dead friendship (?)

Postby calvinTO » Wed Dec 26, 2018 5:29 am

I've written about my friendship with "Mike" earlier, and your responses (and my work with my therapist) were helpful. (You can get the lengthy background here viewtopic.php?t=106123, as I'm not going to repeat the whole thing!)

We ended up resuming our friendship when I was the one (this time) to undergo a rather serious personal crisis. I reached out for support and he was there, and that was good. But, not unsurprisingly, things returned to their old patterns, which mainly consisted of him repeatedly reminding me of my past transgressions and poor behaviour (that I've worked hard to overcome, and largely have), and him complaining incessantly (years and years and years) about his work environment (and I don't disbelieve him that it's bad) but refusing to do absolutely anything about it. (He does have options, as he's unionized. Or he can take early retirement.) I tried to be supportive on the later, trying just to listen, and at times trying to gently (and at times not gently) suggest some remedies.

I like to think I continue to work on myself, and I do, at least in small ways. He's spinning his wheels. And while there's nothing wrong with us being different, I can't think that we, after about 25 years as quite close friends, have much to say to one another. It's like a bad marriage. We don't see one another or hang out. Email contact only.

Anyway, what happened was that about early October, I had sent him an email with a mutual friend's obit -- and he never replied. Radio silence. I didn't send any more emails either. I had a milestone birthday at the end of October -- no contact. And by now, it's been three months of silence.

Do I miss him? In some ways, yes. I recall certain things that make me smile, and at times I'll come across something and think, Oh, that would make Mike laugh -- but then realize he's not around. But I don't miss the drama, or his drama, or the buttons he pushes with me (like reminding me of my past. The past three months have run along just fine without him.

I suppose my problem is that I think that being an adult I should have ended things (if indeed things have ended) more forthrightly by speaking to him about what I felt was not working. I feel somewhat of a coward for just letting things wither and then the radio silence -- I find that immature, like holding my breath and hoping the problem will go away. Well, it has gone away, in effect. Maybe i should just let call it a day and stop ruminating.

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Postby Candid » Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:28 am

I think you're right, this is like a marriage that's died. Seems you have nothing in common any more.

I'm a veteran of cooling relationships, largely because I've come and gone geographically. I keep in touch as long as others do and a bit longer, but I've stopped 'chasing' people.

There are lots of people in the world with whom I can find immediate compatibility. I maintain a fondness for 'lost' friends, wish them well in my heart and all that, but if they can't be bothered or are "too busy", that's okay too.

You never know which new acquaintance will become a lifelong friend. Also, those who've drifted away have a way of popping up again when least expected, and naturally it's up to you whether you welcome them with enthusiasm or shut the door in their faces.

I wouldn't take your friend's criticisms to heart. You are who you are, and that has to be okay.

There's no need to formalise the ending, but on the other hand you shouldn't be holding your breath for his next communication. I'm sure there must have been people you haven't clicked with, but who've pursued you... and eventually they melt away.

Enjoy the relationships you have, let this one go but continue to hold a place for him. If he comes back, accept it for what it is without questions or recriminations. Just pick up where you left off.
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Postby Livetowin » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:57 pm

When it comes to knowing people, the passage of time is not always a literal measure of invested friendship so much as a reminder they still reside in our background in one form or another. I've known some people for several decades that I may only see a few times in a decade but talk to them by phone several times a month. Others I might see more through various hobbies I share, which makes them part of that community. And of course with the advent of social media, that allows people to "check in" periodically to see how old acquaintances are doing.

But one thing I have learned is that people come in all forms and some gel with me better than others. So a person's capacity to maintain a lasting bond is only as strong as how we relate and how much of that we seek out from one another with any regularity.

Plus I think allot of it just boils down to priorities. For myself, I'm a full time family man. I love my wife, kids, and grandson. THAT is my world. That doesn't mean I don't see friends, or take an afternoon to see a movie with one or just hang out at the house. Life is very much like a canvas. Each day we paint a picture of who we are and what we want to see. I think the people we encounter in life might briefly jump into that picture, but it doesn't mean they're supposed to be a daily theme.

I wouldn't read too much into the fact you and your friend have compatibility issues. He is a valuable resource when you have needed him. Perhaps that is his purpose in your life. Maybe that is how you see him best. And perhaps that is all that will ever be needed here. No need to cast him away. Just understand he is not a person you can maintain a daily transaction with because that is simply not how the two of you relate. That's completely normal and a part of life. Appreciate the strengths you share and don't try and conform him to a universal mold.
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