Skip

Is our friendship over? How can I fix things?
October 25, 2012 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Got into a bad argument with a friend. Is the friendship over? How can it be saved?

One of my best friends and I got into an argument two days ago. We both haven't been spending as much time together lately because he's been super busy with school and work. The last time we actually hung out and spent quality time together was maybe two months ago. We chat and text sporadically but it hasn't been the same.

So the other day he goes off on me because I had expressed that I was a little sad that he had plans to hang out with other friends and not me. He went off and said I'm the only friend he hangs out with, and that we're "attached at the hip." He said he hated that I was "guilt-tripping" him. This genuinely confused me because we haven't hung out in so long, and I rarely push him to do so, knowing that he's busy.

But anyway, he kept pushing me and it wasn't a good argument. I hate arguing over chat because I feel like things get misinterpreted and there's no way to tell what the actual tone and body language is. He was saying hurtful things, and so finally I said something I regretted and called him an effing asshole. I think he really was hurt by me swearing at him.

He texted me the next day and wanted to continue the argument via text and as saying that he doesn't trust me as a friend anymore because I always guilt-trip him and accuse him of replacing me. He said I'm no friend to him. So that's the end of our friendship. Just like that.

Today, I emailed him telling him I apologize for swearing at him and disrespecting him and that i really would like to talk about our issues and stay friends. I really value him as a friend and I absolutely hate it when we fight. I'm not ready to throw away years of friendship and good memories over this stupid fight. But he has been ignoring me all day. And I'm really just confused about what to do. How can I fix our friendship? Or should I just back off? Should I just let him go? Any help or guidance would be highly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by impactsmoothie to Human Relations (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh for God's sake, just call him on the fucking phone. Texts and emails will only ever exacerbate a situation. Call him, talk through your issues, and work it out from there.
posted by Think_Long at 1:56 PM on October 25, 2012 [57 favorites]


Today, I emailed him telling him I apologize for swearing at him and disrespecting him and that i really would like to talk about our issues and stay friends. I really value him as a friend and I absolutely hate it when we fight. I'm not ready to throw away years of friendship and good memories over this stupid fight. But he has been ignoring me all day

Don't know if I can help on the big picture, but let me offer a very small bit of wisdom: if you sent him an email today, and he hasn't responded yet, that may not mean very much. He may not be "ignoring" you at all. He may be busy. Or maybe he has read your message, but doesn't yet know how to respond to it. Maybe he will think about it for a little while.

You may have a sad problem on your hands here, but my advice to you is that, now that you've sent this email, the ball is in his court for a little bit. At least give him the rest of the day, maybe a couple days, before you draw any hard conclusions about how he's responding.
posted by grobstein at 1:57 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's hard to determine if you're two dudes, or if you're a chick and he's a dude, but you've got a weird dynamic going on.

It would help to know what age bracket you're in, because things younger dudes are into are quite different from the things that older dudes are into.

But, I'm going to assume that you're a chick and he's a dude. Here are some reasons he might want to get some distance from you.

1. He's trying to get laid and that doesn't happen when you hang out together.

2. He's got a girlfriend and you're the third wheel.

3. He's got a rage-on for some reason and you're a convenient punching bag.

4. Your approach is annoying. Cutsy texts, repeated requests to "hang out", the weird feeling he gets from you because you hang out and there's no promise of sex.

5. He thinks you want to be his SO, he doesn't think of you that way.

6. He has other friends and interests and you're not picking up what he's putting down, mainly, he'd rather have your friendship dwindle away.

I think he's made it clear that for right now, he's not interested in your friendship. If you can, temporarily de-friend him on social media, block his texts and email and generally blank him from your life. Give him a heads up, "Dude, you were way harsh with me the other day and I think some silence and distance will do us some good. If and when you're ready to talk, call me and let's meet in person, but the IM/email thing is just not working for me."

Then do it.

People who want to spend time with you will make arrangements to do so. If someone can go weeks and months without speaking to you, they're not that into the relationship anymore.

But that's natural, and it's okay. Focus on other friends, make an effort to deepen some new friendships, but your effort and energy into people who will appreciate it and who appreciate you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:57 PM on October 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah, if it matters I'm a female and he's a male. He's 22 and I'm 25. We're both not in relationships. Unless he has one I don't know about (doubtful).
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2012


For more context, can I ask if this is the same guy?
posted by Wordshore at 2:04 PM on October 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yup, same guy. But a lot has happened since then. I got a good amount of space from him and we worked things out. I don't have feelings for him in that way anymore. I just want to stay friends.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:09 PM on October 25, 2012


Let it go. The guy is so not worth it and from what you're describing the whole thing is unwholesome and unhealthy.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:10 PM on October 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah, it's over. You don't really want to fix it - ultimately it'll just lead to you two miserably stringing each other along for a few years. That's best-case scenario, and I see it all the time.

For starters, find someone who you can actually share a dialog with.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:13 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


By your account in that last question, you haven't really hung out with him much since then (two months) if I am reading all the timing correctly? If that's the case it may be that despite whatever friendliness the two of you may have together there is still this sort of situation where you want to see him more than he wants to see you and this is him pushing back and you being "But what about our relationship?" about it. It's a sort of classic trope that I see sometimes with exes (I am aware he is not your ex) where you still do the couple-y palling around together, don't sleep together but there's still a lot of "what did this exchange MEAN" sorts of drama indicating that an actual emotional breakup is still not quite there yet.

I'd let the guy figure out what he wants which is probably a light chat-not-hangout relationship with you and decide if that's something you want. You called him a fucking asshole and now you want to "talk about your issues" I agree with RB this doesn't sound either healthy or fun. Let it go.
posted by jessamyn at 2:16 PM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yep; this one and the previous issues between yourself and the same guy, which was 12 weeks ago. Too much episodic drama; you both need to walk away from each other, get space, hang out with other people and friends. You need other female and male friends (note: plural) to hang out with.

Doesn't really matter what he needs; not your concern now, or before. Good luck with new people.
posted by Wordshore at 2:19 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've experienced this a few times with some of my friends.

Text communication is terrible in this instance for exactly the reasons you mentioned - there's no way to tell how the other person is reacting. It's best to hash these things out over the phone or in real life.

I wouldn't try to resolve anything right now. Things are still heated and you both may say things you regret. Let it simmer for a few days or a week and then see if he's available to meet for a beer. Even if he's as super busy as you say, he'll find time for a beer if he's interested in staying friends. If not...well, there's your answer.
posted by Diskeater at 2:20 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would like to also mention that the reason why I'm hesitant to let him go is because we're going to be working together on multiple projects next month and it's just going to be very weird to be working with him if we're not friends. I'm not sure how I'm gonna deal with that.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:32 PM on October 25, 2012


Given that he's been pulling back since you revealed you had feelings for him it is likely that he is still uncomfortable with that facet of your dynamic. I'd give him some space, and also do a thoughtful accounting on how your recent interactions would be perceived if viewed through the "I think she's interested in me lens"
posted by dadici at 2:33 PM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


He pulled back, but he wanted to be friends again after we had our space. HE was the one actively pursuing our re-connection as friends. And then we did reconnect as friends once I was ready and I thought everything was great until recently. I'm not sure how that happened. But yeah, maybe you're right--it could be connected to the fact that I told him I had feelings for him months ago. Although I've been moving on and trying to pursue other men. I just honestly want our friendship back.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:37 PM on October 25, 2012


Is this really a friendship? You want to date him but he doesn't want to date you.

You need to find a way to let go.
posted by 2oh1 at 2:46 PM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


^ I don't want to date him! I had feelings for him but I've gotten past that. Like I said, just want to be friends again.
posted by impactsmoothie at 2:49 PM on October 25, 2012


Based on his reaction, and your past history, the impression I get is that he feels you might be a "Nice Girl" - that's a woman who thinks that if you put enough Kindness Tokens into a guy a relationship will fall out. That you flipped out on him when he was simply trying to express something that you didn't want to hear is also something that Nice Girls do.

If you're genuinely interested in a friendship, stop trying to act like you're his girlfriend whom he's simply not sleeping with yet. You need to accept that he's set boundaries for the friendship and start respecting them. For now, start by respecting his desire for more space.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:51 PM on October 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you're going to be working together it's actually more important that you back away and achieve a cooler, more professional demeanour with him, than that you should be friends. You don't need to be friends with collaborators and co-workers and indeed it's often better if you're cordial but no more. You need to be able to discuss things connected with the work without bringing in the personal stuff all the time.
posted by zadcat at 2:57 PM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've seen this dynamic among my two slightly older friends. She is a much 'needier' friend and when people get busy, draw different boundaries and get a bit of distance, she has 'THE TALK' with them.

The talk consists of how she is hurt by their behavior, how she feels the distance growing, how no one is there for her, etc. etc. The other party feeling guilty and resentful usually defends themselves with the typical busy/life/work/ excuses and she comes back with how she has things going on too, but she doesn't neglect her friends. Her now resentful friends want even more distance, and a few beautiful friendships were ruined because of her inability to to let the ebbs and flows of distance in a friendship flow naturally.

Don't be that friend. You just admitted to a crush on this guy. (Yes two months ago is just). You now say it's over, but if he had no interest he may well be in the needing distance phase, and you need to respect that. Plus people HATE to be babysat and kept tabs on how much time they're spending with whom.

If you genuinely miss him, let him know very subtly and occasionally, but people do get busy, need space, reshuffle priorities, and have to allocate limited time resources as best they can. Perhaps he needs to blow off steam with his buddies more than he needs to keep you entertained now. Heck, most of my best friends and I can go weeks and months without catching up due to life getting in the way. Give him some space, find new hang out buddies, get wrapped up in your own life and see how it goes. Odds are the friendship is not over, but needs a cooling period.
posted by tatiana131 at 2:58 PM on October 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


I would wait a few days and on Monday if you still haven't heard from him, call him on the phone and discuss this. I actually think it would be best if you sat down face to face to decide the future of your friendship with him, but phone is way better than email or text.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:00 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know about your friendship, but my 2 cents are:

1.) In a genuine friendship, a few months of not talking should be just fine and not an issue. Some of my very best friends--whom I'd ask to help me bury a body--I only talk to once every several months, if that. It's because we have different schedules and different social needs and that's fine. The only person I hang out with regularly (see once every other week or more) is my boyfriend; we're in an exclusive relationship and live together.

2.) My best friend (we're both female) has a whole bunch of other friends I've never even met. I do not mingle with her other friends--she's unusual in doing this, but it doesn't bother me. I also have plenty of friends who are not her friends. Plus, she likes doing things I don't, so it's healthier for our friendship that she hangs out with her other friends for most of her socializing needs.

3.) Don't say anything meaningful over text unless you're certain it wouldn't get miscommunicated.
posted by ethidda at 3:19 PM on October 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


If you need to (try to) work things out, just pick up the phone and call him. But really, you shouldn't. He is telling you that he doesn't want to be friends, or at least, he doesn't want the kind of relationship you want. That's not something you can argue with, and it's something you should respect/accept.

Just be friendly. If you have to work with him, work with him like any other person you'd work with whom you're not friends with (i.e., a friendly acquaintance).

It sounds like you wanted to have everything go back to where it was after he rejected your romantic advances. But, I think, this kind of interaction is more like a romantic breakup: you can't just go back to being best friends (who aren't having sex). You need emotional closure, and frankly, until you don't feel the way you express in this question that you feel (that you want to go back to being platonic best friends), you won't be able to really be friends.
posted by J. Wilson at 3:24 PM on October 25, 2012


he goes off on me because I had expressed that I was a little sad that he had plans to hang out with other friends and not me.

Can you provide the approximate (or exact, if it was via email or text) wording of this statement, please?

He texted me the next day and wanted to continue the argument via text and as saying that he doesn't trust me as a friend anymore because I always guilt-trip him and accuse him of replacing me. He said I'm no friend to him.

Do you do these things he accuses you of? If not often, then do you ever do them at all? Be honest. I'm not judging, I'm just trying to get a sense of the big picture here. Have you ever accused him of trying to replace you?

Today, I emailed him telling him I apologize for swearing at him and disrespecting him and that i really would like to talk about our issues and stay friends.


Good! That's pretty much all you can or should do. You've made it clear that you're sorry and that you want to talk it out. That's good, but it doesn't guarantee that he will still want to be friends with you.

I really value him as a friend and I absolutely hate it when we fight. I'm not ready to throw away years of friendship and good memories over this stupid fight. But he has been ignoring me all day. And I'm really just confused about what to do. How can I fix our friendship? Or should I just back off?


You've said what should have been said and it's out of your hands now. Any further communication will seem pushy or possibly even like a guilt trip, which is the last thing you want.

Honestly I'm getting the sense that there's a little more going on here and I'm trying to piece out what it is, but in any event the dynamic with this guy sounds sort of fraught and not healthy and maybe he's not seeing things the way you are. I know it would suck to lose his friendship but that's not your decision to make. What you can do is decide how to handle it if things do shake out that way.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 3:42 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes the best thing you can do for a friendship is to leave each other alone to cool off. Whatever the exact dynamic is here (and I agree with those above that it sounds quite tense and complicated), you're clearly both rubbing each other up the wrong way right now, and giving each other some space is probably wise.
posted by Catseye at 4:33 PM on October 25, 2012


This is really a question of how much drama you're willing to tolerate. It's hard to say if you're spinning the drama or if he is, but one way or the other the two of you are Drama.

Do your projects then drop him like a bad habit. Because drama-rama relationships are a bad habit.
posted by 26.2 at 4:46 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, your question reads like you haven't gotten over those feelings as much as you think you have. Back way off, find other people to hang out with. Be friendly when you're working on your projects, but leave the guy alone most of the time. Who knows, he might realise what he's missing.
posted by knapah at 5:15 PM on October 25, 2012


You need to let this relationship go. The tighter you hold on, the more it will all slip away.

If you let go (really and truly let go), then the relationship might come back. Or it might not.
But, if you hold on, it will definitely die.
posted by Flood at 5:27 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


The absolute best thing you can do for yourself and him is to give him the space he needs, and let him go.

Look, I know you REALLY want to be around him and not lose him as a "friend" (you are not fooling anyone when you say you are over him, either).

But he's been really clear that he is not looking for commitment in his life.

You hear 'no commitment' and you think, "Okay, so he doesn't want to get married or anything, but we can still be friends!" All the while, a part of you is thinking that down the line, you wil end up together and he just isn't ready yet. There's still a chance for us!

But what he meant by 'no commitment' is he doesn't want any complications, any drama, anything making his life more difficult. He is fine being with you when you are happy and fun and friendly, but when you get possessive or upset, he's just going to bale because he's not invested in the relationship. You care way more than he does, and it's going to end up just hurting the two of you more if you keep up this drama between you.

Believe me when I say that the more you try to make something happen with him, the worse you will feel about yourself, and the worse he will treat you. It's not like you aren't good enough for him, it's not like he is even a bad guy. You just want different things.

It's perfectly reasonable for you to want more from a guy than you are getting, too. It is unreasonable to expect to get it from THiS guy, though.

Don't beat yourself up about that. The heart wants what the heart wants. Realistically, we just don't always get it.

Sure, it sucks. But you'll get past it, and be better for not dragging yourself down, trying to attract his attention when there's plenty of guys out there who would be thrilled to be in his shoes.

So, do not schedule any more of your life around this guy. Get busy, get happy, make other friends, and say good-bye to all the drama.

If, down the road, you have to work with him, just worry about that then. You'll be fine.
posted by misha at 5:29 PM on October 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I have been you in this situation and had this exact series of conversations, both before AND after finally getting to sleep with him, including the part where you say you really don't want to date. I was saying that too, but just because I thought it would make me look like a better candidate for his attention, which I craved. In case you're also like me in this regard, sleeping with him didn't help anything, it just made it worse. I'm here to agree with everyone else that it's not worth the mental anguish. Let this guy go. When you work together just try to be professional and cool.
posted by bleep at 5:47 PM on October 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's too bad you apologized to him already, because he didn't deserve one.

Hon, this guy is not your friend. He's not nice to you. Part of not being nice is blowing up at you, but another and more serious act, is re-initiating the friendship and then blowing up at you.

I'm going to say these next few things. I hope you hear me.

- Don't chase friends who don't want to be friends with you.

- Only engage in friendships with people who are nice AND make you feel comfortable.

- I think this guy keeps you on edge all the time, and that's why his hook is so deep into you, and you don't see that he IS being an asshole towards you, and that you don't need him either way.

In other words, whenever this type of drama crops up, whether it's romantic or not, it is a sure sign you're being played in some way or another.

Long story short: RUN.
posted by jbenben at 6:30 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the advice everyone. I am gonna try to talk it out with him, but ultimately I'm going to let him know that I have no ownership over him and he can hang out with who he wants to hang out with. And that we should have some space. I don't wanna hold on to any bad feelings here, just wanna make sure we're on good terms and then part ways.
posted by impactsmoothie at 6:46 PM on October 25, 2012


But what he meant by 'no commitment' is he doesn't want any complications, any drama, anything making his life more difficult. He is fine being with you when you are happy and fun and friendly, but when you get possessive or upset, he's just going to bale because he's not invested in the relationship. You care way more than he does, and it's going to end up just hurting the two of you more if you keep up this drama between you.

I just want you to read this twice. Then go back and read Misha's whole comment again. Listen, I know unrequited love (or "friendship", either way) and it sucks. But real friends don't make drama. You see each other when it works, if they are too busy or whatever then so be it. They have kids, work double shifts etc...you don't give them grief you just let it go and hope you see them again soon. Believe me, it happens way more when you are older so you might as well get used to it now. If you are truly just wanting to be friends, that is. Or even if you want to be more than friends, either way.

(Note, when speaking with my friends, we always called this the 'false sense of urgency'- like I have to fix this RIGHT NOW. Guess what. You don't. He's busy and doesn't want to deal with all this. Like Misha said, he probably misses the light part of your friendship. That's it. Just be cool, if you work together next month be polite and nice and normal. He actually doesn't owe you anything, that's the thing with friends too. Just let him be, act normal and just relax until you are working together next month, or until he contacts you next. And even then, act cool and normal. No demands! No "I feel bad because..." etc. NO ISSUES!)
posted by bquarters at 6:47 PM on October 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had expressed that I was a little sad that he had plans to hang out with other friends and not me. He went off and said I'm the only friend he hangs out with, and that we're "attached at the hip." He said he hated that I was "guilt-tripping" him.

This is girlfriend behavior, not casual friend behavior that you are doing. That's why he has a problem with it. You simply cannot act that close with a guy friend that you are not in a romantic relationship with. This is why nobody here thinks you're over the crush, too.

Either you back the hell off and let him call you, or just bail on the "friendship" altogether. I think you'd be better off doing the latter, though. Nobody gets over a crush without cold turkey having to go on sometime.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:59 PM on October 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the advice everyone. I am gonna try to talk it out with him, but ultimately I'm going to let him know that I have no ownership over him and he can hang out with who he wants to hang out with.

Yeah, I'm not sure that you get it--he doesn't need your permission, and he knows that you have no ownership over him, and in fact, that's probably a big part of why he's uncomfortable and unhappy with your behavior. You are coming across as really controlling here, and I'm afraid you came across that way to him in text as well.

It is not okay to keep tabs on your friends and criticize them or guilt-trip them for hanging out with people who aren't you. You can be a little sad, you can be jealous, it happens, we're all human. You can say "hey, let's hang out" or possibly "I miss you" (but frankly even that is likely to be unwelcome if they are busy and stressed). However, mentioning their other friendships or mentioning activities that they shouldn't be doing because they should be prioritizing you instead is really Not Done. Keeping tabs on your friends' social lives and then criticizing them is seriously unhealthy. It's unhealthy for you because focusing on what something that you can't control that makes you sad is a bad idea. It's unhealthy for the friendship because friendships need to feel somewhat mutual in order to be pleasant and honest.

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to be overly harsh, but I want you to understand that many, if not most, people would find this behavior very inappropriate. Apologizing and attempting to continue the friendship after he indicated that he was uncomfortable with your behavior towards him and no longer wanted to continue the friendship is going to read as more boundary-stomping. At this point, you do not need to talk it out with him, you need to work on your feelings by yourself without involving him, because he has indicated that he does not want to interact with you further. If he contacts you and he wants to talk, maybe, but if you continue to contact him without him responding or initiating, you're heading to stalker-ville. No one wants to be in stalker-ville.

Good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:54 PM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


So I spoke with him today and told him I apologize for my behavior. I have no ownership over him and had no right to guilt-trip him for not hanging out with me and told him I'd give him some space. He really seemed to appreciate that. I'm just gonna back off him and play it cool. We need a nice, long break. Thank you all again for making me realize how ridiculous I was being. I'm also gonna try my best to just let him go completely, but that's gonna be very difficult.
posted by impactsmoothie at 9:03 PM on October 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


So the other day he goes off on me because I had expressed that I was a little sad that he had plans to hang out with other friends and not me.

This is a big mistake. I don't think it is fair of you to tell him you are sad that he will not hang out with you as much as you want him to without expecting an angry response. Friends just don't expect each other to hang out with them on a certain schedule, timing needs to be good for BOTH parties. This is why we stay friends: no pressure, all fun and support. When you cross over the line and have expectations about how much they should be doing for you (spending time with you) you are responsible for creating a tense dynamic. I don't blame him for being put off by your comment. That being said, I really feel for you and your frustration, we've all been there and it sucks to feel left out. I doubt the friendship is over but you need to be prepared to back way off and forget about him for a while, give this some serious space! Maybe you can pick something up again in a few months.
posted by waving at 2:48 AM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I guess I was ate. Sounds like you resolved the situation
posted by waving at 2:50 AM on October 26, 2012


« Older What's better: Swiffer dusters...   |  How do you move songs from an ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post