Reader Asks: Was I Wrong to Expect More?!

Wow, so here’s a week of friendships with exes! On top of that, I had a conversation with a coworker yesterday in which she was saying the old Harry Met Sally line about how men & women can’t be friends, and that you certainly can’t be friends with an ex-lover. Then this posting happens. Ooh. Spooky things afoot!

My ex wanted to be friends after we broke up even though I wasn’t crazy about the idea but promised to try. But the weird thing is, we’ve only seen each other once or twice in the last year since we broke up. We had “soft” plans this weekend since he seems to be totally non-committal about making plans of any kind, and at the last second, sent me an email saying “I have to bail. Maybe next weekend.” Again with the “maybe”!

So I emailed him back saying the ball was in the court, I was tired of making all the effort to get together. After all, he’s the one that dumped me! I’ve already been rejected once and in a huge way, so yeah I’m tired of making the plans! I emailed him back, saying it felt like I was the one making all the effort. I said even when I do get a response of possibly doing something with him, his responses are non-committal and not very enthusiastic. Then I told him the ball was in his court now.

He emailed me back “Have a nice life” and that’s it! I think the friendship is dead. I’m pretty pissed about it and I just deleted all the emails and I think I’m washing my hands of the whole thing. The question I have is, am I overreacting? Is he? Is it too much to ask that your friends make an effort to see you, too?

Ha! Yeah, like it’s so much to ask that both people in the relationship make an effort to make plans. You say this guy dumped you, so I can certainly see how you’d feel awkward about making plans in the first place. It sounds like he never initiates making plans, so I’m not so sure he’s really comfortable being your friend anyhow.

Maybe he doesn’t even know how uncomfortable he is with it. Maybe he fell harder for you than he ever admitted, and the friendship was harder than he thought after he broke it off. Maybe he has regrets about that decision. Maybe he has more going on in his life than you’re aware of, but there again, if he’s not communicating with you, how are you supposed to know?

Personally, I’ve had a few friendships where people just don’t carry their weight. They don’t make plans, don’t suggest them, don’t contact me, yet they seem to really value me. Like my mother always said, “You sure have a funny way of showing it.”

In my life, I’m an avid blogger, so this puts me at a greater disadvantage. Everyone in my life can read my blogs and knows exactly where I’m at on almost any given day. (I have this blog and my more personal one, the Last Ditch, where it’s more of a daily journal and the goings-on in the life of Steff.)

This means they can fall under the delusion that they’re really plugged into my world, ergo it must go both ways. My friends often say “I think I told you that X happened to me at Y”— but the truth is, I don’t know jack. It’s frustrating. They often don’t clue me in. I have one friend who’s awesome at dropping me update emails. He’ll comment about things he’s read on the blog, give me props or offer support, depending what he’s read, then he’ll tell me everything going on in his life with him, his wife, and baby boy. It’s no substitute for the real thing, but it’s an effort, and I love it.

So, yeah, I make some effort to see people, but I get frustrated at times. I think this guy of yours just doesn’t get it. Friendships need to be give and take. One person can’t be making all the plans or doing all the talking or calling especially if there’s been a relationship between you and he’s the one that ended it in the first place. How often can you possibly sign up for rejection? Sounds to me like, in this case, rejection’s an ongoing status quo for you, honey, so sooner or later you need to decide you’ve had enough.

There’s a possibility, however, that something big and bad has happened when people disappear. I have a doozey of an example. I’d just gotten into communication with one of my old best friends from when I was 13-17 recently. Funny story – she and my brother met on an online dating site and had a date and realized they’d both had connections to me. They loved it, laughed about it, and had an awesome time together. She got in touch with me by email when my brother clued her in. We exchanged some emails, began making plans, and then she disappeared. I was wondering if I’d pissed her off when I brought up how insensitive I was in my teens when she lost her mother to cancer. Later, I tried again (twice) to email her. No response. Well, my brother was in the same boat. Last weekend she finally gets in touch with him and says, “Yeah, well, a week after our date I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.” Oh, fuck.

Normally my advice to my brother would’ve been “Forget about it, she’s not into you” but wow. My teen best friend has cancer. Her mother died of it. My mother died of it. And now she has it. My head’s been trying to wrap around that. But it’s a big reminder that sometimes people just disappear for their own reasons and that we can’t just stop trying to contact them.

But you’ve had a year of non-committing, non-responsive friendship with your ex. It sounds to me like you’ve been making an effort, and for some reason this guy’s feeling all martyred now that you’ve called him on it. He’s pissed and is washing his hands of it because he fails to see that he’s actually in the wrong this time. Sure, you can try to placate him and beg to be his friend again, but sometimes people just need to accept that they should have done more.

The question is, can you live without this person in your circle of friends? Oddly, it’s actually a trick question. The answer is, you already are. Grieve for the final loss of your friendship, have a drink, and move on.

But whatchoo think, folks?