Author Topic: Friend took out her frustrations on me-is it worth ending the friendship over  (Read 3605 times)

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tasryn

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Background: I missed a skype call with a friend because I had found out that day a good friend died and completely forgot about it. Said friend wrote and asked what happened and would the following Sunday work to skype? I told her my friend died and I was quite broken up (hence missing the previous skype call) but Sunday would work. 5 days went by and although I know she viewed my message (trusty Facebook actually tells you this) she never confirmed for Sunday, never showed up on the skype call for Sunday even though she suggested it and never gave me her condolences for my friend's death even though she knew I was upset. Thinking her lack of communication was caused by her frustration that I missed the initial skype call, I wrote her on Facebook and apologised again for missing the call and said I hoped she wasn't upset with me, just that I had a lot going on in my private life and I just wanted to make sure everything was okay between us. (End background)

As a result of the message above, my friend wrote back a six paragraph email in a very hostile tone telling me "it's not about you-I've just been busy that's why I haven't responded" (fair enough but the "it's not all about you" thing gets you on the back foot as it implies selfishness) and telling me that I seemed to have a lot of problems and due to the distance between us she couldn't be the friend to me that I needed and being around me now made her awkward and uncomfortable. Some stuff about me not having a job (me being a stay at home mom and all) and few friends (she has hundreds and I choose to have a dozen or so close friends). The whole tone was nasty and it made me take the words in a negative fashion. I wrote her back defending myself on the few friends things and a few other issues but kept the tone very neutral and the message was short (two paragraphs) and I said repeatedly that I didn't want to say too much in case it upset her.

She's written me back twice telling me how pissed she was at my initial message because she interpreted it as me accusing her of being a bad friend (because I wondered if she was upset with me). She also told me she took her frustrations out on me due to some family issues (someone threw her under the bus) and although she apologised she's also come up with a million excuses for why using me as a punching bag is okay: "You seemed to need a response immediately so I didn't have time to think it through" or even comparing my message to her family member's betrayal (i.e. that my Facebook message was as bad as someone personally wronging her.)

I guess what I'm wondering is if this friendship is worth saving? Did I do something terrible or offensive with my initial message that would warrant her behavior? Should I just accept her apology for exploding on me even if it seems like more of an "I'm sorry, but..." Is it even okay for her to explode on me even after a long friendship? I know this is vaguely counselling like as well as an etiquette issue but just wanted to know what an outside stranger with no knowledge of the actors involved thought of the situation.

MariaE

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Only you can tell whether the friendship is worth saving, because only you know what good things she brings into your life. Personally I'd dial way back and let the friendship die a natural death, but that's just me.
 
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WolfWay

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I spent several weeks being used as an emotional punching bag by my ex-flatemate (and subsequently ex-friend). How you choose to proceed depends on whether your friend ever apologises for hurting you. If she apologises sincerely and acknowledges that she hurt you, you may have a chance to salvage this friendship.

My ex-friend's form of "apologising" was to blame her angry overreaction and emotionally abusive actions on my behaviour, and then get angry all over again when I refused to suffer amnesia about how badly she's treated me and simply resume our friendship pretending nothing had ever happened. Basically, my feelings were completely inconsequetial to her and what she wanted so she simply dismissed them as irrelevant or silly.

I've generally found that when someone offloads their frustrations onto you and wildly overreacts with anger out of proportion to your actions, you need to take a step back until you've both had a chance to cool down before making any decisions. Maybe she will end up feeling bad for what she said and once she's cooled down, she may apologise. Maybe she feels bad, but doesn't know how to apologise so she just goes on as though nothing happened. Maybe she feels her actions were justified and she goes on as though nothing happened. Maybe she stops contacting you (for whatever reason).

Take a break from initiating contact with her. When (if) she does contact you, perhaps ask her if she's calmed down. Maybe point out that what she said was hurtful and you need some space to forgive her for hurting you. If she apologises, you can probably salvage the friendship. If she flounces off or attacks again, then you know that this isn't a healthy relationship and you need to take a much longer (or permanent) break from it.

Either way, good luck and hugs.  :-\
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 05:35:32 AM by WolfWay »
It's best to love your family as you would a Siberian Tiger - from a distance, preferably separated by bars . -- Pearls Before Swine (16-May-2009)

Miss Unleaded

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I don't see that you did anything wrong.  If I had received your message my response would have been an apology and an explanation, not the vitriolic message she sent.  It sounds like she has a whole lot of resentment built up against you that was looking for an excuse to express itself.

Personally, I would probably just go very cold and uncommunicative, but only you can tell whether she brings something to your life that enhances it.

Amava

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I don't think there was anything wrong with your message - I think she, on the other hand, was completely in the wrong.

However.
Whether it is worth salvaging this friendship, is a question I cannot answer,  because to me, that does not depend on whether she was right or wrong or blatantly unreasonable and rude in this particular week. For me, whether a friendship is worth it or not, depends on what it is like in the longer run.

So what I'm asking is: is this behaviour completely and wildly out of character for her? If so, then I would just take a bit of distance for a while, let her cool off, then try again to see whether she's back to normal.

But if this "snapshot" portrays what your friendship with her usually is like, then I would say, it's not worth it, you deserve better friends.

Piratelvr1121

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I have a good friend who for a year was getting disproportionately upset with some of the things I said at the time and if someone else upset her she'd snap at me the next time we chatted.  It got really tiring but the friendship was otherwise a lot of fun prior to that, and I knew she was dealing with menopause which I've heard (and now seen proof of) was no picnic for the one going through it and the ones around them.  It didn't help that I was rather hormonal that year too since I was pregnant with my youngest.  :P

But mostly out of stubborness I stuck it out and now things are great between us again and she has on more than one occasion apologized for how she treated me during that year.

So what I'm saying is pretty much the same as the others.  If it's worth saving and she's otherwise fun, perhaps distance yourself a bit now and perhaps send her a message saying "I'll let you have some space to sort things out."or something along those lines, but if she like this all the time? Perhaps it's time to back off for good.  Especially since she didn't even acknowledge that you had another friend die and were upset about it.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

Coley

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POD PPs who suggest giving her some space. You can evaluate whether this recent behavior is typical or unusual for her and then make a decision. You told her that you have a lot going on in your personal life right now, and it sounds from her response that she does, too. Time and space may give both of you some perspective on your friendship.

If this behavior is typical on her part, then she would not be a someone I'd consider "friend." Her approach to dealing with frustration in that case is not effective, and I'd also wonder about her ability to empathize.

weeblewobble

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More than a year ago, I had an issue with a friend who was literally having the worst year of her life.  She'd had deaths in her family of origin.  Her son was having behavioral issues.  She resented her husband. Work had always been stressful for her, but her office situation was getting steadily worse.

Friend had been told by her doctor that therapy and antidepressants would be a good idea, but she refused to do either. I served a frequent "dumping ground" for her problems.  I figured a good friend would listen and try to make her feel better.  But it put me in a no-win situation.  If I tried to comfort her with humor and platitudes, she snapped at me that I was patronizing her.  That I couldn't possibly understand how much pain she was in because my life was so easy.  She needed REAL advice.  So when she talked about leaving her husband for some pretty arbitrary reasons and I told her she needed to get some perspective before she did something rash, she accused me of being a bad friend, being on his side, not supporting her.  So I tried JUST listening, not saying anything, and she snapped at me for not being focused on her problems when she needed me.

When I started objecting to her 1) using me as a dumping ground for her problems, adding to my stress and leaving no room in our relationship for actual friendship. And 2) speaking cruelly to me no matter how I responded to her problems, she used her stress as an excuse and once again, told me I couldn't possibly understand because my life was so easy. 

I refused to accept "your life is just so easy" as an excuse.  I knew she was having a bad time, but I didn't deserve the things she was saying to me.  Saying I deserved better made her angrier, so eventually, I just gave up.  I needed some breathing room before I said something I REALLY regretted.  I told her not to contact me for a month.  And after the month, she never bothered contacting me again.  I am sad that I lost a friendship that meant a lot to me, but people change.  Sometimes, it's not worth holding on to a relationship, when the person you're friends with is long gone and replaced by an angry, abusive jerk. 
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 08:18:19 AM by weeblewobble »

bopper

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If this is the first issue you have had with your relationship, then I would just let everythign settle down and then the next time I talked to her, try to do it via skype or telephone or something other than texting/fb/email.

GlassHalfFull

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So what I'm saying is pretty much the same as the others.  If it's worth saving and she's otherwise fun, perhaps distance yourself a bit now and perhaps send her a message saying "I'll let you have some space to sort things out."or something along those lines, but if she like this all the time? Perhaps it's time to back off for good.  Especially since she didn't even acknowledge that you had another friend die and were upset about it.

I'm with the others in that whether or not the friendship is worth saving is up to you, and if it is, distance yourself for now.  I'd not send a message such as the bolded above, however, as that could set her on the defensive as it directly implies that she indeed has some things she needs to sort out.  Just step back, and if she contacts you and begins getting nasty, keep it short and sweet, "Gotta go!" for a call, and either a non-response or a short one (no explanations/reasoning/etc) for the written.

Shoo

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Frankly, your friend sounds tiresome and tedious.  Life is too short to spend it tip-toeing around people who are so volatile.  I wouldn't have any qualms about scaling this friendship waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back.  Even if it becomes non-existant.

Piratelvr1121

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And oh, if she never does apologize for how she treats you, then I'd definitely pull back.  I'm pretty forgiving and am not good at holding grudges for too long unless someone does something really hurtful, never issues a true apology, and constantly does it without any real remorse. 

Walking on eggshells around someone is no fun at ALL. 
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.  You have a right to be here. Be cheerful, strive to be happy. -Desiderata

tasryn

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Thank you guys so much for your responses. I am so happy to know that I'm not the only one who would have serious issues with her behavior. In answer to your questions, she has never behaved like this before although she has always been someone with a lot of issues in her life that often turned our phone calls and emails into full scale therapy sessions. She would ask me how I was doing, listen but ask no follow up questions and the rest of the conversation was about her. She also never congratulated me on the birth of my child last July her excuse being she also had issues in her life (although she was still on Facebook all the time so easily could have sent me a message). This is actually starting to sound like she has been a really crappy friend. She has done sweet stuff as well such as visiting me when she lived cross country and really pulling out the stops to come to my wedding so that's why I've held on this long. But honestly the tone she has used with me and the way she has spoken to me in the past few emails have been so nasty and I am still completely confused on how she managed to read my initial email in such a mean spirited light. I think I'm going to do what people recommended here and step back. So far I have not responded to her last two messages as I am still getting a "tone" from them and I still think she hasn't fully apologised. I think after this she will either contact me and give me a proper apology or it really is over. Thanks everyone for your help!

m2kbug

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I don't see that you did anything wrong.  If I had received your message my response would have been an apology and an explanation, not the vitriolic message she sent.  It sounds like she has a whole lot of resentment built up against you that was looking for an excuse to express itself.

Personally, I would probably just go very cold and uncommunicative, but only you can tell whether she brings something to your life that enhances it.

This about sums up my thoughts in a nutshell.  I don't think you were out of line at all and it seems like she unloaded on your every flaw over one incident (that was excusable).  Is this something that happens a lot?  Not necessarily unloading like this, but that your own feelings and frustrations go unvalidated?  That you're expected to provide empathy, but it's not reversed?  think as far as friendships go, I would excuse it this once, depending on the nature of the friendship.  Everyone has a bad day.  But if this is something where you deal with continuous frustrations and you see the friendship sort of dwindling on it's own, then let that happen and move on.  Sometimes it's hard to "get the hint," especially when they intentionally reach out.  A good friendship, this might be hard to recover from, but if it's a valued friendship, just cool off for awhile and pick up where you left off.

LeveeWoman

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Thank you guys so much for your responses. I am so happy to know that I'm not the only one who would have serious issues with her behavior. In answer to your questions, she has never behaved like this before although she has always been someone with a lot of issues in her life that often turned our phone calls and emails into full scale therapy sessions. She would ask me how I was doing, listen but ask no follow up questions and the rest of the conversation was about her. She also never congratulated me on the birth of my child last July her excuse being she also had issues in her life (although she was still on Facebook all the time so easily could have sent me a message). This is actually starting to sound like she has been a really crappy friend. She has done sweet stuff as well such as visiting me when she lived cross country and really pulling out the stops to come to my wedding so that's why I've held on this long. But honestly the tone she has used with me and the way she has spoken to me in the past few emails have been so nasty and I am still completely confused on how she managed to read my initial email in such a mean spirited light. I think I'm going to do what people recommended here and step back. So far I have not responded to her last two messages as I am still getting a "tone" from them and I still think she hasn't fully apologised. I think after this she will either contact me and give me a proper apology or it really is over. Thanks everyone for your help!

Other than these two actions, she sounds as if she's an emotional vampire.