Objective perspectives needed!
February 14, 2015 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm having an argument with a friend and need to know if she has a valid complaint about me. Details inside.

I have a friend who I'm going to call Katy. We are both female, she in her early 30's and me in my early 40's. I had recently begun to suspect that she was no longer interested in our friendship due to always being "busy" when invited to do things. Some of these "busy" excuses were suspicious to me and the final straw for me was when I confronted her about one of her excuses being a lie, she told me a different reason (which I found out later was also a lie)

I was perplexed and a little sad, but figured she had moved on with a different group of friends and such is life.

I stopped responding to her texts as frequently. Katy, realizing that I was upset, then asked if we could talk and proceeded to tell me that she felt that I was not as open with her as she was with me and felt hurt by that.

Her argument as I understand it:
1) I don't share as much about my personal life as Katy does with me and she feels that I will never be completely open with her.
2) Her evidence for this is that she found out from another friend that I have been occasionally hooking up with my ex-boyfriend and thinks that this is something I should have told her about if we were close friends. It was a 'lie of omission' (Katy's words)
3) She apologized for lying but said she didn't really owe me an explanation at the time and that that was the only time she lied and it wasn't about avoiding me.
3)Now that she has talked to me, she realizes this all might have been a misunderstanding on her part or just personality differences and she is willing to be friends again and won't judge me.

My argument:
1) I believe I have been open with her regarding my life, including sharing some things which are pretty personal for me. I am not, however, the kind of person who tells anyone EVERYTHING (except maybe my mother). I really don't know what she wants or expects.
2) My hooking up with my ex is my own business, and the fact that she seems to feel that our friendship would hinge on me telling her about it feels intrusive and weird.
3)The fact that she has apparently felt this way for a 'long time', didn't tell me about it until now, and then lied to me makes me feel like I can't trust her to be honest and accepting even if she now promises to be friends again.

Honestly, I feel pretty attacked by the whole thing. However, I grew up in a pretty messed-up family and can't discount the possibility that perhaps I am not as open with people as I should be. Whether or not I decide to be friends with Katy again, if this is a valid issue that I should work on, I would like to know.

Please just let me know your thoughts. This has been really bothering me. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Her argument is odd and this appears to be an intractable issue for both of you. Time to move on and find new friends. This seems like a good time to join a meetup group and start exploring other relationships.
posted by arnicae at 6:42 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's sad to lose a friend, but she seems to be stoking the fires of drama in your relationship -- you should note, her complaints are about things you're doing in your life for yourself, not really anything that involves her, other than her opinion of what you're doing -- so take her hint and let the friendship slide away. Not saying you have to cut her off, but take her lead: if she'd prefer your friendship be further apart, let it be so, you're not being retaliatory, you're respecting how your friend would prefer the friendship to be. If that bothers her, too, well, add another tick in the "passive-aggressive manipulation" column.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:46 AM on February 14, 2015 [13 favorites]

2) Her evidence for this is that she found out from another friend that I have been occasionally hooking up with my ex-boyfriend and thinks that this is something I should have told her about if we were close friends. It was a 'lie of omission' (Katy's words)

This would MAYBE make sense if it was HER ex-boyfriend. As it is, this is just... bizarre.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:46 AM on February 14, 2015 [25 favorites]

You don't owe anyone openness. You certainly don't owe someone this childish openness. You have a right to disclose as much or as little to whomever you want. Also, apparently, this other friend is telling your secrets to Katy...that's uncool.

Frankly, I'd tell her, "I think your original instincts were right. Our friendship has run its course."

This person is obnoxious about boundaries and is pressuring you to interact with her in a way that makes you uncomfortable. That's not a good friendship.

As for the blabbermouth friend, seems like that's not a person you should share intimate information with, as she's not treating you and your information with respect.

But no, you're right on. You don't have to tell anything to anyone you don't want to.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:48 AM on February 14, 2015 [16 favorites]

If I'm following this correctly, after being stood up by her several times you asked Katy outright about this and found her latest excuse had been a lie, which she responded to by telling you another lie. When you then backed off somewhat on the friendship, she told you that she feels you haven't been open and honest with her. She is, however, willing to give you another chance "and won't judge" you. What the fuck? Move on, without her.
posted by Bretley at 6:49 AM on February 14, 2015 [44 favorites]

You be as open as you want with whomever you want. That's your choice. There's a lot of safety and comfort in keeping some things to ourselves.

Katy sounds like a person who you are better off without. Who needs the drama she's bringing to your life? She's acting pretty entitled and weird about your personal life.

Let this one go and move on. Life is way too short to have people like Katy in it.

I will also say that I excised a boundary pusher about six or eight months ago and it was hard at first but that minor grief soon gave way to an overwhelming sense of freedom and pride. Sometimes I marvel at just how little drama I have in my life now that she's gone. And like you sometimes I internally struggle with questions about how much I open up to my friends. But being open and honest with people that I'm close with is not at all the same as allowing people who have no or few or weird boundaries to get in my business. I'm still working on the whole trusting people thing but that is something I can work on in my own time and I'll tell you one more thing: literally none of my friends has ever said to me that I don't share enough. Even though I feel sometimes like I'm too closed and reticent. Not a one. Because all my friends now have healthy boundaries.
posted by sockermom at 6:53 AM on February 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

Make new friends. Friends who are okay with you sharing what you want to share and not sharing what you don't want to share, and who are okay with not always being the top friend who knows all the secrets.

She could be jealous that you are closer to the other friend, she could be upset that she's out of the loop on the hookups, and those aren't invalid feelings .. but they are her feelings and her problem, not yours. And pushing you to change your boundaries is not the answer. Back away.
posted by bunderful at 6:54 AM on February 14, 2015

This is a generalization, but I've found that there are two groups of people on the openness issue. Some people like to share personal information just for the sake of sharing, and they define a close friendship as being one in which they know each other's secrets. Lets call this Group #1. Other people, like me and apparently you, only share personal information with people who are already close friends, and only when there is a reason to do so. This is Group #2. Basically Group #1 thinks "I share all personal information with this person, therefore we are close friends" and Group #2 thinks "I am close friends with this person, therefore I am willing to share some personal information with them."

People in Group #1 find people in Group #2 to be cagey and weird. People in Group #2 find people in Group #1 to be over-sharers and weird. It's not that they can't be friends, but close friendship is difficult because Group #1 will always be frustrated with how Group #2 is holding back, and Group #2 will always feel like Group #1 is prying.
posted by gatorae at 6:59 AM on February 14, 2015 [23 favorites]

I had a similar recent experience with a friend (we are both early 40s) when she felt "hurt" I wasn't sharing parts of my personal dating life with her that I was talking about with other friends. I regretted that she felt hurt - but my personal life is mine to disclose as I feel comfortable with. So is yours.

By that same token, though, if she is making excuses for doing things with you that seem suspicious -- it's kind of something you need to let go. She's told you what she wanted to tell you and it's not really helpful for you to investigate the excuse and decide on how valid it is.

It sounds like you both maybe need a little space and to respect each other's boundaries more. Not every adult friendship has to be completely "I tell you everything all the time." Different friends fill different social and emotional needs in our lives and we may have different boundaries with each. That's totally normal.
posted by pantarei70 at 7:07 AM on February 14, 2015

People have different expectations about friendship, especially "close" friendship. I have a "best friend" with whom I share every single detail of my life (she probably wishes I'd leave some of it out), but for literally every other friend I have (except my partner), I leave some parts out. I know some people think that "close friendship" means "no boundaries," and that's fine, so long as both sides of the friendship agree that's the case.

I don't know if I'd drop this friend, but I might move her into a category of "occasionally fun to hang with, if we're both around" rather than someone trustworthy to make plans with. I have a good number of these types of friends, and I really cherish them for who they are to me, but I don't have the same expectations with them that I do with "close friends," who I don't consider as close as my "best friend."

Friendship is complicated.
posted by xingcat at 7:18 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

So.... it's okay for her to lie to you (and then lie about that first lie!), but it is not okay for her to assume you lied (because you didn't give her a second-by-second description of your personal life).

Yeah: time to disengage. Let this "friendship" fade out, no need to feed the drama llama.
posted by easily confused at 7:39 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am a group 1 type per a previous response. To me friendship comes w an intimacy and disclosure and the closer you are the more is shared. I would feel and have felt very hurt and involved in a one sided friendship when I was telling someone who was my best friend everything and she held so much back. It felt cold and sad and baffling like she didn't trust me or didn't really want to be close. I have sense learned group 2 ppl are pretty much always going to be not ok with being an open book and will consider invitations to do do as uncomfy prying. I can build friendships w these people but can't be best friends bc it is really really difficult when you've made yourself completely vulnerable and they haven't. It's like being in a romantic relationship where you say I love you and they say I like you.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 7:40 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

It sounds like you and Katy have different friendship styles. She thought of you two as really good friends and *in her definition* really good friends would share that kind of personal information.

So when she found out that you hadn't mentioned it to her, she was hurt because she felt she'd been downgraded to an "acquaintance" who gets breezy externally-related conversation instead of actual meaningful (to her) conversation. So she in turn downgraded *you* to an acquaintance in her book which meant not prioritizing your invitations to spend time together.

But it sounds like she still wanted to have a closer relationship so she awkwardly explained her hurt feelings to begin with.

As someone who identifies more with a Katy style of friendship, where a development in one's love life would most certainly be something to share with close friends, I can understand how she might have been confused and perplexed by your perceived distancing from her. HOWEVER, Katy should know that everyone has a different definition of "close friendship". Taking it personally, confronting you about it and basically trying to guilt you into telling her more things about your personal life is not productive and implies that you two don't have good long-term friend chemistry.

I have a friend who very rarely shares any personal information with me, yet she always seems happy to see me, invites me to various events, asks me how I am, etc. At first I felt really confused because if I don't share anything about my personal life with someone, it's a sign that I'm not really into them and see them as an activity partner and not a friend. I finally had to accept that *the friendship she wants with me* is one that is more activity based and is not one where she is particularly open. I still value her in my life, but I don't see her as a close friend, more as someone in my larger community who wishes me well but doesn't have the capacity to connect in the way that *I* need to feel really supported and connected. I had to work this out for myself because it was my own issue -- she did nothing wrong, just is acting according to her nature, and confronting her Katy-style would have just been weird and awkward. (Source: In my 30's)
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 7:58 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

Fascinating answers wrt. different friendship styles!

But I came here to say: don't decide to be friends with someone because of a convincing or unconvincing argument. Do it because of how the friendship makes you feel. Do you feel enriched and joyful after seeing someone, or diminished and cranky? The reasons why may never entirely present themselves, or may boil down to subtle and subjective things. But those feelings are worth listening to.
posted by ead at 8:10 AM on February 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

It sounds to me like Katy got miffed because another friend told her you were hooking up with your ex. Ie: apparently you didn't mind sharing your hookups with someone else. So Katy - who perhaps felt that you and her were "besties" - discovers that she apparently doesn't rank very highly on your list. She feels hurt, etc.

Question: how did this other friend find out about your hookups?

If it is the case that you have told no-one about your hooking up, then it would appear to me that your ex has a big mouth. In this case, you may wish to tell Katy that you haven't told anyone about your hookups. For what I hope are obvious reasons, she'll probably feel much better. And the entire situation (hopefully) devolves into a dumb misunderstanding and y'all can make up and be friends again.

If, however, you told other people about the hookups but not Katy, then it seems like she thought you and her were closer than you actually want to be.
posted by doctor tough love at 9:39 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I do not understand people like Katy, who live their adult lives like it's high school. This is not how I conduct any of my friendships, and I would drop anyone who ever suggested I was obligated to tell them anything, barring maybe being contagious if I was in their physical presence.

Because adults don't do that, as far as I'm concerned. We have perspective, and we have enough to do in our lives that we don't require gossip as placeholder for actual problems anymore. I have a very close friend who I could call any time and tell her deep horrible secrets and she would be okay and help, but we've only actually done so a few times.

The other side of that is that you don't get to call people out on lies unless those lies are somehow a risk to your own functioning. If she lies about her schedule, so be it. Receive the message and move on.

Grown women should never need to have an argument about friendship. Be friends, don't be friends. If you have different styles, neither one of you should be expected to change, you should just both go find friends who are a better match.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:43 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

You should be as open and honest with people as you feel comfortable being. If other people have a problem with that, then that's their problem to deal with. They can either suck it up and deal with the fact they're not finding everything about you, or enforce some boundaries if you're telling them too much. There is no objective perfect level of sharing, there's just different values and levels of what people feel comfortable with sharing and hearing. The only point at which something going on in your life becomes someone else's business is when you decide to tell them. Another person doesn't have the right to your personal information because they're friends with you. Friends will accept you for who you are, not try to bully you into sharing more than you're comfortable with.

Katy doesn't seem like a good person for you to have in your life. She slow faded on you, which you apparently accepted, then ramped up the drama with you. She's lied to you in the past as well. Whatever is going on in her head and with her version of events, it's a mitzvah to yourself to get rid of people who make you feel attacked. Friends are people that you should feel comfortable with. Life is short, and it's a much better experience to share it with people who make you feel good. Katy, for whatever reason, isn't contributing to you feeling good.

she is willing to be friends again and won't judge me

How very magnanimous of her....
posted by Solomon at 9:54 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

What you do with your funbits is nobody's business but yours and any other people whose funbits are interacting with yours. She's being overly intrusive, she's lying to you... basically she's being a manipulative jerk. Walk away.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:23 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

"need to know if she has a valid complaint about me"

The answer is yes, and I didn't need to even read the rest of the question.

Here's why: There's no such thing as an invalid complaint. There is no referee here. There's no cosmic debate adjudicator that will render the One True Answer.

Your friend is allowed to complain. About anything. This is their subjective opinion. It's literal correctness is beside the point.

(Unless you're arguing a point of fact, which can be measured. But that's not what you're doing here. At all.)

Right or wrong, it's their perspective. You can choose to act on it, or not.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:32 PM on February 14, 2015

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