Ending friendship like a grown-up
July 21, 2014 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I’d like to get some outside opinions on managing the probable end of a friendship with a formerly very close friend, without (any more) melodrama or middle-school emotional antics. I will definitely see her at a mutual friend’s birthday in a couple of months, and I may see her infrequently (e.g. a few times a year) on an ongoing basis.

We’re both about-40 women. She’s been married for nearly 15 years and has two young kids. I’m partnered with no children (my relatively new, not live-in, partner has two young kids who live with their mother).

The short version is: I have a friend, H, who I was very close to for several years. She & I have been drifting apart for a while, mostly due to normal life divergence (she has small kids and I do not, etc). H did not approve of some of my choices during and after a significant series of major life upheavals last year, and she and I have not spoken for nearly a year. I made an effort to reconnect a few months ago, but H cancelled and had not been in touch since then.

Recently, H and I were both at a big social event connected to a hobby/lifestyle group we’re both part of. This is an annual event, and I assume she expected to see me there—this is something we’ve both attended for ten years—and I certainly knew I’d see her. At the event, I approached H in what I intended to be just a friendly way—I really was not looking for a confrontation or a dramatic scene, just a hello and a brief “hey I’m good!” friendly party-chat.

This did not go as I expected. H said (this is not verbatim, but it’s as close as I can recall) “Don’t do this to me right now. I can’t be the friend you want and need”. I was sincerely astonished and really upset, said “okay” and left the room and ultimately the event. There were some tears on the way out of the event venue, and I probably could have done a better job of keeping my upset to myself, but I was genuinely shocked and hurt, and… well, it went how it went.

H did not tell me specifically why she feels this way, but I suspect that it’s largely because she did not/does not approve of my relationship with my partner. However, she hasn’t gotten any information about my life (aside from Twitter and Facebook feeds) for nearly a year, so if that is the primary issue she’s coming to this conclusion based almost entirely on her own assumptions.

I don’t plan to confront H or try to get more details out of her—she’s made it pretty clear that she doesn’t want to interact. That’s her choice and I can respect that, even though I feel really sad that she feel this way. However, she and I will both be at a minimum of two more social events in September, to celebrate another friend’s 40th birthday. The hosting friend is aware that I am bringing my partner, and has expressed excitement that we’ll attend. I don’t know if the hosting friend is aware that H apparently feels like H and I can’t be friends right now. I think that H knows we will be at these events, but it’s possible that she has missed that information.

I have considered mailing H a note—a handwritten card or similar—basically saying “I’m sorry you feel this way, but I respect your choice. My partner and I will be at (birthday events), and I will leave it to you to indicate if you’re comfortable with more than a hello. If your feelings change in the future, you’re welcome to contact me. I have really valued your friendship, and I’m sorry to have that end”. I’m hoping to reduce the likelihood of massive awkwardness, make sure she knows she’ll see us, and let her know that I’m leaving it to her to initiate any further contact. Does this seem like a reasonable approach, or could this cause more drama?

And bonus question: specific or general advice for dealing with a lost friendship. I’ve lost touch with people before, but I haven’t really had a friend breakup like this previously, and I’m finding this one kind of distressing even though H & I haven’t interacted super-often for a few years.

I’m not sure if other details are relevant, but I can add them if folks think it would be helpful.
posted by Kpele to Human Relations (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
To answer your first question- the friendship is already ended, she ended it. If you think there will be drama regarding your partner then the adult thing to do would be to go without your partner. If you must bring him, smile and nod at H but do not approach or react when she leaves the room. She is under no obligation to speak to you or to support your lifestyle choice, whatever it may be.

It is difficult to let people go but you don't have any choice in this matter. Do not make it worse by sending a note. Yes, social gatherings may feel awkward and may make you sad but, you want to handle this like an adult so don't show your feelings in public and don't talk about H with mutual friends.
posted by myselfasme at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Doing anything adds to the drama. Go to your events, live your life and when you see H just say: "Hey, nice to see you! How are the kids? ... That's great! We are doing great! Nice chatting with you. Bye." Move along. It's all friendly and only lasts 30 seconds.
posted by saradarlin at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2014 [20 favorites]

Best answer: Well, this is a bummer. Sorry you're dealing with it.

Honestly, if I were you I'd say nothing, and go to the events and enjoy yourself as much as possible. When you see H, just be normal-human friendly. Go to the party with zero expectations and let her react as she will. There's a chance she feels like an ass about how she acted at your conference, and contacting her specifically about it might put her on the defensive. Try not to let her past actions color how you act.

But do mentally prepare yourself for her to have a negative reaction. Practice methods of keeping yourself calm and letting anything she says just roll off of you. Your mental script should be "I'm sorry you feel that way."

I mean, if you're at these events surrounded by people, being nothing but pleasant with your partner, and H has the gall to make a scene, people will be looking at her and thinking how tasteless of her.

Keep your head high, treat it like it's not a big deal, and don't let H ruin your good time.
posted by phunniemee at 10:05 AM on July 21, 2014 [18 favorites]

Do you want to be friends with someone who would completely cut you out of their lives, because they disapproved of your choices?

Do not send a card. That would, in fact, be not respecting her choices to discontinue contact with you or be making the situation less awkward. Everything you're looking to achieve with the card is already out there: she probably knows you'll be at the birthday events, she still knows how to get a hold of you if she wants to. Do your own thing, go to the events, do not approach her again.

A friend breakup is like a romantic one: go no-contact, and just keep moving forward.
posted by RainyJay at 10:07 AM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Go to the events, and do not approach her - leave that to her, if it's going to happen. You don't have to cut her dead, but any more than an exchange of smiles/nods doesn't seem like a good idea. Don't send a note ahead of time; just behave like the adult you are, and assume she will do the same.
posted by rtha at 10:09 AM on July 21, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I don't agree that the adult thing would be to go without your partner! Screw that.

No - live your life, bring your partner - and generally ignore H but maintain a friendly openness if they happen to approach you. Don't send a card or explanation.

It's normal to grieve the loss of a friendship. I don't know what to say except: this happens, it's sad and unpleasant, but new friends will come.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:10 AM on July 21, 2014 [24 favorites]

I would not mail H a note. She has done the fade away, which is the way that people break up with friends, and then she was fairly rude to you at a public event. Perhaps she thought you were going to try to open up the friendship question and she didn't want to handle it. Who knows.

Mailing her a note is actually, from my point of view, drama-inducing and rude. She's made herself clear, even if you don't understand the reasons or motivation behind her behavior. She does not want to be your friend.

Unfriend her on Facebook, don't mail a note to her, and ignore her at these events. Treat her like you would treat a stranger. Smile but don't approach her. Do some self-care after the parties, and be kind to yourself.

Sorry this is happening to you. Take good care of yourself.
posted by sockermom at 10:11 AM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Do not send her a card. Do not engage her in anyway.

From here on out, all interactions with her should be limited to hello, goodbye, and other basic interaction.
Leave her be, and just move on.
posted by Flood at 10:11 AM on July 21, 2014 [12 favorites]

Also: I think it's weird that you are considering giving H an explanation or reaching out when they treated you so poorly at a public event. H owes you an explanation., not the other way around. I second Flood: just let her be and move on. The friendship is already over -- you don't have to end it.
posted by Gray Skies at 10:16 AM on July 21, 2014 [7 favorites]

H is a jerkface asshole who was cruel to you and has broken every social contract I can think of.

Why are you doing this person any favors? She publicly declared war with you by humiliating you in front of many people. She has tried to make it impossible for you to comfortably continue friendships and hobbies you enjoy.

I don't know what you should do, but getting a grip on the reality of this situation is Step # 1.

She's not allowed to ostracize you from anything or anyone because she disagrees with your lifestyle.

Reframe this situation pronto.

I disagree that either your partner must not attend events H will be at, or that saying "Hi" to H at events is a good idea since she can't keep herself civil in your presence.


If you want to attend these events, you need to privately put H in her place and tell her how fucked up she is being towards the hosts and other attendees of events you are both at.

And by "privately," I mean "in your own mind," because reasoning with this vicious drama queen is a waste.

If you can ice her out and enjoy the events - go.

If you can't ignore her, then do not go.

There is nothing more to say or do regarding H. Take some time to grieve if you must.

I'm sorry this went down this way. Try not to involve others and don't dig yourself in any deeper with this diva. That's the mature way out of this.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 10:16 AM on July 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Does this seem like a reasonable approach, or could this cause more drama?

It's prolonging the relationship that she has seemed to indicate is over both by blowing you off earlier and being a jerk at this event (seriously, what grown up does that? She sucks). It sucks and it stings and she was a jerk about it but the good news is that you are off the hook because you are no longer in a relationship with her at all and she can go eat a bug and you can just be happy with your new relationship and act like normal people about it. I am sorry this happened but I suggest putting her out of your mind, and being sorry about the friend you used to have but not making motions to try to put it back together in some way because it looks like it's pretty well not mendable, at least for now. If it's a convenient fiction to tell yourself that maybe she'll come around, you can make a plan to ping her again in ... five years? But for now I'd just leave it and live/enjoy your life.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 AM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

You hadn't spoken in a year. You tried to reconnect with her a few months back, she bailed, and made no effort to reschedule. You saw her at a party and approached her expecting that you could have a cordial, impersonal exchange. She gave you an abrupt brush-off and you left in tears. That's what I'm getting, in a nutshell.

Respectfully, she ended your friendship a long time ago and you did not take the hint. She could have been polite to you at this event, yes. She didn't have to speak to you the way she did, no. She was shitty and presumptuous. But, from where I'm standing, you invited this into your life by approaching her when it was obvious she didn't want to speak to you. Let me ask you - what, exactly, did you hope she'd say to you? What, really, did you anticipate she would do when you approached her at a public event after you two had had no relationship for a pretty significant while? Why did you put yourself in the position to have her care about how your life is going?

Does that sound harsh? Let me explain. I'm probably more like you than her - I like it when people are honest with me and I try to be direct but, in my experience, more often than not, people really hate confrontation. What they would like is for people they don't want to talk to to not try to talk to them. They'd like for people they don't seek out to assume that they are not being sought out for a reason, or for the simplest reason, which is simple distaste and/or a preference for other people. Is this fair? No. Is this ideal? No; we should all be big enough to not be assholes to people we don't like. But, ultimately, if you attempt to buck the trend you have to prepare yourself to be disappointed.

As to how to handle this like a mature adult? Let it end. In her mind, you've done something that she cannot square with her personal values. It's irretrievable; if it weren't, she'd be broken up over it and want to sit down and talk it through. She doesn't want that. She has broken up with you. Allow that to happen and go about your business.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:38 AM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

What is the deal with your partner? What were these life upheavals? If it's a married man, or the life upheavals involved some kind of infidelity or other kinds of insidious twists then H is reacting strongly but normally. If it's something else (same-sex, different religion, wide age range whatever) then it's a value difference she just couldn't support. I don't think she's being a jerk, it is just well past her comfort level.

H clearly views your choices as threatening and uncomfortable and they've upset her deeply. There's no need for you to cry about it as long as you're ok with the choices yourself.

Personally I wouldn't engage with H. There's no need to send a note warning of future events. Just go to the event, bring your partner, and avoid her. Let her be the one to leave in tears, not you.*

*unless it is an infidelity issue, in which case call me ol' fashioned but I wouldn't be ok with bringing married boyfriends/girlfriends to parties and would socially shun those who did.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:45 AM on July 21, 2014

Best answer: They'd like for people they don't seek out to assume that they are not being sought out for a reason, or for the simplest reason, which is simple distaste and/or a preference for other people.

Wait one fuckin' second, I have friends I haven't sought out in a long time because I just haven't gotten around to it, not because I don't like them.

Supposing I went to an event and one of those friends was there, they should - what? Give me the cold shoulder because they assume I don't like them? Way to kill a friendship for no reason.

The whole point of a fade is that you don't brutalize people with your rejection of them as a person, as your friend did to you. She could have just nodded along and moved on.

Now the caveat is that I don't know the exact circumstances here and if you did something like take up cruelty to animals as a hobby, or murder your partner's ex to make room for yourself, then I can see the resultant disapproval meriting this kind of response. Short of that, the "fine, fine" nod-along response should be enough.

I agree with jbenben here, one simply doesn't speak to others the way this person spoke to you. And I also don't think you were out of line in approaching H or trying to greet her. You'd be out of line if you tried to send her a note after she told you to get out of her life, so don't do that, but your confusion and wish to make it right sure is understandable in the circumstances. Too bad "H" doesn't have the same concept of civility that you have.
posted by tel3path at 10:53 AM on July 21, 2014 [11 favorites]

With respect, it seems clear to me that the OP knows good and well, and has known or suspected for some time, that her friend does not approve of her relationship or the circumstances surrounding her relationship. This is a close friendship that has been in active decline for a long time.

My read is that this is hardly the scenario wherein people are just missing each other because: LIFE, and can just pick up again with no problems at a social event. This would be a much different question were that the case.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:04 AM on July 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I've been thinking about this a bit more, and after reading TryTheTilapia's comment, I have a few things to add.

First, this is not the "probable" ending of a friendship. I am so sorry, but this friendship is no longer. On the up side, I personally do not want friends that make me feel bad, and I suspect you don't either - this woman is making you feel bad; ergo, you probably don't want her as a friend.

Second, this is something I've given a lot of thought to, ending friendships, what is the best way to end a friendship, how do people cope with friend breakups, etc. I think that it is common for people to have a hard time ending friendships or accepting the end of a friendship for a few reasons. We don't really have a model for it in our society - we have a breakup model, things you're supposed to do and actions you're supposed to take so that you "process" a breakup - but we don't really have this model for friends. There are a few reasons for this; namely, I think it's rare to have super-close-bestie type of friends when you get to be older, people who are intertwined into your emotional life to a high degree. A relationship that is a super-close-bestie relationship for women in their 30s and 40s and beyond has usually matured to that point over a period of many, many, many years. "We were super close for a couple of years" indicates that perhaps she jumped in too quickly and did not evaluate you and how you fit into her life and her worldview, because she liked you and you were nice and she was attracted to you (I'm not saying physically, just a friendship attraction) in some way. Being "very" close to someone ideally takes a long, long time, so that you really are sure you want to be that close. It's so hard to step back and to say "hey, I don't want to be thisclose super-close-besties anymore, I want to set these boundaries that used to not be there."

H tried, to the best of her ability, to say to you "Hey, I don't want to be thisclose anymore," and you had a hard time hearing it, and a hard time respecting it. I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but she's told you - maybe not by sitting you down and using carefully crafted words and phrases and making it crystal clear why she is no longer interested in maintaining a relationship with you - she has told you that she does not want to be your friend. You can hear it, if you listen to her through her actions.

Approaching her at a party, thinking about sending her a note... those actions are not respectful. They do not respect the clear boundaries that she has put in place: boundaries that say to you, "No, I am not interested in maintaining a friendship with you."

One of the things we must accept in life is that other people are other people. They are going to do what they want or need to do, and we have no control over that. To try to get an answer out of her, or to try to "warn" her that she's going to see you at certain events, or to approach her - those actions, and I know you don't mean harm by doing these things, but those actions are you stepping on her boundaries. They are you saying to her, "No, I am going to try to control the way you treat me. I'm going to try to continue to get what I want out of you."

Because as much as you want to say that the note is to "reduce awkwardness," I think that deep down, you want her to feel as uncomfortable as you feel about going to these parties, knowing you're going to be there. I think that you feel very bad when you see her - which makes sense - and you want her to feel bad, too. Do not try to control other people and how they feel. It is profoundly disrespectful.

I'm sorry, I do not mean to be harsh. But I think if you really, truly, deeply examined your actions, the desire to send her that note, the desire to have a little chat with her at that party, that perhaps you would find that your intentions were not to "reduce awkwardness," but that they were quite the opposite. I am sure you are a kind person, and I am sure you do not deserve to be treated poorly by an ex-friend. I am sorry this is happening.

But you're letting it go on by asking Metafilter about it, you're letting it continue by thinking about writing her a note, you're making this happen. She's over it, she's doing something else right now, and nothing you do can make her think about you. You can't control this person.

She is no longer your friend. Go find new friends! There are so many potential friends out there. I am sure you will be much happier with someone else.

The best way to say "I'm sorry you feel this way, but I respect your choice"? Is to actually respect her choice, and leave her alone.
posted by sockermom at 11:10 AM on July 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

She's so gross! You were at a public event, and she didn't have the fundamental manners (and spine) to control her emotions and deal with you with a basic level of courtesy? "Don't do this to me..." Oh puh-LEEZ. What a twerp. It wasn't her private party; she had no right to make you feel bad to be there. Yuuuuuuuuck.

I'm with jbenben on this one. ICE HER from your psyche.

Go to your events with your partner. You have nothing to explain or apologize for, either in advance or in the moment. You don't have to do a fake-nice or Be The Bigger Person act. Just be yourself, in the moment, true to your feelings and needs. If she goes all telenovela drama-mama on you and your SO, she will just be making a horse's ass of herself.

I don't see this friendship as worth fighting for. Who needs that kind of noise?
posted by nacho fries at 11:19 AM on July 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

A slow fade can be attributed to many different causes, only a few of which include I Can't Stand Talking With You Cordially Even For a Moment. So I don't agree with a couple of the commenters above when they said it was clear that the friendship was over and that you shouldn't have approached her to begin with. I would have done the same thing as OP at the event - approach the person for a friendly hello even if we weren't BFFs anymore.

But yes, I agree with most people above -- don't feed the drama of the situation with a letter or an email. Your former friend made her feelings clear and the best way to respect them - and respect yourself - is just to move on, grieve privately and pretend to be strangers. Re: bringing your partner to an upcoming social event, you haven't shared the circumstances of why people would disapprove of your partner -- my instinct would be to bring your partner and proceed normally, unless there are former romantic attachments/estranged partners swirling around that could take the focus away from the main event.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 11:43 AM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You're phrasing this as her initiating any future contact, but she's made it clear that she doesn't want any more contact. If you respect her choice, then don't send the note.

Go to the party, with your partner. She will likely ignore you, and you and your partner can ignore her right back. If there are more than 5 other people there, this shouldn't be a problem. You don't have to be pointed about it. Just don't talk to her. Talk to your partner, or the host, or any of the other people there. She will probably do the same. There doesn't have to be an atmosphere, unless you create one. If you see her, just turn away slightly and go back to enjoying the canapés or complimenting the host or studying the artwork on the walls or getting a drink from the bar or whatever it was you were doing before you spotted her. Treat her like someone you briefly made eye contact with while waiting in line to pay for your groceries. You look away quickly and suddenly find the lettuces very interesting. It's not difficult to just not talk to someone.

It might help to look on this as a learning experience. You're learning skills that will enable to to deal with a too-loud or too-drunk or too-socially-unskilled person in your environment. Instead of staring or pointing, you're carrying on with enjoying the party without watching someone make a spectacle of themselves.

With regards to getting over the end of a friendship, I think you need to follow the grief process. Right now, I think you're in some form of denial. You say you respect her choices, but you've repeatedly tried to make contact. You seem to be thinking that if you keep trying, eventually things will change. Say to yourself "My relationship with H is over. It's ended."

If you baulk at the idea of doing that, then that means that you really need to do it more.
posted by Solomon at 12:02 PM on July 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I've been H. I was H when my friend went out of her way to pursue her married boss and got him to leave his wife and his young children through lies and a false pregnancy. It was extremely upsetting and not something that I wanted to be around, particularly when she and he got married and started making the rounds at different social events. I also felt very ill at ease when she started asking for advice about the trouble she was having with her new husband, because first she wanted me to be okay with her breaking up a marriage, and then she wanted everyone to help her keep her new prize. Maybe H thought you were looking for counsel too. Who knows.

To me it sounds like whatever it was that ended your relationship with H previously is still fresh in her mind, and that's what triggered her unexpected reaction to you when you approached her like you would any other friend. I think the note you were planning to send her is your most viable choice here. She may see it as a threat to her. So be it. Her feelings are just as valid as yours. You're just viewing the remnants of a specific life event through different, valid, relative lenses.

Wishing you both peace.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:34 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't write a note, just let her go.

I do understand the impulse having been through a similar situation. It might feel natural to make an attempt to rectify things or smooth things over particularly if you're in the same social circle (it did for me). It sounds fairly clear that this person doesn't want to rectify or be cordial, so don't try. I made the mistake of writing a note trying to say, 'hey we're in the same community, let's try to be cordial', looking back now I wish I hadn't for many reasons. If you see this person at an event, I would just not talk to them unless you absolutely had to, and if you do just be polite.

Let yourself grieve and follow the advice of going through the grief and acceptance process. Perhaps reflect on any missteps, learn from those, and take them into your future friendships. It will be hard, but it will get easier over time and eventually this situation won't matter anymore, but this will only happen in time.

The main thing to do now is focus on you. Focus on yourself, your life, the people who love, accept, and appreciate you, and the things that make you happy. There are many many good/wonderful people out there. Give your time and energy to those who make you feel good and do the things that make you feel good. There's only so many hours in the day, spend it with those that make you happy, doing the things that make you happy.

In time things will feel better and you will be able to be in the same social setting as this person. Eventually you will feel free of any sadness or stress from this, it will just take time. Give yourself that time and focus on yourself.

I'm sorry that this is happening to you, good luck!
posted by lullu73 at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yes, a difficult situation.

I think the most difficult part is the unclear interaction the last time you saw H at an event.

I had to be told, and it took me a long time to learn, that we should always assume the best in people, and that their motivations are positive unless proven otherwise.

Perhaps H was assigned a role at the event and did not have time to recap lives, or was anxious about her duties and just messed up with you in that moment. Maybe her dog/grandpa/dad died that morning. Maybe she's in a big lawsuit.

To think more negatively about this reaction, is it possible that H might think that associating with you in front of the rest of the event attendees would reflect negatively on her? Is she the only one upset about your relationship or has the communty given you a scarlet letter? Do you think more time passing will settle her upset/the controversy over your relationship and she will be able to figure out that you are the same person and her judgement of you was misguided?

Did she really mean that she can't be friends "right now" - that hour, that event - or did she mean "ever again?"

Maybe you would like to be close again, maybe you don't care if you are close again. All relationships are precious and everyone deserves respect, even if she is having a hard time showing you respect.

You certainly can write a note. I don't know if you have to assume the friendship is ending, perhaps frame it up as if your friendship is redefining. You do travel in the same social circles and it would be good if you two can remove some of the awkwardness, and eventually be friends again.
"H I just wanted to address the awkward time at Event. You have been a part of my life, and my social circle, for many years, and I have always valued your friendship, even as it has been difficult lately. The upcoming 40th birthday events will be a nice celebration and I hope you and I and my partner can all celebrate together for BirthdayGirl. I have great respect (or love, etc.) for you, and I sincerely hope we can remain cordial, if not friendly, in the coming years."

Acting like adults means respecting people, even if she isn't respecting you. Offer her every kindness.

If you don't send a note, try to find a little time alone with her at the party to connect on some part of the old friendship. Compliment her shoes, do a funny dance for her entertainment, etc.... act like her friend and perhaps you can again be friends.

Any rejection she sends your way is all on her, and then proves that she did not have positive intentions. Share your love and friendship, always, and if she rejects it, that is hers to carry.
posted by littlewater at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow, I don't see how H cancelling a planned meeting with you was a clear and obvious sign that you should not even venture a polite "hello" in person. It seems quite ludicrous to me, actually- I've had knock-down drag-out fights with people and still managed not to be an ass to them in public the next time I saw them. I don't know what's up with H, but she behaved badly. Don't let her baloney keep you from going places with your partner. If you see her again be distantly cool yet polite- wave if she catches your eye and leave it at that. She doesn't deserve a note.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:24 PM on July 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've posted here before about how I had a significant friendship end in pretty much the same way (friend did not approve of some of my choices, and chose to end the friendship rather than talk it out with me honestly as I would expect from a close friend). I spent maybe two or three years trying to sort it out. In the end, the truth is there's nothing you can do to salvage the friendship. She's already chosen to end it and she's made her choice clear.

The best you can do at this point is hold your head high and and conduct yourself in a way that you can be proud of (that's not a dig on whatever you did at the previous event, just advice for going forward).

Don't involve the hostess of the event. You're all grown-ups, you need to conduct yourselves accordingly and it's not the hostess' job to referee. The only exception would be if there is a seating chart involved and if you feel that you would most certainly be seated with your former friend. In that case, a quiet word along the lines of "Anne and I had a little falling out and I'm under the impression that she would be more comfortable if we didn't sit together", but otherwise not dishing any dirt and emphasizing that you just want to be sure your former friend will be comfortable. There's really no easy way to do it but you will look better to the hostess if you emphasize others' comfort over your own.
posted by vignettist at 8:22 PM on July 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I pretty well agree with most sentiments here, she hasn't treated you well, her actions were incredibly rude and disrespectful and you deserve much better than this.

But I'm also 2nd guessing myself because you refer to H as a formerly very close friend. A true friend would have given you the time of day to discuss her concerns for you in a meaningful way. Did she ever show you this care and consideration when she "disagreed" with your life choices? Was she ever a support for you at all through your difficult times? It's never easy to loose friendships you didn't plan to but it is worth distancing yourself from people who present as friends yet are never true to you in the first place. If (and only if) she was a true friend to you, at some point in the past, I think the question is more about what is going on in her life right now to make her act in such an awful manner. She obviously isn't managing well to speak to you (or anyone) like that - was it a cry for help? Probably.

The fact you are considering sending a letter to apologise to her (please don't do this) makes me think you either value this friendship more than alot (which means she was very good to you at some point) OR you are far too nice a person to be mingling with her in the first place.

I think you only really have one option here, put your happiness (and your partners) first. Don't write her a letter explaining anything about yourself (never do this). Don't bring anyone else you mutually socialise with into the past fallout (never do this). Pretend like it never happened. At the upcoming events, always take your partner (if invited). Don't give H anymore of a thought than you would someone you have never met before. Let her approach you at all times. If she does act pleasant and keep it brief, you are always within your right to end discussion politely with a simple phrase of "please excuse me I need to make a call" or something. Simply focus on those around you who give you the basic respect you deserve. Laugh with those people, be happy in yourself and live well.

In the event she does approach you and apologise or open up at some point down the track. Then you can ask her, from the bottom of your heart, if everything was/is okay with her. If that happens you can let her know she hurt you too. It's likely she was not the right friend for you but there are also those friendships that come and go over the years. This could be one of those too.
posted by Under the Sea at 3:39 AM on July 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: *sigh*

Thanks, guys. This is indeed a bummer, and I am really sad about it. I won't send a note. You're right, that would just prolong the difficulty, and I need to accept this and let it go. I'll just be polite and try to remember that H's issues are her own.

A few people have pointed out that I may have been placing more value on this friendship than was justified for a while, which is probably a valid point too. I wish she felt like our friendship was worth the effort to at least talk to me about this, but... well, her actions pretty clearly indicate that she doesn't think so.
posted by Kpele at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think H did not handle it well at all. She could just have said "Hi, glad you're well, okay take care" instead of being as rude as she was. I'm nthing those that say don't send a note, don't try to contact her again. She didn't handle it well, but it's clear she no longer wants your friendship, or even to be cordial acquaintances.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wow, this is so close to a situation I went through after my divorce that it's not even funny. Hobby group and all. I wonder if it's the same hobby. In my case it fractured my whole social network pretty hard and it was very difficult. I'm so sorry you've had to go through this too!

Anyway, I think the best thing is just to be above it all. Be polite, and even kind, and be the one who is NOT gossiping, not bad-mouthing, not falling into the muck. It takes a lot of strength, sometimes. But you did nothing wrong (I'm presuming) and even if she can't be polite to you, you can be polite to her and be the better person. I think that feels a lot better in the end.
posted by litlnemo at 8:00 PM on July 26, 2014

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