How to not be needy while still having needs
June 14, 2014 12:36 PM   Subscribe

How do I let my friend know that her lack of communication is hurting my feelings, without sounding needy or desperate?

I recently (2 months ago) moved four hours away from my home to a new city. I am living with a sibling here and we get along great; our relationship is stronger than it's ever been. I found a job i enjoy and I love the city itself. I'm trying to keep myself busy in my free time. However, I'm finding it difficult to meet people, which I think think is normal in this situation.

My sibling is being fantastic about inviting me to do things with her and her friends. I'm having a lot of fun with them and I really appreciate the effort she's making. However, one of my closest friends also lives in this city. I have known her for almost 10 years, lived with her for five, and since she moved away five years ago we have kept in good communication and seen each other multiple times a year.

The problem is that I feel like now she is avoiding me. When I first moved here and was jobless she didn't call me for almost a week (I called her a couple of days in). We live about five minutes apart by drive and now we work opposite shifts. She has only called me or texted me a handful of times to do things, and does not always return my calls (I've only contacted her 2-3x/week). We finally made plans to hang out two weekends ago and by 10 o'clock at night when I did not hear from her I texted her and an hour or so later she texted back saying that she had been at a friends for dinner and was too tired. I was annoyed and asked her next time to text me earlier and she said sorry.

I did not hear from her for 10 days, and then she called to say hello and that she hopes we can see each other soon. I called her back, and left a message. That was two days ago. I called her today and did not leave a message.

I feel very confused about this. She is one of my closest friends and I miss the companionship of somebody who I know very well and who knows me. I also was hoping to get to know her friends and the time that I have spent with them was super fun and we all had a great time. We have never had friendship problems in the past. I know that she is very busy and volunteers and has a lot of friends. But she seems yo hang out with people a lot so I'm not sure why she is not including me.

I'm not sure how much further to take this before I give up. If this hasn't had happened in my old city I would have either said something to her a couple weeks ago or I would have stopped trying to hang out. However I feel like I am extra sensitive and treating this friendship with kid gloves because I know so few people here. As illustrated in previous questions I have a fear of rejection and some social anxiety.

Should I say something to her? If so what? I can't get ahold of her so it would probably be a phone message. Or, should I just let it go and let the friendship grow apart?
posted by pintapicasso to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like she's not sure how to integrate you into her already busy day-to-day life -- being phone/txt/facebook friends is an entirely different level of time commitment than being in-person friends -- and so she's avoiding you, probably out of guilt about that.

Try inviting her to a few things that are low key and where her presence is not make-or-break -- you can invite your sister and a couple of her friends and your friend to all meet for drinks or to a movie or something -- so she knows you have stuff going on in your life and you're not just expecting her to work you into her social life.

Also, try continuing whatever you did to maintain your friendship long distance -- little chatty txts, sending each other silly youtube links, etc, so that your communication isn't all, or even mostly, focused on when the next time you're getting together in person is going to be.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:53 PM on June 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Maybe she doesn't want to be as close with you as she was. She has her own life and friends, and maybe she doesn't value your friendship as much anymore. Also calling 2-3x a week can be a little much.
posted by discopolo at 12:59 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Let it go and focus on meeting other people, via meet ups, classes and hobbies. If there is something you want to invite her to do with you, do so, but don't sweat it if she can't join you. You've grown apart, unbeknownst to you. It happens sometimes. She's not responsible for meeting your friendship needs. Often we're great friends with someone only at specific points in our lives.
posted by shoesietart at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, it definitely sounds like she's feeling you're being a little closer than she wants to be right now. That sucks.

I'd start by suggesting you get together to hang out. Suggest a specific day and time and suggest a specific activity. Don't wait until 10:00 p.m. for her to suggest an activity or get into touch about hanging out (that is a bit passive aggressive). If she can't make it, ask for her to suggest an alternate day. Dial it back on the communication, maybe limit yourself to 1-2x weekly unless she initiates.

It might also help for you to start thinking of her as a friend rather than a closer friend. If you reframe the way you think of her it may help you to put less pressure on this. It also sounds like you were hoping to join someone else's already existing social network (your sibling's group of friends or your close friend's group of friends). Why not start working on building your own group of friends? Find a few Meetup groups, maybe even try yoga in the park or something that allows you to be active together and develop new friendships. Good luck.
posted by arnicae at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, it definitely sounds like she's feeling you're being a little closer than she wants to be right now

I'm inclined to agree. My suggestion is to take a step back. Let her make the next move, and when she does follow up in a way that is unhurried and polite. If she sends you an email, wait a bit (several hours or a few days) and send one email of roughly equal length, leaving the ball in her court but taking some responsibility. "Dinner sounds great - I could do Tuesday or Friday, let me know what works for you."

I'm just guessing, but she might be afraid that you are going to ask too much of her or that you might not pick up on her attempts to signal boundaries. If so, quietly giving her some distance and being welcoming when she gets in touch might help.

Another thing is that long distance friendships can sort of "freeze" the friendship in time ... even if you keep in regular touch. I have many long-distance friends who I am still quite chummy with, but I know that if we lived in the same town again we'd probably find ourselves negotiating a whole new way of being friends, and perhaps not being very close anymore. It seems sad, but it happens ...

At any rate, this person doesn't seem like someone you can lean on, at least not right now. Keep working on making new friends - there are lots of's on how to build a social circle in a new city.

Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 1:56 PM on June 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Should I say something to her? If so what? I can't get ahold of her so it would probably be a phone message. Or, should I just let it go and let the friendship grow apart?

Oh, it's not necessarily a choice between 1) confront via phone message 2) give up on the friendship.

I've had friends take some space, and then come back when they were ready. Sometimes we were better friends after the space, sometimes we were in less frequent contact but more in tune with each other on managing the contact.
posted by bunderful at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2014

She's your closest friend, but it looks like you're not her closest friend.

I'm so sorry.

You are (can still be) good friends, but you don't hold the friendship in precisely the same reverence. It happens.
posted by taff at 2:30 PM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

To go from seeing someone a few times a year to hearing from them on the phone 2-3x a week is a lot. I've seen dating relationships start out less intense. She might be trying to keep you at a distance because she can't handle all the attention, particularly someone she knows doesn't have a social network of her own yet. Let her contact you when she can; in the meantime, work on making new friends and checking out new social situations. Soon you will be so busy you won't "need" her so much.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:48 PM on June 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Nthing "you should back off a lot". I would say you should let her take the lead entirely--don't call her until she calls you.

It does sound like you're being needy. I think it's OK to be needy with close friends sometimes. But--I'm sorry--this is not your close friend any more. Being needy with this person is bad for the relationship, bad for your self respect, and will aggravate your hurt feelings more.

Accept that your relationship with Friend has changed, and you don't really know what the new version is, or if there will even be a friendship at all once you give it some air.

Hang out with your sib & co. Look for ways to make new friends of your own.

I've been through something like this. It hurts a lot. So confusing, so disappointing. My condolences.
posted by mattu at 6:58 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

It does sound like your friend wants more space for whatever reason, but I don't think you were wrong or socially misguided to think you guys might spend time together now that you've moved, or that she might be eager to see you as well. You lived together for five years (presumably while seeing each other nearly every day), plus you liked each other enough to stay in touch for the next five years, including hanging out in person. I would have assumed we were close friends, too. I honestly think most people would.

Who knows, maybe you still are and she just has something weird in her life (work? relationship? kid?) that is either taking up all of her time or has some embarrassing element she doesn't want to share (potential job loss, fighting in her relationship or whatever) and when it's resolved she'll come around. Or maybe your friendship isn't as close as it used to be, which is disappointing for you and if it were me I would be totally bummed, too. Either way, I think the best thing to do is just let it lie for a while and let her take the initiative next. If you don't hear from her in a couple months, maybe invite her to some group thing in a low-key way and if she's still giving you the brush-off then you know, unfortunately. Sorry to hear it hasn't turned out the way you hoped.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:02 PM on June 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

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