How do I gain closure on this lost friendship?
posted by whalebreath to Human Relations (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is going to be long.
I met Drew in second year university - a quiet, reserved, intelligent guy, and we started dating. We dropped out of school to spend a year traveling around the world, never tiring of each other's company and having a fantastic time. We came back to Canada and moved to a big city we'd never been to before, sharing a little apartment and getting along great.
As great as our relationship was in many ways, it did have its problems. From the beginning we never had much physical chemistry, but I didn't give it too much weight. He never went down on me. He seemed much less interested in sex than I was. At first I just thought that this is what sex was like with 'nice guys' (I was young and naive and had only dated an oversexed 'badboy' up to then), but over time I started wondering if he had been abused, or was gay, or if I was repulsive, etc. Talking about it with him led to him shutting down and just saying that he didn't know why he didn't feel sexual, and that he wasn't willing to go to therapy about it. A few things made me think he probably was gay (especially when he got drunk), but the sexual rejection I felt led me to break up with him.
Then, it turned out I was gay! Or at least way more into women than I had ever admitted to myself. Talk about projection (although in the relationship with Drew it was really me who wanted to be physical and him who didn't). I started dating women, and Drew was heartbroken that I had broken up with him. We still hung out all the time, and his friends called me his 'lesbian life partner'. Over time he got over the heartache and we were just best friends (which is pretty close to all we were when we were dating).
Our friendship was so important to me. We had been through so much together and I felt like he understood me more than anyone. Then he met Rebecca. They started dating and he was really into her. She's beautiful and interesting and I was happy for him. I was dating someone and I wanted us to all hang out.
Rebecca was jealous of me though. Which I can understand, since Drew and I had been so close. I felt Drew drifting away from me, and talked about how sad it made me to him. He said that it made him sad too, but that whenever he told Rebecca that I had been in a group of people he was with that she would get really jealous, and if she was drinking she would say mean things about me. Drew is passive and kind of a pushover, and Rebecca is fiery and bold, and he wouldn't argue with her. He did say however that he would talk to her, and then said that he did, and that he wanted to maintain our friendship.
I didn't expect our friendship to remain the same as it had been. I was up for only hanging out in groups of people, for always inviting Rebecca whenever I invited him anywhere, etc. But he just dropped our friendship completely. At one point, when I felt like I had been the only one making an effort, I just decided to stop trying. This led to about a year of no contact as he didn't ever initiate. I was kind of heartbroken. A mutual friend said that she got the impression that he thought that I didn't want to hear from him.
Eventually he sent me an email. No hello, no how-are-you, just a link to an article he thought I might enjoy, with a corresponding 'thought you might enjoy this'. I wrote back saying thanks, it's been a while, how are you. His response was a 2 page letter, updating me on all aspects of his life, saying him and Rebecca were doing great, saying that he thought of me and that I was wonderful and he hoped that my life was as wonderful as I was and how was I? I wrote back a similar email, and his response was again distant. I didn't write back to it and haven't heard from him since.
In my long email I never mentioned how sad I was about the loss of our friendship, but I feel like I want him to know it. I also feel anger, resentment, and hurt that he so willingly let our friendship go. I'm leaving town in a couple of weeks and I have some of his stuff. He's out of town for a month, so I'm giving the stuff to a mutual friend to give to him.
I can't figure out how to gain closure with him, either internally (by just accepting that the friendship is over and moving on) or externally (by letting him know how sad it's made me to have lost the friendship). In my leaving I'm feeling regret about several things I never did (ex: asking certain people on dates) and I don't want to just always feel regret at having never said anything to him. In addition, I don't think he wants our friendship to be over completely....I know he loved and cared about me...I think he's just in a new relationship and forgot about me/let me go. I don't know. I just find it really sad because I wanted to know each other forever, and it feels like I just have to forget about him and can't (it's been a year). Even in that year of no contact I never really got over it, so I don't think it's a matter of time.
The stuff of his that I have includes a bunch of pictures of us on our voyage. I could just let the mutual friend give them to him and let him be sad as he looks at them. THe problem is he's not very communicative or emotionally expressive, so I think even if he did regret losing our friendship, he wouldn't be the one to say so or try to reinitiate it.
I also realize that this is more than a friendship since we loved each other and were together, so maybe it is best to let him go and be in his new relationship and forget about him. I just don't know how. I've tried but never stopped feeling sad/missing him. I don't want to be with him or date him - I guess I don't even know what I want now that I'm leaving. When I was here I wanted to be in each other's circles of friends - invite each other (and our respective partners) to dinners, hangouts, parties, etc. Now that I'm leaving I guess I just want to know that I won't never see/speak to him again, or else I want to know how to accept that fact.
If I knew he hated me, or really didn't care about me at all, I think this would be easier to accept. I don't think that's the case though.
I don't know if I've managed to articulate any kind of clear question in this post, but I'm looking forward to your interpretations, advice, and illuminations of my blindspots nonetheless. This is on my mind a lot and I just want to get past it somehow.