By Guest Blogger Christine Murray, PhD, LPC, LMFT, Director of the Healthy Relationships Initiative
Our Healthy Relationships Initiative (HRI) team is excited to partner with Triad Moms on Main on this blog series. In this series, we offer general guidance to relationship or family questions submitted by TMoM community members. If you’ve got a question to ask, please share it anonymously here.
How do you handle a “one way” friendship? I’ve been friends with “Jane” since high school, and we’re in our early 30’s now. We live in different cities, so I know that creates a barrier, but Jane is terrible at initiating anything as far as getting together, going on a trip together, or even making a phone call. I’ve tried to tell her how much it hurts my feelings when she doesn’t get back to me, and she always uses the excuse, “I’m just bad at keeping in touch!” Should I just get over it and let the friendship dissipate? If I don’t initiate, I know I won’t hear from her until she has a crisis and needs me. ~ Failing Friendship in Greensboro
Dear Failing Friendship,
There’s a special kind of sadness that comes with feeling like a treasured friendship is slipping away. Friends hold a unique and important place in our hearts, and often changes in friendships aren’t as clearly defined as other types of relationship transitions, such as a breakup with a romantic partner.
In your situation with Jane, it’s especially difficult to know what to do since it’s not clear how invested Jane is in the friendship. It could be that she really, truly is just bad at keeping in touch. You’ve probably considered the other possibilities, too, such as that she’s just not a good friend or that she’s moved on and your friendship isn’t important to her anymore.
From the way you described the situation, it seems that you’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what Jane’s thoughts are about the friendship, and before you do anything else, I suggest you turn the focus more on what your own thoughts are on the friendship. Is Jane’s friendship worth fighting for? If so, then go ahead and go out of your way to plan a time to talk with her about how important the friendship is to you and see if the two of you can figure out a way to stay more connected.
On the other hand, after a little self-reflection, you may realize that it’s time to let of of what your friendship with Jane once was, accept it as a less-close friendship today, and turn your attention on building other friendships. Even if you and Jane won’t be as close as you were in the past, you still can stay in each other’s lives while you also focus on nurturing the other friendships in your life that feel more balanced and reciprocal.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, and the other’s gold.” There’s some truth to this when friendships stand the test of time. But don’t discount the potential to develop new friendships that are just as meaningful and important to your life as the older ones! To start building new friendships, consider getting connected to a faith community, joining a local parenting group, getting into activity-based meetup groups, or hosting a gathering to get to know your neighbors better. Chances are, the more you fill your life with other people who support and care for you, the more you’ll accept whatever happens in your friendship with Jane.
Read the answer to another “We’re Here to Help” question by clicking here!
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I am going through this with a friend in my neighborhood. We’ve been close friends for quite sometime but I’ve started to realize that when I don’t call her, I never hear a word. Seems very one-sided. Thank you for the advice.
I feel like I could have written that question myself. Great advice!