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June 6, 2011 9:03 AM   Subscribe

How can I tell if this person is blowing me off or just very busy? And what can I do about it?

A friend of mine has been giving me what feels like the cold shoulder for a month or so. Conversation attempts get one word answers, he doesn't respond to my texts, occasional passive-aggressive remarks, etc etc. He started a new job six months ago, and it's possible that has gotten more involved. However, I recently got into a living situation that I love but he does not approve of, and has explicitly asked me not to mention (which is uncomfortable to say the least. While we're in this parenthetical, it's a completely normal situation. Nothing that anyone else would think is offensive or strange.)

The friend isn't exactly an olive branch kind of guy. It's very, very unlikely that he would ever admit to hurting me, let alone apologize for it. In similar situations, I have always been the one to mend things, usually at a dignity loss - he has a lot of pride and, when challenged, attacks by telling me that I don't care about him, I'm selfish, etc etc. I am generally willing to do things his way because I feel the friendship is worth it. It now appears that he does not.

I've made him sound like a total jerk here, and he's really not. He's been a great friend to me for years. This behavior, though, feels pretty jerky.

The problem now is that I don't know if he's actually busy or just "busy." Smug comments (when he actually is speaking to me) lead me to believe it's the latter. How can I tell for sure, and (given the situation) what should I do about it?

[Mods: Anon because friend is on Mefi. He doesn't look at Ask, but I would prefer to have this not connected to my account. Thank you!]
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you male or female? What is the "living situation"?

If you are female and just moved in with an SO, is it possible he is jealous?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


(or of course if you are male and he is gay, same thing)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:06 AM on June 6, 2011


Yup, sounds like he's mad at you, and is waiting for you to run after him to make this all better, like you have in the past. Don't even bother this time. Good friends don't treat their friends this way.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


The only way to tell for sure is to call him out on his behavior and then deal with the fallout. I've done this before and it can often lead to the loss of a friend, but who wants a friend that treats them like crap?
posted by ephemerista at 9:14 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sounds like he needs some space. A lot of people would rather not talk at all rather than pussy-foot around a loaded central issue (like your living situation).

Treat busy and "busy" the same way. Back off and trust that he'll circle back when he has a little more time. Drop a line every now and then to show that you're still interested in being friends.
posted by hermitosis at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like he is blowing you off. It sounds like, whether or not he's jealous about you as EndsofInvention suggests, he's jealous of your happiness.
posted by tomboko at 9:21 AM on June 6, 2011


I have always been the one to mend things, usually at a dignity loss - he has a lot of pride and, when challenged, attacks by telling me that I don't care about him, I'm selfish, etc etc

I don't think that you are clear on what a good friend is. A good friend doesn't attack you or say you are selfish, unless were some serious transgressions on your part. From what you described here, you are happy about your lifestyle, he doesn't "approve" of it. Why continue this friendship, if someone is so different from you, and hurtful about it?
posted by kellyblah at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


This gives me flashbacks to when I lost a very dear friend after I started dating the man who is now my husband. He didn't want to hear about how happy I was. It hurt, but I didn't try to chase after him, and I left town a few months later.

I found said former friend on FB a few years ago. He was open to reconnecting, even after I told him that I'd married the guy he objected to. He's in a different country and got married a year after I did. We're both happy the other person is happy.
posted by luckynerd at 9:59 AM on June 6, 2011


He's made it clear to you that he doesn't approve of you current living arrangements. Why is it a mystery that he is acting this way? He's blowing you off.
posted by fire&wings at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why are you pursuing friendship with this guy? He says he's busy, so take him at his word. Surely you have other people/things you can busy yourself with. You've spent too much time already in "mending" mode; see how non-productive it is?
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:34 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Conversation attempts get one word answers, he doesn't respond to my texts, occasional passive-aggressive remarks, etc etc.

Good friends don't do this. Good friends raise issues respectfully and attempt to resolve them in good faith.

I recently got into a living situation that I love but he does not approve of, and has explicitly asked me not to mention [it]

Good friends don't do this. Good friends are happy for your happiness; they don't try to coax you into pretending it doesn't exist.

It's very, very unlikely that he would ever admit to hurting me, let alone apologize for it.

Good friends don't do this. Good friends admit when they're wrong and try to make it right.

when challenged, [he] attacks by telling me that I don't care about him, I'm selfish, etc etc.

Good friends don't do this. Good friends value your feelings ahead of their own dignity; they don't try to hurt you to provide cover for their own fuckups.

He's been a great friend to me for years.

Respectfully, I beg to differ. DTMFA.
posted by Zozo at 10:40 AM on June 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's blowing you off. You should do the same.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK. Maybe I'm a schmuck, but there's a total possibility he actual is busy AND he is less enthused about your living situation, but not just blowing you off completely.

He's busy with work and life (you don't say if he's got a partner, kids, dog, whatever to also care for). And he's got his feathers ruffled with your life in some way.

He might not be cutting you off as much as going, "I should totally follow up with Anon. But it's been a while. What do I say? I pissed Anon off with the whole [undefined living situation] thing. I'm not ready to talk about that yet. Ugh. Oh look, an opportunity to procrastinate it!"

What are you texting? Are they things that actually need an answer or just, "Hey, whatcha doing Saturday?" or what?

A month is not that long a cooling off period in a serious, long-term friendship. I would address it directly with a, "Huh. We haven't talked in about a month. That's weird for us. Well, if you get the time, give me a call and we'll do [beers/coffee/whatever you normally do." And then drop it. No texts or anything, just let it go.

If he calls/texts/whatever, breathe out, be friendly and try to be friends again. If he doesn't call back within a month, you're free.

Be careful, however, that you truly are comfortable with the [undefined living situation] and not looking to his every move that might be normal as a sign of approval or disapproval. Whatever it is, even if it's partially about that, it's not all about that. Be truly comfortable and then maybe you won't care that much what this friend is up to.
posted by Gucky at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a complete waste of time. A true friend would communicate a little more clearly. Time to take a break and try to reconnect in 6 months.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:02 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Without fail, every time in my life I have wondered something along these lines, where there are other possible explanations but it just feels wrong... every time, something has been wrong. I'll wager he's blowing you off.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:33 PM on June 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


He's blowing you off and from your description, I wouldn't really recommend taking any steps to patch things up. You don't mention here what the living situation is but unless it has a direct impact on him, he has no business getting sniffy about it. Just let him go. If he grows up, he'll contact you, and if he doesn't, it seems like he's kind of doing you a favor.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 4:37 PM on June 6, 2011


Nice to see so many people have real friends who are are flawless plastic robots.

Unfortunately, you seem to have a living, flesh and blood person for a real friend. That means you have to accept the possibility that he can be a jerk and still be a real friend, because we're all flawed in some way, and can react poorly if we feel slighted, insecure, whatever. In fact, he's probably acting like a jerk because he thinks he's being a real friend but that you haven't in some way. Or maybe he's just a bit of a jerk generally - but aren't we all, and what sort of world would it be if we had to be perfect all the time to have any friends?

So extend the olive branch, but make him meet you halfway, and make it clear that you need him to meet you halfway this time, and why. If he won't meet you, then you can walk away, because you've fulfilled your duty as a real friend - to forgive, to be compassionate, to try to make it work, and to give second chances, rather than saying 'oh, this seems a little challenging, insert clever acronym about dumping motherfuckers, chortle.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:41 PM on June 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


It sounds like this (passive-aggresive/cold or emotionally manipulative/accusatory) is the way he tries to control others/his interactions with others. He knows you are a person who will cave into this, since you always have before -- and a person who won't cave into this sort of thing wouldn't continue interacting with him very long anyway.

So to answer your question, yes, I think he's "busy" and acting this way deliberately.

what should I do about it?

In my personal opinion, you should tell him the way he's acting is bullshit and either he starts treating you with respect (no more telling you what you are and aren't allowed to talk about, no more being judgmental about things that are none of his business, no more making catty smug comments, no more rudeness) or he won't be hearing from you anymore.
posted by Ashley801 at 7:53 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


OP doesn't give a lot of details.

I had a friend that moved in with my horrible ex who treated me like shit.
I stopped talking to her for a year or so. I just didn't want to hear about my ex or see him. And I thought it was a bad move on her part since she supported me through his bullshit and told me what a dick he.was.

Im also introverted and sometimes take long breaks from my friends. But they are all kinda like me so no offense is taken either way.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:02 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


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