Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Irene S Levine Ph.D.

The Friendship Doctor

Wrestling with the end of a friendship

Not every friendship lasts forever

Posted Nov 24, 2010


QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I am a college senior having a difficult time getting over a friendship with a girl I've known since freshman year. It has been a year since the friendship ended and I am still hung up on it.

We didn't have much in common aside from our ability to get a good chuckle out of one another. We had minor fall-outs during our 2-year friendship, but always bounced back. I found her during a difficult time at the beginning of college. I felt completely abandoned and alone, and she welcomed me with open arms. I trusted her and felt safe knowing she was my best friend. Sometimes I resented her-- she had a lot of money and didn't have a realistic perspective on life, never having to work too hard for anything.

We dated a pair of boys who were close friends too, and spent loads of time together. The turning point was when the boys, who were in a band, began meeting people who personified the image my friend had always searched for. My boyfriend ended up quitting the band, and my friend and her boyfriend hung out with those people more and more.

One night we were on our way to a party---where she, her boyfriend, and her new friends were---and we got into a minor car accident. When I told her, she didn't even ask if I was injured. When we arrived, I was already angry about this and immediately saw she had had way too much to drink. My boyfriend pointed out she was dancing inappropriately with a boy she wasn't dating. Her boyfriend was leaning against a tree outside, seemingly upset. We mentioned what we saw. I know I should have talked to my friend first, but was afraid of making a scene and was already angry with her.

Her boyfriend ran inside to confront her. When I returned to the party, she purposely ran into me as she walked by. I grabbed her shoulder to get her to stop so we could talk. Then, she shoved me across the hallway in front of the other people. I probably shoved her back at some point although I can't remember for sure. What I remember most was attempting to hold her arms down as she grabbed the sides of my head and screamed in my face. She called me lots of rude names and said no one liked me, and that I needed to leave. She said I ruined her relationship, was a terrible girlfriend, and that she hated me. I ran outside to cry my eyes out.

I'm not an aggressive person so I was shocked and horrified by her physical assault. A couple days later, we met in the park to talk it out, after I wrote her a carefully composed email (to which she didn't reply) explaining how I couldn't be a friend with someone who was capable of such things. She ended up repeating the same things she said that night. Those words are burned in my memory.

I pride myself on being a loyal friend. I have watched her go on with her life as if I meant nothing to her. She has all new best friends (not to say I don't have better and more wonderful friends now). It pains me that I was so disposable---after I confided in her and all the times I was there for her. I don't trust her and have learned about awful things she said about me before the fight ever happened. I would never want to be friends again but this still eats me alive. Why can't I get over this?

Thank you,
Mindy

ANSWER

Dear Mindy,

Even though this happened a year ago, it had to be a very traumatic. You were viciously attacked and it's hard to forget the words and images of that evening. It's understandable that you're left wondering how something so good could have turned so sour. Since you are still at college and have common friends, you must encounter many reminders of your friendship and the evening it ended.

While the relationship was imperfect from the start, you were seeking the comfortable feeling of having a best friend. You were in the same place, at the same time, in similar circumstances so it was easy to overlook personality differences.

Even though you are disappointed, you realize that your friend has different values and can be callous and hardhearted. My advice is not to ruminate over what happened any longer; these are irreconcilable differences. In fact, I hope that writing this letter to me will help you heal. It's wonderful that you have recouped and made new friends. Try to focus on your last year of school and I'm sure when you graduate, this whole fiasco will be a faint memory. Not every friendship lasts forever.

Hope this helps!
Best,
Irene

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