Irene S. Levine, Ph.D.

Irene S Levine Ph.D.

The Friendship Doctor

The Difficulty of Ending a Very Long Friendship

There’s no easy way when you’re changed and she's remained the same.

Posted Mar 13, 2016

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I have a very close friend that I have known for 18 years. We have never had a fight or disagreement over that time. I think this is because I have a go with the flow personality and let lots of things roll off my back. I try to keep a positive attitude. We would talk at least two times a day every day, went on vacations together, and her husband did things with my husband as well as us doing couple dates.

Throughout the friendship she asked many things from me. One example: Our girls went to school together and she would ask me to give rides home to her daughter, step daughter, and another girl that she agreed to do car pool with. This was not a problem until it became a habit, not to mention I had to take all three girls to three different homes.

When she would return the favor she would take my daughter to her house and ask me to pick her up there. I finally realized that I was allowing her to take advantage of my friendship and started saying, “No, I can’t help you out.”

Second example: She invited herself and her daughter to stay in a hotel with my daughter and me. She told me they had a place to stay but that lots of drama was going on with her daughter’s friends and she didn’t want her daughter to stay in the same house with the other girls. The next thing I knew, she had invited herself and her daughter to stay in our hotel. She also had the nerve to say, “OK, I will pay for gas and go in half on groceries (as if that covered the cost of them staying with us). When I asked for her half of the hotel cost, her response was that she would pay for gas for the trip home and that would make us even.

She and her husband always ask to use our lake house in the summer but then makes negative comments about the rules that we have for using our home and doesn’t follow our rules. When I bring this to her attention she puts the blame on one of her family members that stayed with them at the house. Since that time, I now tell her that my family will be using the house more often over the summer but then she makes comments that we have not invited her and her husband to stay with us. I then let her know that we have invited a few of my family members and that she is more then welcome to pop a tent up outside but she said she can’t sleep on the ground because it hurts her back.

Over the last three years I’ve reached my limit of allowing her to take advantage of my husband. me and our kindness. But because my husband is friends with her husband, he asked me to not bring up everything that is bothering me about our friendship because he thinks it could make things turn out bad for all four of us.

The last example: My husband and I bought a new house. She wanted to know what the moving plans were so she and her husband could help but when it came to the moving day, we didn’t hear from them. A few weeks after we moved, she and her husband had decided to sell their house before having another to move into. She made it a point to tell me that she was packing without any help from anyone but then would post comments on Facebook thanking different friends for all the help. I was not able to help her due to getting our house in order as well as helping my dad out with his illness. She also went out of her way to tell me that her other friend didn’t want to see her and her husband in the street with no place to live, and that her family could move into her friend’s basement and stay as long as they needed to. My response was “Great, I am glad she is able to help you guys out.”

This leads me to where I am now. I have chosen to just put distance between us. I made excuses for not doing things with her. I got to the point that I didn’t answer her calls or would tell her that my phone was not working (which was the case for a short time). There were many times that she would tell me that she was concerned about me and I played it off that it was my hormones. The last time we spoke she said ” Well, I know I haven’t done anything wrong.” This would have been the perfect time to express my feelings but I was trying to respect my husband’s wishes to now tell her how I’ve felt about so many things over the years.

She still calls or sends me text once a week. I don’t call her back or even respond. Today she dropped a birthday gift off at my door for my daughter and me. I don’t want the gift or anything from her. She has called my sister and another close friend of mine (The friend she called is someone that she doesn’t even like) asking them questions about me. I am done with allowing her to take advantage of our friendship.

There are a list of examples that would explain why I am at the place I am with this friendship but I think you get the idea. I am the type of person that when I am pushed to a certain limit, I am done. There is a part of me that feels like after this long friendship, she deserves an answer to why I want to end this friendship but on the other hand she thinks she does no wrong. I have thought about seeking counsel over this but I have decided that I just need to move on without being friends.

My husband has a hard time understanding that I want to end the friendship. I feel that even if I did decide to tell her how I have been feeling over the years, I am okay with not continuing the friendship. I feel like she doesn’t have a balance with our friendship and I feel smothered by her. It is to the point that I get anxiety when her name comes up. I don’t want to allow any person to have that control over me. I am open to any advice that you can give. Thanks.

Signed, Randi

ANSWER

Hi Randi,

You may deserve an endurance award for staying in this relationship as long as you have! Not everyone would be willing to persevere with a controlling friend who is unwilling to respect boundaries.

My guess it that at this point, it would virtually be impossible to try to change the way your friend treats you. So I understand your wanting to ease out of the friendship.

Your husband’s desire to remain friends with her husband does complicate this situation. Does he expect you to maintain a relationship as couples? Given how clear you feel about ending this friendship, I think you need to tell your husband that you aren’t going to rock the boat by confronting this friend about past misdemeanors but you have no interest in getting together with her, either as an individual or as a couple.

Given the length of the friendship and your husband’s relationship with her husband, it would make it easier for everyone if you let her know explicitly that you’ve had a hard time with the relationship for many years, and just feel you need to step back. Tell her that it has more to do with you than it does with her. Don’t go into details or offer examples.

It sounds like you’ve learned a great deal about yourself from this friendship and will be more vocal in the future to avoid getting involved in similar situations.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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