how to cope with rejection by close friend

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    Dear All,

    I am struggling with how to grieve, grow, move on from the pain of being slowly and inexplicably rejected by one of my closest friends. We are both single women in our early 30s and met 4 years ago after moving across the country from the same Masters program to the same city. I’m not usually quick to develop deep friendships but ours really took off thanks to similar interests, work, family stories, etc.  We both love backpacking and went on many back country weekend adventures that were both fun and grew good communication and a steady friend bond between us.

    We also each went through very rough times during our friendship (me a devastating breakup, her an abusive situation at work and financial worries). While I am the more emotionally chatty of the two of us, she opened up to me a great deal about her difficulties (which she admitted was new for her in a friendship) and was a phenomenal support to me in my hard times.

    But over the past year, the dynmaic quickly shifted and she’s grow more and more distant, which has been painful as I grew to rely on and value our friendship.  I know closeness ebbs and flows, but she began to not share about life and avoiding doing things together, replace sincere relating with a jokey distancing which has hurt. After months of more and more distance, I asked (and have asked since in several ways) if I had done/was doing something that bothered her and let her know how I was feeling.  She always says nothing’s wrong but when we share a short walk/hike/social outing there is so much silence and no glint of the easy close bond we’d had.  It’s like it was suddenly and swiftly cut out.

    Meanwhile, we still see each other fairly frequently because we share the same circle of friends. I had introduced her to my circle of friends in this city when we met and as she is a vibrant great person, she really fit in/grew her own space in the circle.  Painful to admit, but now I feel uncomfortable and unwanted in that group as my once-close friend is now the seeming epicenter.  A few times in the past month someone in the group mentions plans in the works and then looks shamefaced and I realize I wasn’t invited– I’m an adult, I know this is normal and to not take it too personally, but I feel devastated.  And it feeds my sense that somehow I am flawed as a friend, as a person, less fun than her, less exciting and sunny to be around (she’s a partying extrovert and I am a mellower introvert). My unhappiness and sense of isolation IS making me a less fun, less light hearted person, I feel on edge the whole time, measuring every snub and every distance.

    I’ve never been a competitive soul but suddenly my insecurity in all this has me feeling horribly self critical, worthless, and jealous. I also feel betrayed and kind of angry (admitting my worst here…) because I feel she’s performing for this group in the way that wins the most connection and isn’t necessarily sincere.

    I know I sound off-balance and I guess I feel that way. My greatest fear is losing the people I love because I’m not enough—- and for reasons I don’t understand this feels like a cascade effect of loss. how do I move on with grace from this once closest friend and accept that I also no longer feel welcome/valued/space to be myself in my once dear friend circle?

    Feeling like a child at 33…

    Thank you for your advice.


    Hi JuliaM,

    I don’t think you sound off-balance at all. This is a painful experience.

    Do you have any gut instincts as to why she initially pulled away from you? What was happening in both of your lives when you first noticed that she was distancing herself?



    I have lost several friendships that I viewed as people who were my best friends. I come to accept that such friendships are rarely symmetrical/reciprocal.

    There is a Buddhist concept of how everything is impermanent and that if we are attached to something then that is the cause of suffering.

    I view that relationships have a life span.  They were good when it is working but there are times when people change/grow and the relationship no longer works for one or the other.  It is time to part.

    It is also better to understand the why but sometimes it is not worth taking the effort to find rather than just to move on.

    I feel your pain about how your former friend took over the group for you have not only lost a friend but others that you hung out with.

    I get about feeling “not enough.”  We are who we are.  Work on loving yourself and understand that such things happen in life.  I understand about losing friends and therefore I continue to nurture the relationships that I do have.  Plus I look to make new friends to renew the loses.  I also look to nurture myself to be my own friend during my alone times.




    Hi JulieM

    It sounds to me as if your friend no longer needs the same level of support from you that she once did.  This is probably why she has started to distance herself from you.  You should not take this as a slant but be grateful for the friendship that you have shared over those three years before the dynamics changed.  You clearly have a lot to offer people who are going through vulnerable times – being able to relate to them on an emotional level.  Don’t under-rate this.

    You don’t come across as an introvert.  You have asserted yourself by trying to get at the root of the problem and don’t forget that you were able to make those friends in the first place.  If your friend is insincere within the group, she will be found out soon enough.

    As you love walking and back-packing, I suggest that you try to find a walking group within your area and join them for a few excursions.  It doesn’t have to be anything ‘heavy’ – just people getting together to share their common interest.  Also, there are always plenty of courses and groups running which you can become involved in which will either further your current interests or allow you to take up something new.  Is volunteering an option for you?  Switch your focus from this one group which may have passed its ‘sell by date’ and expand your horizons.

    Mark has said it in his last paragraph.  Love yourself exactly as you are (who else can you be?), be secure in your own skin, count all your good qualities and know that you are every bit as good/worthwhile/valuable as anyone else who exists on this earth.  This is a new chapter in your life – make it one that fills you with joy and happiness!



    Peggy, Mark, and Brandy,

    I so deeply appreciate the advise and questions you each put to me here– thank you so very much for taking the time to respond. It makes me feel significantly less hurt and alone to 1) admit how I’m feeling and 2) receive advice and be reminded this is something other people have dealt with.

    Peggy– I think you are very correct that my friend does not need/seek the support now that was maybe useful some years ago. In fact, I wonder if a very close friendship with those kinds of deep emotional ties and exchange was starting to feel a little stifling for my friend.  While I thrive on close emotional exchange, I realize it is not a comfortable space for all people. I can see that perhaps she was ready to have an easier kind of lightness back in her life and doesn’t associate that with time spent with me (as I tend to dive into the deeper end of things, even when trying to be light and breezy).

    Mark– you are correct that “we are who we are” and that one needs to love oneself. I wish I was a more light hearted “fun” person, but I wouldn’t want to give up my soulfulness to get there or underrate the things I bring to relationships. I am sorry to know you’ve gone thru a similar thing, but  thank you for sharing and easing my sense of being childlish for feeling so hurt.

    I’ve thought a lot on your advice and am taking steps to find new spaces and put more time into myself rather than beat myself up over trying to understand and what-ifs. Thank you, Tiny Buddha folks, for helping me grow in this.


    Dear JuliaM:

    I don’t know if you are interested in digging deeper or looking more into  it, but if you do, then here is where I am puzzled: the friendship with this woman died out inexplicably, you don’t know why, maybe because you “dive into the deeper end of things” and she prefers “a more light hearted ‘fun’ person”, you suggested.

    The first boyfriend you shared about in 2016, you believed his behavior toward you was very loving and you were surprised when he told you that he didn’t love you. Regarding your recent (perhaps current) boyfriend, you wrote that the two of you have grown “a steady, supportive trusting love… he is the first partner.. where I’ve felt entirely supported, accepted, and loved“, but then in the same post (previous thread)  you wrote that he is “pretty closed off about his own emotions/ thoughts.. very physically restraint (i.e. does not touch me unless I ask). Our physical intimacy has never blossomed naturally and the past couple of months it’s dried up all together”.

    – It is almost as if your subjective experience of intimacy, be it in a friendship or a love relationship is separated or removed from the reality of the friendship/ relationship, maybe there is some disconnect.

    Look at the previous thread, you felt “entirely supported, accepted, and loved” in a relationship that “never blossomed naturally”, see?

    Again, my purpose of brining this up is in case you think there is something here to look into and maybe learn from (?)


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