The Friendship Doctor

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Not All Friendships Last Forever: I Lost My Contacts in a NYC Taxi Cab

Some cell phone contacts become "stale" over time.

QUESTION

Hi Irene, 

Last August, lost my cell phone. I left it in a cab in NYC and to make matters worse had not properly backed up my contacts. In an effort to regain some of those contacts, I sent out messages on Facebook. Some people responded and some did not, which made me feel very sad. 

Next year will be my one-year marriage anniversary. I have a large family and many friends/acquaintances. My husband and I fell in love with a venue that wasn't conducive to more than 200 people for the wedding. Therefore, I had to narrow down my guest list, which made me upset and anxious. On top of planning the wedding, I was finishing graduate school and building a house, so I genuinely lost track of things by being overwhelmed by a lot at once. 

The wedding was wonderful. I wasn't able to invite two people in particular with whom I had been friends for quite some time (on and off with college, etc.) and I am now trying to rekindle those friendships. They both recently got engaged and in no way am I thinking I will be invited to their weddings -- nor will it upset me that I'm not. 

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My efforts to reach out to them are being ignored and I want more than anything to say I'm sorry for losing touch without them thinking that I am doing this just because of their new engagements. It's the guilt that I'm having difficulty with and it's taking a toll on my relationships with husband/family. What do you think the best way to contact them would be? And say what? 

Thank you for your help,

Jordan

 

ANSWER

Hi Jordan,

After high school and college, our lives become increasingly more complex as we get involved with new careers and romantic relationships. It's often impossible to juggle all these new roles and responsibilities simultaneously and as a consequence, some of our relationships drop by the wayside. Perhaps, they were less important, less convenient, or have become less compatible with our new lives. While these changes are taking place for us -- they are also taking place for our friends. 

In terms of your lost cell phone: My guess is that some people didn't see your Facebook message, some people saw it but didn't have a chance to react, and that some were involved with new things. It's not surprising that some cell phone contacts become "stale" over time. 

In terms of your friends who were recently engaged: Few brides can invite everyone they want to their weddings. It's difficult to figure out whom to cut out and we muddle through it trying to do the best we can. If your friends are reasonable people, they will understand that. Perhaps, it would be better to approach them after their weddings. You could write each one a note or send cards congratulating them on their marriage, saying you felt badly you weren't able to invite all the wedding guests you wanted to the wedding, and that you would love to stay in touch. 

If you are edgy with your husband and family, it may be that you're simply feeling the stress of the dramatic changes that have taken place in your life. Don't feel guilty or dwell on the relationships that didn't last. Instead, try to maintain relationships with your workplace colleagues and set aside some downtime for old friends or new ones. You may want to find some way to reduce tension and stress -- by attending a yoga class or joining a gym, for example.  

You're obviously someone who values friendships and that's a wonderful trait but you need to realize that not all relationships last forever. 

Hope this is helpful. 

Warm regards,

Irene

 

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Photo courtesy Noel Hidalgo (creative commons)

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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