DAME’s Friendkeeper sheds light on a nasty platonic split and helps a newly partnered woman deal with her newly cagey male friends.
The rift with my best friend started over a puppy. Well, over a comment I made about how she crated her puppy all day long (and then complained when it would do its business in there). Then she posted a Facebook status about her daughter’s boyfriend being a loser because he worked in a factory. Both my husband and one of my sons work in a factory (making a very good living, I might add), so even though her post wasn’t about me or my family, I couldn’t help but take it to heart, which I tried to explain to her. She then sent me a text that said, “The truth is, I haven’t liked you for years.” We had been best friends for more than three decades; I had shared my innermost thoughts and secrets with her since we were 8 years old! We talked every single day, sometimes multiple times a day even though we don’t live in the same city. I was floored. I never responded and we haven’t spoken in any way, shape, or form for five years. My heart is broken. What can I do?
Best Friends No More
You know, people can change. Being friends with someone for a very long time is a challenge because of this. My dad’s best friend from high school (they are both 81 now) was a pretty average Republican when they were younger and as they got older he became more of a Tea Party conservative. My dad would pull his hair out after they got together; the guy changed, and maybe my dad got more liberal. Somehow they manage to see each other and skirt politics but I can’t say they’re having a great time together any more. I think they probably outgrew each other long ago but they are not the types to break up.
I’m going to say three things about your friend … let’s call her “Chlamydia.” 1) PUPPY IN CRATE ALL DAY 2) MAKING FUN OF SOMEONE WHO WORKS A VERY HARD JOB 3) SAYING A RUDE THING TO HER LONG TIME FRIEND. At one time Chlamydia, might have been okay, but she ain’t no more. She tried to hurt you and she did. And it’s very old school advice, but if you let this break your heart, she has won. Really, hon, do you want this kind of negativity around you? You deserve better people around you who know that a puppy needs to play and eat one really good shoe! I don’t think there’s anything for you to do with her. She has proven that she would not look after your feelings in a fight and in fact would probably be happy to go for your jugular. Here’s your assignment: Go outside and pick up a handful of leaves, tell the leaves all the things you feel, how hurt you were but now you’re letting it all go, and then when you feel a healthy wind come up, let the leaves blow far away. And then as you’re walking away scream “SCREW YOU CHLAMYDIA YOU DUMB BEEYATCH YOU LOST” really loud. (That last part isn’t necessary but I like the idea of it.)
I am a few months into an awesome relationship and the guy I’m with is great! But I’ve noticed that several of my male friends (both straight and gay) have cooled off our friendships now. I try to reach out and check in with them but responses have gotten infrequent. What’s up with that? I’m consciously trying to not be the “boyfriend-obsessed girl”; I don’t bring him up when we do talk, so what else can/should I do?
Exiled from Guyville
Well congratulations to you! Go sistah! It’s funny, I was just talking to a male friend of mine who was remarking to me about how many women friends of mine confess problems in their relationships. He said none of his men friends ever do that with him. I explained to him that it’s because women talk about things, all kinds of things. We say how we feel to each other; it’s apparently why we get paid less in the work force.
Men in general (not all of them) have difficulty with talking when they are among other men (think: cave men). It is why men have women friends … and fantasy baseball leagues. They run into trouble (feelings!) when the woman friend has a significant man in their life, they don’t know what to do. They sharpen their spears and try to invent wheels. I kid, but I really think there’s an instinctual thing with men friends to back off when there’s a boyfriend. They don’t know if there is room for them at the fire pit. At the same time, they’re a little bit right. You do have less time for them and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you have no time.
Remembering that they don’t have your advance language skills, you need to help them along. “Chaka want talk?” No, really you can say, “I feel like since I’ve been dating Mr. Slate you’ve been sort of MIA,” (use MIA—it’ll make them think they were in Nam), “and I miss seeing you and spending time with you.” Try and pull out of them if something’s making them uncomfortable. I think they’ll be happy for an opportunity to voice their concerns.
Got a platonic problem of your own that could use the Friendkeeper’s advice? Fire away: [email protected]. No situation is too uncomfortable or too small and all details are kept confidential.
AN INDEPENDENT FREE PRESS HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT.
Your financial support helps DAME continue to cover the critical policies, politics social changes impacting woman and their allies.