The Friendship Doctor

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The Friendship Phase-Out

Friends often back off from a friendship without saying so

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

For the last couple of years my friend has been slowly but surely phasing me out of her life. I'm no longer invited to events and she's usually busy when I suggest we get together. She had been emailing jokes to me a few times a week but now even that has stopped.

The problem is that our daughters are both in their early teens and now my daughter is being phased out, too --not invited to her friend's birthday party next week; her daughter was busy and not able to come to our house; and so on. I'm hurt. I'm mad. But I want this to be done and over. How do I get over this? What do I say to my daughter? For my girl's sake, I don't want to burn any bridges.

Signed, Missy

 

ANSWER

Dear Missy,

All the signs are there that this is a definite "phase out."  It sounds like your friend is backing off from the friendship without directly telling you. If this friendship is important to you, ask your friend if you did something to upset or anger her. If not, you may just need to accept that the friendship has run its course.

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This situation is complicated because of your daughter: It may be that she is being phased out because of you, or it could be that you are being phased out because of her. It's possible that your friend's daughter is no longer interested in being friends with your daughter, and her mother doesn't quite know how to handle it.

Irrespective of what came first, you need to encourage your daughter to seek out new friends and remind her that friendships and allegiances change all the time, especially during the teen years. At some later point, she and the other girl may become friends again.

Since you all run in the same social circles, it's wise for neither you or your daughter to express anger or burn bridges unnecessarily. Just move on.

Hope this helps,

My best, Irene

 

Other posts on The Friendship Blog about being phased out:

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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