Is this friendship worth saving?
January 5, 2010 11:01 AM   Subscribe

FriendshipFilter: Should I give up on this friendship? I am female and I've been good friends with my next-door neighbor from my first year of college since then. We haven't lived in the same place since college, but we've been quite close since then. However, we've been having trouble connecting.

The last time we saw each other was when we visited her for her son's baptism. The last time before that was visiting them right after they found out they were expecting. We've tried to meet up quite a few times since then- they've canceled two visits to see us, and we've tried to meet up in the city where her husband's parents and my mother-in-law live, to no avail. The most recent situation involved her saying we'd meet up on the 23rd of December, then canceling and saying we'd meet on January 2. Her phone went dead, I emailed and Facebooked her with no response. I even called her husband, who said she wanted to see me.
Background: We were in each other's weddings, and I am the godmother for her 2.5 year old son. I have an almost two-year old daughter (whom she's never met). But- she's always been a competitive friend. You name it: marriage, appearance, now child-rearing. She had a difficult childhood with an abusive father and refuses to deal with some of the issues surrounding that. She also works full time and I'm a stay-at-home mom, and she's made comments about not being able to do what I do because she would be bored. We still share a lot, though- political beliefs, reading, lots of shared experiences from college and as parents.
I don't whether she's avoiding me or if she's just overwhelmed. My husband thinks that she has something to hide or she's ashamed of something. I don't know- hive mind, help me out!
posted by mrstrotsky to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had a very valuable friendship flounder in the past, and now, when I suspect a friendship is going south, I point-blank ask the person if they're mad at me for some reason and if they fail to respond to the question, I leave them be - if they want the friendship to continue, it's on them, but I can rest assured that I did nothing to bring about the end of the friendship.
posted by banannafish at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

i have a friend who does something similar. she contacts me to set a date, we set it and she cancels it the day before. i used to follow up to reschedule, but she'd end up cancelling that too. so, now, i don't try to reschedule after she cancels, i just accept the excuse she gives and i don't suggest a new date. she eventually manages to make one of the dates she proposes and we have a great time when we do get together.

whatever the reason, it's on her. if you have no reason to believe there's some conflict between you then don't dwell on it and enjoy your visits when they happen.

send your god son gifts at the appropriate time and don't worry about the rest.
posted by elle.jeezy at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2010

To paraphrase: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity life getting in the way.

She works full-time, has a 2.5 month old baby and we have just gone through the busiest, time-crunchiest, energy consuming season of the year. I don't see any active rejection of your friendship so I'm not sure why you would want to toss the whole relationship away.

If you feel you are the only one making an effort to stay in touch and that bothers you then reduce the number of times you try to make contact to a level that doesn't annoy you.

Or simply send an email or phone message that leaves the ball in her court for making the next contact.
posted by pixlboi at 11:26 AM on January 5, 2010 [8 favorites]

Are there ways of preserving the friendship that don't involve meeting up in person? It sounds like that's causing a lot of the anxiety, but it also seems you don't live in the same place any longer. Maybe this phase of your friendship doesn't involve much, if any, face-to-face time. That doesn't mean it's over or even lesser, it's just different because you're both in different places now.

Letters, phonecalls, email, even IM? If you've tried that and gotten the same lack of response, well, that's one thing. But if you haven't, give a shot to non-meetup-planning contact and see where that takes you.
posted by donnagirl at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2010

I have friends -- good friends -- that I don't see or talk to for a year or two at a time. One of the nice things about a good friendship is that it doesn't require too much maintenance; when our lives are hectic and difficult, we may lean on those friends for support, but we also might focus on fixing our own problems/getting through our own adventures taking comfort for the knowledge that our friends are there if we need them later.

You may be more of a high-maintenance friend, but perhaps she is not; just reach out once in a while to see how she's doing, so that she knows you're still friends even though she doesn't have time to come over and be an active participant right now.
posted by davejay at 11:51 AM on January 5, 2010

All of your comments are great. I think that the issues are bigger than just not seeing each other. I am lucky to have eight very close friends, and all but one are long-distance friends. I can get by not seeing them for long periods of time (and do). We communicate through chatting, phone, email, etc and I remain close to all. This one is different in that there are very long periods of time when I try to communicate and she simply doesn't respond in any way. This pattern began after college (before either of us had kids). My usual response is concern for her-but I am finding it frustrating to be the one reaching out over and over.
posted by mrstrotsky at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2010

Is it possible that she has depression or anxiety problems? She sounds a lot like me (except that I don't work outside the home.) I can be a really horrible friend when it comes to keeping in touch, and sometimes when plans come up I get so overwhelmed in the preparations for them that I have to cancel. Then I feel guilty for cancelling and avoid the person out of shame.

If you think this may be the case, you can memail me and I can try to give you some help.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2010

I often drop out of sight with friends. It's not my best quality, but sometimes I get so overwhelmed with dealing with the day-to-day of my life that I don't have any energy left for socializing. Sounds like this friend might be the same (and tiny baby + holiday travel would certainly send me into profound overwhelmedness).

Either this is a dealbreaker for you or it isn't, but it's probably not the result of an issue between the two of you at all--it's just how she does things, and if that doesn't work for you maybe the friendship is at an end.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2010

Just to clarify... her son is 2.5 years old, not months. I can see why you would be surprised that I would want to see her if you thought her baby was that little! One of the reasons I've been wanting to see her is that she is my only long-distance friend with a little one close in age- I have another friend with a seven year old, but all of my others are childless so far. I'd just like to share that experience with her in person one of these days... but if it's later, that's okay too.
posted by mrstrotsky at 5:21 PM on January 5, 2010

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