Finally, I think the OP would be best served, at this point, by cutting her losses and trying to forget about this woman and her husband. But that doesn't change the fact that the behavior exhibited is very confusing, hurtful, and occasionally rude. If the former friend and her husband don't want to be friends with the OP's social circle, they don't have to, but it sends an incredibly mixed message for them to play hot and cold. If they wanted to escape so badly, all they'd have to do is stop being available, stop answering emails, and stop going to group events. If they did that, people would assuredly stop trying to see or include them far more quickly than if the couple maintains sporadic and confusing contact.
Thank you for your post. At first, when I started this thread, I was feeling like my friend had disappeared, I'd tried to reach out to her but she hadn't reciprocated so I concluded we didn't have the friendship she had led me to believe and I was hurt and upset and confused. I was thinking that I should just leave her and her husband alone because they seemed to be making it clear they didn't want my involvement, But, I didn't want to appear rude or cold in case it was a temporary and personal problem them were dealing with and it could be resolved in time, and also because we had so many mutual friends and were bound to run into each other I didn't want to make anything awkward.
Since then they have pulled back even more and it's become clear that it's not just me but everyone in our social circle. They haven't been to church or any kind of social activity at all for 7 weeks. Ok, so I shouldn't take it personally and it would mean they have moved on/don't want to be part of our community/other reason and we should just let them be. Except that when she had sent me the irrational email she'd accused none of us of being happy for them or of offering to help and support them (not quite sure what with but anyway) etc. So I felt like if I just stepped away from them it would be like confirming her (wrong) suspicions and also what if they were really going through something and would need me eventually? So I decided to be polite and civil when our paths did cross but not try to engage them. No emails, not texts to say 'how's your day', no suggesting we go for coffee etc.
That went on for about 6 weeks, then out of the blue she emails to invite me for coffee. I go, expecting that one of us will bring up the current situation. If she doesn't then I need to. She brings her husband, they both act like everything is completely normal (making no mention of anything that has happened, not even a 'wow haven't seen you in ages') which I try to play along with but feel very uncomfortable. They smile and seem upbeat etc but it seems kind of forced. The things they say about what they've been up to don't seem to add up and I feel like we are almost strangers. They don't stay long and she barely says goodbye when we walk out the cafe.
So, ok, that's it. I felt like we were now acqaintances, she obviously doesn't want to discuss her actions or behaviour, there is no point me trying and we just don't have that kind of friendship anymore. It's been so long that while I miss her I have got used to it, plus her behaviour has meant I can't be the same and don't feel I can trust her anymore. I will be an acquaintance, be indifferent about them and because they have not officially left church or our social group I will include them on information emails about church activities etc out of courtesy. They can choose to read them or not but we are not shutting them out.
Then I receive a warm and friendly email (see post #174), that sounds exactly like the old her, in response to one of the above mentioned 'courtesy emails'. I wonder if she is starting to try and get things back on track and whether I should respond or just be pleased she seems to be reaching out. Then 2 minutes later I get another email from her. She is pulling out of the upcoming hen do for a mutual friend, her husband will not be going to the stag do for the groom either, because they will be celebrating her husband's birthday with his sister and BIL instead. This is an event they'd known about for months and had both rsvp'd to and reconfirmed more recently. If I hadn't received the first email I wouldn't have been at all surprised that they pulled out given their recent abscence from everything, although I would still be annoyed she was cancelling.
But it's like you say in the quote. If they really wanted to pull away then do it completely. Don't ignore someone for ages, then invite them for coffee as if everything is fine. Don't stay away from your church and all social activities for 7 weeks running, then send a warm and friendly email that sounds like your old self and then pull out of an event you had committed too because you want to do something else.
That's what makes this really hard. The mixed signals and the fact I don't know what their reasons are but I still want to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they must have good and serious reasons because otherwise I was friends with split personality! I don't want to be the one who was mean, gave them the cut direct and causes problems among our circle and church community if they are not cutting us off but merely taking a break.
I haven't responded to the two emails. They were statements not questions so I thought that was ok.