Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fair-Weathered Friends

Finally a post that isn't only about the p-word!

Let me start by saying while I consider myself to be an extrovert, I have many characteristics of an introvert. I do like my alone time - my quiet time to myself. I despise talking on the phone unless I need to - I much prefer email. And I don't have many friends. I have many acquaintances but only a subset of those are actually "friends".

There are two friends of mine who have recently upset me and I'm not sure really how to handle this. I am in need of advice. So, forgive me if and when this post becomes long-winded or rambling.

Let's call these friends Eric and Rhiannon.

DH and I have been friends with Eric and Rhiannon for many years. We both started dating around the same time, got engaged around the same time and also got married around the same time. We were also in each others' weddings. We were quite close. However, as time tends to do, we drifted apart a bit. We all graduated from college and got jobs that took up our valuable time. DH and I started planning a family and subsequently battling infertility, while Eric and Rhiannon had decided to live child-free and party it up. There were just differences that sprang up between us and while we still hung out, it started to become a little awkward. At least for me. We didn't have nearly as much in common anymore.

Eric and Rhiannon have a boatload of money because of a terrible car accident that Rhiannon endured as a child. She has a huge settlement and trust that she can basically live off of for the rest of her life. DH and I are hardworking people and have to bust our ass for anything we get. Several times in our friendship, we've felt like a charity case for them. One example: DH and I had trouble finding a photographer for our wedding for our miniscule budget. Talking as friends, we had shared our frustrations with wedding planning and told them we were considering just eloping to avoid all the hassle. Well, they sent us a check for $1,500 to help with our wedding expenses. It was to be our wedding gift. I was floored and told them I couldn't possibly accept this large sum of money - but they insisted. We did use the money toward a photographer and the pictures couldn't have been more beautiful. However, everytime we looked at the photos together or in a group, Rhiannon was sure to mention how she paid for them and we wouldn't have had those photos without her. I just felt small and insignificant because I could never return the favor to them. I felt indebted or obligated to her after taking such a gift and I resolved then and there never to take money from them again - whether they insist or not.

Fast forward to our last loss. I remember going out to lunch with Rhiannon shortly afterward, thinking it would help to get out and join the land of the living. She offered to pay for lunch and I happily accepted. After we had finished our meal, I again thanked her profusely for picking up my $8 tab. She responded with, "yeah, I wasn't really planning on it." WTF? Why offer to pay if you didn't want to do it out of the kindness of your heart? I was just trying to be nice and instead, I felt slapped in the face.

As we were walking out to the car and we talked more about my infertility, she said "I heard 11 and a half weeks isnt' that far along." I was, again, floored. I know they don't plan on having children but does she really think she is being supportive? Is 11 weeks not long enough to grieve? Again, I was left on the defensive and was left hurt. But I never spoke up because I didn't want to cause a rift.

The last time Rhiannon and I hung out was in October, just before Halloween. I got my BFP in November and pretty much retreated from the world. The last thing I wanted was to un-tell people all over again and with my low P4 and fibroid, I decided to only share the news with close family. I continued to write both Eric and Rhiannon on Facebook over the holidays, to let them know I hadn't forgotten about them. I didn't announce the pregnancy to friends until I hit the 10 week mark, heard the heartbeat on doppler and had my good ultrasound, and I did get a message from Eric congratulating me and telling me they were there for us whenever we were ready.

Now approaching the 16-week mark, I felt comfortable enough to come out of my shell and get off my self-imposed modified bed rest long enough to write them both on Facebook to see if we could possibly have dinner or something. Wouldn't you know - they had removed me from their friends' lists. I'm still able to send them an email - which I did - and I told them I was a bit confused as to why I was removed. Eric gave some b.s. excuse about me not writing them since November (which is not true and the comments on their Walls prove it) and they wanted to "give us some space". So, you couldn't do that with me still on your friends list? They requested to add me again but I'm hesitant on accepting them. Why - so I can just be removed again when I don't respond fast enough? I don't mean to be childish here but am I that easily disposable?

I know its "just a friends list" but I take it personally. I feel like because I am the p-word (which they couldn't possibly understand) and couldn't jump at their every whim to hang out, I was cut loose. I don't expect to be the best friends we were years ago, but I do think the past has some merit and I'd like them to be a part of our lives, if only minimally. But then again, I'm tired of being treated this way. They say they are there for us but I always feel like there is some kind of agenda. They either want to brag about the brand new house they bought (knowing we live in an apartment and are doing our best to find a house), or the new car they bought straight cash, or talk about themselves. They ask how we are doing but I really don't think they care. I could be wrong and it could be the hormones talking, but I just don't know if I should try to salvage what is left of our friendship or let it dissintegrate as they were prepared to do before I wrote my last email.

I feel like it is all or nothing with them. It is either I give them all of my time or I get nothing in return. If they are demanding black and white, can I try and force a gray area?

Where do you draw the line? How do you determine whether or not a friendship is worth saving? Am I overreacting or am I onto something? Should I just cut my losses or try to pick up the pieces? I just don't know if I'm too late.


Anonymous said...

Only you can determine if this friendship is worth salvaging. I, personally, couldn't handle the BS and the drama of trying to make it worth it. It sounds like after the wedding you started to drift apart and you're really wanting different things out of life. There's nothing wrong with that, but people change and maybe there's some new friends with a little one on the way, just around the corner.

Taking you off their Facebook friend's list was totally petty and lame, and I would take great offense to that as well. I mean who does that? Are we 7? Seriously.

Sorry for the assvice. I hope things get better for you.


Shelli said...

Nope, you are not overreacting. I've had similar friendships in the same vein, and I've learned over the years that you can give and give (and I don't mean $$), and get nothing in return. Friendships are about loyalty and trust. Not someone ready to hold a bucket of water over your head, or belittle you.

Sure, we all have friends that piss us off once in awhile, but true friends are always, always supportive. Sometimes, when you grow in different directions, it happens that a good friend (or one you though was good) becomes toxic. It's just the way it is, and sometimes you just burn too many bridges along the way.

You already probably know if things can ever be made right with your friends. Stick to your gut and follow your heart on this one.

Maryanne said...

K- In my opinion true, healthy friendships worth sustaining are a give/take mostly 50:50. I presonally can't spare energy on frienships that suck me dry of happiness, time, and emotions all about them. I know it is hard when friends drift away, but sometimes new friends are on the horizon. You will need friends that can support you now and when sunshine arrives!! Good luck

Pamala said...

I wonder if they're needy people, like they need constant attention and if you don't give it then they get all angry. It would go along with the giving of money and stuff, they can say they paid and what not and be the focus.
Honestly they sound like people you may not need to be associated with anymore. My best friend in high school was good with me until I got married and had a kid, now we don't talk. What can you do? It happens but she has different priorities than I do.

Hilary (The Trying Game) said...

Wow. I just don't get people sometimes. You don't deserve any of that.

I guess, in my humble opinion, it's best to surround yourself with people who lift you up, support you, encourage you and don't think twice about picking up an $8 tab. People who drain you and suck the positive energy from you are not worth keeping around in the long run, I think.

I "retreated" (aka pretty much hid from the entire world) when I was first pregnant. Those of us who have experienced a loss understand that need to hide as a protection mechanism for yourself and your little one. It's only been recently that I have come out of hiding and even that is on a "tentative" basis. If "Eric" says they understand this, then I don't understand the whole silly friendlist thing. It sounds like a stupid way to hurt your feelings and play games if you ask me.

In other words, if they were concerned by your absence, they could have called or emailed to check in, no?

So here's what I would do (but this is just my opinion): Go ahead and accept their friend request, no need to rock the boat any further. But I don't feel you need to make any further effort with these people. They have made it clear that their lives are going in different directions now and if you're not interested in playing their games, then I would just let sleeping dogs lie.

It's a shame to lose friends, especially close ones, but such is life. It just makes room for a new set of friends to come into your life. Sorry you've had to deal with this craziness. It's unfair.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we outgrow people. And that's ok. I don't think it's worth your time and energy to try to salvage something that sounds like it's run it's course. She obviously has issues with the whole money thing and having to repeat what she's done for you to others. It makes her feel better about herself to make sure that people know about her "generosity". That's pitiful. When you do things for other people you're not supposed to go around tooting your own horn about how great you are.

Them removing you from their "Friends" list is kinda them saying that they're done. I would take that personally and I'm not pregnant, hormonal or sensitive.

Move on...plenty of other really nice people out there!

Barb said...

That really is always a hard call and, one I've faced many times. Alison is right. If the work of the friendship isn't worth what you get in return to YOU.. then you need to cut clean. But only you can decide how and when to do that. Sorry I can't be much help. :(

It very much seems like they may have always had some of these qualities, but that you are now in such different places in your lives that it's more noticeable. Have you thought about talking face to face with them about your issues to help yourself, to clear the air, and to give them a chance to respond? Hard to do I know. But they seem to feel as if they've been wronged somehow too. Maybe she thinks she's required to offer money since she has some, but is so conflicted about it b/c she feels used or something. I know that's HER problem, but at least you'd know. Or maybe she wants to remind you of the wedding photos b/c she feels so good about doing it and wants to know you still appreciate it, but just doesn't realize the hurt she causes you? Just some thoughts. Maybe she is just a jerk. You're call.

Rachel said...

I wouldn't worry about salvaging the friendship if it is so much work on your part. I am sure you have better friends.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

I gauge my friendships against my marriage--if it takes more work to keep up the friendship than it does to keep my marriage going then I can't handle the friendship.

Honestly, I've had friends in the past that were needier and more demanding than my husband (who really isn't at all) and it is just draining. At the end of the day those friendships made me more miserable than happy and that was how I knew it was time to cut them loose.

It sounds like you're in a tough situation and you're not dealing with the most cooperative people. And the whole facebook thing? WTH? IMO that is kind of petty. I do hope you figure it all out though! Good luck!

Meghan said...

I hate how money changes things with friends. We have the same sort of problem with some friends, and we've just drifted apart. I get sad about it sometimes, but their friendship wasn't worth how they made me feel.

Good luck with whatever you decide

Natalie said...

Wow. I agree with the other girls... it sounds like they really can't get past some things and they have decided not to put any effort into this relationship. Taking you off their friends lift does sound totally petty. I'd take that personally as well. I mean, like you said, WTF?

I learned a while back that some friendships are not a two-way street and I just don't have energy if someone isn't willing to make an effort in return.

Samantha said...

As you can tell from the comments, we've all been there with the friendship that we wanted to keep because it used to mean so much to us, but that isn't quite living up to what we want it to be in the present day. I can't really add to the advice beyond what everyone else has told except to say that I've been there and know it's a difficult decision.

Emily said...

Hey sweetie!

you've gotten some really great advice from very wise people here. But I thought I'd add my small opinion.

I agree with everyone who says if they suck the energy out of you or if they are hard to be friends with, cut them loose! You don't need drama filled friends. I think this is one of the times in your life that you are allowed to be "selfish". IMO, you are doing the greatest thing in the world and you don't want anyone bringing you down right now. This is such a magical time...enjoy every minute of it!

lady in waiting said...

They sort of sound like really annoying people, no offense. When I read through this story it sounded like something I would have expected from friends of my high school age little brother. They seem very immature. You are at a new stage in your life and you don't need "frenemies" like them! I say good riddance! Of course, just my opinion, feel free to completely disregard :) I just hate to see you get upset over people that seem useless.

And I would also send them a check for the $1500 the second you can afford it, so they have nothing to lord over you.

Gabby said...

Wow Kristen! I wish I could hug you right now. You know what is so crazy? I am going through a somewhat similar situation myself right now as well. I wish I had some great advice for you, but I don't. However, I can say this, they are very childish for deleting you for facebook and I don't think I would even want to try to salvage anything. If you need to talk, vent, rant, or whatever...please e-mail me! If nothing else, we could be a sounding board for each other. I was about to post something similar about the situation I am in, but not sure if it is the best thing to do. I feel I may sound selfish. :\

Mel said...

Funny how drama ensues you even when you aren't chasing it, right?
Husband and I have gone through so much of this in our 5 years together, it's absurd. Friendships lost abound us. I have finally figured out, though, that when anyone pushes you down in order to make themselves feel better or good about themselves, it's a relationship not worth saving. Don't belittle your feelings in any way, you have them for a reason. Friends are supposed to be "ladder" people-they are there to push us up or lend a hand when we are down and vice versa. If they aren't, they aren't worth keeping around. There truly are so many wonderful and amazing people in this world, there's no point in wasting time (and love and hurt) on those that don't treat us right. We all make mistakes and hurt people inadvertently, but this couple just sounds childish and selfish.

Ann said...

It's hard for me to judge, because I'm not in the situation, but I know that if someone made me feel bad every time I hang out with her, I would be less inclined to spend time with her--history or not. If she couldn't be understanding during a devastating period of my life, and then tried to cut me off when I needed some space, I would concentrate my time on other people.

Fiddle1 said...

Sounds like your friends wrote the definition of passive aggressive behavior. That's the things with folks like that..you get drawn in and somehow think it's not quite okay to be mad at them. But it is. And as hard as it is to let them go b/c you have been so close with them in the past, it is probably best. You don't need to make apologies for withdrawing from them during this pregnancy. ANYONE that tries to put you somewhere on a 'sympathy spectrum' by trying to imply that you shouldn't be devestated at loosing your baby at 11 weeks (as opposed to later on) is not someone that will ever understand your wants and desires and fears. No, it is best to just be polite and distant from now on..and no worries about the financial assistance they've given in the past..perhaps you may be able to repay that in the future when someone else needs your help. I don't think I've commented on your blog before, but I do check in, and I'm happy for your progress! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you would want to continue the friendship...they sound awful! I wouldn't waste any more energy on it.

The Fried Chicken Yacht Club said...

I think you answered your own question from the start; your lives and priorities as people were becoming very different and you were drifting apart. You could probably keep the friendship going if you stooped down to their level and played the "Keeping up with the Jones" game, but I think the two of you have a much deeper goal for your lives that focuses on money being a part and not a whole of the big picture.
It goes back to a simple saying:
"It is not what you HAVE in life, But what you DO with it"
I think the two of you are operating on a much more mature level in your lives and marriage. They may catch up one day....

Freyja said...

I have recently decided to cut my SIL loose. The level of care, empathy, communication she desired was just too different than myself - the whole thing was doing nothing except eliciting negative emotions. Sometimes it happens. If they cut you out then let them go - they're not worth it.