I am at a standstill. Have a done everything I should??
September 11, 2009 10:00 AM   Subscribe

When I think about the situation, I think I'm doing the right thing. Then why do I feel so bad about it?

Okay, this is really long. Please read though, I'd love some solid MeFi advice.

I am female, and have a close female friend. We have known each other since middle school and now attend the same college and live in the same apartment building in the same hallway. Normally, this would be awesome because we have been really great friends for many years, and we normally spend so much time together that people joke we're married. The problem is what happened a few months ago...

We were both studying abroad in adjacent European countries. She was nice enough to invite me to visit her in her city for a long weekend. I really looked forward to the trip, and was very excited to see her when I got there. The problem was when I get there it was like she was a different person. She was very standoffish, often giving my general questions "So how are your classes going?" curt one or two word responses. In public she seemed annoyed of me, and became really angry with me for minor things (e.g. I asked her, at a pastry counter, if she'd tried a particular type. She yelled "I haven't tried any of these, okay!" startling the people around us. She refused to go to out to any restaurants despite my repeated requests, and so I ended up having to make dinner at her apartment every night. The culmination of the strange behavior was her giving me the silent treatment for briefly chatting with my boyfriend on her laptop one evening, even though she had been chatting with hers a few minutes earlier. She was upset because, "you're here to talk to me, not him!"

This is not to say there weren't bright points. Sometimes everything would seem back to normal. We'd laugh talk about mutual friends, make our same jokes, and generally have a really nice time. But I was really uncomfortable the whole time because I didn't know when she would start treating me like a childish nuisance again. For the record, I tried really hard to make she I wasn't being annoying, rude, or demanding. I don't think my behavior merited this treatment at all. When she dropped me off at the entrance to the train to the airport, she quickly said "Hey, sorry, I've been a little weird this weekend. Hope you didn't mind." The problem is, I did still mind. I had a horrible weekend, felt on edge the whole time, and couldn't imagine what I'd done to be treated that way. I was really torn up about it, crying on the phone to my mom, and even having nightmares about being back there. I stalled on what to do, didn't talk to her, and she didn't talk to me for a few weeks. Finally I decided I should write her a letter explaining how I felt, asking for an explanation, and making it clear that I didn't want to be treated that way again. I really wavered on whether this was the right course of action, but read in a number of advice columns that this was.

Out of the blue she sent me a one-line email joking about a guy we both know. I decided that this was the time, and so I responded to the joke, but also added my letter about her behavior, wanting to know if I'd done something, and trying to get an explanation. I had my mom and a close friend proof read the letter to make sure it was polite, non-emotional, and straightforward. And then she never wrote back. Months passed, and even though we'd both be online at the same time in our email system, she never wrote back. I was really hurt, but figured she'd decided we just weren't friends anymore or that I wasn't worth a response or something. I was hurt, and still am, but decided that I should just let things go.

Now school has started. And through chance, we live in the same building in the same hall. I didn't think she was coming back to school, but since we hadn't spoken in months I had no idea. I figured maybe she'd come talk to me, but she never has. We pass each other in the hall, and she always smiles really big and says "Hi!", which I reciprocate, but don't say anything more. My thinking being if she actually wanted to be friends she'd reach out with more than that.

So, its awkward. The worse part though is that we were two friends in a close-knit four-person friend group (part of a larger ten-or-so friend group). No one has ever asked me about the situation, but I can tell they know someone is going on, because they look sheepish if I ask what they did last night and they say hung out with her. I don't want them to stop hanging out with her, but I also don't want them to think I'm ridiculous. I know she has told them her side of things because a close friend said to me "I know about your stupid little feud. You need to get over that." He also mentioned that she "didn't write back to your letter.", so I know she got it. I got really flustered, actually teared up, and said that I think it should stay between the two of us, and that I didn't want to get other people involved.

Bless you if you have read this far. Since then nothing has changed. She sent me a text message a few days ago inviting me to a group get-together at her apartment, but I didn't want her to think that things were okay with us. I told her that unfortunately I was busy, and thanked her for the invite. Okay, so my specific questions.

-Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something? Should I just drop the whole thing?

-So far I've avoided talking to this about any mutual friends. Everyone only knows her side of the story. I feel like everyone things I'm being ridiculous, but still don't think I should say anything. What say you?

-How can I make this less awkward for everyone? At this point, I have doubts we can be friends, so I just want to move on. Has anyone successfully navigated a similar situation?

Thank you for so much of your time. I eagerly await your advice.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (44 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favorite mantras about relationships is this: "Ask for what you want or need." To put it bluntly, talk to her, rather than asking a random strangers on the internet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2009 [12 favorites]

Zoinks, that sounds awful.

But the answer to this:

Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something? Should I just drop the whole thing?

Is yes and yes. She invited you to do something; that was her 'doing something'. Yes, you should drop the whole thing. You sent her a letter, you asked her about it, she has not responded. She doesn't want to talk about it.

The thing is, your life will be easier if you make a conscious decision to forget it and go on with life and hang out with your mutual group of friends and her.

We don't know from this writing if you did something to deserve this treatment, you don't think so, but maybe either you did and didn't realize it, or she thinks you did something and you didn't.

But you're not going to find out because she's not going to tell you. You can probably find out from one of your mutual friends, but what's the best case scenario? You get further embroiled in an ongoing drama with someone who you know now won't communicate in the case of a conflict.

So, personally, I'd say do what you have to do to forget it. It'll get easier once you go through the motions a few times. The first time will be weird, second time less so, third time even less so. You don't have to be super-close again, but your life will improve if you move on.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:09 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of these times that you see her in the hall, ask if you two "can talk because I really don't understand what's going on and yet I hear we have a 'feud'." See what response you get from her and go from there. The next time one of your friends mentions something in connection with this, don't respond with "that's between us." Instead, be honest and say that you have no idea what the deal is or what happened. You don't know what they have heard from her and you're making big assumptions about how they feel about you.
posted by onhazier at 10:09 AM on September 11, 2009 [9 favorites]

After posting, I have to disagree with A Terrible Llama one point. She has talked about it and is willing to talk with someone about it. She's clearly talked about it to mutual friends. If she's got an issue than she should talk to you about it and you should talk to her about it.
posted by onhazier at 10:12 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

She says hi, she's invited you to a get-together at her apartment, and your mutual friends are telling you to get over it?

She said she was behaving weirdly that weekend, and I think you may have just taken things way hard. The letter may have come across as accusatory in a time when she might have been going through something, so perhaps she felt chewed out and it's only these little steps she's been comfortable enough to take.

I think she is reaching out and you're blind because you're resentful, stubborn, and indignant over feeling like you are owed something. If you want the friendship to work, go and talk to her. Accept her invite. This might be the best she can do right now because she and your mutual friends can tell you have a chip on your shoulder. They're treading gently.

It seems like the ball is in YOUR court, but you keep failing to see it.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:13 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Feuds take two people. The ball isn't in your court or her court. You're on the same frickin' team here.

People get weird when they're overseas in a foreign environment. Her behavior was atrocious, but you dropped the ball a little by trying to work this out over email. NEVER broach uncomfortable stuff over email. It usually ends badly.

I agree with Brandon Blatcher. Call her, take her out to coffee, and ask her about the situation. Don't demand or expect an apology. Just try to understand what was going on. Don't be confrontational or angry or anything.
posted by paanta at 10:16 AM on September 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

She sent me a text message a few days ago inviting me to a group get-together at her apartment, but I didn't want her to think that things were okay with us.

Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something?

She did do something. She invited you to a get together.

IANAT however, she sounds depressed and anxious. It sounds like the way I get when I fall into a depressive state (I have had major clinical depression 3x). Often, when a person is depressed, she will isolate. Perhaps from the one person who sees her depression (you). She may not even know what's going on and it can be incredibly frustrating and further isolating because she can't explain why she is behaving the way she is.

If you don't want to be friends, take care of yourself and move on. Say hi in the halls but don't make any overtures. Someday, perhaps she'll figure out what's going on and make amends.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:17 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

In relationship's, if you want to take a step, then the ball is always in your court.

She might have had a big bust-up with her parents, another friend, or there could have been bad news she'd just gotten from home, or anything, and she might not want to talk about it then, now, or ever.

But she did invite you, so find her, and say, "I'm glad you invited me the other day. I'm sorry I couldn't make it. Do you want to come for a coffee?"

And take it from there.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:18 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh honey, I'm so sorry to hear about all of this. It's awful when someone we truly love as a close friend starts to change in bizarre ways. It sounds to me that she probably has some things going on under the surface, but there's also the chance that she just doesn't want to be friends. I can see why you would feel confused by her behavior-- she's sending all of these signals that she doesn't care about you or the way you feel, but she's still very nice to your face and inviting you to parties. I would guess she's just done with the friendship, unfortunately, and her immature behavior leads me to believe that maybe it's for the best. You do sound as though you've been very conscious of your own behavior and very cautious in regards to her feelings. To that extent I applaud you for your maturity, and I think now it's time to acknowledge that she's simply not trying as hard as you are.

I'd wager that she's only saying hello to you as a politeness, and she certainly seems like she's only inviting you to this get-together because of the pressure she feels from being associated with you and your mutual friends. I do believe that it's in general a good idea to refrain from involving other people, but if she's already told some of your close friends her side of the story, it's important to make sure they're not being turned against you. I'd suggest that you speak with one or maybe two of your closest friends who are familiar with the situation and explain your feelings. Be genuine, express your concern, cry if you need to, and simply ask them to listen because you need someone else in the group to understand why you're declining social gatherings and distancing yourself from her.

Don't let this situation make you feel completely alone, but also don't alienate her in the immature fashion she's alienating you. Aside from those one or two confidants, I'd try to keep the gossip to a minimum-- anytime someone insinuates that they are familiar with the conflict or the weirdness, have a short one line answer ready. Try to make sure that it implies that you still like/care about this person, but that you are not sure what's going on in your relationship. Assume no responsibility, and tell that friend who said you needed to get over it to go fuck themselves. Sorry, but that was a rude thing to say when he only knew one side of the story.

It's probably wise to go ahead and accept that she's going to be acting bizarrely and you might never be friends again. Don't go too far out of your way to please her, because she's not doing anything nice for you. If it gets really uncomfortable, find a new group of friends or hang out in smaller circles where it's not necessary to invite everyone. Again, I am really sorry you're having to deal with this, but I think you've done everything right to the best of your ability and I applaud you for it. Think about it this way-- your going through this now is a fantastic learning experience. You'll probably never experience anything quite this heart-wrenching with a friend in the future, and if you do you'll be prepared. Just don't let her walk all over you, because you don't deserve that.
posted by wild like kudzu at 10:19 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something? Should I just drop the whole thing?

What specifically do you want her to do? Apologize? Respond to specific issues you brought up in your email?

She sent me a text message a few days ago inviting me to a group get-together at her apartment, but I didn't want her to think that things were okay with us.

Why? You were friends since middle school, and you had one bad weekend with her (where nothing really horrible even happened). It seems like things could be okay with the two of you if you both just decided to forget about it, or if you both sat down and went through any of the reasons why you might not want to be friends any more.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:19 AM on September 11, 2009

You need to invite her out and have a talk about this.
posted by hermitosis at 10:20 AM on September 11, 2009

It sounds tough. I think that at some neutral time (not a get together), you should go and talk to her. Email has no guarantee of service. Go over and tell her that your mutual friend said that she'd responded to your letter, but you didn't receive it. If she sent it and you didn't respond, she may think the ball is in your court. If she lied about sending it, well, you'll have a chance to open up communication and see whether there is something there worth salvaging.

Figuring out who is to blame is not really helpful at this point. Figuring out what you want from each other and what you are willing to give/forgive is. In adult relationships, sometimes you just have to make the first move, regardless of whose turn it is. With relationships that started in childhood, it can be really difficult to transition them to adult relationships. Whatever her initial weirdness was, it sounds like it was more about her than you, because of her apology at the end. Perhaps keeping that in mind as a place to start any rehash of those feelings would be useful.

Good luck.
posted by carmen at 10:22 AM on September 11, 2009

How much time was she spending alone in foreign country? Living abroad can be really fucking lonely and hard. And I get pretty god damned weird when I spend too much time alone. Actually, I act pretty much exactly like how you described her. I don't have a lot of advice on how to patch things up. God knows you don't want advice from me on that (ugh), but I think the way she was acting probably had very little to do you with you personally.
posted by milarepa at 10:23 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

-Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something?

...she did - she invited you over.

-So far I've avoided talking to this about any mutual friends. Everyone only knows her side of the story. I feel like everyone things I'm being ridiculous, but still don't think I should say anything. What say you?

I think you should talk to the friend you're closest to and ask them to tell you what's going on, if there even is anything going on.

How can I make this less awkward for everyone? At this point, I have doubts we can be friends, so I just want to move on. Has anyone successfully navigated a similar situation?
If you want to move on then move on but the best way to make things less awkward for everyone is to just get over it.

From what you've said, she was a little miss cranky pants for a weekend - there could be a hundred reasons why, many of them personal and private and absolutely nothing to do with you. She acknowledged and apologised for her behaviour but didn't give a reason, strongly indicating the reason was private and personal and not something she wanted to talk about. Then weeks later she reaches out and you send a long letter demanding and explanation and making it all about you.

Being upset by it is understandable - when my boyfriend is quitting smoking he can be an absolute bastard and even though I know the reason, its still upsetting. At this point I think you need to accept she's never going to give you a reason so you need to get over it or move on but it sounds very much like moving on will include moving on from all your other friends too.
posted by missmagenta at 10:23 AM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I obviously don't know your friend, so I may be really off-base here, but it sounds like she was just miserable and terrified in Europe. Some people who decide to go abroad while in college are just really not prepared for the cultural and language barriers, the struggles of living alone, being separated from friends and family, etc. She probably had a terrible few months.

This doesn't excuse her childish behavior, but it doesn't sound like she was thinking clearly when you visited her-- instead, she was probably wrapped up in thinking about how unhappy she was. She was probably really confused by you being upset.

At this point (back in familiar surroundings with nearby friends), she's probably embarrassed by the way she acted in Europe. The fact that she invited you over is a really good sign, if you do want to salvage the friendship, and I do think that by inviting you she has made a move-- ball's back in your court.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:25 AM on September 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

What a strange situation. Sorry about that terrible weekend, it sounds like your friend knew she was being a toad, and yet didn't make the proper amends. To address your questions, although I would typically agree to a direct approach (a la onhazier), in this case it sounds like you're dealing with someone who is not going to be a lifelong friend. I suspect that in some way, probably minor, you annoy this person and at times she feels like she can deal with it, but other times her impatience and annoyance overtakes her and she is borderline cruel. Although it is hurtful, I would not take it personally--she is not a friend that's worth keeping. In terms of talking to friends about it, here's where I would exercise extreme caution: she's already told mutual friends her side of the story, including "the letter" (which seems to me particularly uncool because she didn't bother to reply to it but went around mentioning it to others??). I think your handling if it ("keeping it between us") showed maturity and restraint and is the way to keep on; although you are forfeiting some support of mutual friends, you are avoiding a war of passive-aggressive backbiting, which this person seems entirely capable of. You totally don't need that. The situation as it stands--a superficial friendiliness, is probably the ideal way for this to end.

One other thing: you seem like a kind, fair, sensitive, considerate person. I hope you meet people who value that, because there are good people that deserve to have you as a friend, and vice versa. Best of luck.
posted by dreamphone at 10:29 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh - I missed the part about the invite text. Well, she still didn't respond to your direct question, and now wants to gloss it over? She may think the ball is in her court, because she's not comfortable talking about the problem or owning her part of it, but it doesn't sound that something that is going to satisfy you. And how you feel is what's important.
posted by dreamphone at 10:34 AM on September 11, 2009

The following is just one guess about what might be going on with her. There are several other possible explanations.

Sometimes study abroad is a transformative period of time for people. They go abroad, leave behind all their former social connections, and become somebody new. When you visited her, even though she invited you, she may have been troubled and confused by the mixing of old and new social contexts. If she didn't have a good sense of self-awareness about what was going on, this could have caused irritation which she took out on you. Dropping out of contact with you afterward could have had something to do with an inability to reconcile her "old" and "new" lives.

As for what to do: I agree with onhazier that you should adopt a little more openness about the situation with your mutual friends. Trying to keep it strictly between the two of you only works if you know exactly what's going on. Making it into a big "war" and trying to recruit friends to your "side" would be a mistake, but you can be honest while still keeping the tone amicable. Something like: "I'm sorry that [friend's name] thinks we have a feud going on. I don't wish her any ill. I think we had some kind of misunderstanding while we were both in Europe but I'm not sure what her take on it is. I'd welcome the chance to clear things up with her." If your friends press for details, you can be vague and non-accusatory. "I visited her and we didn't get along well that weekend, I'm not sure why."
posted by Orinda at 10:35 AM on September 11, 2009

I think oinopaponton and others are on to something. Is it possible that she had a miserable time? Were you having an absolute blast? It's possible that she felt guilty for not getting out more and not enjoying what was supposed to be an amazing experience. Possibly your presence only served to make her feel worse if you were having a super time and talked a lot about your amazing experience.

She certainly shouldn't have taken it out on you, but it sounds like she's someone you're missing from your life, so maybe it's worth meeting up with her one on one to find out what was going on. If, now that she's back in a comfortable environment, she's not willing to meet up, then you could safely conclude that the ball is well and truly in her court.
posted by brambory at 10:40 AM on September 11, 2009

I ended up in a very similar situation - completely bewildered when a good friend inexplicably stopped talking to me - a few years ago. It was hellish - especially because we were ROOMMATES at the time, and my friend refused to even make eye contact, let alone speak with me, for a whole month until I was able to move out. I avoided certain hallways at my university the next yera, was afraid to talk to mutual friends, and had all kinds of nightmares. I wrote this person several genuinely caring and respectful emails asking what had happened and I never got any response. I also tried asking this person face to face what was going on, and I received literally no response whatsoever, not even eye contact. I never figured out what the problem was. For a full year it drove me up a wall, and even now, three years later, I still think about it all the time and wonder what on earth happened and what I could have done to prevent it. It's one of the most confusing and difficult things that's ever happened to me. I don't feel angry about it - just profoundly regretful.

So, my story obviously ends badly and I really hope yours doesn't, but just in case things don't get better, here's what I've learned:

Offer a genuine apology for anything you might have done, if the time seems right, because who knows, it might help - but this is not your fault, and anything your friend needs to take responsibility for her reaction to this mystery transgression. It's not for you to feel guilty about, even if you accidentally did something awful. It's not like you knew about it, and you have made every effort to be a responsible, kind person and therefore do not deserve the treatment you are getting.

I think it's wise for you not to discuss this situation with mutual friends ad nauseum (that's probably quite uncomfortable for them) - and I think it's especially important not to speak ill of people behind their backs - but it's certainly appropriate to mention that you are 1) confused and 2) very upset about the situation. You deserve support from your friends!

If the situation doesn't resolve, practice letting go. This is incredibly hard, especially when you're driven to "make things right", or, like me, can't stand the thought of people going around disliking you for reasons you can't understand. You don't have to cut this friend out of your mind or antagonize her or anything like that, but just practice letting go of the relationship. You don't have to fix this in order to move forward.
posted by Cygnet at 10:41 AM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]

Sometimes I've been a dick because I was out of sorts or awkward or insecure or just something weird was going on, and by the time I got my head out of my ass I felt like I had no idea how to fix what I'd done. In younger days, the easiest solution was to invent some drama to cover the embarrassment.

It sucks to be the person on the other side of that, but you really have two choices: let it go, or move on. It's not about you, it's not your responsibility to fix it (you're just making it worse), so either decide not to be associated with that person, or pretend it didn't happen and let the other person off the hook with a clear indicator that you don't intend to bring it up again.

Either way, you're free to continue to think less of her, but there is no win here by pursuing it.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

You need to talk in person. People can ignore or skirt around e-mails and text messages.
posted by Nattie at 11:06 AM on September 11, 2009

I'm sorry but it sounds like you kind of overreacted about the weekend. She did apologize at the time so I can easily see how she'd react the way she did to your letter. I've been her before, I know, and if I got a long tearful letter long after the fact I would probably ignore it too. What is there to say? She already apologized on the spot.

You are young. If you want to continue to hang out with this clique you've got to let it go. Talking to her is probably the technically 'correct' answer, but it sounds like she wants to avoid conflict and emotional drama. I understand where she's coming from. Act as if everything is fine and it soon will be. Go to things you are invited to. Let this go, really.

One lesson I've learned as I've got older: never put heartfelt feelings in e-mail. Likely every one in your clique, and people you don't know, have read it. You seem fragile and I really don't intend to make you feel bad-- really. Since the group of four or ten like you and her individually, you might as well get used to her company on new terms if necessary and rejoin the fun. Or find a new clique.
posted by vincele at 11:20 AM on September 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Hmm. I'm trying to imagine this from her point-of-view, and here's what I'm seeing:

--She invites you out for the weekend, and for whatever reason it's awkward and strained. (See above for a lot of good reasons why this could be.) As you're leaving, she apologizes for her behavior; despite this, you don't e-mail or call her for weeks, during which time she might be imagining that you're giving her the silent treatment for being a bad hostess or for having stressful interactions.

--She tentatively reaches out after hearing nothing from you for weeks, and you respond with a letter about how crappy her behavior was, telling her that you won't stand to be treated like that. (Another way of describing a "polite, non-emotional, and straightforward" letter is to say that it doesn't talk about your hurt feelings so much as her actions, which could definitely slide in accusatory territory very easily.) She doesn't respond--it's hard to say without seeing the letter, but I could imagine that a letter like that would be hard to know how to respond to. Maybe she's hurt, decides you're mad at her, and not knowing how to respond decides to let things cool off until you're both back on campus.

--When you finally do see her again on campus, she continues to reach out in low-key ways: as you say, we pass each other in the hall, and she always smiles really big and says "Hi!", which I reciprocate, but don't say anything more. She's inviting you to events with mutual friends, which you're blowing off.

Granted, the above is putting all of your friend's actions in the best possible light. Maybe that's useful to you, though, because as I read it you're putting all of her actions in the worst possible light. It seems like you're setting these hurdles she needs to clear before you'll talk to her--it's not enough for her to smile and say hello, she needs to "reach out with more than that", in your words--which doesn't seem like a very mature way to salvage this (if you're interested in salvaging this at all). If you're interested in continuing to be friends, I think you need to cut your friend some slack--deserved or not--and start reaching out to her like she's been doing for you.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:21 AM on September 11, 2009 [13 favorites]

I'm guessing the European country she lived in was for a language exchange type of experience? And from your examples about the pastry counter and the fact that she didn't want to go to restaurants, I'm guessing that she was frustrated and embarrased that her language skills weren't what she thought they should be and she felt ashamed of that in front of you and took it out on you. Not to excuse the way she acted, but just to say it probably wasn't any reflection on you or on your friendship.

She did apologize for her behavior, but in a half-hearted way that I suppose wasn't really adequate. But also, you are taking this so, so hard. You have nightmares about being back there? I don't think that's normal - you weren't in a war zone for goodness sakes. I think you're overreacting and if this is something you do often you'd be well served going to your university's counselling center and getting some help for this. One of the perks of being in school is usually free therapy so you might as well take advantage of it!

So what to do? I think you should pull her aside sometime and ask to speak to her in your room or in hers. And just tell her you felt she treated you badly but that you also acknowledge that you overreacted. Tell her that you think a lot about the good times in your friendship (if you do) and that you want to be friends the way you were before. See what she says. It will be awkward and uncomfortable at the beginning of the conversation, probably, but will be so worth it if you get your friend back.
posted by hazyjane at 11:24 AM on September 11, 2009

About what went wrong that weekend? Well, maybe she was homesick, she had a conflict with someone else around and needed alone time, maybe you wanted to do everything with her but she expected you to venture out on your own, or vice versa (both very common sources of friction with out of town guests). Maybe she had expected you to cover more expenses or bring her a nice gift, or to visit your town in return. Maybe her parents were getting divorced or she found out her dad was having an affair. Who knows? My money is on alone time, but honestly, there's no point in analyzing that weekend now.

Rather than jumping to conclusions that a person's behavior toward you is due to something you've done, think about how many other things could be going on in your friend's life. If you in fact are the problem the person has you'll know soon enough. I'm sorry if I come across as harsh. I've been on both sides of this problem especially when I was your age so I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I got into those situations.

Regardless what happens with this clique I'd really encourage you to get out and meet new people. You will never have the opportunity to be surrounded by hundreds of people exactly your age in your life again! Take advantage of it before you're stuck in a job in a building surrounded by people you didn't pick for acquaintenances or friends.

Ok, I'm done now. Good luck!
posted by vincele at 11:31 AM on September 11, 2009

You've been friends for years. She was odd/rude to you for a couple of days.

Let it go. People have bad weekends. Forgive her, forget it, and don't mention it to her or your mutual friends again.
posted by xingcat at 11:35 AM on September 11, 2009

Also, just to continue giving totally different advice from everyone else in the thread:

I think that if you're interested in patching this up, sitting her down to have a serious conversation about the entire thing is exactly the WRONG thing to do here. She's given you *several* indications that she's a pretty non-confrontational person who prefers to let hurt or angry feelings die down then strike back up friendships right where things left off. (I'm inferring this from the fact that she's obviously making an effort to rekindle the friendship but doesn't seem inclined to hash out the events of that weekend, and from the fact that she didn't respond to your email about it.)

One of the hard things in friendships where one person is a more non-confrontational and the other really needs to "hash things out" or "clear the air" after bad interactions is getting to the point where you can recognize your friend's preferred method of dealing with this stuff and try to respect it. It really sounds like you're pretty far on the side of putting everything out there--I think writing a long letter to someone about a weekend like this is not that common, a lot of people would (at most) mention something about their feelings being a bit hurt on the phone the next time they talked--and she's pretty far on the other side. All of which means that if you're really interested in staying friends, you need to get to the point where you can either forgive and forget about that weekend without needing to get some formal acknowledgment of wrongdoing from her.

I think she'd probably respond really well to something like "hey, sorry I couldn't make it this weekend, maybe next time!" followed up later in the conversation by something like, "Hey, I know things have been really weird since last semester--that weekend ended up being kinda crappy and I overreacted with that letter. I'm hoping we can just forget about it and start fresh."
posted by iminurmefi at 11:42 AM on September 11, 2009 [8 favorites]

I don't want her to think things are okay with us.

Why not? Do you want things to be ok with youse? She already apologised and you didn't accept it, it sounds like what you want is to know why she was in a bad mood that one weekend. The answer is possibly/likely none of your business. I think you're being a bit of a diva to tell you the truth.

Either you want to be buds or you don't. If you do, message her back with "Change of plans, can amke it this weekend if offer still stands, sorry I've been a bit off, would be great to see you". And then leave it the hell at that. If you don't want to be buds, well then, situation is already solved. Either way, stop poking the scab. MHO.
posted by Iteki at 11:48 AM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

To make things right with everyone, it would be best to accept her terms and move on. Hopefully in time she'll come clean and tell you her side. With friends in common it will make your life easier if there is a peace between you.

I have been there too and ut us incredibly painful. For me, the outcome has been an uneasy peace - but easier for everyone else and I'm not giving up on the dream that one day it will be natural and fun again between us. Good luck! Accept those invites and take baby steps!
posted by MiffyCLB at 12:00 PM on September 11, 2009

It's about you and her; nobody else's business ('cept MeFi). The next time she invites you somewhere (sounds like this is her gesture, rather than an attempt to talk it all out), why not ask her if she ever received your letter and she what she says...
posted by bunny hugger at 12:23 PM on September 11, 2009

Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something? Should I just drop the whole thing?

Yes, you are wrong she did reach out to you to invite you. I think you should just get over this. What do you have to gain by not? Are you saving some sort of face or pride or something? C'mon. My biggest concern is that no matter what happens, it will be hard to ever put this in the past. It will always be there.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:26 PM on September 11, 2009

She invited you over to a group event. That's a pretty classic way of asking to hang out again, but also wanting to avoid drama. Nthing that time abroad can be hard, and she may not want to drudge up those emotions.

I don't see confrontation solving this, unless you apologize in very general terms. In time she may see that you had a hard time too, but for now, I'd decide to either drop it or be OK with no longer being friends.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:39 PM on September 11, 2009

iminurmefi! iminurmefi! iminurmefi!

GREAT advice there. Well explained!

I also wanted to add that you will be happier in life if you can confine your relationship needs to the appropriate party. OK. Not sure I am saying that correctly, but here is what I am thinking...

You seem to have pretty high standards regarding relationships and other people's behavior, this is not necessarily a bad thing! Standards = Good. But you need to manage your expectations appropriately. Certain family, the person you (ahem!) share a bed with, a best friend -- these folks are the ones you should feel comfortable expecting a lot from and engaging in intense and intimate communication with. School friends, members of your social circle, neighbors, workmates, even roommates -- these are people you shouldn't expect a lot from. Be super pleasant, make friends, but understand the level of trust with people in this category is different from your "inner circle" and adjust yourself accordingly.

This situation is a blessing and a great learning opportunity for you.

Some people (like you & me, it seems!) have these super rigid ideas about how folks should act towards one another. We respect our intimates and strangers alike. We believe the world would be a better place if only... well, you get the idea:) But most other people absolutely do not feel this way about themselves or others. They don't see the connections we see. They're A LOT more neutral or ambivalent about interactions and relationships. You will run into this situation again and again until you learn to honor your own principles regarding relationships and respect that others weight these issues differently than you do. This is doable!

I always wondered how many interpersonal situations might have gone easier for me if someone had sat me down and explained this whole thing (iminurmefi!) to me in a kind and compassionate manner when I was in High School or College. Life would have been so much less painful over the years, I'm pretty sure;)

Excellent ask! Best of luck to you!!
posted by jbenben at 12:39 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

You can't see me, but I am nodding so hard right now in agreement with everything iminurmefi has said.

I also think that you need to decide now what you want the final outcome to be. Do you still want to be friends with her, or do you want Justice? If you want to preserve the friendship, then you probably need to suck it up and let go of the drama.

I don't mean that it's your fault, but I do mean that if you really need to hash out how-did-we-get-here and how-I-was-wronged and how-can-we-address-this, it will probably come at the expense of your friendship with her, because it sounds like that is emphatically Not the Way She Rolls.

And if you you don't want to be friends anymore, and "just want to move on," you don't necessarily get a huge catharsis to go along with that. Sometimes you have to just, you know, move on.

I don't mean to be judge-y or attack-y here, but I've kinda been in your situation, and I lost the friendship for years because I was seeking Justice. I didn't understand that the kind of apologies and overtures your friend is offering are truly the best some people have to give. You need to decide if that's enough for you, and if the friendship is worth it to you to meet them halfway.

(on preview, also what jbenben said. So much good advice you're getting...)
posted by somanyamys at 12:50 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

It sounds like she IS trying to reach out to you. She may feel awkward and embarrassed about her behavior over that weekend, and doesn't feel appropriate just bringing it up apropos of nothing to apologize. It sucks to get the cold shoulder like that from a friend, but I don't see the harm in being polite to her when you run into her and hanging out at gatherings of friends that she happens to be hosting. If the friendship is over, then it's over - you can be polite without being her BFF, and you'll seem like the bigger person to your mutual friends if you take this approach anyway. But if she feels bad and wants to make amends, then I think she's right to start out with little gestures like smiling at you and inviting you to gatherings.

She may have had a reason for acting so weird that weekend that she wasn't comfortable talking about at the time. This would probably be my first assumption, actually, and the fact that she's been so non-confrontational about the fallout of the weekend itself seems to back that up. If you are interested in salvaging this friendship at all, you need to stop thinking about it in terms of balls and courts and start thinking about it in terms of working with her towards a mutual goal.

That said, it sounds like you aren't quite there yet. It seems harsh to jump on the bandwagon telling you to "get over it" but, um... I can think of worse things than a weekend with someone who was in a bad mood the whole time. Not to invalidate your response to it, but nightmares? That seems like a disproportionate level of trauma for a situation like the one you described. Hell, I WISH that was the worst I'd ever been treated by anyone.

Try talking out your feelings about it to a neutral - NEUTRAL! - third party, to get to the root of why you're so upset by this, before you try to have any big conversation with her about it. It seems like she really wants to avoid conflict, so you have to be able to deal with this without bringing the conflict.
posted by ellehumour at 1:14 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

My two cents: I went through a similar experience, probably ten years ago to the day.

I was really good friends with a guy (let's call him X) from the age of 11, when we both started secondary school. We really got on well, both slightly geeky with similar senses of humour. I regarded him as my best friend, probably because he was.

Then, the time came when we had to go to university. I botched my A-levels, and didn't get into the university I wanted to go to. So, I wound up going to the same university as him.

About a week into my course, I spoke to a mutual friend of ours, and she said, "X said he's not going to talk to you while he's at university." Then it dawned on me. I'd basically spent every day of the last eight years with this guy, and although we were friends, he was making a break for independence. It hurt a little, yeah. But I quit university there and then, took a year out, and then went to a different uni. At the time it felt foolish, but looking back I think it was a really smart move. Even though we were in different cities, I was close enough to come and visit from time to time.

This has a happy ending. After all that time apart, me and X ended up living together for the two most awesome years of my life. We've gone our separate ways since, but I saw X yesterday, and we still have a great relationship. He is my best friend.

Maybe your friend just wanted a little independence. It's a horrible question to ask, but did she decide to go to Europe before you did? Could it be that you're unwittingly following her?

In my experience, a good friend is a friend for life, no matter what little ups and downs you have. I'd just treat her as you always have, chat to her about the normal stuff. Don't feel any resentment towards her for acting strangely. She's not rejecting you in the slightest. If you can get through this and remain friends you'll both be better people for it.
posted by hnnrs at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2009

The she threw you the ball several times. It's in your court. She told you as you were leaving that weekend she was sorry for acting wierd, and who know for what reason (being abroad can be stressful and alienating for some). She didn't respond to your accusatory email because she already appologized before you left that weekend. Was a second appology really going to change things for you?

She says Hi to you in the hallway. She invited you over.

If you really want to be friends with her then this is what you need to do - be friends, go get ice cream and talk about tv, gossip about boyz, whatever. Teh grown up thing to do is forget the drama (because grownups realize that drama happens, but don't dwell on it) and hang out.

You are really overthinking this. Just have fun and don't be Debbie Downer always bringing up that one weekend long ago where you were both stressed out in foreign countries.

If she brings up the "feud" just say "yea sorry things got wierd, I don't know what happened, but I'm ready to just leave the wierdness behind."
posted by WeekendJen at 2:59 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

She may have been suffering from culture shock while she was there, but didn't understand why she was feeling that way or how to cope with it. It doesn't excuse her behavior, but it could explain it.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:05 PM on September 11, 2009

I agree with Sophie: to me, she sounds like she was going through a bout of depression. Furthermore she sounds like she has very little awareness that this has been happening to her; or maybe if she does, she feels ashamed or ill-equipped to deal with it. I feel like I've acted out in similar ways when I was depressed--and it's important to realize that her weird behavior has nothing to do with you. To someone who is depressed, the most normal things can be extremely irritable. Suddenly that wonderful, cheerful friend might seem like a completely annoying a-hole (even though the friend hasn't changed one bit.)

also added my letter about her behavior, wanting to know if I'd done something, and trying to get an explanation. I had my mom and a close friend proof read the letter to make sure it was polite, non-emotional, and straightforward.

Hmm. I think the real question I have here is whether your letter actually addressed the fact you feel very hurt. If it was a very polite, non-emotional, and straightforward letter, just asking if you had "done something", that can actually be a very awkward letter to respond towards. I actually don't blame her for not responding. A lot of people find confrontational emails and letters very intimidating to answer.

I think what I might do is just let her know that that week went badly for you, you felt pretty hurt by a few of her actions, but maybe she had her own reasons to act in ways you were not used to. And like, hug or something. Because jeez, your description sounds like all in all, a description of two friends who annoyed the shit out of one another for a couple of days. There are far worse things that have happened in a friendship, you know.
posted by thisperon at 4:07 AM on September 12, 2009

Ugh, I know how this can happen because I've seen it at uni -- people go abroad, they change, they act in strange ways. This often happens independent of their friends' behavior; people just do weird stuff sometimes. It's painful when relationships shift and people are no longer as close as they once were, but it's a sad fact of life.

Others have offered excellent advice on how to patch things up (if that's what you want), but I just wanted to reiterate that this situation is more common than you might realize.
posted by fantine at 7:14 AM on September 12, 2009

First off, listen to iminurmefi and jbenben, they have good advice.

I was in a pretty similar situation to yours about a year and a half ago. The initial circumstances were a bit different, though, but it gives me a unique opportunity to give you friend advice based in Science (or at least a hackjob hypothesis and comparative study, n=2).

This occurred around the winter of my first year of college. I was part of a still-emerging friend group which included myself, a male friend N, his girlfriend A (they had been dating for a month or two), and my new girlfriend J. We were quite close before Christmas break; hung out a lot, did stuff together, etc. A was probably my best friend at the time, and N a close second (my girlfriend notwithstanding).

Then, we all went home for the month-long Christmas break. Me and my girlfriend got a lot closer after a lot of phone/IM conversations, and we really missed each other. I talked with N and A some, but not nearly as much, and although of course I missed them it was nothing like how I missed my girlfriend.

When we got back, things were fine at first, but me and my girlfriend started spending a lot of time together, taking away from some of the time we had been spending with the group of four. In retrospect, we were a bit rude at times (particularly myself), and this compounded with missing the old group dynamic, various mental and family type issues, relationship issues with N and A, etc. led to a spark, a flurry of letters, and finally a period of little-to-no contact between (my girlfriend & I) and (N & A).

I'm not really the type to write letters and do that sort of thing—I find it really annoying, and generally unproductive—but all other parties involved are. Several letters/emails were exchanged between my girlfriend and N and my girlfriend and A. My girlfriend and N eventually seemed to pseudo-reconcile, although they still weren't speaking much. I didn't have a problem with either N or A, and N didn't seem to have a problem with me other than by-relationship. The main issues were between my girlfriend and A, and partly between me and A (she thought I had wronged her, and to an extent I had).

In general, all of this complication led basically to a cycle of "you-do-it-no-you-do-it"s. I wasn't speaking to A or N because they weren't speaking to me, so I thought they didn't want me to speak to them, and visa versa (although they had a bit more reason behind it than that).

Eventually, I said "screw it" and just apologized profusely to A. I wasn't sure exactly what I had done wrong, but she explained it to me. (I explained some minor issues I had as well, so it wasn't completely one-sided.) A few jokes and hugs later, we were back to being best friends.

[Aside: In doing so I realized what jbenben said about differences of standards. I've always been in the "hoes before bros" camp, given that you love said hoe (if you're reading this, J, substitute "beautiful girlfriend" in for "hoe"), and my attitude towards friendship is generally "love everyone" plus "friends are the people you spend time with". A, on the other hand, is of the "bros before hoes" variety and bases her relationships in a strong sense of interpersonal (and person-specific) loyalty.

As an appendix to the aside, we have a myriad of other differences as well. We are nearly polar opposites on such issues as politics, religion, ethical dilemmas, sports teams, and sock coloration. Just goes to show how strange friendship is.]

My girlfriend and A, on the other hand, are still not on speaking terms. They eventually, through another series of letters, resolved to "live and let live", mainly for my benefit, and they still haven't talked about much of any actual issues, even though I've attempted to mediate between them a bit and resolve some of the plethora of misunderstandings that led to their falling out.

Which brings me to the point of my overly-long and complicated explanation: THE ISSUES ARE NO LONGER THE ISSUE. The issue is that there is drama, and that you're fighting. So, stop it.

To resolve your specific questions:

>>but I didn't want her to think that things were okay with us.

Jeez, I've heard this line a million times. Forgive her, and ask for forgiveness, even if you don't think you're in the wrong.

>>Am I wrong for thinking that the ball is in her court, and that if she wants to stay friends its her turn to do something? Should I just drop the whole thing?

There are two balls, and you're holding one. Don't drop it.

>> So far I've avoided talking to this about any mutual friends. Everyone only knows her side of the story. I feel like everyone things I'm being ridiculous, but still don't think I should say anything. What say you?

Yes, you're being ridiculous, just like I was and N was and A was and J was. Don't worry about your friends on this, though; you're barely informed, and they even less so. Just fix the problem and the gossip will go away.

>> How can I make this less awkward for everyone? At this point, I have doubts we can be friends, so I just want to move on. Has anyone successfully navigated a similar situation?

Again, a line I've heard a lot from A and J. You can be friends. If you care this much, you probably care about your friend. Don't move on. Just fix it.

In summary:
1) The problem is not what you think it is; the problem is that you've let the conflict go on too long.
2) The "situation" is complicated, and you probably don't know the half of it. Don't worry about who's right or wrong; just fix the problem. (Believe it or not, I gave you the vastly simplified version of my story, most of which I learned just recently, and which I probably still don't know the half of. People are complicated.)
3) You want to fix the problem, because you care about your friend and it will relieve a ton of stress for both of you as well as issues with your other friends.
4) The problem is easy to fix, and
5) The fix is to say "I'm sorry", maybe talk about it a little (face-to-face), then be friends and drop it.
posted by Jebdm at 12:13 PM on September 12, 2009

She *did* reach out by inviting you over. Maybe spending some time together might remind both of you of why you were friends and whether or not it's worth the time and effort to try to patch things up.

I might be very worth it, or it might be time to move on and make new friends.

I have a question, though: why haven't you spoken to any of your friends about it? They all know her share of the story, why are you hiding yours? Do you feel like there's anything that should be hidden (for your sake? for hers?)?
Isn't there more to it than just this one weekend/letter?
And have you asked her what was going on in her life that she acted so out of character?

Do you miss her as a friend or are you more concerned with the awkwardness of group dynamics?

Regardless, though. I don't know what kind of person she or you are, but it's important to be able to apologize and to let things go. It's also important to recognize when you are wrong (do NOT make the mistake of always being the one to say sorry even if you don't know what you did wrong)

Good luck!
posted by Neekee at 2:28 PM on September 12, 2009

nthing those above... One thing I've started to learn as I get older is to try and let go of all that "He said, she said," and stop trying to work out who is right, and who's been hardest done by. The most important thing for you is to work out what will make you happiest, and go for that.

It sounds like the status quo is making you miserable and you want your friend back. So take a deep breath, forget whose court the ball is in and go to the party. It doesn't have to be a huge reunion right away - if you two become at least casual friends again, chances are that sooner or later you'll get drunk together and end up having a "OMG I'm soo sorry about all that shit" conversation, but by then it'll be in the past and you'll get over it.

FWIW, the way she behaved on your weekend is exactly how I behave towards my family when I'm in a bad mood, or especially if I'm feeling strange because I'm moving between different parts of my life (eg. going from the world I live in now back to the bosom of my family). It feels like there's a bit of an identity clash going on and I get ratty with my folks for talking to me as if I am still the "old me". Sometimes we behave horribly to the people we're closest to just because we can, and because we know they love us enough not to abandon us for being snappy.

In other words...

Everybody needs a hug.
posted by penguin pie at 5:12 PM on September 12, 2009

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