[whine filter] How do I deal with burnt bridges gracefully?
January 20, 2011 9:25 PM   Subscribe

I'm bad at letting things that need to die die.

Despite a dubious first impressions, I became very close friends with a girl during my college years. She had a bit of reputation for being cold and robot-like (I'm pretty much the opposite), but I realized, or thought I realized, over time that this is just a facade. I was convinced that underneath it all, she was a caring and fiercely loyal, if somewhat emotionally stunted, person. Over the years, our social circles grew together and we spent a ton of time together; during our fourth year of college we shared an apartment. This is when the problems started.

She would make passive aggressive comments about me leaving cleaning supplies around or not cleaning... even though I was the only person who ever did any cleaning. Or allowing my art supplies to accumulate in the living room, which admittedly they did on occasion. I would always rectify the situation as soon as she pointed it out, even if I felt it was unreasonable. Despite being hurt by these comments, I mostly let it roll off my back. Until...

Enter my old friend from abroad, who I will refer to as OFFA. My OFFA came to visit me during the spring of my fourth year. My friend/roommate, even though she had never met this person, expressed an interest in seducing him before he even arrived. Despite not really having any romantic feelings for this person, I asked her not to make a move on him for three reasons: a) I was going through a rough time emotionally partially because of a bad ex/boyfriend situation b) I didn't want to feel like the 3rd wheel in my own apartment c) I wanted to spend time with my OFFA without sex/drama entering into the situation. But as soon as I expressed my wish that she not to make out with my OFFA, she got angry and couldn't understand why. So, of course, a few days after my OFFA arrives, they've hooked up and are instantly a happy couple. And, of course, I am upset because I feel betrayed. I do everything I can to hide this fact, but mostly just end up staying away from them as much as possible for the remainder of the trip. Despite superficial efforts, they're both pretty terrible at making me feel included. After my OFFA leaves, I explain (again) to my friend why it upset me, but I tell her it's ok and I'm happy for them. I mostly mean it, though I still don't understand why they couldn't both have been mature enough to keep it in their pants for a couple of weeks. Over the next three months or so, my friend/roommate grows increasingly distant and passive aggressive. She almost never left her room.

Several weeks later, I was packing to leave town the next day for a short trip. It was late and I was tired and stressed. She came out of her room and asked me when I think I might be able to do the dishes. In unusual form, I tell her that I couldn't deal with it right then because I had a flight to catch early the next day, and I reminded her that almost all the dishes were dirty ones she had removed from her room and simply left in the sink for weeks without cleaning. Somehow, I even worked up the chutzpah to tell her it was hard on me to do all the household chores. I'm sure I was visibly upset (confrontation doesn't come easily to me), but I wasn't cruel or angry. She stared at me blankly and said "ok" a few times, and then went back to her room. As far as I can tell, this is when our friendship ended. Every interaction we had from this time on was very oddly strained ... indeed, the robot-like way of interacting had become her default mode with me.

At the beginning of the summer, as we were moving out, I realized I had forgotten to give her my share of the rent for one month; we had a pretty relaxed, casual arrangement, and since her parent's covered the rent, she didn't pay too much attention. I mentioned it to her, and she just told me to get it to her whenever I could.

After 3 or 4 months without hearing from either her or the OFFA, I decided to unfriend them both on facebook. Everytime I saw them pop up, I had a terrible pang of pain, and I decided it just wasn't worth pretending we're going to be friends anymore in any meaningful way. I didn't do this to hurt them; I did it to try and get past my own painful feelings and accept that our friendships were over... which it seemed they had both decided long before I did.

7 months later, and I learned through a mutual friend that my ex-friend/roommate is moving abroad to be with my OFFA. I'm mostly happy for them, in an abstract kind of way. I also learn that my ex-friend/roommate thinks I'm mad at them because they're together, which baffles me. Yes, that is a tangentially related issue, the tip of an ice berg. What I'm bothered by is this apparent disregard for my feelings, lack of loyalty, selfishness, the fact that neither tried to contact me, etc.

Shortly after learning about this, my ex-roommate/friend contacted me about the rent money I owe her. This doesn't bother me--it's understandable. We agreed on a time for me to pay her back, and it's fine. I try to keep my messages short and polite, but her e-mails are curt, bordering on rude. In the last one, I tell her I hope her move went well and I ask her to send my regards to the OFFA. She responds telling me that if I have anything to say to him I can tell him myself.

This absolutely breaks my heart, and now I feel both angry and horribly guilty. I don't know how to get over it. I want to explain myself, but I'm quite certain it wouldn't help anything. Am I in the wrong? What should I do? Do any of you have experiences with this kind of thing? How do you get over irrational feelings of guilt? Do I need to confront them?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
1) Pay the rent, obviously.

2) I think your above the cut comment says it all. Let it die. It's sad to lose a friendship, but it sounds like the friendship has already been lost. You can include a letter with the rent expressing (concisely) your sadness and that you are open to talking or Friending or whatever you like.

3) She's right about your OFFA - if you have anything to say to him, you should say it yourself. Shoot him an email to just say hi, send him a note to say you're sorry things have fallen apart between ex-roomie and you, but roomie and OFFA are separate people, even if attached at the hip.

There's my three cents. The only other thing I'd add is not to burn any bridges - this too may pass, she (?) may grow out of this phase, the relationship may fizzle. But you can let things die without setting them on fire.
posted by maryr at 9:33 PM on January 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

Pay her the rent money and move on.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:38 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

You have to pay the rent immediately.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:42 PM on January 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

anonymous..You are correct..what is past is past and maybe the reason you want to talk this out a bit is to have someone see your side and take your side. I'll do that..(your roommate & OFFA were tacky to take up with eachother without regard for your feelings). Pay the rent (that has to be hanging over your head)..and as you go through life understand that there will likely be other people who won't treat you with respect...(it's inevitable)...use this experience as a learning lesson for identifying such people.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:10 PM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

The other day, someone was telling me a story about this happening to her back when she was 21. Hopefully you get enough distance that you can look back on this in your early thirties as "the year that really, really sucked."

It's really hard when two friends get together. It can feel like losing them both at once. It's hard enough when one friend goes into new-romance hibernation. But when it's two friends who both know you well, it can feel like they got together and decided they liked each other and not you. AND for that to happen when you asked your friend not to hook up with OFFA because you were already feeling hurt by a breakup. Man.

If you want advice, I'd look at what's behind sentences like:
- I try to keep my messages short and polite, but her e-mails are curt, bordering on rude
- the fact that neither tried to contact me...[told] me that if I have anything to say to him I can tell him myself
Yours are "short," hers are "curt." You're mad OFFA doesn't contact you; you don't contact OFFA yourself. They think you're mad that they're together; you're mad that they got together when you asked them not to get together. It reads like a lot of splitting hairs that adds ups to-- you're really upset. You ideally would like them to apologize. But this post wasn't "I'm upset," "I'm really hurt," "I honestly cannot believe they would do this to me -- I actually feel furious." It was about a bunch of details. But the situation is much deeper and more basic than how long her emails are. So, I'd suggest you stop trying to explain how they're "wrong" and instead focus on how you really feel. And rather than trying to be "polite," but then being upset when that doesn't change how they treat you, keep your expectations for them very low and act in a way that works for you.

Sorry; this really sucks. Use the pain as a spur for the kind of self-growth that will make this into a distant memory of a strange time before you really knew yourself and had found great friends.
posted by salvia at 11:23 PM on January 20, 2011 [13 favorites]

Pay the money and continue your polite distance.

I had a pair of friends in college who got together in a similar unlikely way. I couldn't believe it, and there was awkward distance between us for a few years. They are married now, years later, and I see them and their kids often and things are fine. (But I know other couples like this where the relationship fizzled and the old friendships resumed, or didn't resume, separately.) You never know what a few years will do.

Try not to burn bridges, try to focus on what's within your control -- building new relationships where you are now.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:05 AM on January 21, 2011

Sometimes when people feel betrayed, they clam up to protect themselves - this can be perceived by the other person as "You've hurt my feelings, but I'm not going to talk to you about it, because obviously you don't care in the first place!" So they feel like they're forced to make the first move and concede in advance that they're at fault in order to prove their loyalty. They clam up in return, the gulf widens with both sides nursing resentments and refusing to give an inch, until the relationship explodes or just dies.

Based on what you've told us, it sounds like you've been treated pretty poorly by both of them. But it also sounds like you deeply regret losing these two friends and in your heart you wish you could heal the wound, and maybe that means you're not confident that you did everything you could. I think that you should try to make an effort to the repair the relationship, at the very least for your own sense of closure. If it doesn't work, at least you will be able to walk away without feeling guilty.

But don't try to explain yourself - that could easily come off like "Here are the reasons why I feel betrayed and I'm graciously giving you one more chance to make it up to me." Instead, you need to communicate that you only think the best of her and that the things she did, even though they hurt you, might have been valid or at least understandable, and avoid giving the impression that you think she's a jerk and she needs to prove you wrong. Secondly and most importantly, you need to be open to her negative feelings about you. Sometimes people cover up their hurt feelings with anger or coldness, and it takes an almost superhuman effort to look past that and see what's behind it, and yet that's what's required. My guess is that she will freeze you out the moment she feels like you aren't being fair to her side. Don't make the mistake of assuming that because you have an emotionally expressive style and she doesn't, it means your feelings are more significant than hers.
posted by AlsoMike at 12:09 AM on January 21, 2011

Don't pay the rent.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 1:06 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ha, I did this a year ago. I resented the hell out of my roommate. He did not even understand why. He treated me like shit for months without a second thought.

I met with him one time after we moved out, after all we had been friends for a while. He was the same person that had been an asshole, I have not spoken to him after that.

What it gets down to is not regret, sadness, lost contacts, or misunderstandings. This whole thing was one of those, Aha moments. The kind that define you as an adult. I FINALLY understood what friendship was to me. It is someone who is kind and does right by me even when I am wrong. Someone who values me as a person enough to respect me and like me. Someone who I value. Or even more so, someone who makes me happy.

You have to ask yourself "does this person make me happy."

There are millions of people in this world who would love to be your friend. People who are awesome friends. Why the hell would you ever waste your time with someone who does not make you happy. Someone who does not act like a friend is not a friend.

Pay the money back. Just send the check, no more contact, no snarky notes with the check. Just find a new friend.
posted by Felex at 1:54 AM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

Hang on. You're not happy for your roommate and OFFA, at all, and you seem to think that they have no business being in a relationship after you asked roommate to lay off. But, who are you to ask that, really? Should roommate and OFFA really base their life decisions on your feelings? I'm not saying they handled it with tact and grace, but I can see how they might have reacted badly to being asked not to hook up. Passive aggression is often a two-way process.
posted by tel3path at 4:03 AM on January 21, 2011 [10 favorites]

Don't pay the rent, from what I gathered she doesn't seemed concerned... move on. Try traveling or a change of location, go somewhere you've always wanted to see. You need to focus on YOU to move on and stop caring about them so much.

It sucks I can relate but if you're ever going to get past this segment of your life you need to distance yourself from the situation that... I'm sorry to say it but only you seem to care about. The world is huge and sure there will always be memories and reminders but focusing on the bad ending just leaves you in the hallows.

FOCUS ON YOU and find what truly makes YOU happy to be alive. Get to the root of the problem internally and resolve it. I strongly recommend meditation, It sounds pointless to some westerners but it really does help resolve internal issues. Zen Buddhism is amazing and focuses a lot on it, if you would like to dip your toes into the waters of finding yourself Wonderland: The Zen of Alice is a great contemporary short read with a light hearted flow.

Regardless of your choice of action just please think about what or who has been there for you in the past... you need to resolve this and see the bigger picture and scope of the world at large to rid yourself of this internal conflict.

Best of luck,
Form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.
So too are feeling, cognition, formation, and consciousness."

-Heart Sutra
posted by isopropyl at 4:35 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Having suffered from some resentments in my own life that cost me more time, happiness, and goodwill than I care to recall, I offer the following. I think there's a three-step process needed to get over this:

1. ClaudiaCenter just nailed it right on the door there/ Pay the rent because it's the high road. Also, pay the rent because it's a dangling thread. It's there, needling at you, and in some perverse way it's one thing keeping you emotionally connected and exposing yourself to the slights and hurts that come with the curt emails and the brushing off of your well wishes. Close that valve ASAP - send a check for the full amount or a set of payments as quickly as possible, and don't try to drag it out, look for thanks or reconciliation or anything. If you chose never to pay it, in some sense you're choosing to keep this painful thing that's hurting you alive and unresolved. That ultimately won't feel very good and you'll never be able to forget about it.

2. Now, you have the opportunity to work on an incredibly important life skill for mental health and happiness: letting go. Letting go is such a common problem for people that a lot has been written about it. You can Google around for writings on "letting go" + "relationships" and similar things, and find advice, how-tos, coping strategies, quotations, and helpful reminders in many forms.

3. Turn your attention to yourself. It's likely that part of you is consumed with anger, sadness, confusion, hurt, frustration, or resentment when you think about this. The truth is that what happened is not so much about you. People are free to live their lives, even when they make mistakes and hurt other people inadvertently. Most of us have done something that hurt others, whether we were aware of it or not. You can learn something about the way you handled it, and what you might want to work on in yourself. But you can also learn something maybe more important - where are you in all these bad feelings? Is it possible that you are focused on what happened between them, the loss and betrayal it represents in your mind, because you have not been focusing on developing other significant relationships in your life? Is there something this is distracting you from, something to which you would rather be giving the time and energy you are now using to think about this loss? Imagine that things had gone a different way, you had kept both friends, and everything had returned to normal -- what feelings would you be experiencing then? Why are you not experiencing them now? What did those friendships or that stable world offer you that is now missing in your life? Try turning your attention back to yourself and acknowledging your own needs, the things you'd like to bring back into your emotional life that are not there right now. When you reach a place where you feel busy, fulfilled with your life, and that your needs are satisfied, you aren't going to want to bother yourself with thoughts about someone who wronged you long ago. Take care of yourself first, and well, and focus on what you need now and for the future.
posted by Miko at 5:15 AM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]

Hm. Not to be too harsh, but friends are not possessions that you can choose to share with someone or not. These two people clearly wanted to be together, and had some instant attraction. Maybe stories you told of your OFFA intrigued your roommate and made her interested. So, okay it happened. It was kind of a shitty time for your two pals to mostly bail on you, but it happens.

Then there's the dishes situation. It seems that there must have been some (perhaps unspoken) agreement between you. Did she cover for your part of rent/other bills often? Or buy all the groceries, furnishings, or consistently help you out in some material way? Because between two roommates, such an arrangement might have been struck without signing a contract — oh, you're low on money and have a hard time trying to make ends meet, and I hate housekeeping but get plenty of cash from my parents? Okay, I can cover more of the expenses, and you can do more of the housework, and we'll both be better off. If there wasn't some sort of parity why would you put up with doing all the chores?

Why did you just mention that you hadn't paid your part of the rent instead of paying it? If you didn't have the money at the time, why didn't you pay it as soon as you could? It does seem that there were some loose arrangements about who handled what. Before the OFFA incident, perhaps you didn't feel resentment about doing the dishes, because she helped you in other ways. Before the OFFA incident perhaps she never would have asked for the rent, because you were friends and she felt like you did more work around the house. If this is all true, then I hope you can both let it drop, because why lose two friends over what seems to be . . . not that much? The timing of the onset of their relationship felt hurtful to you, but seriously, do you really think it would have been better for them to have resisted the attraction and both felt frustrated and stymied hanging out as a threesome? That doesn't actually sound all that fun for any of you. If I were you, I think I'd try to get past this and have two OFFA instead of none.

On the other hand, if she really was a cold person who treated you like a servant, and only hooked up (and moved in) with your OFFA out of spite, then it's a great thing that she's out of your life. Pay your rent and call it finished.
posted by taz at 5:35 AM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yes, you're in the wrong; when a friendship fails like this, all parties could have been more mature. Asking them not to hook up was selfish of you... you didn't have any "claim" to your roommate and they've obviously become serious about each other.

You're right that explaining yourself wouldn't do any good, at least if you only explain yourself as you did here -- if you wanted to say you reacted emotionally and immaturely and you're sorry, sure, that could "help" (if your goal is to repair these friendships).

Also, as an example: your email could easily have been seen as passive agressive. Anything between you and OFFA is between you and him, not between you and ex-roomie. You defriended them and threw a bit of a fit, haven't talked in forever, and then all of a sudden it's you hope the move (which you are or were PO'ed about) went well? The difference between "short and polite" and "curt, bordering on rude" sounds like either perspective blindness or a bit of variation in bluntness.

She does sound like a bad roommate based on her giving you so much shit for not cleaning when you were the one who did all the cleaning. But that sounds like a separate issue to me, not the big friendship fallout we're talking about here. Anyway, why did you do all the cleaning up and take that shit from her? Was that for some reason part of the deal? Did you, despite your protestations to the contrary, have a big old unrequited crush on her? That could explain your extreme emotional reaction and your being overly sensitive in regard to a lot of this stuff (e.g., needing to work up the chutzpah and becoming visually upset just to say "these are your dirty dishes and I have a flight to catch, you can clean them yourself").

I don't want to be harsh here and you sound like a nice enough person, but if you want honest feedback, well, I don't agree with all the sympathy expressed in a lot of the previous comments.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:54 AM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]

I had a similar situation, where a very good friend spontaneously dumped me, cut off all contact, and was basically never heard from again, except for the part where she put some mutual friends in the middle of it and made things very awkward for those friends who had no idea what was going on. (And I had no idea what was going on!) And man did it hurt. And I spent months wanting to call her and be like, "what the hell, dude? Why did you do that?" But over time I realized that there was no possible answer to this question that would make me happy. Either she misinterpreted something I did or was hurt by something unintentional, and was too immature/valued our friendship too little to talk to me about it; or she thought I was a horrible person for some real or imagined character flaw and no longer could be friends with me, which could only be hurtful to hear (especially if true!); or it was something entirely to do with her, which I obviously couldn't talk her out of.

So what outcome would make you happy? For her to apologize? Unlikely to happen; she'd probably just get defensive and try to explain HER actions. For things to go back to where they were? Only time and calmness can make that happen. Once you realize that there is NO outcome here that could make you happy, nothing she can say or do that will satisfy you, you can start to let it go. Or at least that's when I could start to let it go, when I realized it wasn't actually about me, it was about whatever was going on in her head and with her, and that it couldn't really be "fixed" in any way that would make me feel good about the outcome.

If she wanted to become Christmas-card-cordial again now (some 8 years or so later), I probably would. I've let go of the bitterness and come to terms with the puzzlement. And I mean, for all I know, she's out there waiting for ME to get in touch with HER. But ... well, for all I know, she's out there still super-pissed at me for whatever it is that set her off, so I've decided it's best to just let it lie, cherish the good moments, and let go of the bad ending.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:28 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agree with ClaudiaCenter: you need to pay the rent immediately.
posted by vincele at 6:35 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everyone wants to explain. Everyone wants to be heard and feel like they've connected and that there's a resolution, that feelings are....yadda, yadda, freakin yadda.

Things turned sour and you lost a couple of friends. Shit happens. If you're not going to be hanging out with these people and they're in another freakin' country, why the fuck does it matter what they think of you? It's not like she didn't already have a reputation as a cold, emotionall-stunted robot.

Write a check, Send it without a note, not even anything written on the "note" line of the check.

Then stop renting them space in your head where go and have images of them you've constructed in your mind beat you up and make you feel bad, and move on with your life.

Because you can go out and spend you time living here and now, or you can spend it slowly dying, whining about a painful past you can do nothing to change.

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:22 AM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

You're way out of line.

You don't own your friends and it's not disloyal for two friends to date. You had a bad breakup so your friends can't get together? Very self-centered. And they did try to include you.

Ditching them both instead of communicating might have been necessary but de-friending people on Facebook is going to discourage them from contacting you, and rightfully so. It is a strong message.

You don't get to save up cleaning resentments and then flip out. Communicating reasonably and immediately when a roommate pisses you off is necessary.

Stiffing someone on rent is very uncool. Doesn't matter why you forgot. It's wrong. I would seriously resent having to bother someone for the money they owed me.

Try to see your fault in this. The powerless victim role leaves you feeling helpless and out of control. Not pleasant, not accurate.

If you want to salvage these friendships you need to apologize sincerely and without making excuses. Communicate that they are important to you. Otherwise, you need to let it go and stop using their actions as ongoing excuses to feel victimized.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:28 AM on January 21, 2011 [13 favorites]

Just to play devil's advocate, let's look at this from your former roommate's (imagined) perspective.

- I have a roommate who complains that I don't clean. I feel reasonably guilty about this, but then angry because my roommate leaves clutter and mess around which is determined to be "acceptable" mess. I probably do clean sometimes but my roommate never really notices, it's that sort of work confirmation bias - if you do work yourself then it has greater significance. I was very diligent about keeping the tub and sink clean but it's not something you notice unless it's dirty.

- My roommate had a friend visiting and arbitrarily decided that I was not allowed to sleep with him, despite claiming to not have any interest in him herself. This seemed weird as she'd never issued such a dictate before - then when I met the guy I fell head over heels. Maybe it was initially the forbidden fruit thing but considering how long our relationship has lasted I would say we are clearly compatible. For the rest of the visit with my future BF, roommate would be sulky and unreasonable, I didn't know how to make her feel better as she didn't want to be the third wheel but likewise my future life partner and I wanted to spend every waking moment together...so we just went with it and let roommate sulk. My future BF assured me that she would be fine and that she would be happy for us once she got over her recent breakup. He was right, of course, and she later told me that she was very happy for us. I was glad, because I was really into this guy. Becuase of her attitude in the beginning, I always have had a little fear that she likes my BF, and was plotting to steal him away from me, my BF has had to assure me repeatedly that they are just friends and not interested in each other, but it is honestly a fear I have (I really dig this guy!).

- After I hooked up with her friend, roommate started acting vaguely annoyed without making her feelings clear. I figured the best solution was to give her space and wait for her to address any issues she had. One of her chores was to do the dishes, as such she would often leave her dishes until the last minute. I was cleaning my room and took some dishes out of my room, she was about to go out of town and I needed the room in the sink to do my own dishes...I asked her if she would get to her dishes and she blew up on me. I was very upset and when she left it seemed almost like she was never going to speak to me again. I hid in my room when she returned, trying to avoid another outburst. My BF assured me that roommate would get over it if I gave her time.

- I was relieved to move out of our shared residence as it meant that I didn't have to cower in the shadows in my own home, and while she owed me some rent money which I could definitely use at the time, I decided not to make a big deal out of it to try and preserve whatever relationship remained. At some point I realized she'd removed me and my BF as a friend on Facebook and I was stunned. She took advantage of my generosity for over 7 months without payment. I almost took it as a loss just to avoid the unpleasantness, but then I actually really needed it to help finance my move abroad. I sucked it up and contacted her and she was reasonable about it, if not very pleasant. Friends continually brought up the fact that she didn't have kind things to say about me as a roommate and how I ruined her friendship with my BF, and that she was clearly mad/jealous of us. I just tried to forget about it and move on, hoping she will pay back the rent money I've fronted her. She tried to send messages along to BF, rather than be further accused of wrecking their friendship as well as ours, I have told her she should contact him directly.

I am overall hurt, upset, frustrated and frankly don't want to bother with this person if they can't even bother to be pleasant. I want to move on with my life and focus on my BF and our new life together. I have moved past the immaturity and ill will that this relationship brought into my life. I have better things to focus on.

If you step into her shoes for a minute, I think you'll notice that she probably has what she considers to be an equally valid argument that she is in the right. You need to fill your life with positive things and people to push the negativity out - this is something I struggle with all the time. There can be no room in your life for the negative, otherwise you will dwell, and these things will gnaw away at you for lack of anything else to focus on.

Pay her. Send her a letter of apology and get over the rash behavior of two people who were falling in love. Let it go, you're only hurting yourself by holding on to this.
posted by SassHat at 8:45 AM on January 21, 2011 [12 favorites]

"How do I deal with burnt bridges gracefully..."

a very wise MeFite once said the following, and I've used it repeatedly as a reminder to myself anytime I realize I'm dwelling on negative stuff I don't have much control over:

"Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die".

also, what SassHat and Miko and the young rope-rider said. Try to learn how to have empathy for others' situations and learn how to be introspective. Note that for "introspective" I do not mean "self-centred". The two are not equivalent.

As I've gotten older and learned how to do this, I've looked back on a lot of situations my Younger Self handled pretty ungraciously. "Younger Self", I say "hot DAMN you were an asshole that time." And then you forgive yourself, chalk it up to learning, and let it go.

I think this is partly maturity and experience. Once you've learned the gentle art of viewing the world through another individual's lens, you may find you've also mastered the graciousness of moving on.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]

If a friend ruins a weekend for a one night stand, you're allowed to be upset.

When she's moving across the world to make it work, you apologize for being a roadblock in a genuine relationship.

Also, it's been well over a year. You should have paid your rent before you decided to cut them out of your lives by deleting them on facebook.
posted by politikitty at 10:33 AM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]

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