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Resetting a friendship
I have a friend that I was very close to, both of us were candid and open with each other. Over time this has changed and until very recently it was something that I struggled to grasp fully and accept. Treating him in the same way I always had, expecting the same support, and then being hurt and upset when it wasn't forthcoming.
Typically this wouldn't result in anger or poor behaviour but I'd feel the need to explain or justify everything and generate long passages to do so. After I'd feel embarrassed so I'd pull back or send short general chats a few days later but then anxiety would build and I'd reach out for support again without learning the lesson that he had changed his role.
Recently I asked him if he still wanted to be in contact with me, or if he prefered I stopped reaching out. He responded by saying he definitely didn't need me to stop but he wished our interactions were more positive.
I'm now awaiting my first appointment to head to counselling to work through some newly generated issues as a result to COVID changing my life and previous coping mechanisms. I've joined this forum to give me an outlet for my anxiety or disruptive thoughts in the meantime and I'm trying to focus on tangible goals to improve the things that cause me anxiety or to feel inadequate.
Our last interaction was me thanking him for all his assistance recently and letting him know I was going to get some help to work on adjusting to my new way of life. His response was to say he was glad he helped and was sorry he couldn't do more but he hoped I understood.
I would like to try to focus on it being a casual friendship with me seeking support from more suitable channels. I wrote 3 replies to the response above and stopped because I can't come up with something that conveys a positive tone to let them know I understand what they want and respect their boundaries, somehow it seems accusatory or passive aggressive which is not it's intention. I also don't want to be fake and act like my issues have left. I have no idea how to do it succinctly and respectfully in a way that comes across positively (which is how I intend most things but it doesn't seem to translate).
I was considering just leaving it, or perhaps finding an opportunity to speak in person so things translate better. (we mainly converse via text which isn't my first choice, but is his preferred medium)
Hi Failsafe! 🙂
You are absolutely amazing for wanting to work on your friendship; it's so beautiful to see! 🙂
Your behaviours are entirely understandable, it seems like you had an excellent relationship in the past with someone who was able to provide you with an exceptional support network, and it's unfortunate that this has changed 😞
I think speaking to a counsellor is an excellent idea, and I'm glad you've done this. Counsellors have been of great help to me in the past when dealing with relationships/friendships. Speaking through the forums is great, but being able to converse face to face is amazing.
Speaking with your counsellor, I am sure you will discover the most appropriate direction for you to take. In times like these, when I my friendships have gone through rough patches, I have found it effective to take a step back from the friendship briefly and work on myself- the things that are able to reduce stress and anxiety (practicing mindfulness, exercising, etc.). Generally, after a break, my friendships come back stronger than ever!
However, this seems like a case where many different alternative methods may work for you. Maybe someone else on the forum can offer an effective alternate method. I hope this has been helpful 🙂
I have just started looking for classes to join for exercise as I've lost my social outlet of my office and all of my current activities are solo so great minds :)
I find that I get so in my own head that I'm never quite sure how bad things are or how I'm presenting until well after the fact so I'm really looking forward to having a non-judgmental person to work through this. (and many other issues I've thought I'd dealt with but now think I may have been fooling myself a little)
The fact that you've found speaking to a counsellor helped your friendships and relationships is very comforting to hear.
You are doing an amazing job just by being who YOU are in your friendships.
We all go through rough patches with our friends, and sometimes we may realise that our love and respect for them is not reciprocated. It feels very upsetting when we find that out. It appears that you have done everything you can to work on your friendship. I would like to reiterate what Aphador put nicely - to try and work on yourself. This is because sometimes we can self-sabotage ourselves when in a relationship with a friend. A good way to see if we do is to try to look at the situation from an objective perspective and understand the reasons why they act the way they do. Sometimes, we have to understand that our friends are different to us and cannot handle certain situations and that is okay. We just need to know when that is.
I find that after I have done that, i try to communicate with my friend what I was feeling and how they made me feel in that situation. Anyone will tell you that the most important part in a relationship is communication. It looks like you have a strong communication channel with your feelings with your friend, so try to continue your communication on your feelings.
Hope this helps!
Like I mentioned I can get quite caught up in my own head and your advice to step back and re-evaluate others reactions clearly and without that anxiety is something I hope I can develop with my psych.
I'm really good at looking at other peoples situations objectively and empathicaly but I'm not so good at treating myself the same way so I get overwhelmed and embarrassed and try to *fix* things which makes it worse 9/10 times.
That's why I've done nothing this time. I think I need to learn to sit with the discomfort and space and know that bad things wont necessarily happen if I don't write
It's good to hear that you can act so objectively and empathically. That is a very strong skill to have in life and not everyone has it. That being said, good job in how far you've come!
Hope you have been feeling better recently.
The Covid situation has put strain on many relationships. I came across a similar issue with my once best friend few months ago and never communicated since our fall out. Over the course of our friendship, I became very dependent on him in many aspects such as looking for advice from him whenever I face minor problems and complain to each other about our work and lives. What catalyst the fallout was not actually a big issue and I didn't control my emotions well and went off on him, but he then refused to communicate with me though I reach out apologised and tried to communicate various times. He was going through some major crisis and I made effort to be supportive throughout, yet now I reckon he is getting support from loved ones. I have no idea whether his situation has improved so far, but I genuinely hope things are better for him now.
At first I felt very humiliated by the way he treated me and how approached this conflict, but soon I decided to step back as Aphador mentioned, and give this friendship a long deserved break (we were supposed to work out healthy boundaries but is was always one or the other being needy in some situations). Such friendship fallout or sudden change of dynamic can be dreadful, but it gives me the opportunity to re-evaluate the friendship itself, and more importantly my own behaviour and problems.
Our friendship was truly problematic in many aspects, I feel sad having to let it go as so far he totally shut me off and there is no way for any closure. However my reflection on how our friendship went foul has taught lessons on maintaining healthy friendship with other friends. I am glad that I have a good support group during this pandemic, and there are some hobbies to keep me occupied and stop me from overthinking this problem. Whether there will be a closure doesn't bother me anymore.
So in short this might be the very time to work on and take care of ourselves.