start to actually become a good person. Then maybe look at attempting this friendship again. But I think your friend is doing a really good thing for you right now by being so honest - take what he's saying to heart.
posted by robinpME at 2:45 PM on October 24, 2008 [2 favorites]


One way to interpret 1-4 is that you lied.

Whatever your motivations, try not to lie to friends again, because it's not a friendly thing to do. Cut your losses, and start again, without the lying.
posted by handee at 2:58 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank him for the feedback. Let him know you're working on things on your own and with the help of professionals, partially due to said feedback. Apologise for compromising his trust. Then let him be. He may choose to put a hand out to you in the future and he may not (the latter is more likely), but you'll at least have allowed the door to close softly.
posted by batmonkey at 2:59 PM on October 24, 2008 [12 favorites]


I don't see it this way. When I'm out with the guys, I'll say and do things I wouldn't do with an older lady.

That's what two-faced means. I'm glad you are getting help. You might be able to salvage this relationship but I'd just apologize, acknowledge you've been a jerk, pay for the house damages, and move on. If he forgives you, that's great but I honestly wouldn't expect it.

I wish you good luck. Self improvement is tough.
posted by chairface at 2:59 PM on October 24, 2008


your friend is pretty negative there. I noticed he's pointing out what's wrong with you but not suggesting how you could fix this. aren't friends supposed to be there for each other? aren't they supposed to say hey, you're my friend and I think I should tell you to do x instead of y because z? this doesn't sound like he cares about his friend very much. I don't think I'd want to be friends with such a person.
posted by krautland at 3:01 PM on October 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, I swear I read this AskMe before, particularly the part about "I just outed myself as a virgin to my friends, and I don't see why they're pissed that I gave them relationship advice."

1. Don't be "fully willing" to reimburse him, just man up and reimburse him.
2. Don't just admit that you need to be more punctual, actually be more punctual. This is not a GI Joe Public Service Announcement, knowing is NOT half the battle.
3. Your friends didn't want relationship advice from a virgin. It doesn't matter to them that you've been in long-term relationships. They have every right to be upset.
3a. It's one thing to lie by admission, it's another thing to pretend to be something that you're not. If I'm hanging out with old ladies, I'm not going to be all bringing up topics like smoking weed and getting wasted. But if the subject comes up, I'll just change the subject, I won't be all "Oh golly moses Nana, I'm a goody-two shoes and would never ever do anything like that."
4. Don't talk about your friends to your other friends. That's gossip.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:13 PM on October 24, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is there anything I can say and do to repair the damage, or is this a friendship I should write off?

I think this one is dead. Learn from the experience and move on. Don't make the same mistakes next time.
posted by Class Goat at 3:13 PM on October 24, 2008


I don't see it this way. When I'm out with the guys, I'll say and do things I wouldn't do with an older lady.

That's what two-faced means


Just, wow. So, anyone who doesn't swear like a sailor and talk about buttsex in front of their grandparents or priest or whatever is "two-faced?"

You sound imperfect, like most of us. Your 'friend" sounds like a dick who wanted to dump you and is using your shortcomings, real and created, as an excuse to make it your fault.

You should be working on improving yourself, but then so should we all. The bottom line is, you can't force someone to be your friend who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to be your friend. Let him go. You will find new friends. Despite evidence to the contrary above, not everyone is this judgmental and sanctimonious.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:14 PM on October 24, 2008 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of a previous question about lying about sexual experiences. I think every 14 year old does this; the weird part is continuing to do so in your twenties or later.

So yeah, I think you sound like you've been an impressive dud as a friend. Whether or not this particular relationship can be saved, you need to fix these things in order to not destroy current and future friendships, too.

To work through in order:

1. He says I did some minor damage to his house while living there. I'm fully willing to reimburse him for this.

If this is true, and you did the damage, you should have either repaired it at the time, or offered money to fix it at the time. It sounds here like you were keeping quiet, maybe hoping he wouldn't ask you for the money? Anyway, next time you do this (and everyone does this -- you spill red wine on the white sofa, or knock over the lamp while turning around, it's part of being human and fallible), take the initiative to make things right; don't make someone come after you before you take responsibility.

2. He says I'm always late for appointments. This is true, and I admit I need to be better about being on time.

Some people find this endearing; some will tolerate it; many will find it insulting. To them, your being late is a way of saying that your time is more valuable than theirs is. You can do this when you are a CEO, or in a situation where everyone understands and expects lateness, but not in other contexts.

3. I spent a good portion of time lying about my sexual experience. I finally came clean with all my pals back in Feb. This friend seemed to stand by me, but says that I kept lying. I don't think I did, but I am in therapy now for my self-esteem issues that lead me to lie to people. I used to tell my guy friends I was having a lot of sex with women when in actuality I was a virgin. This went on for a number of years. I also would give my friends relationship advice, which this friend found fault with. I think I'm qualified because I've had a couple of relationships that could be called long-term.

I'm confused -- either you stopped lying and started telling the truth, or you didn't. Which was it? I don't see how it could be both ways. The real solution here is that your sexual experience (or lack thereof) is no one else's business, so why are you even talking about it? And yeah, if you have just fessed up to being a virgin, and you are having to stretch to say that your relationships "could be called long-term," you should probably chill on the relationship advice. At the very least, remember that your advice will be understood in the context of coming from a guy with no visible girlfriend, and who has been caught lying about his sexual experience. Is this the guy that people want to hear relationship advice from? I vote for sitting tight on this one and perhaps giving advice in a few years when your credibility has been rebuilt.

3a. He says I'm a two faced person. There were two weekends we hung out before he cut contact. He said that the first weekend, when I was hanging out with the boys, I was acting as if I were a playboy, loved strip clubs, etc. The next weekend, we went to see a movie with an older lady from my work. He says with this lady I was acting as if I was sensitive about women, thought stripping was wrong, etc. I don't see it this way. When I'm out with the guys, I'll say and do things I wouldn't do with an older lady.


Everyone behaves differently around different people, that's no big deal. But I think what he is really saying here is that you came off really fake both with the guys and with the older woman, and no one likes a fake. Yes, behave appropriately to your social circumstances, but remain true to yourself. No need to pretend to visit strip clubs if you don't, or to pretend to find them abhorrent if you really like them -- just be polite and honest to who you are.

4. I inadvertently revealed a bit of personal information about my friend while we were hanging out with the lady from my work.

Not cool, and this goes along with the being fake and trying too hard problem in the paragraph above. It makes you come off as untrustworthy, and as someone who will say anything to try and get a positive reaction. Again, don't do this.

So, short version: Chill the fuck out, dude. Stop trying to make everyone like you by pretending to be someone you aren't, and stop trying to be everything to everyone. Fix yourself and fix your behavior, and then you can start trying to repair these friendships. But until you get your head on straight and stop acting like a jerk, there is no friendship to repair.
posted by Forktine at 3:16 PM on October 24, 2008 [7 favorites]


Chairface, I would say there's a difference in "saying and doing things you wouldn't with [a different person]", and being two-faced. Should I talk about my latest binge-drinking with my mother? Or her friends? No. We all do this to some extent, it's closer to respecting other peoples' boundaries.

That being said, OP, there's a bigger difference between respecting boundaries, and presenting yourself as a different person to different people. In your strip club example, a reasonable thing is to simply not talk about strip clubs. Don't portray yourself as sensitive and feminist, just don't brag about getting a totally hot lapdance from this chick with huge fake cans in front of the older lady.

And yeah - you've been a jackass. Damage to the house is bad, and you should have immediately offered, if not demanded, to pay. Lying about everything, bad. A lot of people lie about sex, fine, but it's not cool (Speaking as someone who makes up stories all the time and tries hard to skirt the 'malicious lying' boundary)

I've been on both sides of this scene - it's not useful or worth it to try and regain the friendship. If you had something going for you that makes it worthwhile for them to be friends with you, they'll come back. If not, learn for next time.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:17 PM on October 24, 2008


Another person asked a similar question earlier this year. You might want to read the responses there, too.
posted by Houstonian at 3:25 PM on October 24, 2008


Another person asked a similar question earlier this year. You might want to read the responses there, too.

The followup question to that (here) may also be of interest.
posted by Forktine at 3:29 PM on October 24, 2008


What batmonkey said. Own up to the problems (not in a defensive or a showy way, but in a serious and honest way), let him know you're working on them, that you understand what bothered him, and that you appreciate the honest feedback.

Then focus on your own issues. You could expend a bunch of energy worrying about him, but he's just one person. It would probably be a better investment in your future to put the energy into exploring and coming to terms with these issues.
posted by salvia at 3:32 PM on October 24, 2008


Your friend is comprehensively sick of you, and the benefits of your friendship do not outweight the drawbacks. This is a common situation. Neither of you necessarily has to be a jerk for this to happen, because people tire of each other all the time. But if you had been my friend, I'd probably have phased you out, too. At the very least, you sound like you engage in a lot of extremely obnoxious behavior.
posted by Coatlicue at 4:00 PM on October 24, 2008


Saying you're not a virgin, is an understandable lie, but it's a big leap from that to "So Bob, let me tell you where you're going wrong with your love life and I know whereof I speak, because I'm a playboy stud who has to beat the women off with a stick!"

If you'd just lied to make yourself fit in, instead of lying to make yourself seem superior, the friendship might still be salvagable. This one isn't. Cut him a check for the damages, finish working on your self-esteem issues, then start fresh elsewhere.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:11 PM on October 24, 2008


I agree that it sounds like it's time to move on. But before you do that, I suggest you find out how much you owe him for the damage and cut him a check. It won't fix the damage done in the friendship. But if you are truly sincere about changing, this is a step in the right direction to getting there.

Having said that, try not to be such an obnoxious jerk in the future, k?
posted by arishaun at 4:55 PM on October 24, 2008


Repairing the frendship should be way, way down on the list of things you're working on. It sounds like you've done damage in a variety of ways -- to your friends trust, his house, his privacy. You've demonstrated yourself to be dangerous, and the risks outweigh the benefits of being around you. Your job at this point is to repair whatever's repairable, and apologize directly and simply, without qualifications, for the rest. At the very least, cover the costs of whatever physical damage you did. Then honor your friend's wish that you leave him be. He might someday come to see you in a different light, but it'll be years (at least).
posted by jon1270 at 6:04 PM on October 24, 2008


Nthing the trying too hard. Get some more comfort with who you are, I'm glad to hear you're working on the self-esteem. If you can get a bit more comfortable with who you are, the chameleon feeling (and appearance) starts to go away because you can finally be honest.
posted by Lady Li at 7:10 PM on October 24, 2008


Let him be for a while. I agree with Coatlicue - he's just sick of you right now. This doesn't necessarily mean that you did anything particularly wrong - it just happens. If you really, truly want to be friends with this guy - let him chill out for a while and then give him a call. But, in the meantime - pay for the damage to his place, apologize for everything else and get on with your life.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:29 PM on October 24, 2008


Is there anything I can say and do to repair the damage, or is this a friendship I should write off?

In between. You should learn from this friendship, or ending thereof. It sounds like maybe you were not really being yourself, on all accounts (including the damage, which you should pay for). Swallow your ego, and move on. And learn from it, more importantly, you can't just write this off, you need to grow from it as a person, as hokey as it may sound.
posted by kellyblah at 10:17 PM on October 24, 2008


Lots of thoughts here...either he is judging you an awful lot, or you're presuming his judgment of you, or both. Regardless, this doesn't get you much out of the friendship. I know its hard to see right now, because you feel like the fuckup, but really, what do you get out of this friendship? Why is it worth working on? Is it that you want something salvageable about all of this drama? If so, try to realize that sometimes that there is more to be had by having nothing at all.

Sometimes we start things with people, and over time, we botch the recipe somehow. It's not worth blaming anybody about, but its not worth fixing either. And that doesn't mean its your fault. It could be circumstance, experience, conditions, whatever. As long as you are able to look at this objectively as you can, you'll be ok.

Realize too that both of you are bouncing off each other. He's sending emails, you're sending emails, both are reactive. Really, if he was writing you off, there's no reason to let you know. He wants to see what you're going to say, because he is struggling too. It's like when people get divorced. They're not *really* fighting over the couch, or the damage to the house, or who said what to whom.

Also, bullshit on the 'you don't have personal experience on subject A, so all your advice about it was a con.' I wasn't on wall street, but I can talk about the economy. I don't have kids, but I can tell you when shit ain't right. And just because I'm not having sex the way you're having sex doesn't mean that I can't use reason and assess a situation.

And one more thing, why is his list padded? Being on time? Is that was he's really complaining about? Really? Was this a huge sore spot in your friendship? I don't think so! You're late. Whoop.

My point with all this...try to look at it through a different lens. Even if its not accurate. YOU decide what stays and what goes. But having options helps. And really, your life is about you. Does this friendship bring you happiness and joy? Is it worth working out? Even so, is it more worthwhile to scrap and start over? Why the hell not? Its your life! And...cliché but, it's a journey, not a destination. That means three steps forward, two back sometimes. Its not like you've done this before. And trying on these new honest digs comes with their own complications. Cut yourself some slack. :)
posted by iamkimiam at 12:03 AM on October 25, 2008


I disagree, at least from your description, that you were being two-faced by acting differently around the two different peer groups. I am pretty certain everyone does that to some degree, so if it's just ways of talking/cursing and such, that's a silly concern.

Of course, if you actually made contradictory statements ("Strippers are disgusting" vs "Strippers are great") depending on the company, then I suppose that would qualify as pretty deeply dishonest.

But as for the rest of those points... yeah, that's a lot of complicated crap right there. The giving advice because you're pretending to be an expert is especially brutal. This relationship is probably done. Try being more honest and dependable with your next friend(s).
posted by rokusan at 1:55 AM on October 25, 2008


"Bullshit on the 'you don't have personal experience on subject A, so all your advice about it was a con.' I wasn't on wall street, but I can talk about the economy."

If you talk about the economy while claiming you won a nobel prize in economics, expect people to get pissy when they discover you flunked high school maths.

They're not angry because the advice was bad. They're angry because he told a self-aggrandising lie and got caught doing it.

Past experience has taught the friend that Anonymous can't be trusted to show humility, tell the truth, turn up on time, keep secrets or fix things he broke. Friend isn't being judgmental here, except maybe with 3a and I can see how that would become a much bigger deal when combined with numbers 1 through four.
posted by the latin mouse at 4:20 AM on October 25, 2008


So, short version: Chill the fuck out, dude. Stop trying to make everyone like you by pretending to be someone you aren't, and stop trying to be everything to everyone. Fix yourself and fix your behavior, and then you can start trying to repair these friendships. But until you get your head on straight and stop acting like a jerk, there is no friendship to repair.

Quoted for truth.

Dude, I know where you're coming from. None of what you wrote in your question is necessarily a friendship-deal-breaker. I get the feeling that your lack of self-esteem is ultimately the reason this guy doesn't value your friendship very highly. You come off as needy.
posted by mpls2 at 5:31 AM on October 25, 2008


As a general rule, you can't talk your way out of a problem that you lied your way into.
posted by sculpin at 12:24 PM on October 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


None of the transgressions you have described sound very bad, to me.

Breaking something in his apartment? We've all done it. You just need to reimburse him immediately.

Being late? It's ridiculous that he's cutting off contact with you because of lateness. My closest friend is ALWAYS late and we just laugh about it (except for the time he made me late for a wedding).

Lying about all the women you were pounding, and giving relationship advice like you were a romantic virtuoso, when you had never dipped your wick in anyone? Actually that's kind of pathetic, but still funny and nothing to break up a friendship about. Jesus, anyone who thinks that's a dealbreaker needs to loosen up.

Being willing to say things in front of friends that you wouldn't say in front of a "lady"? Join the club. How in the world can your friend have a problem with that? Being sensitive to the sensibilities of your companions is an asset, not something people should get pissed off about.

Inadvertently revealing personal info about a friend? That's the worst thing on your list, but if it was truly inadvertent I don't see how that can be a friendship-ender.

Your friend is the asshole, not you. He sounds like an uptight prig. Get some new friends with more tolerance for human foibles.
posted by jayder at 4:58 PM on October 25, 2008


Just, wow. So, anyone who doesn't swear like a sailor and talk about buttsex in front of their grandparents or priest or whatever is "two-faced?"

No, saying "strip clubs are wrong" in front of one group of people and saying their "super awesome" in front of another is being two faced. Not swearing in front of your grand parents is probably just being polite. Seriously.
posted by chunking express at 6:56 PM on October 26, 2008


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