I feel abandoned by some friends. How should I address this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
A little more than a year ago, I moved with my husband from the city where we attended graduate school to a college town in a different state, where he had gotten a job as a professor. At the time, I was still finishing my degree, and was pregnant.
Before we moved, we were good friends with "Chad" and "Trish", two grad students (boyfriend and girlfriend) in my department. We did couple things together, helped each other move apartments, watched our respective cats while on trips, and just hung out. "Chad" and I were particularly close friends, and we shared a lot of ideas and professional activities relating to our field of study. When things were tough with school or personal problems, I often went to Chad and Trish to talk things over, and they came to me to do the same. Overall, I felt they were good friends who would keep on being my friends, even after graduate school ended.
However, after we moved away, I have felt pretty much forgotten by both Chad and Trish. We had a few phone calls just to talk for a couple months after the move; and after the baby came, I still called them once in a while (maybe once a month). But they didn't answer and didn't call me back. In the spring, Trish was busy finishing her degree. I sent her a facebook message saying "how are you? call me whenever you get a chance." She replied that she would call me later in the week, but never did.
I called once in a while, but less and less, throughout the spring and summer. This summer Chad and Trish moved together to a different college town, where she has a job while he finishes his degree. Since then, I gotten one email from Chad, which was just a link to a website he thought I would find interesting. I emailed him back to talk about the link, and asked "how's the new town?" and have never heard back. I haven't tried to call either Trish or Chad for a couple months.
I feel hurt that my friends, whom I thought really valued me just a couple years ago, have apparently just forgotten me. I'm also sort of self-conscious about trying to contact them; even though I have really only called or emailed maybe once every couple months, I'm sort of ashamed of the effort, because it feels so unreciprocal at this point. And while Trish's friendship has always been sort of secondary to Chad's, I'm really hurt by his silence in particular. We pulled each other through some tough times in grad school, and I'm bummed that I haven't even heard a single sentence from him on how life in their new home is going.
Moreover, I feel like this situation reflects something intrinsically wrong with me. I feel like I'm incapable of retaining friends from one phase of life to the next. I'm a very reserved person, and like many reserved people I tend to become very attached to the friends I make, because it took a lot of effort (on my part and theirs) to make those friendships. My husband has said in the past that I expect too much from people; but it seems to me that other people manage to stay in contact with friends from college and even high school. When I have tried to keep up friendships from those times, it has felt very one-sided, as in I'm the one doing all the emailing and calling. Besides my family, there are very few people who spontaneously get in touch with me just to say hello. I feel like...I'm just not a memorable friend, I guess. I don't know why that is.
Anyway, I'm having trouble making new friends in this town, although I've lived here over a year now. Part of it is a real reluctance to get out there and try again. I know there are moms' groups and playgroups -- lots of them -- but at this point, I don't want to make an effort. I'm reaching the conclusion that I'm never going to have a friend who will actually have an interest in who I really am; and even if I did have such a friend, they would forget me as soon as our paths in life diverged.
My question is three-parted:
1. Am I being unfair to my old friends for not keeping in touch with me? Should I keep trying to get in touch with them?
2. Am I expecting too much of people? In other words, do I have some unrealistic ideal of friendship -- that people can have friends who are genuinely interested in you beyond shared circumstances of time and place?
3. If there is something about me that makes me "forgettable," what could I do differently to change this?