Rejected by a dear friend

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Sara 8 months, 1 week ago.

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    I’m feeling hurt and rejected and don’t know how to move past the loss of a close friend. This person was a staff member of mine for 8 years. We had such mutual admiration and respect for each other that when I moved from company to company, he always came with me. Three months ago I found the courage to leave the last company where we both worked because 1) I couldn’t cope with the stress of my executive level job in a cut-throat environment. I became extremely depressed and physically ill from the demands of this job and after 17 years of an unfulfilling corporate career, I decided I had to prioritize my own health and happiness first, and 2) I’d dreamed of starting my own business for years and finally got the courage to do it.

    My staff member/friend was upset that I left because it was a very inopportune time at work, and since he was the highest ranking member of my staff a lot of my responsibilities fell on him. A few weeks after I left the company two of my other staff members did as well due to the extremely difficult work environment, which put my friend in an even more challenging position. Before I left the company, I thought my friend and I were still on good terms despite his disappointment at my leaving. But since then he has unfriended me on FB and doesn’t return text messages. I’m sure the situation is still difficult at work, but I’m so sad and disappointed that my best office friend would cut me out of his life after 8 years of friendship and mentorship that I barely slept last night thinking about it. How do I move on?



    Dear aloette:

    Reads to me like your “staff member/ friend” was a Staff Member, a friendly staff member, not a friend. After the professional association ended, so was his friendliness.

    How to move on? Perhaps by realizing and accepting that he was a friendly work colleague, not a friend?





    Are you saying he’s not a friend because of how he acted towards me? Or that he’s not a friend by virtue of him being my staff member? If the latter, I was very close to him and he was someone with whom I shared both my work and personal life. I generally keep in touch with former co-workers that I didn’t have a personal friendship with after I leave a company, so this particularly hurts. He was my “right hand”/”chief of staff” so to speak, and I was also his mentor, grooming him to one day have my job, which is exactly what happened. He wouldn’t have followed me to 3 different companies over 8 years if we didn’t have a personal friendship as well as a work relationship. So I still feel very rejected, hurt, and even a little angry that I did so much to be a friend and mentor to this person who has seemingly blown me off. I don’t know how to stop letting this take up so much space in my mind and heart.



    Mourning a loss of a relationship without understanding why makes it all that much more difficult..

    The principle of charity suggests that if we are unable to know the reason for someone actions and that there are many possible explanations then to avoid negativity pick the most positive one.

    If I were to guess your friend may have felt abandoned and left holding the bag. It’s also possible at an unconscious level you’re leaving challenged and scared him. Perhaps at some level he wishes he had the courage to take a leap but for his own reasons can’t all of which you now remind him of. These feelings maybe be keeping him from being able to see that your actions were about you and your well being and not about him. Your leaving was about you not about him.

    Similarly it’s important for you to remember that his reaction to the situation belongs to him. It’s not about you.

    You have reached out and I don’t see what more you can do other than acceptance. The ball as the say is in his court



    Dear alouette:

    I am saying he is not a friend because he “he has unfriended (you) on FB and doesn’t return text messages”

    I figure he was a friendly-staff-member and not a friend because it is when you were no longer part of his career life, that is when he cut contact with you, and for no other reason, so it seems.

    It is a shame that you were his friend, invested in him as a friend, and not only as his mentor and staff member while, so it seems, he was not. I bet it hurts. Looking at the title of your thread, “Rejected by a dear friend”- a dear friend in the context of work, as far as he is concerned. Don’t you think?

    Can there be another reason for him unfriending you- other than you leaving the company, which made his work life more difficult, not having you there to make his work life easier?




    Thank you Peter. Your response made me feel understood and gave me a new perspective on what happened. I suspect you’re right that he probably felt abandoned and wasn’t prepared to step into my role. I generally put everyone else’s needs ahead of my own, and hate the thought of hurting anyone. In this case I had long been hurting myself and my closest relationships by staying in a career that was a poor fit for me. I simply couldn’t do it anymore. Everyone else in my life was thrilled that I finally found the courage to leave a very lucrative but miserable corporate career to take care of myself and do what I’m passionate about.

    I need to come to terms with the fact that my actions won’t always please everyone. Maybe my friend will come around in time- he know how badly my health had deteriorated and how long I had been thinking about starting my own business before actually doing it. But if he doesn’t, then I think that proves that he wasn’t the friend I thought he was to begin with. I’ll focus my attention on the people that lift me up in life instead.



    I’m sorry you are missing your friend and hurting by the way he is currently treating you. I’m a little embarrassed to say I once behaved the way your friend did. I was in a very high stress job that took ALL of my energy to perform. My mentor hit a point where she decided enough was enough. She left and I was given the “opportunity” to fill her void. I did not have the years of experience of wisdom to see that leaving the company was the SMART thing to do. I was so wrapped up in trying to do the job, be a team-player, and generate “success”. I didn’t understand why my mentor left. The job was all consuming and I started to feel angry with my mentor for leaving me with so much work. It didn’t occur to me that the reason I was sick and miserable all of the time was because it was a horrible job. I just thought this was my big opportunity and my chance to make it in the world. I was not friendly towards my mentor for quite some time. It wasn’t until my health gave out and I was forced to quit that I started to see how foolish I had been.

    My mentor had been right. She did the sensible thing. I just lacked the wisdom and maturity at the time to understand her choice to leave. I wanted to prove I could succeed. I just didn’t get that there are some jobs where “success” is a mirage. Once I had time away from that job and could see how my mentor had correctly read the situation, I saw I had some serious apologizing to do.

    I don’t know what choices your friend will choose to make. But please know from somebody who’s been on the wrong side of this that it’s going to take some time before he can even see things from your perspective. And if he does, he’s going to be pretty embarrassed. It might be hard to work up the nerve to reconnect with you. If he does, and you are in a place to wish him well, I’m guessing he will be thrilled to rebuild the friendship. I know my mentor’s emotional generosity towards me meant a lot. I hope you and your friend get a chance to experience the same some day.

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