A friend who is dumped wants to know how to assuage her guilt

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

While I was in college I decided to room with one of my really good friends that I had made at school. Things seemed to go great that year and I felt that we had become really close. However, near the end of that school year she suddenly left for home and refused to take my calls.

When I finally was able to talk with her about it, she said that I had been mean to her throughout the year and that I was doing things to purposely upset her. I told her I never had done anything to intentionally upset her and that I wished she had confronted me about any issues she had earlier so we could have addressed them. Although we "made-up," it was never the same between us. 

After graduation I've tried to keep in touch through social media, but she seems uninterested in continuing a friendship with me. I have tried telling her my feelings directly and apologizing profusely, but it seems that she refuses to forgive me. At this point I have given up trying since I cannot force her to forgive me, but I am still plagued with guilt. I also feel like some of the mutual friends we had in college have also decided to no longer talk to me as well.   

Do you have any tips on how to move past this?  Is it normal for me to feel such guilt all the time?

Signed,

Jessica

ANSWER

Dear Jessica,

I'm not sure exactly what you said or did, intentionally or unintentionally, that might have upset your friend. Here are a few things to think about: 

  • When you spoke to your friend, did she have any concrete examples of how you were mean or what you did to upset her? Did you think her points were valid?
  • I'm also unclear about why your roommate suddenly left school. Did she complete the semester? Could something have happened that had nothing to do with you? 

Given these ambiguities, I hesitate to comment because I have no sense whether you have any reason to feel guilty or not. In any case, it sounds like your former friend has a hard time communicating directly, both while she was accumulating anger at you and now. It's always better to discuss little problems before they snowball into big ones---and it's harder to respond to a litany of complaints than only one. 

If you do think you really were unfair to her and apologized profusely, there is probably nothing further you can do to resurrect your friendship. If you didn't do anything wrong, don't blame yourself for something that may have had little to do with you. Also, this problem---as you explain it---was between you and your roommate. Try to learn from whatever happened, put it behind you, don't attempt to contact her through social media, and remain friends with the mutual friend or friends at college to whom you feel closest.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about communication in friendships: 

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