Woe Is Me! “I’ve Realized My Closest Friends Are Actually Frenemies. What Now?”
Woe Is Me! is a series in which The Swaddle team indulges your pity party with advice you’ll probably ignore.
“Two of my friends are sweet with their words, but quite undependable if you are in an unfortunate situation. They just never seem to notice anything or even stand up for me. We hang out in college together all the time, and I can’t help but resent them for being that way after I’ve stood up and fought for them so many times. Although I have reduced communication, I just feel talking is not helping anymore. I try to be honest but they get too defensive and we go back to square one. How do I maintain a distant relationship with them, without hating the idea of seeing them every day?”
— All my friends are fake
DR: So… I think you need new friends. If you do want to keep Anastasia and Drizella (that’s what I’ve decided to call them) in your life, I’d say you demote them to acquaintances. And you can have other people — perhaps, from your extended circle if you have one — to fill the now-vacant friend positions. Look, I know this might seem easier said than done, and rightfully so. Changes aren’t the easiest to deal with. But, clearly, Anastasia and Drizella have proven to you — time and again, mind you — that they can’t offer you the friendship you are seeking. You’ve tried; it hasn’t worked. Now, it’s time to let go. Friendship break-ups can hurt a lot, though, so I do hope you have access to some support system through this time — either in the form of a sibling, a partner, a long-distance friend, an online community, or even a therapist. All I want to tell you is: it’ll get better, hold on.
DD: For starters, these two people don’t sound like the best of friends to have. It’s a tough place to be in especially when these are ones you’ve shared good times with. It sounds like you have tried enough to hold onto the hope that they will be more receptive to your honesty. But if being honest doesn’t work, then (I think) just don’t be honest. It’s likely that they don’t care enough, so why must you spend your energy trying to get them to earnestly see your POV when you could be investing that time in building better friendships.
Of course, the ideal situation would be to cut off and find better friends, but if you know for sure that you still want to maintain a distant relationship, then I think lying about prior commitments whenever it’s “hangout time” might be a short-term solution. Although, it’s definitely not a viable one since it might get exhausting for you in the long run.
QG: Friendship is one of the most important things in life, and the way I see it, the one thing you can expect from a friendship is dependency. If you can’t seem to find that in your friends, then, I’m afraid, you must look for other friends.
That being said, not everyone can act and behave exactly how you want them to. Maybe your friends just are people who have a hard time being vocal in tense situations? However, if that doesn’t seem to be the case here and you feel like they don’t speak up for you just because they don’t care enough, then I have only one very useful piece of advice for you. Let me know how that works out! Haha, cheers.
SK: Sounds like a tricky situation! My instinct would be to clear the air with them but all communication channels seem to be tapped out. I’m sure cutting off is not easy, or else you may have tried it. If you hate to see them every day, or if they continue to disappoint you, you will reach a point soon (perhaps, around the time you sent this woe), that you start to expect less out of them. The funny thing about expectations is they change, increase, or contract quite instinctively sometimes — even if you hang out with the person every day. I don’t know if your friends always let you down or maybe you just expect too much of them now. But, if you continue to feel they aren’t reliable, trust me, look out for that point where you start seeing them differently.
When that happens, you’ll feel the need to give them less space, time, and energy. You’ll look for new ways to find new friends, because there’s very little functional value to be found from “frenemies” of any sort. They may be fillers in our social ecosystem, but if they begin to do more harm than good, I’d say rip the band off and start over. Friendships need work surely; if two people are not willing to meet you halfway or even hear out your concerns with an open mind, it’s time to let it go. You will get by, with some, little, or even no help from these friends.