Author Topic: How to word this - backing away from a friendship  (Read 5841 times)

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Queen of Clubs

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #30 on: January 08, 2013, 03:03:24 PM »
Pushy person’s calls and emails were being ignored.  The way I hear it, Pushy person called the Target from a different phone and reached her.

PP: “I’ve emailed and called you several times and left messages.  Haven’t heard from you.”
Target: “Well, I’ve been really busy.”
PP: “Oh?  Doing what?”
(awkward silence)
Target:  “Work, family, househunting, lots of things.”
PP: “So you’re telling me that in the past 6 months you haven’t had any time at all for socializing?”
(awkward silence)
Target: “No, I’m just so busy.”
PP: “Well, I don’t want to hold you up, but I wanted you to know I saw you at X mall and X restaurant.  I also heard you were at so-snd-so’s party last weekend.  You're so full of it.  I wish you had just been straight with me.  You’re a coward and a liar.”  (click)


I'm not surprised Target didn't want to spend time with PP.

As for the OP, I think just constantly being busy is best.  Don't give her 'oh I'm busy this month' as it implies you'll have time for her another time.  I think the 'I'm busy' is a polite way of brushing people off.  If someone's constantly being told this, I think they need to realise the other person is too busy to make time for them and stop asking.

Danika

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #31 on: January 08, 2013, 03:54:59 PM »
OP, I understand your “backing away from a rattlesnake” analogy – it’s a good one.  But WHY would you want to even be FB friends with someone like that?  WHY would you bother replying to her emails ‘every now and then’?  Do you think tossing her some crumbs every now and then is the route to take?  Is that really a solution?

Good question. I don't dislike her. And her son is a sweetheart. And her DH (who I knew in college, but not well, he is also really bad at reading social cues, that's another long story) is nice. I hope they're happy and I would still be happy to see photos of them on FB.

On the other hand, I used to be open to the idea of meeting her for coffee or lunch, but now that she's called so many times and been so negative, I don't even think I'd be up for that.

I'm starting to see what you're all saying, though. She's not going to be ok with an occasional coffee, she wants a BFF. And I'm no longer even at the point that I'd be ok with an occasional coffee.

shivering

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #32 on: January 08, 2013, 04:33:04 PM »
I'm not a big advocate of having a "break up" talk when it comes to friendships except in extreme cases. It just makes everyone uncomfortable and usually isn't necessary. Especially when it's someone you will still have some contact with. Backing off, not initiating any contact (including FB "likes") and giving the "we're busy" response without a promise of more is the best way to go.

Keep it polite but distant and continue with the brush off. This way it's not horribly awkward when you do see each other.


Lynn2000

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #33 on: January 08, 2013, 05:02:11 PM »
Pushy person’s calls and emails were being ignored.  The way I hear it, Pushy person called the Target from a different phone and reached her.

PP: “I’ve emailed and called you several times and left messages.  Haven’t heard from you.”
Target: “Well, I’ve been really busy.”
PP: “Oh?  Doing what?”
(awkward silence)
Target:  “Work, family, househunting, lots of things.”
PP: “So you’re telling me that in the past 6 months you haven’t had any time at all for socializing?”
(awkward silence)
Target: “No, I’m just so busy.”
PP: “Well, I don’t want to hold you up, but I wanted you to know I saw you at X mall and X restaurant.  I also heard you were at so-snd-so’s party last weekend.  You're so full of it.  I wish you had just been straight with me.  You’re a coward and a liar.”  (click)


I'm not surprised Target didn't want to spend time with PP.

As for the OP, I think just constantly being busy is best.  Don't give her 'oh I'm busy this month' as it implies you'll have time for her another time.  I think the 'I'm busy' is a polite way of brushing people off.  If someone's constantly being told this, I think they need to realise the other person is too busy to make time for them and stop asking.

Yeah, I have to say, if the aptly-named Pushy is supposed to look like the good guy in this scenario, it isn't working for me. I can't imagine Pushy would have reacted well to Target straight-out saying they didn't want to be friends earlier, if they jump to "coward and liar." I think Target had a lucky break, frankly, that Pushy now doesn't want to be friends with them (I assume).

But maybe the argument for saying, "I just don't want to be friends with you" is that if a person doesn't pick up on social cues well, they may appreciate the direct bluntness more than the polite attempt at subtly.
~Lynn2000

peaches

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #34 on: January 08, 2013, 08:26:17 PM »
I'm not a big advocate of having a "break up" talk when it comes to friendships except in extreme cases. It just makes everyone uncomfortable and usually isn't necessary. Especially when it's someone you will still have some contact with. Backing off, not initiating any contact (including FB "likes") and giving the "we're busy" response without a promise of more is the best way to go.

Keep it polite but distant and continue with the brush off. This way it's not horribly awkward when you do see each other.

POD

This is a very wise post.

MariaE

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #35 on: January 09, 2013, 02:26:43 AM »
I don’t care for the “I’m so busy, my husband’s job, my kid’s activities, life in general is busy, busy, busy” excuse.   As I said before, if someone e really wants to spend time with another person they will make the time – even 30 minutes for coffee or 15 minutes to chat.  NO ONE is busy 24/7.

Not always true unfortunately. Well, I'd assume that nobody is busy 24/7/365, but I've definitely had periods of time where I'm busy 24/7 for a couple of months.

When I did theater I was working every single day and rehearsing every single night. The only way I could have met up with anybody in that period of time would have been if both of us took time off work to meet during the day - something which wasn't possible as a new employee.

Of course if you mean "chat on the phone" then I agree with you - I could have done that, but generally I have only heard this excuse used in reference to meeting up in person.
 
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Raintree

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #36 on: January 09, 2013, 03:59:48 AM »
If you're dating someone, you can always say "It's not you, it's me" or "We're headed in different directions", in part because most people only have one romantic partner at a time. But people can have dozens of friends, so it's a lot harder to soften the rejection.

That's a good explanation; I've often wondered why it's so hard to "break up" with a friend, when it's a normal and expected thing to do with a potential romantic partner. (It's not easy to do the latter either, but it's socially acceptable).

I'm guilty of the continual "I'm really busy at the moment; I can't make plans right now" excuse. It just seems far less hurtful than being blunt and saying you don't WANT to. I was also put in an awkward situation when someone outright asked me if I wanted to start doing friend things; she was just someone I knew at work:

Her: "So, do you have many friends?"
Me: "Yes, I do."
Her: "I was wondering if you'd like to do things on weekends sometimes. Like, go for a walk, or have coffee."
(I wasn't interested at all; in fact, I sensed she was similar to the person the OP describes)
Me: "Oh.....well I'm quite busy at the moment; I've planned out every weekend this month and next month I will be working on x project. So I can't right now."

She accepted that and didn't ask again. I feel bad but what can you do? Say "No, I wouldn't like to do things with you on weekends" ?

GrammarNerd

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #37 on: January 09, 2013, 01:37:29 PM »
I'm trying to find some polite way to say, "Acquaintance, you seem to have a lot of problems in your life right now.  It sounds like you want a therapist, and I'm sorry, but I can't play that role for you."  But actually, I can't really find a polite way to say that.

Or maybe.....could you fashion some sort of a response to one of her email mega complaints that says, "Wow, sounds like things aren't going the best for you now.  Sorry to hear that.  With all of that going on, it really sounds like you won't have time for anything else.  We're actually pretty busy with work and family too, so let's not plan anything.  When things settle down for us, I'll give you call if I see a good time to get together."

That way, you're non-committal, you say you'll call her, AND you're sort of giving her the natural consequences to her negativity/complaining about her life--she has a lot going on and obviously needs to devote her energy to that, right?

oceanus

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #38 on: January 09, 2013, 01:57:41 PM »
Quote
I have only heard this excuse used in reference to meeting up in person.

Actually the "I'm busy" excuse is quite commonly used when explaning why someone hasn't called, written, emailed.....lots of things. 

Quote
I'm trying to find some polite way to say, "Acquaintance, you seem to have a lot of problems in your life right now.  It sounds like you want a therapist, and I'm sorry, but I can't play that role for you."  But actually, I can't really find a polite way to say that.

That IS polite.  And a lot more honest that "I'm busy".

Quote
When things settle down for us, I'll give you call if I see a good time to get together."

That way, you're non-committal, you say you'll call her, AND you're sort of giving her the natural consequences to her negativity/complaining about her life--she has a lot going on and obviously needs to devote her energy to that, right?

You say you'll call - knowing you won't and knowing you have to desire to be friends.  That's just an avoidance tactic, stringing someone along.

Amara

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #39 on: January 09, 2013, 02:44:31 PM »
Quote
You say you'll call - knowing you won't and knowing you have to desire to be friends.  That's just an avoidance tactic, stringing someone along.

I've been following this discussion intently (and previous ones that have dealt with similar situations) because I disagree with the advice to, as this poster says, string someone along. Each situation is unique, of course, but I believe that being forthright and honest and not stringing someone along or just making excuses for your unavailability is much better. I base this on an experience from my own past.

Monica and I were very, very close friends for many years. It reached a point, however, where I was spending most of my time complaining about real difficulties in my life. She was sympathetic and helpful, and I did work at solving them but nothing was working. Eventually, she reached a point in her life where she called me one day and told me, straight out, that she just couldn't be friends any more and why. She didn't beat around the bush, nor did she try to sugarcoat it. But there was an underlying kindness in her bluntness.

Yes, it hurt. Very badly. I did apologize for my behaviors and I accepted her decision without arguing or trying to justify myself. I was angry for a long time afterward, but I think it was more at myself. But it helped me to see myself through her eyes, and she was someone I respected deeply. While we never got back together--she did contact me several years later but I declined to resume the friendship because I felt I could never trust myself to be "me" around her, never knowing where the line was if I ever said more than "fine" when she asked me how I was--but I still think of her with affection. And appreciation. I appreciated her honesty. It could not have been easy to have said what she did, but she chose to respect me enough to do that. And that's why I disagree with all those who say to just cool it with a "busy" explanation.

 

Danika

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #40 on: January 09, 2013, 02:49:01 PM »
Thanks for all your help, everyone. I've incorporated some of the feedback. How does this look then:

Hi Jane,

   It's a great idea to plan far in advance. However, DH just got a new job, yay! And he will be starting work this coming week. He doesn't know anything about his new work schedule yet. We don't know how many, if any, weekends he'll be working. So I can't commit to a date. Let's hold off on planning anything right now.


oceanus

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #41 on: January 09, 2013, 02:59:56 PM »
Thanks for all your help, everyone. I've incorporated some of the feedback. How does this look then:

Hi Jane,

   It's a great idea to plan far in advance. However, DH just got a new job, yay! And he will be starting work this coming week. He doesn't know anything about his new work schedule yet. We don't know how many, if any, weekends he'll be working. So I can't commit to a date. Let's hold off on planning anything right now.


Don't like it AT ALL. 
1) You're blaming your DH/his job.
2) You're stringing her along.  (we've already discussed that in depth)
3) You make it sound like you still want to get together when things ease up - and you know you don't.

Your nice, polite note makes you feel better, but is not fair to her.

I don't understand why it's so hard for you to just say:

"I don’t think we have anything in common, and I would rather not make any future plans.  I wish you well.” 

???

« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 03:20:33 PM by oceanus »

PastryGoddess

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #42 on: January 09, 2013, 03:38:13 PM »
Because what's easy for some is very difficult for others and vice versa.  Danika can't change her personality on a whim and if this is the best way for her to back away at this time, then why not.  Maybe she will get to the point where she can say the above, however, its not at this time.

For the record I'd make the following changes



Hi Jane,

   It's a great idea to plan far in advance. However, DH just got a new job, yay! 
However we are not sure of our schedule for the upcoming months.  And he will be starting work this coming week. He doesn't know anything about his new work schedule yet. We don't know how many, if any, weekends he'll be working. So I can't commit to a date. Let's hold off on planning anything right now.


Lynn2000

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #43 on: January 09, 2013, 04:17:17 PM »
Also, I think it's important to remember that this woman is, at least in the OP's opinion, a light acquaintance. If this were a long-term friendship of some depth, having a heart-to-heart conversation or being blunt might be good ideas, but to me at least, they seem unnecessarily dramatic and involved for someone the OP really doesn't know that well. (At least, that is how I interpret the relationship; please correct me if I'm wrong.) I think the OP is not trying to give her the cut direct, but rather is fine with seeing her, say, once a year at the college reunion.

What about something that includes, "We don't have time for new friends at the moment"? It seems less blunt than "We don't have anything in common."

Although I agree that some language involves "stringing people along" and that's rude (like promising to call at some point when you know you won't), I personally feel the "busy/no time" route is a socially acceptable way to disengage from a friendship. It's true that some people don't pick up on its true meaning; and if they don't, one may have to try other techniques. This woman also doesn't seem to pick up on the fact that one shouldn't unload all one's problems on a near-stranger in long rants with repeated emails and phone calls. So, if "busy/no time" doesn't work, the OP may indeed have to go with "nothing in common" eventually, but personally I would start with the softer approach.
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Danika

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Re: How to word this - backing away from a friendship
« Reply #44 on: January 09, 2013, 08:29:37 PM »
It's hard for me to say "I don't think we have anything in common" because we have quite a bit in common as far as interests, languages, having children the same age. It's more that she's very negative and seems to find offense where none in intended in every interaction she has with nearly everyone. So even saying "We have very little in common" would be lying.

Also, I think it's important to remember that this woman is, at least in the OP's opinion, a light acquaintance. If this were a long-term friendship of some depth, having a heart-to-heart conversation or being blunt might be good ideas, but to me at least, they seem unnecessarily dramatic and involved for someone the OP really doesn't know that well. (At least, that is how I interpret the relationship; please correct me if I'm wrong.)

Completely correct. She and her family have never been to our house, nor we to theirs. My family met hers once at a restaurant. And on another occasion, she invited me and a few friends, just ladies, and we all went to dinner. Other than that, she's called and emailed me many times. That's the extent of our friendship/acquaintanceship.

Now she wants to meet up for dinner with our families. My DH didn't find her DH to be interesting at all when we met the first/only time, but he'd go if I wanted to.