HerTake

  • A Friend Who Gives Too Many Gifts

    Do you have a friend who is too generous?

    In this month’s HerTake question, Nina answers a question about a friend who gives too many gifts as well as how to end a friendship with someone who is not taking the hint. We love that our community helps each other in the comments section. Please add your two cents!

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

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    Dear Nina,

    I would very much welcome advice on a situation that has been happening over the last year or so. I moved areas, and a woman (“Kim”) whom I had met online and talked to a bit said she lived fairly close and suggested we meet up. I thought it was nice she reached out as I was getting settled in a new place.

    That first time Kim and I met, she brought me a little present. Then when we got together again, she brought me a tote bag. Another time, I went up to her city, and while we were in a bookshop she bought me three little books. We’ve met up at least six times and on every outing she’s either brought me a gift or bought something for me while we were shopping. I’ve never bought her anything. I don’t feel guilty about this, but I do feel a bit awkward. I feel as though I’m being courted, which is a bit odd. (Just for clarity we are both straight.)

    I have at least two other friends who buy me gifts now and then and vice versa. In those friendships it seems to work out, but with Kim, I feel as though there are strings attached. She’s never said, “I buy you things so you have to be my friend,” but that’s how it feels, and it makes me very uncomfortable.

    One other issue is that I’m coming to the conclusion that Kim is a very negative person. The first time or two, I assumed she was having a particularly bad time or was tired. But in most of our time together she complains about people and situations. If someone says something or does something that could possibly cause offense, she takes the offense.

    As I hear how I sound in this note, I know that I’m not interested in continuing this friendship. The negative talk makes me dread seeing Kim and so does the gift giving. Unfortunately, I’ve already tried to pull away and she doesn’t take hints. No matter how busy I say I am, or how many meet ups I refuse, she carries on suggesting more and sending me long emails. (I am currently only replying to every other one.) I’m really not sure what to do next.

    Thanks for the help,

    Yours In Bafflement

     

    Dear Yours In Bafflement,

    Before we address ending this friendship, we need to discuss the gift giving. I admire people who get gift giving exactly right. Kim is clearly an over-giver. There’s no reason to exchange gifts with friends at every lunch, dinner, walk, and so on. On the flip side, I tend to suffer from under-giving. I might show up to a casual, last-minute birthday dinner with a card while a few of the other women found the time to procure the perfect small gift for just such a moment. I’m rarely the one to organize big group gifts for friends. It’s not that I don’t care about my friends, it’s simply one of those areas where the right thing to give and do is less obvious to me. My point is this: we all have different gift-giving styles, but somewhere between Kim’s style and mine is likely the sweet spot.

    More important than the “right” way to give gifts, however, is the issue of why you never told Kim that her method was making you uncomfortable. The fact that Kim didn’t take the hint about the gifts when you never reciprocated is unfortunate, but you need to take responsibility for not speaking up about it after the third time. First time, yes accept the gift. Second time, another gift is surprising, but not quite cause for concern. The third gift and certainly the fourth, fifth, and sixth ones were all opportunities to gently say how much you appreciate the gesture in concept, but the idea of being spoiled by a friend was feeling uncomfortable. We can’t assume that our silent messages (like never showing up with a gift for her) are being communicated to the next person. Your silence might have encouraged Kim to continue giving gifts and to seeing you as a closer friend than you are. When we give, we often feel closer to the next person. I’m guessing Kim felt closer to you with each get together.

    Likewise, Kim hasn’t picked up other hints. She hasn’t recognized you as an (understandably) unreceptive audience to her complaining and therefore has continued to complain. And she hasn’t noticed your lack of enthusiasm for making plans. Kim obviously does not pick up your hints, which means the onus is on you to communicate more clearly. I’m guessing you don’t like confrontation. (Does anyone?) Nevertheless, you owe more directness to Kim, a woman who welcomed you to town and tried to be your friend.

    For the record, I want to say that your attempts to subtly give Kim the message that you’re not terribly interested in a friendship was the right way to go at first. I do think it’s unnecessary to be direct with every person as nobody wants to be told that the next person is too busy to make time. When I say “direct,” I do not mean that you should say, “I don’t want to be friends because you complain too much and the gifts were over the top.” That type of honesty would be unkind. Kim’s style may be perfectly fine for someone else. There are plenty of people who like to engage in the drama of “being offended.” I also find it tiresome when someone manages to find a way to feel offended at every turn, but for some women, bonding over such “battle wounds” is an essential friendship ritual.

    As for exactly what to do next with this friendship, I turned to my mom to help you because she has mastered the art of balancing the subtle with the direct. I sent her your question and this is what she said:

    “Clearly Yours In Bafflement wants to end the friendship. The question is how. Perhaps she should answer every third email, then every fourth email. There is no point in having a confrontation, if she has no interest in continuing the relationship. If, on the other hand, she does not mind seeing Kim on occasion, then she has to set some ground rules. First, no more gifts. Second, if Kim persists on complaining about other people, then Bafflement might consider asking Kim if she can put herself in the other person’s shoes. Maybe she can offer a different way to look at the “offense.” That would be an interesting conversation. There is no reason for Bafflement (or anyone) to be mute and listen to the complaints without offering some feedback. If, however, all of the above seems like too much work, I would advise fading away a little bit at a time.”

    A quick note on my mom and gifts. My mom and my nieces are staying at my house this week. My mom remembered our shortage of towels from the last time she visited so what do think arrived in a big Bloomingdales box days before her trip? New towels! It was the perfect hostess gift for me because my mom knows I like useful gifts most of all.

    I hope our advice helped and that you’re able to let this friendship go in the kindest way possible.

    Good luck! Nina (and my mom, Kathy)

     

     

    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter. UPDATE (2019): Find Nina and her advice column at HER NEW FRIENDSHIP ADVICE SITE

     

  • Am I an Acquaintance or Friend? I Can’t Figure Out If She Wants To Be Friends

    Does she want to be my acquaintance or friend? In this month’s HerTake question, Nina answers a question about how to know if someone is interested in pursuing a friendship, if someone wants to be an acquaintance or friend.

    Have you ever been confused about whether your efforts were appreciated by a potential new friend or if that person is simply trying to stay at the acquaintance level? We love that our community helps each other in the comments section. Please add your two cents!

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

     

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    Dear Nina

    For the love of everything good and decent please help me! I’m driving myself nuts over this situation. I’m never like this with my other friends, but this one woman has my head spinning. Are we friends or not? Sometimes I can’t tell.

    Here’s the situation. I’ve struck up what I guess you could call a friendship, sort of, with a woman I’ll call Mindy. I’m so confused about what it is. I just can’t read Mindy at all. I only see her two nights a week, as she is my child’s dance instructor. We text back and forth throughout the week, mostly joking around about life. I admire her and she has told me the same. So great, mutual admiration, joking around—wonderful. However, when I see her in person, there’s virtually no acknowledgement of my existence if I don’t acknowledge her first.

    Now, to be fair, Mindy doesn’t really acknowledge any of the parents first, but being a friend, I assumed she would at least say hello. And it’s pretty much the same with the texting. She seems to enjoy talking with me when we do talk through texts. She always responds right away and keeps the conversation going. However, when I’ve asked her to hang out in person, she always has an excuse not to. She says she doesn’t go out much, but she does have a close group of friends that gets together to drink every so often.

    I wish I knew why Mindy is not open to hanging out with me. I’ve even, in a moment of weakness, asked her if I was being a pain by texting her and she said, “Absolutely not. Why would you ask me that?” I’m just not sure if I should keep pushing on with the relationship or not. It’s getting exhausting trying to figure Mindy out. And truthfully, it hurts that she’s not acknowledging me when I see her. I can’t figure out if she even wants to be friends.

    Signed,

    Can’t Figure Her Out

     

    Dear Can’t Figure Her Out,

    I don’t blame you for feeling confused about how to think of this friendship and for that I blame the texting. The friendly banter you and Mindy have established between your child’s dance lessons has blurred the line between acquaintance or friend. Despite all other evidence suggesting that you and Mindy are “friendly,” but not deeper friends, the day-to-day catching up via text has superficially elevated an otherwise casual acquaintanceship.

    Technology can help us keep in touch with our good friends, but it can also create a false foundation for a friendship. Just because it’s easy to keep in touch with texts and emails, it does not mean that a worthwhile relationship exists beyond the words on the screen. Every case is different. I have relationships with women I’ve met online who I will never meet in person, but the connection feels deep and real. How do I know? The efforts and sentiments are mutual. I think your awareness that you’re always initiating the texts is why you’re feeling uneasy about Mindy.

    Should Mindy say hello to you and other parents when you all come in for class? Probably. I’m guessing she doesn’t fuss over you specifically because she’s in a professional role where she’s focusing on the students. I wouldn’t take that too personally or read too much into her lack of effort there. The fact that she rarely initiates the texts and seems uninterested in getting together is what tells me that Mindy is not interested in being more than “friendly.”

    Please keep in mind that Mindy’s lack of interest may not be personal and that you have no idea what else is going on in Mindy’s life. Maybe one day she will initiate the conversations or she will include you with her friends. It’s impossible to predict.

    Wait It Out

    You have to decide if you’re willing to wait. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t wait around for Mindy, but it would probably help your level of frustration to consider Mindy a “fun acquaintance” for now rather than one of your better friends or even a real potential for a close friend unless she does show interest in seeing outside of the texting context. If you ever decide that you’re tired of making the first contact, you can stop trying and see what happens. If the acquaintanceship disappears, then I would encourage you to put your efforts, even these casual texting efforts, elsewhere.

    Acquaintances Are Fun Too!

    Despite everything I’ve said here, I don’t want this month’s column to devalue the role of a solid acquaintanceship because there’s much to appreciate about these types of friends. By “solid” I mean mutually satisfying and casual, which these friendships can be if we accept that not every relationship needs to reach best friend status or even good friend status.

    When I think of all the women I enjoy (truly enjoy) seeing at the gym, coming in and out of my kids’ schools, at our synagogue, or even catching up with on Facebook, I get a big smile on my face. I respect and like each one of those woman, but if I spent tons of time texting with them all and making plans to get together, I wouldn’t have time for anything else in my life. My days would be less joyful, however, without these daily run-ins with various women (and some men) I know in town. This was a slightly off-topic tangent from your question about the difference between an acquaintance and a friend except to remind you that Mindy might become someone you enjoy talking to here and there and it doesn’t have to feel personal if it’s not something more.

    I hope this helped!

    Nina

    Editor’s Note: Also, check out Nina’s post about how to turn an acquaintance into a friend.

     

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

    We’re always looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

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  • When a Group of Friends Falls Apart

    UPDATE (2019): FIND NINA AND HER COLUMN AT HER NEW FRIENDSHIP ADVICE SITE

    In this month’s HerTake question, Nina is tackling the sticky issue of maintaining individual friendships when a group of friends falls apart. Have you been in this situation as an adult or even in younger years, perhaps? We love that our community helps each other in the comments section. Don’t be afraid to add your two cents.

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

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    Dear Nina:

    I’ve shared a close friendship with a group of women for several years. However, the dynamic of the group is evolving and the group of friends is falling apart because of external and internal reasons. I’ve maintained individual relationships with each woman; however, now I feel like I am in the middle, because although I get along with each person individually that isn’t the case across the board.

    Should I address this with the group or let it go? And if I choose to let go of the group, how do I continue to maintain individual friendships without stepping on anyone’s toes?

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Signed,

    Confused

     

    Dear Confused,

    Without knowing the details of why your group is falling apart or any of the other micro issues, I know others will relate to the problem of being connected to a group of friends that is long past its expiration date.

    Before I go on, I want to address the people reading this question (and answer) who are silently asking themselves, “Why is an adult part of a group of friends anyway?”

    Reasons Why Adults End Up in a Group of Friends

    • The group is a carryover from high school or college with some new configurations, but it started “way back when.”
    • The members of the group all met in a common setting like a class or in a work environment that no longer meets regularly so the group formed to keep the individuals together.
    • There can be a bit of mystery to how and why a group forms. Frankly, sometimes the group can feel manufactured, which is usually the first kind to fall apart.

    I’m not going to say all groups disintegrate because I couldn’t possibly know that, but every group I’ve been a part of has gone through significant permutations over time. Some of those permutations have led to an ultimate disintegration, but in each case, the new reality has been more of a relief than a problem.

    In other words, I’ve never been part of a group that was worth keeping together under all circumstances. The group’s history should never become more important that its current health. (By “health” I mean, the members of the group are kind to each other and as free from drama as possible.)

    Ultimately, the individual relationships are what matter most, especially when the group dynamics feel forced at best and unpleasant at worst. Sounds like you’re in at least one of those positions right now so let’s get practical.

    How to keep your relationships strong with the individuals you like:

    #1. Based on your question, this needs to be said: It is not your problem whether other members of the group continue to stay friends or whether they form a new group. At this point, you need to focus on who brings out the best in you and vice versa. I wouldn’t make any formal announcements about your desire to step away from the group. This will be a case of actions speaking louder than words, or you simply slipping under the radar, which is probably for the best.

    #2. Make consistent plans with the women you enjoy. Lunch, walks, coffee, tickets to a show—anything that means time spent with one other person. Personally, I find walks the best way to catch up with one friend at a time. Also, there’s a natural end time, which is a nice plus (in my opinion).

    #3. Be careful to avoid allowing the growing bonds with certain individuals to revolve around a common frustration with the former group. It’s tempting to get others to feel the way you do about the group or to commiserate with individuals who already share your aggravation, but too much of this chitchat will create a false sense of closeness. Don’t fall for it!

    By the way, these group permutations happen in families, too. Sometimes different groupings of siblings and siblings-in-law are closer and sometimes they’re in a moment (or years) of drifting apart. Same goes for cousins and other relatives. David Sedaris had a great essay recently in the New Yorker that is seemingly about shopping in Tokyo, but is really about these shifting group dynamics. Other than enjoying the standard cleverness of Sedaris, I also liked the matter-of-fact attitude in which he talks about how relationships morph again and again.

    Thanks so much for your question, Confused. I hoped at the very least I helped you see how normal the shifting dynamics are.

    Good luck!

    Nina

     

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

    We’re always looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

     

     

  • Ex-Friends Reconnecting After a Loss in The Family

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    In this month’s HerTake question, the question asker wants to reconnect with an ex-friend after a loss in the ex-friend’s family. Is it a good idea to make one last effort at reconciliation all these years later, or should our question asker leave well enough alone?

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

    Dear Nina,

    About fifteen years ago, my friend since kindergarten, Sarah, cut me out of her life. It was during our mid-twenties when a toxic person came between us. I knew Sarah’s close friend was toxic, but it took Sarah several more years to come to the same conclusion. The word on the street is that the two of them no longer speak.

    Sarah recently lost her father quite suddenly. I attended the funeral, and she indicated to me how much it meant to her. For years now since learning that the toxic person was out of Sarah’s life, I’ve wanted to reconnect with her. I know that an apology will not come, and at this point, it no longer matters to me what happened in the past. What does matter is that I try in some way to rejuvenate the friendship that was lost. I feel as if Sarah’s father’s death could in some way be the catalyst for us getting together. Perhaps it could be a positive outcome of an extreme negative.

    What do you advise on the best way to go about reconnecting with Sarah? Do you agree with me that all is not lost and perhaps we can find a way back on the path of friendship we shared for so many years?

    Thank you for taking the time to consider these questions.

    Signed,

    Hoping to Get Back in Touch

     

    Dear Hoping to Get Back in Touch,

    Those childhood friendships never leaves us, even the ones that end badly. If anything, the ones that end badly can take on an inflated importance as we repeatedly analyze what went wrong. I say “we” because I think many people reading this have been there, including me.

    Before delving into your specific questions, I want to commend you for attending Sarah’s father’s funeral. Perhaps that seemed like an obvious move for you, but I bet that many others in your situation would have either ignored the loss, made a donation to the family’s favorite charity in the father’s honor, or written a lovely note expressing condolences. There’s no shame in going with the donation or personal note options. My point is that making the effort to attend the funeral was the hardest choice as it required the greatest amount of vulnerability.

    So, should you get back in touch with Sarah?

    More than ever, I’m coming from a “life is short” philosophy, which can cut both ways. Life is short, so if you’re missing Sarah’s friendship, I think you should go for it. But since life is really too short to waste on people who not appreciate us, I have to caution that if Sarah seems at all reluctant (takes a long time responding, cancels more than once, does not ask you about your life, etc.), then I say you can feel satisfied about trying and leave Sarah in the past.

    Is it possible to find a way back to a friendship?

    The fact that you’re not expecting an apology is what makes me believe there is a chance for the two of you. It would be impossible for Sarah to know at this point exactly why she got so close to that toxic friend and why she felt she couldn’t have both of you in her life. Your willingness to release Sarah from an explanation from 15 years ago is your best chance.

    As for how to go about a reconciliation, I once again consulted my wise mom, Kathy, who readers enjoyed last month.

    Here’s what my mom said: “Back in Touch might consider emailing or calling to ask if Sarah wants to get together. If Sarah says yes, then Back in Touch might suggest they get out their calendars (or whatever young women do these days). If Sarah is unwilling to make a date right then—short of getting ready for a trip or a really good excuse—I would consider the friendship not worth pursuing at this point. Back in Touch can take satisfaction in having taken the high road, i.e. attended the funeral, and she then has to let the friendship go and be glad she has closure.”

    Essentially, my mom and I are saying the same thing, which makes sense since she taught me everything I know. Bottom line: Yes, you should try, but do not be the only one making an obvious effort.

    Good luck and please report back!

    Warmly,

    Nina

     

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

    We’re always looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

  • When You Think Your Friend’s Engagement is a Mistake

    What do you do when you don’t approve of a friend’s engagement? This month’s HerTake question asks when it’s acceptable to give a close friend unsolicited advice about her impending marriage, especially if you think the marriage would be a huge mistake.

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    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

    Dear Nina,

    A close friend of mine is getting remarried after her marriage ended last year and I think she’s making a terrible mistake.

    First, she moved on (very quickly!) to a long-distance relationship that requires her constant travel; this has been hard on her, her local family and friends, and her own minor children.

    But the bigger issue is that I don’t like her fiancé at all and none of her other local friends do, either. I’m ashamed to admit we’ve discussed this behind her back not to be cruel or gossipy, but because we don’t know how to handle this dicey situation.

    (For the record, because he lives elsewhere, she was already in love by the time we met him, and we didn’t have an opportunity to express our feelings early on.)

    My gut instinct is to say it’s none our business, but I know my friend trusts me and that she values my opinion; by saying nothing, I’ve given her the impression I not only approve of, but like her intended.

    If she follows through with her wedding plans, I’ll do my best to support her, but I’ll also be setting myself up (and my husband) for an uncomfortable future: she expects us to continue a close friendship as couples and we have no desire to socialize with him at all.

    My total honesty would force her to choose and I know she’d choose him. But it would also break her heart. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place.

    Signed,
    To Give My Unsolicited Opinion or Stay Quiet?

     

    Dear To Give My Unsolicited Opinion or Stay Quiet,

    Oh boy, this is a tough one. You’re clearly a loving, dedicated friend, and I’m sure it’s been extremely difficult to watch your friend decide to get married so quickly after her divorce. The constant travel and knowing it’s been hard on the kids doesn’t help either.

    Don’t Interfere: Here’s Why

    Unfortunately, my gut instinct is the same as yours that you should not interfere in a direct way. If your friend is indeed making a mistake, she will only acknowledge it as a mistake if she is forced to go through the process of seeing so for herself. I fear if you or her other friends try to stop the marriage and she ends up calling off the wedding, she will always have a “what if” scenario in her mind in regards to this man. He may take up a place in her imagination as “the one who got away,” making her forget his faults or encouraging her to idealize whatever virtues he possesses. (He must possess some.)

    I want to also mention that my mother, who I often consult for my own advice needs, has always expressed a strong opinion about minding one’s own business in matters of the heart. Before I told her about your situation, I guessed that she would advise you to stay out of it, but just in case I asked her to react to your question without knowing my opinion. I think my mom came up with a good way to potentially get your friend to discuss any doubts about the relationship, hopefully before the wedding takes place though there are no guarantees.

    Stay Silent But Listen to Doubts

    Here’s what my mom said: “In my opinion, what this woman should do is stay silent. As she correctly perceives, her friend will choose the fiancé over her. There is nothing she can do to prevent the marriage and will probably lose the friendship if she says anything. If the friend asks her opinion, she can always say it is not her decision and continue to say nothing negative. If, on the other hand, the friend expresses doubts, she can always start asking questions about what is fueling the doubts while still not expressing her own opinion. This question is a variation on the one of whether you should tell a friend if her husband is being unfaithful. I am in the camp that minding one’s own business is the best way to go.”

    She Probably Already Knows

    One last thought: I wonder if your friend already knows how you feel, that you don’t approve of her engagement. It’s a good possibility since you’re close and she can probably “read” you. She is likely determined to set her own path whether or not her friends approve. As for having to spend time with your friend and her husband-to-be as a couple, I can at least give you some proactive advice for that problem. As you find ways to not spend time together as a couple, increase the time you spend with her alone so that the message is clear you want to keep her in our life, but it’s going to be more as a twosome than a foursome. I know it’s easier said than done.

    I wish I could tell you something that would alleviate your anxiety over the situation. Ultimately, for better or worse, I do think your friend’s fate with this man is out of your hands.

    With warmth,
    Nina

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    You can follow Nina on her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter.

    We’re always looking for new reader questions for Nina! If you have a difficult friendship situation that you’d like advice on, fill out our anonymous contact form.

  • HerTake: Feeling the Loss After a Breakup With Another Couple

    Have you ever experienced the breakup of a friendship with another couple? Today’s question comes from a reader who thinks there is a definite lack of resources available on this difficult situation, and we agree! Fortunately, we have Nina to tackle another challenging subject: a couples’ friendship breakup.

    Do you have a question for Nina? Use our anonymous form. You can read Nina’s answers to past questions here.

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    Dear Nina,

    My long-term partner and I, both women, were close friends with another lesbian couple for about 30 years until a difficult breakup occurred following a conflict. If info is somewhat lacking about one-on-one friendship breakups, it’s sorely missing when it comes to two couples ending their relationship with each other. The events leading up to the breakup, the process of trying to sort things out, and the decision-making regarding letting go seemed so much more complicated!

    Have you run into this before, whether with LGBT couples or heterosexual? Know of any resources for working through the feelings and the loss?

    Thank you for your consideration.

     Signed,

    Double the Loss

     

    Dear Double the Loss,

    You’re right! When it comes to the subject of couple friends most of the information I’ve read focuses on how to handle the “custody of your friends” after the couple in question has broken up temporarily or divorced, which is not what you’re asking about in your letter.

    You’re also not asking me or The HerStories Project’s astute readers to consider what happened in this particular situation. (Though we’re here to listen if you ever change your mind.) It sounds like you and your partner have resigned yourselves to the fact that the friendship with the other pair is over, but you still feel a sense of loss and want to know how to move forward. And to answer your other question, yes, I have been there, too.

    Losing the friendship of another couple is difficult, and you’re perfectly justified to wallow a bit. Whether you and your partner tried to distance yourselves from the other couple or the other couple distanced themselves from the two of you, it can be extremely awkward and painful to figure out what to do next. For example, what happens when anyone in the former foursome runs into each other? What if the four of you share other friends? (In both cases you will rise to the occasion because you will have no other choice. Always take the high road and avoid trying to get common friends to take sides. Be the first to say hello when you’re at the same event. Try to listen more than you talk since anything you say in that anxious state is something you’ll question later.)

    The hardest piece of all is what you already mentioned about loss. The feelings of loss, and I will add, rejection, do not disappear with the end of the friendship. If anything, those feelings can get worse before they get better.

    I think there are some solid standbys that are helpful when there’s any break in a friendship. Remember, I’m saying “helpful” tips, not easy ones. I realize the type of thinking I’m advocating below is easier said than done, but we all have to start somewhere when we find ourselves in this position of loss, no matter if we instigated the breakup or find ourselves on the receiving end of someone else’s decision to call it quits.

    SOMEWHAT RANDOM THOUGHTS TO CONSIDER AFTER BREAKING UP WITH ANOTHER COUPLE

    #1. We never know what is going on with another person—make that double for another couple. This means that if a couple needs a break from you and your partner, accept that whatever has been bothering them may be a temporary situation and could have nothing to do with the two of you. The same applies when you need a break from another couple. Perhaps the way one or both people in question have been bothering you is really more about changes in your life or your partner’s life and not a reflection of anybody’s direct wrongdoing. How is this assumption that it’s not only about you supposed to make you feel better? It won’t, but it might help you take things less personally, which is a start.

    #2. Each individual involved in a friendship breakup may be simultaneously in the right and in the wrong. There’s usually more than one issue at play when it comes to the ending of any sort of friendship. Since we’re talking about four individuals here, the possibilities for blame, overly taking offense, or problematic self-righteousness are endless. Holding on to the need to be right can become a bigger problem than the original schism if there was one particular instance that set the four of you on a bad path. What’s my point? It won’t help you move on to dwell on why you’re right, which leads me to the next thought.

    #3. Use any friendship breakup as a learning opportunity. Ask yourself what went wrong in the relationship on both sides. Where can you take responsibility and plan for a different outcome in the future in your other friendships? Part of dealing with this particular kind of loss is learning from mistakes. How can you and your partner protect the relationships you have with any other couples and single friends you enjoy?

    #4. Speaking of other couples, is there now room in your lives to meet a new couple? I hate to say “when one door closes another one opens,” but . . . I had to say it because it’s true. Time is finite. Now you have a sliver more time to give to all your other friends and to extend yourselves to new people.

    #5. Keeping tabs on your old friends will not help. Try not to cyber stalk; try not to overtly ask your common friends how those two are doing; try your hardest not to speak ill of them. (That can be tough, I know.)

    #6. Almost every friendship letter I receive here boils down to unmet expectations, leaving me to wonder whether unrealistic expectations are the true source of all friendship issues. This is a good lesson to take into the next friendship. Be careful about pinning too many expectations on one person (or on two people in this instance).

    #7. Acknowledge that chemistry between friends ebbs and flows for many reasons, few of which we can control. When someone moves, enters a new romantic relationship, starts a new job, or has new responsibilities like taking care of a sick parent or has children—all of these factors and many more will change the time and effort that can go into a friendship. Sometimes the change in chemistry is personal and sometimes it isn’t. We can only control what we can control.

    #8. Finally, never say never when it comes to the end of a friendship. Unless we’re talking about an abusive or dangerous situation, I think it’s good to stay open to the idea of a reconciliation. The time apart might even strengthen the friendship, which is something that has happened to me.

    So, Double the Loss, since I don’t know about your specific situation, I can only do so much to help, but I hope some of the above “random thoughts” address what you’re facing right now.

     Best of luck,

    Nina

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