When you’ve been Disappointed by Friends

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In a relationship, how is one to know when they should “keep trying” or walk away? I’m not talking about a marriage, though similar discussion points could certainly apply, but those optional relationships in our lives. Friends…people that have been in your life and have wronged you, or those that you’ve wanted more in your life, but it becomes apparent that they just don’t care.

In the past 3 years, I’ve typed out a dozen posts on this topic through blinding tears, but have never posted them, for the sole reason that I don’t want anyone that I’m referring to, to think that I’m badgering them or throwing them under the bus. I’ve never been able to figure out how to be vague enough to share my story to help others, but not make those involved feel bad. It’s never my design to make anyone feel bad…maybe I’ll wish calamity to befall on them such as a flat tire, bad hair day, or thoughts of T.P.ing their home, but never an intention to hurt their hearts. That’s the worst kind of pain there is, and I can’t even wish that upon those that have hurt me. I know that I have a choice in how I feel, but I also know that it’s not ever as simple as flipping a switch.

Yesterday on Instagram, I shared this quote:

When people treat you like they dont care believe them quote

I didn’t share this because I’m having a rough day, quote the opposite. I’m actually feeling pretty good these days when it comes to friends, and this quite doesn’t cut me like a dagger as it might have had I read it another time in the past year or two or three or seven. Strangely, drama with friends is not new to me, and I blame that mostly on the fact that I care. too. much. I love people, I truly do, I love to hear stories, and ask deep questions about their childhood and siblings and like to hear so much more than surface conversation. Also, I want to be best friends with everyone, and I’ve realized the limitations in this way of thinking: I’ll surely be disappointed, or disappoint.  So I am constantly trying to figure out how to navigate this in my life. I want to love, I want to care, but not everyone has the same capacity to reciprocate, and that stings. Plus, I can’t quite possibly keep up with being best friends with 500 people.

On one hand, I get it! I’m a crazy passionate person about so many things. I think people are overwhelmed by me. I’ve got this blog that I post stuff on, people ask me “how I do it all” because it appears I’ve got it all under control, but I’m a firm believer in letting EVERYONE know that I don’t have it figured out, I’ve got pain, too, and we are all trying to navigate this crazy life adventure in our own unique ways with the experiences and demeanors that we’ve been given. I’ve wanted to share my pain so badly, to help others who might struggle know they are not alone, but each time I typed out a story, I thought of certain faces possibly reading it, and I just couldn’t. If I KNEW that everyone reading didn’t know anyone in my life, I totally would!

You see, I’m quite an optimistic person. I LOVE life! I’ve got amazing parents, blessed to grow up in a faith that is truly my foundation, have fabulous brothers.  I have rich relationships, a great marriage, happy healthy children, who am I to complain about such a trivial thing as friends? Especially when I have been blessed with some really great friends in my life?

Friends have always meant so much to me. Growing up without a sister, my friends became my sisters, I’m all in, I invest. I want to know the good and the bad in my friends lives. But I’ve found that most of my friends don’t have the same need in friends as I do, because they have sisters or a mom that they talk to daily. Even before my mom passed away, we didn’t have that kind of relationship. Ours was tricky for me.

So already, my friendship needs are often skewed. I’m an over sharer by nature (hello blog spilling life stories!) AND don’t have a mom/sisters to spill to, and many women I’ve found don’t have equal needs, so it leaves me feeling deflated.

{I should mention that I do have some pretty awesome sisters in law, and some spectacular friends, so this topic really gets me into a rabbit hole, because I hate that those awesome people would ever feel bad.}

BUT, that’s not exactly what this quote is about.

It’s about trying over and over and over with someone, who just keeps giving you nothing, or very little, to where it’s clear…

or is it?

Am I just interpreting them wrong?

Should I cut them some slack?

Forgive?

Give them another chance?

I’m so grateful for the conversations and exchanges I have had from those of you out there that are willing to share. It helps me to know that the words I’ve shared have helped you in a small way. And in turn, your words help ME!

Here is what I wrote under the yellow quote above that I shared on Instagram:

I’ve definitely spent way too much time and emotional energy on this very topic, in my life. Only so much we can do, right? Though I’ve wanted to write all about it, and share with others (because I know I’m not alone) it gets tricky to publicize my private life with the public, because it’s not just about me. So feel free to send me an email if you want to hear all about it, ha ha! Grateful for the many people in my life that care, it can be a challenge to turn off the focus from the few that don’t.

I had quite a few people private message me, email me, and comment below their similar struggles.

This private message resonated with me: I’ve always had a Pollyanna type view of the world that all people have the best of intentions, and I am learning as an adult that is not always the case.

Yes! Pollyanna, me too!  I wore the rose colored glasses for so long…

Another friend on instagram said:

It’s hard to not feel hurt when you are putting yourself out there, and getting nothing back.

This is exactly what I’ve thought, many times over. 

I even got a phone call from a dear friend (lets call her Zelda) that I’ve known for years, and we had an interesting discussion. I reminded her of something she said to me YEARS ago (that she had forgotten). There was a girl that we both knew (we shall call her Sally), who seemed to be quite outgoing to everyone else, but there was a clear coldness when she got around me. I barely knew her, I had hardly had a conversation with her, I wanted to kill her with kindness so she could see that I wasn’t so bad…I tried…it didn’t work. Though her personality kinda clashed with mine in my mind, I hated that she didn’t like me…it didn’t hurt so much as I just wanted to know what it was that I was doing, to repel her! My friend Zelda told me she assumed Sally was threatened by the fact that Zelda and I were close, and blah blah blah. I said, “I just want to ask her what it is that I’m doing, if I knew, I could adjust!” Zelda said to me (and I think of it all the time) “Kristen, it’s not socially acceptable to tell people you don’t like them!” (She didn’t even remember those nuggets she said to me years ago)

But why not??? Our conversation continued, and Zelda said to me on the phone today as we tried to figure this out, “when we were dating, we had to tell a boy we were breaking up with, why it wasn’t working, we should be able to do that with friends.”

But nope, it’s not socially acceptable.

I’ve tried it in the past…ask what it is I’m doing, mention my suspicions that I care more than them, and it’s always met with an asurity that it’s all in my head. But really, it isn’t…or is it?

That’s what we all battle daily is NOT KNOWING.

I’d like to make it socially acceptable. I can totally handle it. Just TELL ME, if I am rubbing you the wrong way, and I’ll back off. I can handle it!!

Check Yes or No.

But the likelihood is that we will never know. We will continue to play an array of guessing games with countless people throughout our lives.

We can either be depressed by that, or accept it.

I’ve mostly come to the acceptance phase. At some point, I had to pull those heavy metaphorical rocks out of my backpack for those that I’ve felt hurt by, and show civility and even kindness so that it won’t canker my soul. I don’t need that.  {I’ve definitely been known to give the cold shoulder, but I didn’t like that person…so I’ve tried to nip that}

Because I have such a wide circle of friendships, in many different areas of my life, this tends to come up on a regular basis, and I’ve learned to accept that it’s part of my struggle in life.

AND, I don’t mesh with everyone, either. We have to all be ok with that.

It’s definitely changed my personality in a way that I wish it didn’t. I’m guarded at times, I feel awkward, I worry what others are thinking.

“They” said that in your 40’s those things don’t bother so much, so I’m pretty excited to turn 40 in 2 years, because I’m sure it will magically resolve itself!

Anyway…I hope this helps someone. I think we can all try a little harder to be a little kinder.

If you are on the flip side, and say it’s not “natural” for you to extend yourself to a friend who does for you, you can treat it just like any challenge, make goals to be better.

I feel deeply in all aspects of life. I get hurt easily, but I love easily, and I never want to give that up, so I’ve got to accept it.

painted wall mural in new orleans

–Kristen Joy

————–

I’ve alluded to this in a few posts in the past:

Don’t ever let anyone Dim your GLOW

Sensitivity

 

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Comments

  1. Way to go! I find this refreshing. I’ve been going through something similar. I’ve been the friend that’s been the good listener that gives good advice but have come to realize that I’ve got nobody that wants to listen to me. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my “best” friend is only my friend when it’s convenient for her. Even when I’m drowning she glazed over my problem because she needs an ear for her issues. And if I have another friend it makes no difference who that person is she doesn’t like them. My close friend (who has been a better friend than my “best” friend) actually asked her why she didn’t like her and what she could do to make it better because it’s making things difficult for me and she didn’t like seeing me suffer. My “best” friend told her she has known me longer and better and that she will never come between us and that she “rubs her the wrong way”. I was sickened by her lack of regard for my friends feelings as a human and my own. It made me realize that she needs a companion NOT a friend and that I don’t want this immaturity and negativity in my life any longer. I’ve walked away. I’m still friendly (giving birthday wishes etc.) but I WILL NOT let her make me feel like garbage again. She wanted to spend more time with me but the funny thing is she has lived in this town for 6 years and never once invited me over. I can’t win. it hurts when I see posts on social media about having people over or inviting people over. I hoe she finds happiness. I hope she finds a friend that can meet her needs. I just can’t do it anymore. It’s an emotional roller coaster that I remember from high school. I’m in my 40’s and don’t need that. My husband and kids are my focus. Friend are a bonus but family always comes first. I miss not having someone to share with but I’ll find that person one day. I hope things get better for you. Life is difficult to navigate through sometimes. Keep the faith

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Beth! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s heartbreaking to realize that someone you have invested in, and feel you should have reciprocation from, doesn’t give you that. I’m guessing she was unkind to your other friend because she worried she would “take” you away from her…sounds like she lost it herself in the end. I laugh when people say “that’s so high school” because really, it’s happening all around us adults just as much if not more than it did back then. Ironically, I had the BEST high school experience and didn’t experience such drama. I think that’s why it’s been such a shock to my system as an adult. I have felt grateful that I feel like my “trouble with friends” has led me to invest more in my family, which is where my heart should be most anyway, so for that, I am grateful. Look out to bless others, and hopefully that gift will come to you, too. BIG HUGS!

  2. This is such a fantastic post! I have a similar thing with people. It’s nice to know there is more of us out there. Any tips to meeting new friends when you move to a new city (or country in my case) i just can’t get into the loop … Not even at church

    • to develop new friendships, have people over to dinner. The New Testment speaks of hospitality. It is better known outside the U.S. We lived in Nigeria for 5 years, a very different culture and for some, different econo,in situation. We had expats and Nierhians over for dinner often. Some turned into deep friendships, others did not. However, it changed us as we became better acquainted with others and extended hospitality to them.

      • Thank you for your words. It’s been a rough couple of months and we’ve only moved from England to Canada (alike and yet so different). Your words have given me hope when I was feeling overwhelmed and helped us push ourselves forward (both my husband and I naturally invoverts). Thank you again

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Caroline, moving is hard, for sure! My dad gave some great advice, look outward to bless, and often those friendships come as an afterthought. I’ll tell you, when I moved into my new congregation, from another local home, I thought that I didn’t want to wait around for people to invite us over. I wanted the “friend making” to go on hyper drive, so after about a month, I started inviting families over to our home. I had several say, “We should be inviting YOU over, you’re the new one” and while I thought to myself “that would have been nice” I simply wanted to get to know people and didn’t want to wait around for it. I enjoyed getting to know people. I didn’t necessarily become great friends with those people, and even later on wondered why the gesture wasn’t reciprocated, I still believe in the “invite a family over for dinner” concept, (I even wrote a blog post all about it–search it at the top) you have to set low expectations. I’ve found great friends into being prayerful about who I can bless, and have often been surprised who I have been led to.

      Wherever you are…look around. Someone is struggling more than you, and YOU can bless them.

      • Just wanted to pop back and say thank you! I now relise that the comment might of come across a bit weird … Sorry. It’s been a rough couple of months and this just gave me a good push in the right direction. We’ve not invited anyone over yet, but we are getting there, pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone (both my husband and I are quite shy). Thanks again … Right words at the right time

  3. Shari Hanson says:

    Hey girl. I FEEL YOU! Weird social situations and awkward moments in friendships happen to all of us. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to “right” itself as I get older! However, I am still trying (and always will) to be a good friend – knowing full well that not everyone will reciprocate. That’s just life! Sometimes it hurts, yes, but like you said, we just have to keep trying to be better. I admire your friendly personality and am thankful to know you! Love ya girl!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Hi Shari! It does happen to us all, and it’s a stigma that needs to be dispelled (that it doesn’t) because it just isolates people thinking they are weird, because we’re all going through it to some level! I’ll never give up on believing in people.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I completely could relate to these sentiments!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Maria, I’m so happy you enjoyed the read, and that you could relate. It’s why I write this, to bring us all together, and feel less isolated. Hugs to you!

  5. I like to think we need all the friends we an get. I also think we should cut others some slack when it comes to reciprocity. Someone, a friend, may still like us but just doesn’t have the time or energy or opportunity to express that friendship to us as much as we would like them to do so. Personally, I choose to believe others have good intentions even though I know some people do not (Hey, I have lived in Nigeria, land of scams and film flam.) however, by believing others have good intentions I approach each interaction with others positively. It is a life choice.

    Like you, Mom wanted lots of friends. She felt sad as some relationships changed over the years. Amy and Nancy, for example. She also cherished those that remained strong despite time and distance KK and Christie for example. I think we should recognize what people have to give and perhaps be more accepting, more understanding, and more willing to redefine our relationships. It is not just a go/no go situation with relationships–be my friend or don’t be my friend. If we saw things more on a continuum (everyone is a friend somewhere on the continuum ) I think we allow relationships to,evolve and for us to always remain open to new friends in our lives.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I agree that some friends don’t have time or energy, but that’s quite challenging for me when I feel like I’m investing more than them, it makes me feel like they don’t care about me as much as I’ve cared about them. Don’t worry dad, I’m not cutting anyone off completely or snubbing or being unkind, just making a conscious effort to slip away, and seek true friendship elsewhere. I don’t think their intentions are impure so much as disinterested in what I have to give.

  6. I feel this!!!! I want some girlfriends. I have no sisters either, and I love my sis in laws but the age gap is huge. We do get along when we do get together, but, they live far away. It would be nice to have someone I could trust to be there for me

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Sandi, hugs to you! It’s a challenging road, but you never know with your sisters in law. Are they older or younger on the gap? I’ve found with my sisters in law that are younger, just commiserating about what they are going through, and if older, seeking advice. People always love to give advice, right? By asking for it, from someone you admire, friendship may surprise you. Look around for who you can serve, you never know how it might come back to serve you. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  7. Wow, so honest and true. I think many women can relate, I know I do! My husband is wonderful, but he thinks it’s black and white…that if it’s not working with a friend…you just leave. Matters of the heart are not that simple to me. I have followed you for years and have loved your topics and insight! Thanks for being you!❤

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Amanda, you said it perfectly, matters of the heart are not that simple. I love writing about matters of the heart, so thank you, happy to have you along for the ride. I’m glad I was finally able to write about this sensitive topic in a way that I HOPE it doesn’t hurt anyone within my circles. Thank you for your comment;)

  8. This topic is hard for me because I tend to be cold hearted. Not intentionally or that I think I’m better than anyone or anything. Just that it’s easier to not get hurt if you don’t allow anyone in. Which I know is crazy talk and explains why I have few friends. So in an effort to avoid being hurt, if a friend is always “too busy” for me or whatever, I’ll simply cut them off. This isn’t the best habit and one I’ve been working on to correct. I don’t want to invest my time when it might lead to me being hurt. I’m sensitive but I guess life has made me cautious. I generally don’t think the friend in question is pulling away maliciously or anything (I try to believe in the goodness of people), they may be genuinely too busy for my friendship. And that’s ok but its hurtful because we’re all busy, we all have lives and families and obligations, but if I’m taking my time and carving a space then it hurts when you feel like they aren’t doing the same. I have no real advice I guess but I’m glad I’m not alone in this. Making and keeping friends as an adult is hard. I admire people who do it.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Nicole, I’ve done the same thing. Cut off. I generally do it for a time, then feel bad that I did it, then try again, and usually have the same vicious cycle. What I’m trying really hard to do now is to keep my distance to those I’ve felt hurt by, and just be nice (instead of fully ignore). It’s totally normally to want to protect your heart in that way.

  9. I just wish I knew how to make friends in the first place. I’m not shy. I’m nice. I have a sense of humor. But where does one meet friends while juggling a full time job, a husband and a 2-year-old? The last friend I made was 13 years ago, in college. If you have a single person that you feel you can share all your thoughts, feelings, ups, downs, etc with then I consider you a very lucky person. I think that if a friend isn’t treating you very friend-like, then you’re probably better off parting ways. I don’t waste time or energy on anyone that won’t waste their time/energy on me.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Jenna, I think it would be hard to seek out friends when you’ve got a full time job and little ones. I guess I’d say at work, but I don’t know your situation. For me, when I stayed home, I fell into place with other stay at home moms at church. We’d have play groups to fill those long toddler days. I agree, if you aren’t feeling reciprocated in a friendship, it’s not necessary to hang on. It’s a hard, hard situation.