September 24, 2020 at 6:25 pm #367101
I became adrift from my best friend. He told me that he didn’t feel like I helped him through his tough times. I am so lost about what to do right now because even though I want to help him out, it doesn’t feel like he ever wants to let me back in. How do I deal with this? I did own up to my mistakes when he pointed them out but I also feel like I was given no warning and now it just seems like I can’t fix my mistakes at all. What do I do now?
MadiSeptember 24, 2020 at 7:22 pm #367196
I will be able to read and reply to you when I am back to the computer in about 11 hours from now. I hope other members answer you before I return.
anitaSeptember 25, 2020 at 8:04 am #367232
You shared that your (former) best friend told you that you didn’t help him “through his tough times”- tough times, plural. If you didn’t help him through one tough time, then he recovered, had another tough time, you didn’t help him, and then another, then that’s one case. Is this the case?
If he was referring to one period of time that was difficult for him, and he experienced frustration that you were not helping him, yet kept it to himself, didn’t give you the opportunity to correct your behavior and help him, and then he .. sort of exploded, and said: no more!- that’s another case. Is it?
anitaSeptember 25, 2020 at 5:56 pm #367249
He explained to me that he was more than one time that I wasn’t there for him and he started feeling like I wouldn’t be there for him ever. However, he never explained to this to me while it was happening. He did reach out during those times but I guess I didn’t do as much as he was expecting.
When he explained himself, he said that he noticed with other people in my life, who are new, I have been putting in more effort than I ever did for him. I don’t think this is true at all and I tried to explain that but I don’t think he sees it that way.
At the time, I agreed to everything he said because I didn’t want to lose the friendship but now I’m a little lost because I feel like somehow all the things that I did do are being considered “nothing” because I couldn’t meet other expectations. We are currently trying to reconnect and I’m making an effort to simply check up on him and be present but I don’t know if I should bring up my own feelings on the matter or simply move on?
MadiSeptember 25, 2020 at 7:01 pm #367254
I will read and reply to your recent post (and anything you might add to it) when I am back to the computer, in about 11 hours from now.
anitaSeptember 26, 2020 at 8:14 am #367270
“he didn’t feel like I helped him through his tough times… I did own up to my mistakes… more than one time that I wasn’t there for him and he started feeling like I wouldn’t be there for him ever… I guess I didn’t do as much as he was expecting… he said that he noticed with other people in my life, who are new, I have been putting in more effort than I ever did for him. I don’t think this is true and I tried to explain that but I don’t think he sees it that way. At the time, I agreed to everything he said because I didn’t want to lose the friendship but now I’m a little lost because I feel like somehow all the things that I did do are being considered ‘nothing’ because I couldn’t meet other expectations. We are currently trying to reconnect.. but I don’t know if I should bring my own feeling on the matter or simply move on?”
There are important details I don’t have: (1) what did you do for him (2) what did he do for you (3) what are his unmet expectations (4) how long has this friendship being going on (5) what is the nature of the friendship (6) did he complain to you before about you not being there for him in one way or another (7) did he complain to you before that other people not there for him (8) what were the mistakes you owned up to (9) Did he ever make any mistakes with you and did he own up to them.
Therefore the following is only a possibility for you to consider in light of the details you have that I do not have:
Maybe he has unrealistic expectation of you, as a friend. Maybe he wants too much from you and he gets angry when he doesn’t get what is unrealistic to expect. You admitted to him your mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes. Maybe he is ignoring his mistakes and using your mistakes as a basis for him to feel morally superior to you, as in: ‘I am Good and you are Guilty’ and therefore you have to make it up to him, to make sure that you do a lot for him. He may feel this way about other people in his life and is envious of other people who receive more than he does, and he may have felt this way for years.
If this is the case, then no matter how much you do for him, it will not be enough. You can do a lot for him, he will feel better, be appreciative perhaps, but not long after, he is dissatisfied once again because sooner or later, you make another mistake and he is upset again.. forgetting all that you did for him before. If you care too much to keep the friendship going, and agree with him just so to appease him, hiding your own feelings of confusion and anger perhaps, then you are in an unhealthy friendship.
If you would like to, you can address any of (1)- (9) above and/ or respond to the possibility I brought to you. I am very willing to read more from you and address this more in depth.
anitaSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:42 pm #367288
Thank you for your input. Here are the details that may help you:
(1) what did you do for him
– we’ve been friends for a while so I would say we’ve done a lot for each other like staying up late to do homework, helping him finish big essays, talking for hours on the phone when he was stressing, going out for stress relief like for a coffee or a dinner, and other meaningful things like thar
– when he broke up with his partner, I was there for him with his other best friends but unfortunately because I was preparing for a big career exam, I couldn’t talk to him as often as I perhaps should have, I wanted to hang out with him but he also just wanted to spend time doing things so I didn’t ask him to sit and study with me and instead he hung out with different friends doing activities. I tried to check up on him as often as possible but I will say I didn’t do it often enough
(2) what did he do for you
– he has done the same things for me, always been there for me through my ups and downs such as figuring out my career, studying for my exams, talking with me for a long time about my problems or concerns, laughed with me, everything as my closest best friend
(3) what are his unmet expectations
– he was going through some hard times in life when he had to move away for work for a bit, I didn’t get a chance to visit him while he was there even though a lot of our mutual friends did. he said that I should’ve come but that I didn’t want to make the effort to come even though I was his best friend; he said that ever since this happened, he’s come to expect that I simply won’t be there for him; my parents are kind of strict about these things and even though I wanted to go, I never got a chance to because, at that time, I had begun working quite often, I was busy planning with my family for a big family event, and my parents were not comfortable with me going
– he told me how he sent me so many texts and requests to talk while he was away but I was never available. It’s true that I often did not have a chance to reply to the texts but I do know I did call every chance I got and we would talk on the phone for hours; however, I got the feeling that because I didn’t visit in person, my phone calls were not enough
(4) how long has this friendship being going on
– 7 years
(5) what is the nature of the friendship
– he is definitely someone I consider my closest confidant and best friend, I trust him with information that I don’t tell my family or anyone else
(6) did he complain to you before about you not being there for him in one way or another
– when I was writing my first exam, he did bring up that he felt neglected in our friendship and that I never asked to study with him but that was mostly just because we get distracted whenever we do hang out; he also said that I did not call/text him as much; I did address this with him and he told that me he understood that the exam needed to be a priority for me and that he would remain as a support for me, we had worked past that and we were just beginning to get better
(7) did he complain to you before that other people not there for him
– yes he has told me that he gives a lot to people and that he feels that people are not there for him, I also think he does do a lot for people but that they can sometimes let him down
(8) what were the mistakes you owned up to
– I owned up to my absence, such as not visiting him while he was away and not replying to his texts as often or forgetting to reply to him
– I also owned up to the fact that I do tend to become closed off whenever I have my big exams coming up because I end up focusing on nothing else but that
– I recently started seeing someone and this was while I was studying again for a really big exam. I ended up spending a lot of time with this person because they would study with me; this happened to be at the same time that my best friend was going through a breakup and he felt that instead of spending time with him I was spending more time and effort with this new person I was seeing; I tried to explain that it wasn’t really me going out of my way to spend time with this person but I think my friend still got the picture that I wanted to spend more time with someone new rather than helping him through his hard times; I also admitted that there were times that I wasn’t actually studying and just spending time with the person I was seeing, but it was mostly for stress relief because I would get tired and my friends were often busy doing their own thing
– I agreed that I wasn’t there to support him as much but I also tried in my best way to do that by asking him if wanted study with me while I was studying but at the time of his breakup, he really just wanted to go out and do things instead of sitting in one place; I never mentioned any of this because I wasn’t sure what to say
(9) Did he ever make any mistakes with you and did he own up to them.
– he has made some mistakes with me but I have honestly let them go because I usually work through why he has done what he did; he is certain that he has always been there for me but I know there were times when I needed him and he had other priorities or was busy with other people but I know for myself that because I remember all the times he has been there, I never held it against him when he wasn’t around; I don’t want to say that I’m better in any way but I just feel as though I usually would move on because I never once thought that his support wasn’t there if he wasn’t around
Thank you Anita.
MadiSeptember 26, 2020 at 12:52 pm #367289
You are welcome. I will be able to read and reply to your recent post when I am back to the computer. It may be in about 6 hours from now, or as long as in 18 hours from now.
anitaSeptember 27, 2020 at 8:52 am #367299
You shared that the two of you have been friends for 7 years. You consider him to be your closest confidant and best friend, and you trust him with information that you don’t tell your family or anyone else. Over time, the two of you stayed up late to do homework together, helped each other finish big essays, talked for hours on the phone about his problems and yours and went out for coffee or dinner to relieve stress.
When he broke up with his partner, you were there for him, but not as much as he wanted because you were busy preparing for a big career exam and couldn’t join him as he “hung out with different friends doing activities”, and at one time or another you were seeing someone and was busy with that relationship.
When he moved away for work and had a hard time with the transition, you didn’t visit him while a lot of your mutual friends visited him because you were busy with work and with family planning for a big event, and because your parents were not comfortable with their daughter spending overnight (I am guessing) at the home of a male friend.
Even though you did not visit him, you called him every chance you got and talked with him on the phone for hours. “I got the feeling that because I didn’t visit in person, my phone calls were not enough”.
When you were busy with your first exam, he told you that “he felt neglected” in the friendship because you didn’t ask him to study with you and because you didn’t call/ text him as much.
“he is certain that he has always been there for me but I know there were times when I needed him and he had other priorities or was busy with other people.. I never held it against him when he wasn’t around.. I usually would move on because I never once thought that his support wasn’t there if he wasn’t around”.
This is my understanding today: Before you came into your friend’s life, earlier than 7 years ago, he already experienced being neglected by important people in his life, likely by his parents. He felt that they were not there for him. Because of that early, painful life experience, he became very sensitive to the thought of anyone and everyone he meets neglecting him/ not being there for him and notices every such incidence. And every time he thinks someone is neglecting him, he focuses on it and feels pain and some anger.
I read your posts thoroughly and I do not see any neglect of him on your part. You are his friend, not his mother. If you were his mother and he was a child, then you would have been guilty of neglect. As his mother, it would have been wrong of you to spend your time with the man you started seeing instead of with your young son. If you were his mother, it would have been wrong of you to prioritize the family event planning over spending time with your young son.
But you are his friend, not his mother, and he is an adult, not a child.
Notice this: he didn’t really need your attention when he “hung out with different friends doing activities”- he had the different friends with him; he didn’t really need your visit when he lived away because a lot of your mutual friends visited him. He was not alone, he had friends with him. What bothered him so much, I believe, is that he noticed the one person who was not with him and felt, again, neglected and that people are not there for him. He then focused on it and didn’t move on easily.
On the other hand, you did not have his early life experience of neglect, so you don’t notice every time someone is not there for you. You don’t focus on it, you don’t feel hurt or anger when someone is not there for you; this is why you “never held it against him when he wasn’t around”, and why you “usually would move on”.
In summary: he does have unrealistic expectation of you and of other people in his adult life. Let me know what you think of this post, and we can continue to communicate on the issue.
anitaSeptember 27, 2020 at 9:44 am #367302Mangal KavitaParticipant
Hey anita and mady…
The way you communicate the topic is appreciating…
But the simple thing mady I want to say you are feeling lost and most importantly the effort you made for hime he is not appreciating even though he is complaining for what you dont do..
And I think that he is obsessed with availability of yours always he looks around him.. he just want your availability but you need yourself first.. you need to take a stand for yourself … just think about yourself we cant save always relation by losing ourself..
He need to understand that not everyone cant be there for them…. people have their own life…. so mady I’m sorry if I’m wrong…
You should give time and look yourself first and make him understand that you cant be always around him but you are genuine..
Love from kavitaSeptember 27, 2020 at 4:45 pm #367316
I’m also feeling guilty because I know I do tunnel into myself whenever I get bogged down with too many activities or events happening at the same time. This is a feature that I want to change about myself and I need to learn how to balance everything better. So I do understand what he saying about feeling neglected. I felt as though, this change in his idea of me also happened to come at a time when he felt betrayed by his ex-partner and he might be projecting that onto me. I don’t want to bring that up because it was a really messy breakup and I don’t want to hurt my friend. When I was talking to a trusted adult, they mentioned that my friend was perhaps projecting their own hurt feelings when I was sharing about my experiences of meeting someone and potentially beginning a relationship. I don’t know if that’s true since I love my friend a lot and we have always supported each other in our relationships but I do have to admit that at the time I began seeing this person is also the time when my friend started becoming distant with me. He had explained that it was because of my change in behaviour when I started seeing this person, that he realized I always had the possibility of creating time but I never tried to. I’m so lost by what to say to that because when I did start seeing this new person, my feelings were all over the place and I was excited by this new relationship. So I wonder that in that excitement, if I did, in fact, get too caught up in my own life and failed to think about how my friend would be faring? I feel as though this might be the case, but I also wonder if my friend has considered that he never told me any of his feelings before now. And when he had our talk earlier in the year, we had come to an understanding and it just changed when I started seeing someone.
In regards to visiting him while he was away, he told me that at that time, he needed me to come but I never came. I remember I did promise him I would try to come but I think somewhere my own feelings of jealousy (seeing him accomplish so much when I was still struggling with my career) was maybe a factor in why I didn’t want to go. When I was owning up to my mistakes, I told him that this may have been an unconscious reason for me but that I have always been so proud of him for all that he has done. I genuinely could not find time to go. He talked about how even a somewhat close mutual friend was able to find time to visit but I wasn’t. It hurt me to think that the simple act of that mutual friend in visiting him in person, is somehow worth more than all I have done for him in the past.
You are correct in mentioning that I never thought about the fact that he was not alone when he was with his friends. However, I have to admit that he did invite me when he was going out with them but I declined often because I genuinely wanted to focus on my studies and I even explained that to him to which he told me he understood. This occurred for about 2 months as during that time I was mostly just preparing for my exam and but also unintentionally spending a lot of time in my new relationship. I had also decided to give my friend space to do his own thing because I thought that’s what he wanted but he never mentioned at any time that he was unhappy with me or that he wanted me to come specifically. Should I have realized that I am expected to come? I was thinking that he is getting support from people who are better able to be completely present for him. But I also don’t know if that is me failing to be a good friend?
I am left wondering what to do now? Since I am trying to make it up to him, should I first explain these feelings to him or do I just continue to move on? Or should I go about this in another way?
MadiSeptember 27, 2020 at 5:01 pm #367317
Yes, I also felt like the actions I did do are not being recognized and are somehow less than what I didn’t do.
Thank you for giving me the encouragement to take a stand. I understand what you mean by that and I guess I just don’t want to lose the friendship so I’m trying to be careful with how I go forward.
I am also reflecting inwards and giving myself time to think about what has happened and how I could avoid it in the future.
MadiSeptember 27, 2020 at 8:04 pm #367322
I will read and reply to your recent note to me when I am back to the computer, in about 10 hours from now.
anitaSeptember 28, 2020 at 9:15 am #367344
You are feeling guilty for not being perfect. But no one is perfect, and many are very far from being perfect. I am not perfect, I make mistakes; you do, your friend does.. everyone makes mistakes. We can the notice mistakes we make, and aim to not repeat those, or improve this or that about our behavior.
Here is the problem with your heavy sense of guilt: first, it exhausts you, second it is used against you by your friend. He is in the habit of blaming you/ suggesting to you that you are guilty. You are in the habit of feeling guilty and he is in the habit of blaming you, and therefore, enforcing your habit of feeling guilty.
“I’m also feeling guilty because I know I do tunnel into myself whenever I get bogged down with too many activities”- being overwhelmed with too many activities is not a wrongdoing/ something bad that you are doing. You need to “learn how to balance everything better”: you need to learn how to function better, a learning process that never ends in one’s life, as long as a person is willing to learn. No one is done learning and then perfectly and effortlessly cruises through life. There is always more to learn.
“I do have to admit that at the time I began seeing this person is also the time when my friend started becoming distant with me. He had explained that it was because of my change in behaviour.. he realized I always had the possibility of creating time but I never tried to.. when I did start seeing this new person, my feelings were all over the place and I was excited by this new person. So I wonder that in that excitement, if I did, in fact, get too caught up in my own life and failed to think about how my friend would be faring?”-
– getting all excited about a new person in your life is not a wrongdoing. It is not a bad thing that you have done. There is no valid basis to your guilt on the matter. Problem is you are inclined to feel guilty for your feelings and behaviors that are not wrong or bad. And problem is, your friend is quick to blame you, your “friend” is inclined to enforce your false guilt. What he is doing is not a friendly behavior.
Your “friend” is the one who is doing something wrong and bad to you, not the other way around.
Can you imagine, if your “friend” was correct-> as you go through life, you are not allowed to get excited about anything without thinking about him. Let’s say, you are on a vacation and you enjoy a beautiful view, you get excited about the view.. but you have to think (according to your “friend”)- I better not get too excited because if I do.. my friend will feel neglected. Or imagine you gave birth and you are looking for the first time at the face of your new baby.. don’t get too excited, don’t forget your “friend”.. he might feel neglected!
When you felt jealous about his professional accomplishments, you were not wrong or bad to feel that jealousy. Everyone feels jealousy from time to time, including your “friend”.
I am sure you noticed, sometime during this post, I started to refer to him as a “friend”, with quotation marks. The reason for that, is that as I was typing this post, I realized that a friend who burdens a friend with false guilt is not truly a friend.
“When I was owning up to my mistakes..”- while you were owning up to your mistakes which were not wrongdoings, he did not own up to his real wrongdoing which is to burden you with false, unjustified guilt.
“He talked about how even a somewhat close mutual friend was able to find time to visit but I wasn’t”- this is what I am talking about, in this very sentence, he burdened you with unjustified guilt.
“I have to admit that he did invite me.. but I declined often because I genuinely wanted to focus on my studies”- you have to admit, you wrote, as if focusing on your studies is a wrongdoing, as if you are a criminal who admits to a crime(. Your life should be about you, not about him. You are not in this world to accommodate this particular man, your “friend”.
“I was mostly just preparing for my exam but also unintentionally spending a lot of time in my new relationship”- it is not a wrongdoing for you to spend a lot of time in your new relationship except if it takes too much from your studies). Are you not allowed to ever have a relationship and get married because your “friend” will feel neglected?
“he never mentioned at any time that he was unhappy with me or that he wanted me to come specifically. Should I have realized that I am expected to come?”- expected to come, as if by a god? Is he your god and therefore if he expects you to do this or that, you must do it? Is it your job to fulfil his commands and demands not only if he states them, but even if he only thinks them?
“I also don’t know if that is me failing to be a good friend?”- it is a bad idea to be a good friend to a “friend”.
“I am left wondering what to do now? Since I am trying to make it up to him”- you have nothing to make up to him, you didn’t wrong him. He wronged you.
Would you like to share the origin of your heavy, false sense of guilt?
anitaOctober 1, 2020 at 1:15 am #367440
This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.
I see what you are saying.
I think my guilt is coming from my fear to lose a close friend. I was often alone in my youth and never made any strong connections. When I met my friend, it was the first time I was instantly able to make a connection and create a strong friendship. I can’t imagine that all that is now going to waste. I know I often do take the blame on myself because of this fear I have of trying to keep people close.
I am also feeling alone again because my friend and another one of my best friends are doing things together more often. I feel like I am being purposely being left out and every time I ask to see one of them, they both tell me other things. Only later do I find out that they were making plans without me. I am confused and hurt by their actions but I am trying not to let things get to me and keep optimistic about being friends again but these actions are just hurting me now. I also don’t know if I’m being paranoid and if I should simply not take things personally. All of this feels very childish but it’s incredibly painful as well.