We’ve all had one sided friendships. You know, the ones where you send five text messages before you get one back. The kind of friend who tells you about the dinner party that they’re throwing, but doesn’t invite you. Maybe you go out of your way to visit them, but they’ve never done anything for you. But, you get what I’m saying. The friendships are one sided, and you’re the only one who is the friend.
Yes, I chose a chain-link fence for that graphic on purpose. Because a bad friendship, like any bad relationship, can feel like a prison. It’s a horrible place to be.
This is a very complex issue, so I’m just touching on one aspect that I have had to deal with a few times since I got really sick. When you get really sick, you find out who is a friend and who is simply an acquaintance.
My advice is not applicable in every situation.
The most confusing things that I’ve realized about one-sided friendships is that when you finally confront the other side of the friendship, they usually have no idea. They think you two are perfectly good friends. #StabInTheHeart, right? Like, you’ve been being eaten up over what to say, how to deal with it, talking it over with your significant other/family member, and then the other person has no idea that she isn’t even a friend. I don’t even hold people to very high standards of friendships anymore. Like, “Glad you’re alive,” once a month is cool.
There are tons of good reasons to try to maintain a friendship when it feels like you’re alone in it – like if your friend is depressed or going through a hard time, so they aren’t responding. But, there are plain old friendship fizzles.
From some very painful, personal experiences, I’m here to share my tips.
How to Deal with One Sided Friendships
- Recognize that you’re in a one sided friendship.
Sometimes it’s gradual. Like, she doesn’t respond for awhile, but then all of a sudden she wants to meet for coffee, texts you, and is generally in your life. That’s confusing, so you never know where you stand because you then text to set up the next coffee date and never hear back! The worst? When she wants to know why you didn’t tell her you were going through a hard time. Maybe because you didn’t think you were currently friends?
Sometimes it’s really obvious. Maybe your friend goes on and on and on about the great weekend plans she has, but she doesn’t invite you. Guess what, you’re not in her circle of friends.
- Say something.
You don’t have to be mean or start a fight. Since these people can be hard to get in touch with, you may have to email or text. I wouldn’t suggest this with a coworker or someone you have to see on a regular basis – you probably don’t have a one sided friendship with someone you see on a regular basis. You might not like them, but that’s different. But, for like an old college friend or someone you have to go out of your way to see, technology is helpful.
- Be careful what you say.
You might save your friendship if you don’t attack her. I mean, you’ve been trying to be friends with the other person, so there is probably something you like about her. I have done everything from apologizing for bothering her (which I honestly felt like I was doing) to flat out telling the other person to just stop offering advice because she isn’t my friend if she only talks to me on her own terms. Or even, as a generic example, “Are we friends? The way you _________ (don’t respond, don’t accept my invitations, ignore me, fill in the blank), communicates that we aren’t friends.”
- Decide what you want.
Do you want to salvage the friendship? Maybe just letting her know that it’s one sided is a wake up call for the other person, so she realize she’s been selfish. If she’s been going through something personal, but didn’t feel comfortable telling you, that’s her prerogative, but at least you will know where you stand. You don’t need to pour your soul out to someone who won’t confide in you.
Do you want them out of your life because they’ve hurt you? Then let them know. You don’t have to say “I’m cutting you out of my life, you life-draining, bitch,” but you can let them know that you are sorry that you don’t have room for them anymore after you bring the topic up.
- Stand by your decision.
Sometimes friendships end. A lot of times, they fade out. That hurts. I think that hurts more than a friendship “break-up,” since you don’t quite get closure. I always wonder what is wrong with me. Why was I not good enough to be considered a good friend? Why didn’t I get included in invitations? What can I do better with my next friend? Will I ever get another friend?
When you just stop talking, it’s ok, but if you’re the only one keeping the friendship going, take a second to reevaluate why you keep pursuing the friendship.
How do you deal with friendship break ups? Are they as painful for you as they are for me? Do you say anything or just let it drop?
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