The Friendship Doctor

Send in your friendship questions and quandaries and get expert answers and solutions

A Leap of Faith: Dumped over religious differences?

Differences in religion, politics, and values can create wedges between friends

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I feel so hurt after being dumped by my friend of ten years. We met at the library when our children were two years old and had our second children together months apart. Two years ago she decided to go back and follow her Jewish religion. I am Christian and that is why she dumped me.

We no longer go out as families together with our husbands and children. My daughter is very upset and cannot understand why we do not go away with them anymore and why my friend is keeping her daughter away from her. We were always Christian and now her children say they are Jewish.

When she had no one and no friends, we were there for her but now that she has Jewish friends, we are not good enough for her anymore. I am so glad I am Christian and not Jewish. Christians are much nicer and do not dump people. They get along with all religions. I now feel sorry for her because I would have done anything for her and her family if she needed me. She will someday see it as her loss.

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Signed,
Faith

 

ANSWER

Dear Faith,

You are making a huge assumption that may or may not be correct: That your friend decided to dump you because she turned back to Judaism. It is painful to be dumped by a close friend, and in your case, it also represents an inexplicable loss for your family. But you are making a grave mistake in thinking that any one religion has a monopoly over another in terms of kindness, friendship, and forgiveness---and that one individual's actions define the attitudes of a group. (I might also add that believers aren't always as charitable as those who are not.)

It is true that differences in religion, politics and values can create wedges between people who were once close friends---but this generally doesn't happen when friendships are otherwise solid. People accept the differences and agree to disagree so the differences don't interfere with the relationship. My guess is that there is some other reason(s) why your friend has decided to cut you off.

Did the split occur right after her decision to change religions (two years ago) or has it been more recent? Right now you sound very hurt and angry but when you are able to, you need to speak to your once-friend to find out what happened from her perspective. Either it will help you understand what went wrong so you can rectify the misunderstanding or disagreement, or it will help you get a better sense of closure so you can move forward. In my book, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, I write about the many reasons why friendships change over time.

I hope this is helpful.

Best,
Irene

On Twitter: @IreneLevine

 

 

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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