Trying to start a dialogue with a friend and seeing it blow up in my face
First off, thank you to everyone here. I've been a long time reader but never posted.
Basically, me and this guy have been friends since college, we're both in our mid-30s and entering into the next phase of our lives. We've always had a contentious friendship, many fights, many core disagreements, and often general dislike. The solution to dealing has always been: it's R, he's an asshole, so what do you expect.
So the story in question goes like this... we're at a mutual friends wedding and he goes out of his way to ignore me and my gf, now my fiance, coming over to the group we were with and asking a question to a couple people then leaving, also practically walking by us without saying hi. It was only until I said something that he acknowledged us, which set my fiance up in flames. A few weeks later we got engaged and I texted all my friends, including R, individually with a semi copied/pasted message. It was short and sweet, but 100% honest. He doesn't reply, I left the country for vacation, and I never got his text.
I was upset, I sent him an email that was completely honest. I told him my feelings, how I contemplated why he didn't respond but ultimately decided that i didn't care and that I didn't need someone in my life who was going to treat me that way. By telling him these were my feelings I wanted to open a discussion. I never said directly "I don't want you as a friend" or "you're not invited to my wedding" but that is what he took from it. Also turns out he did respond to my text, a week later and said that his original text never sent, but that since his wife is pregnant he wouldn't be able to make the wedding, which is completely fine with me because the wedding is in another country. I just hated his response, it was cold.
I called him out and wanted to make him see that by my standards he was not acting like a friend, but also neither was I. I had not put much effort into the friendship either. But I did say that I wanted to say these things rather than say nothing with the hopes that we could find common ground and build a foundation for something to grow in the future, which he completely ignored.
I honestly have no idea what to do. I fear he is going to turn all our mutual friends against me, and I don't know how I am able to handle that, or if I can even handle that.
Hopefully someone can help.
Friendship is a valuable thing and it would be a real pity if you could not continue to be friends with R. The first hopeful sign is that you have had difficult periods in the past and have come though, hopefully the same will happen again.
I guess one thing I noticed in your account is that when you have contacted R you have talked about how you feel and how this is a result, at least in part, of his shortcomings. True you have also said what you have done wrong. Have I misunderstood?
Similarly talking frankly about your relationship may make him feel uncomfortable.
Not everyone is able to talk in this manner without getting upset, defensive or hostile, different people interact in different ways. Perhaps varying the approach might be better. Often building someone up and presenting a cheerful face, talking about light matters, can work wonders. If you know of any activity R enjoys could you see if you can get together to do it?
If you do make such an overture do not be disheartened if you do not get a response the first time, it might take several goes.
What do you think?
Thank you for your response, your words of advice mean a lot to me. It's a difficult pill to swallow, beings friends with R. I know that he'll just end up being the same guy in the end. He'll have no regard for my feelings and will look to manipulate every chance he gets.
Sure, we've both been in the wrong, but what does it say about his friendship skills or desire to be my friend if he can't understand that my feelings mean something to me. His email response to shifted all blame for our broken friendship to me, when I never even assigned blame in the first place. I wanted a dialogue and he wanted to argue. I don't see why I would want to venture back into that mine field.
Also, I have a transcript if you want to read the entire convo. Unfortunately it is too long to post within the 2500 character limit.
Thank you again for your response.
If you feel that this friend of yours has no regard for your feelings and is only going tomanipulate you any chance you get, perhaps this is not someone that you need/want in your life. Friends, like partners, should be there for you and supportive, and if yours is constantly hurting your feelings or making you upset, it may be time to question how much you are getting out of this friendship. I certainly don’t advocate just cutting people out of your life when they say things you don’t like, but if you can’t even be open and honest about your feelings, that makes conflict resolution a little difficult.
Sorry for the delay getting back to you, actually it's fortunate as Juliet_84 has already set things out quite sensibly.
I know you have had this friendship for a long time, and one of your reasons for continuing is to find common ground and build a better relationship but I have to ask is this ambition realistic?
Perhaps without cutting him off entirely a bit of distance for a while might be a good thing. What do you think?