When Friends Fail You

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A fresh wave of anguish flooded over Emily as she recalled the shocking conversation between her and Lindsay. They had been best friends, sisters of the heart for the past 15 years, and now the relationship was destroyed. Lindsay had no desire to reconcile. Emily needed to deal with the intense pain and come to terms with the broken relationship.

The loss of a dear friend is one of the most painful things a woman can encounter. Still, these broken relationships can provide a platform for growth.

Some friends grow apart because their lives become filled with other interests or move apart. The most painful broken relationship is the one that separates as a result of unresolved conflict.

Whatever the reason, friendships come and go in our lives. When the special friendships you thought would last a lifetime are broken or lost, the wounds may require loving care in order to heal.

1. Grieve for the lost friendship. Grieving a lost relationship may take weeks, months or even years. A lot depends on how the friendship ends.

  • Admit the relationship has ended. Acceptance is the all-important positive side to rebuilding. You do not have to take on a load of guilt in order to accept that the relationship is over. Stay out of the “if only” game. The pain is intense as you realize the relationship has ended.
  • Suffer and grow. The way past the pain is to go all the way through it. The pain you are feeling is real. It hurts. Allow yourself to feel the pain. Use it as motivation to grow and make the crisis into an opportunity. The pain can be an excuse to remain bitter, angry, unhappy, or it can help you grow.

2. Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. As you go through this painful process, check yourself so as to avoid these unhealthy coping mechanisms.

  • Withdrawing — Sometimes hurting people hide so others will not suspect their fear.
  • Becoming a busy-aholic — Hiding behind busyness may delay the healing process and can also be very tiring.
  • Fearing aloneness — Being alone can provide time for introspection, reflection, growth and development of the inner self. Emptiness can be replaced by inner fullness and strength. There is a healthy balance in spending time with others and being alone.

3. Let go

Close friendships require an interest in other people, empathy, loyalty and commitment. They also require the letting go of idealistic expectations and unrealistic demands. In letting go, we grow. Sometimes this may even require letting go of the friendship entirely.

  • Forgive. Forgiveness is an act of the will on the part of the offended person releasing the perpetrator even though you do not condone what they have done. Trust, however, needs to be earned. This is particularly important in dysfunctional relationships. If you are seeking inner freedom, forgiveness is not an option — you simply must. Forgiveness involves realizing how much the Lord has forgiven. It enables you to forgive and see others’ failures through the eyes of mercy. Good friends are good forgivers.
  • Deal with your emotions. Acknowledge the feelings of love, anger, bitterness, feelings of vindictiveness and look at them realistically. Invest emotionally in your own personal growth instead of investing in the dead relationship.

4. Risk loving again. Intimacy is risky, no doubt about it. Reaching out may result in rejection. Then why do it and get hurt? Why not play it safe? The cost is too high to not ever take the risk — there are friends in your future who will be worth the risk and you may never know them if you don’t try again.

  • Make yourself vulnerable. It is easy to fear rejection. If someone wants to share, but seems hesitant, lead the way by opening up first. It is a precious gift to your friends when they personally discover that you cherish confidentiality and hold their secrets close to your heart. Remember, vulnerability hastens bonding.
  • Realize the risk is worthwhile. As you reflect on the friends of your life, realize some were in your life for only a season. Each of your friends has woven into your being some of the very fiber of who you have become. Realize you may never know why some relationships end: Reflect on the positive blessings and the impact a friendship made on your life during the happy times. If the friendship was filled with betrayal and pain, reflect on the growth that took place in your own life as you learned to deal with this.

Finally, realize that going through a broken relationship leaves you with a choice — to become bitter or better. Bitterness will only destroy you and never the person with whom you are angry. Which one will you choose?

Take Heart–God Really Enjoys Your Company

My Best Friends & I
by Karen L. Schenk

Throughout the years
I have had many different girls and women as my best friends.
They have all been very different from each other.
Yet somehow they have all been similar.
They had characteristics that blended with mine.
They were kindred spirits with me —
they were truly the soulmates of my life.

Together, these best friends and I
have laughed, cared, talked, listened, and cried.
Together we played, worked, and dreamed.
Such special friends were they, that at times,
we enjoyed doing nothing together.
Years have gone by
and I sometimes wonder
where they have all gone.
Some have moved.
Some developed different interests.
These were friends whom I once thought
I could never live without.

The best friends of my life
have had an integral part
in me becoming who I am today.
They brought out the best and the worst in me.
They loved me enough to confront, to challenge and to console.
They encouraged me in my strengths and
helped me overcome my weaknesses.

Though I know not where they live,
have discovered where they all left something for me.
It is a room — a delightful room which lies within my heart.

It is one of my most favorite places.
I go there when I am lonely, sad
or when I want to remember… and be with
the treasured golden memories
the best friends of my life left for me.

Forever — my friends will be a part of me
as I hold onto and cherish them
in that special room in my heart.

If you’re going through trouble with a friend, and need someone to talk with, we’re always here to listen. Contact us anytime.


127 Responses to “When Friends Fail You”

  • Wiser says:

    I am not so much commenting on this to ask advice but to help me deal with the situation. And if this is one of the ways to do it then so be it! I had a friend who has a personality disorder and has an addiction to alcohol. They are like Jekyll and Hyde. I feel really sad for them in their bondage and know that God can do a miracle, but they also need to choose to want it. I believe God has given us a free will to choose as well. And I appreciate all the many struggles they have. But the verbal abuse and turning against me has caused me to realise I HAVE to let go of this friendship, as it is a soultie that can lead to my emotional, spiritual and psychological demise. It has been really hard when you realise a friend actually doesn’t bring the best out of you, but the worst. And it has helped me to face my issues as well which has really been good. In this case I have accepted it though as a good learning curve in growth and decided to forgive, even apologise. But in order to protect myself and to heal I have come to the conclusion that from my end the friendship needs to be over. I am not saying this from a perspective of being resentful, but being realistic. So it’s not anger that is motivating my decision. I have realised that my friendship is also bad for them, as I am used as a mule to enable their addictive behaviour because I am always there to rescue them at the other end when they hit rock bottom. I am in the way, and it is God’s love and intervention they need, not mine. It’s when I really started standing up and saying the addiction is wrong and bad for them, that the problems really started. Now they’re VERY angry with me. I feel a sense of sadness of letting go, because when this person is sober they’re really nice and they have so much to go for them.

  • Erica says:

    I am recently going through a situation with a very dear friend. We have been friends for 15 years. About 3 1/2 years ago we, along with another close friend of ours found out we were all pregnant. My son was born in May 2012, her daughter in July 2012 and our other friends daughter in November 2012. We were all excited to be sharing this experience together.
    In June 2013, her daughter became sick and was rushed to the hospital to find out she had a brain tumor. Her daughter was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. A week later her daughter celebrated her 1st birthday in the hospital. They were on the road to tackle this Brain Tumor and Cancer. Her daughter had ups and downs while in the hospital. She went through 1 surgery to remove the tumor but they did not get it all out. She went through a 2nd surgery and they were able to remove all the tumor. Her next step in recovery was chemo therapy for the cancer.
    She entered the hospital in June 2013 and had some weekends where she was able to go home for a weekend every so often.
    In March 2014, she lost the battle to Cancer.
    During that time, I only made it to the hospital 3 times, but was texting my friend often to check on her and see how things were going. I know I should have been there more, but during this time my son was getting sick a lot and ending up in the hospital for what we now know as asthmatic attacks. He was getting sick often (with what were cold like symptoms) and I was scared to attract the virus he may have and carry it with me while visiting her daughter and end up having her daughter get sick from this. Anyone who has dealt with Cancer patients knows their immune systems are not at 100% and it is important to keep them as germ free as possible.
    I lost my father in law to Cancer and knew how important it was to not get them sick.
    This is mostly why I hardly went.
    Because of me not being present, I hurt my friend deeply, because I was not there for her like she needed me to be. The times we have seen each other since her daughters passing have been awkward and uncomfortable. We used to be so close and it’s so hard to talk now. I do not know what to say to her, and I don’t want to say the wrong thing and make her sad given her loss. I hurt that I was not there for her like she needed me to be and it is my biggest regret.
    We recently had a sit down to discuss our feelings and how I was not there for her and I was able to explain why and we shared our hurts and sadness with one another. Right now we are at a standstill with the friendship. She does not know if she wants to continue the friendship because she is so hurt with me or end the friendship because she feels there is nothing left to repair.
    She is still trying to deal with and sort out the loss of her daughter and is going through so much pain because of it.
    In our talk I told her I am willing to go on this journey with her on deciding if she would like to continue the friendship or end it. I told her I was here for her and I could only show her that now, because I know my words may not have any meaning to her at the moment.
    I guess I am on here because I need prayer for guidance with the situation and prayer for my friend to help her in her loss. Thanks for your help.

  • Kathryn Kathryn says:

    Hi Bel and Helen too, thanks for sharing about your experiences. I think most people have felt the pain and loss of a friendship over the years but when they are as long standing as you two mention, then it’s really hard. We may never know what it is that makes a person turn away from a deep and meaningful friendship but we owe it to them at least to not hold a grudge against them, in fact forgive them as Jesus told us to do to all who “offend” (upset or hurt us as we would say today). If we hold on to resentment the pain increases and the canker grows and can destroy us if we do not allow ourselves to move on. I know from personal experience that praying for the person, asking God to bless them does actually help to heal our grief and bewilderment and enable us to come to terms with how things are.

  • Bel says:

    This article is so moving. I had a best friend for more than a decade. She had been the apple of my eye, but sadly she changed few years ago. I’ve tried to reach out without even knowing her reason of changing and yet it went nowhere. Then I tried harder, and finding myself contacting her, but there’s never a reply. So I’ve decided to stop being stupid and grow up, accept the fact that she’s not that person anymore and be happy with our memories.
    However, no matter how much you say its ok, there are times that you really asks “why” and ended up thinking, because life happens. :-)

    I hope she’s ok, cause after all , she is a great person.

  • Helen says:

    I am in the same boat as Mooncat? Had been friends with this person for over four years; we met at a social gathering and she sought me out afterwards to meet up for lunch. The friendship grew from there and we had such lovely times and a lot of laughs, and also talked over family issues. Only about five months ago she said I was her only friend. But for some time now she has been distancing herself from me and I have no idea why. We still occasionally have lunch but always with someone else or her husband, so we can’t really talk like we used to. She has taken up some volunteer work, maybe a day per week, and I think that has taken ger interest away from me and maybe she has met new people. So be it I guess but so hurtful. I am not religious by the way so I must learn to console myself and move on as best I can.

  • Chris says:

    laura…sorry to hear you are struggling. its true that our political families do not always mean closeness or true friendships. all one can do is pray about jesus will with any and all relationships we have to see whether they are from him or not or their level of importance for us. isaiah 43.4, nehemiah 6.12. only having jesus as lord even over our relationships can we move into doing his will more perfeclty each and every day. for more information on knowing jesus as your lord and savior log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. if you do know jesus and need a church, let me know i can check on one for you. blessings your way today!!

  • dream says:

    Laura… Its seems too me that your friend has close relationships with her family , her brother -your husband. Maybe therefore she stuck to them during difficult times. Some people have closer relationships with family, other people have closer relationships with friends. You can be a friend with her just you can decide how much you will open to her. But the best friend who will never fail you is Jesus, you can know him by repenting and receiving him to your life.

  • Sharon says:

    to Laura– prayer–father God I pray for Laura for wisdom and guidance on what to do about either ending or continuing a friendship God you know both are hurting I pray for your healing hand on both give Laura dreams and visions of you near her God you love both of these people I pray for both I pray all of this in JESUS name amen I feel for you Laura I have trust issues too for me I would separate maybe for a bit to heal I have a family member I don’t talk often because I get hurt by her she says she will do something but doesn’t so I get hurt I am praying for you GOD comfort Laura and the other person if they do separate for a time. from sharon

  • Laura says:

    I am trying to decide between continuing a very close friendship or ending it. I’m married to her brother and we have had family trust issues. When I’ve had issues with my in laws she has not stuck up for me or really even helped me through those difficult times. She just avoided them. I can’t imagine my life without her but I feel as though I cannot continue being so close to someone I don’t trust in certain areas. I know I need healing and forgiveness from things that have happened. She has apologized but it has happened again and I know I’m the future nothing would change. I feel as thou she takes the easier road for her instead of sticking up for what’s right. I can’t continue on being so close with her if I can’t fully trust her with this. I don’t know what to do. I’ve told her I need seperation to think. I know she is hurting too but I want change and I don’t know if that will ever happen. I’ve invested so much into this frienship that I feel like I’m dying inside losing her. I just want to get better. I want to heal and trust again. And I want to make the right decision for both of us. What do I do?

  • dream says:

    Mooncat… Yes friends are hard to find but dont give up. Firstly if you give your life to Jesus he will be your best friend and then when you pray he will give you friends so you can have Christian friends to support you and encourage you. God made us so we can have family and friends. Nobody can live alone. I know its hard to find a friend I experienced that too. Firstly people are friendly and then they grow cold. But God gave me some true friends which are real friends through years. I believe God can to it for you too.

  • Chris says:

    mooncat…sorry to hear of your plight…people being people, they are most likely going to fail us but there is someone who wont and his name is jesus. we must build our lives upon a foundation firmer tan friends and faith in christ is how to build a sure foundation. for more information on how to do that log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above so that you can begin a new life and new way of living independent of needing people because your needs are met in jesus christ amen

  • mooncat says:

    I thought I had found the soul mate friend. So much in common – humour, interests. At first she was the one texting me all the time, arranging to meet up. I felt wanted and felt part of something, a connection….But as time has passed, she has changed, and I’m the one making all the effort. It feels like she tolerates me, the connection has evaporated, and it hurts to feel the deterioration. Friends are important to me and I can’t seem to get it right. It’s over 2 years since we met and it feels like the end. I ask to meet up, she never replies. My self esteem is low, being crushed so I’ve ended the friendship. It’s hurting me so much, I feel so alone. Why are friends so hard to find? I’d give anything for a kind, caring friend.

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Hi Teacher, sorry to hear all that you have gone through with this relationship that you had been in and the way that it has come to an end. However, the blessing is that you realized that the relationship was unhealthy and lopsided. You are right in saying, “Now I move on and work toward true forgiveness because then I will be truly free!” The best thing is for you to forgive and to also learn the value life lesson God has taught you. I pray that God blesses you with healthy friendships that will be filled with love and respect toward one another.

  • Teacher says:

    Thank you for this site. I was involved with a toxic friendship for a little over 5 years. When I met her, I felt I had found another soul mate, yet we were both very different. Slowly, it became a very one-sided thing and I was doing all the work, all the giving. After nearly a year mixed with neglect and disrespectful behavior toward me, I ended the friendship stating that it was one sided and becoming unhealthy for me. I poured my heart out, expressing how hard it was for me to end it and how much I cared for her…………that I considered her family, but that in order to have a true friendship, the feelings had to work both ways. Clearly she had found other people to befriend and was moving on. The only response she gave me was “whatever you feel you have to do”. Deep down, I honestly was hoping she’d fight for the friendship…she did not. I did get a text from her about three weeks later asking me for information about a random topic, acting as if nothing had happened. When I asked her why she wanted to know, she replied that “it wasn’t important”. I didn’t give her the information and that was that………………at first, I was relieved, but the past couple of months have been hard. I wanted some type of closure. She was able to drop me like a hot potato without looking back. Clearly, I was not wrong in feeling that the friendship had become one-sided. She either didn’t care or can’t express that she does–neither are acceptable in true friendships. I invested a great deal of time and emotion into a relationship that she could detach from without much of a thought……….wow……….lessoned learned. It stings. I wanted a “better” ending, but it was not to be. Now I move on and work toward true forgiveness because then I will be truly free!

  • Sharon says:

    to boo– I feel for you I have had friends fail me too prayer–father God I pray for boo for comfort for this person and I pray that this friend will let this person why she left the friendship for either to repair it or to move on God let5 boo know this person is loved by you God and you created boo wrap your loving arms around boo and continue to comfort boo I pray all of this in JESUS name amen I am praying for you boo from Sharon

  • Boo says:

    I just had my friend hurt me so bad, we were to go somewhere together and I have been asking her for weeks if she was still going, the day of the event 1 he an a half she calledto say she could go! Do I knew up friendship was over but I still don’t know why . Her comment to me was sometime relationship don’t stay the same in our life’s! I don’t know what happen and she won’t tell me. This is really killing boo hurt so bad I just want the pain to stop! I feel so alone and confused
    Thank you!

  • Lila says:

    I’m a long-time Power to Change supporter. (Back before it’s new name :-) How great to find this article when I am going through a friendship loss and have it help me!

  • Chris says:

    Natalie…so sorry to hear of your struggles. life can certainly teach us different lessons cant it. to me one lesson i have learned is that although we need people at certain times in our lives, noone can ever replace the person of jesus christ as always being there, always being faithful and always being the one we can lean on for his strength in times of weakness. if you would like more information on knowing jesus as your best friend and savior in whom you can always count on log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. i pray you find the friendships you need here on earth starting with the one from heaven!! blessings!

  • Natalie says:

    Hi, I just came across this online and I’m going through the same thing. Been with my bestfriend for 12 years. She was the only person who was consistently stable. When life brought me obstacles she would have my back and vice versa. But then suddenly she stopped taking care of herself, her health her mental state, made bad decisions. And I realised when life bought me obstacles, looking back, yeah she would take my calls listen. But it was me in the end, I had to overcome them and appreciated I had my bestmates support. Where as the last two years when life gave her obstacles she just didn’t learn how to deal.with it on her own and in the end forgot I was a person and clung to me and I helped her with everything. And in return I didn’t have her. I became her therapist, family member, motivated her. In return she wasn’t there for me when I broke down. Instead she was there for her guy or whoever she dated next. It’s very difficult when people you truly know change. It’s such a shock and now I have ended the friendship she isn’t letting go and has been hassling my partner and not understanding that we have grown different paths. We all have to let reality kick in and realise no one has helped us more then ourselves. And if that’s not the case then start to love ourselves. And cry and let our grief out so we can move on.

  • Taylor says:

    Hi, Just checking back in to say that the book “What Did I Do Wrong? When Women Don’t Tell Each Other the Friendship Is Over” is very good. It really helped to see this is a phenomenon amongst women. So we aren’t alone. As for the reason I got this book – the friend who dumped me – well I feel much stronger and more confident now. I know it’s over and I’ve resigned myself to that new reality. I’m already moving on. Things change and people change. And for those women who need a better understanding why their friend dumped them, take a look at this book. You won’t be sorry.

  • Taylor says:

    I agree that when a friend has blown you off and you felt there was a good friendship lost, you start going through the 6 steps of grieving a loss. If they contact you again when you’re already going through that process, it’s hard to forgive and forget and go back to the way it was before. Yes you can forgive, but you won’t forget and if your friendship resumes, you may find yourself more wary and less likely to be fooled again. Fool me once, shame on you; food me twice, shame on me. You may find you have a thicker skin after that experience.

  • Sharon says:

    good article thank you for posting this it speaks to me too I have let friendships go but I find it hard when they want to be friends again but I’ve moved on

  • Taylor says:

    Hi, Thank you Chris for your comment. I am a Christian and I appreciate your message. I also picked up a book at my local library “What Did I Do Wrong? When Women Don’t Tell Each Other the Friendship Is Over” by Liz Pryor. I have no idea how good it is as I’ve yet to read it. I’ve had female friendships before that failed but this one hit me hard as I truly believed she was this wonderful person. She cut me off completely and now I’m not so convinced she was such a wonderful person. Like there was no information at all about why she did that. So I sent her a message a couple days ago and feel pretty good about what I said. It was dignified and yet I made my point. Short and sweet. Now if I see her again hopefully I can look at her with a serene smile and zero anger. That’s my goal now with her. Thanks again.

  • Shelley says:

    You welcome my friend. May the Lord our God comfort you, as you seek His grace each day towards your friend and remember to pray for them also.

  • Melanie says:

    I posted my story about a failed friendship of mine a few months ago. It helps to know that I am not the only one out there dealing with kind of situation. When I had to finally cut ties with my friend I felt so alone. Knowing how bad I felt, I wouldn’t wish that situation on anyone but reading other people’s stories shows me I am not alone and that helps. I have slowly started to move on but I still think about my friend every now and then and get sad about it. It’s hard to forget because some of the hobbies and interests I now have are a direct result of that friendship. I am still angry at my friend. That might not be the most noble thing, but I know I will forgive over time. It may take years but forgiveness will come. Thanks for allowing people to continue to post to this site. It really helps.

  • Chris says:

    Taylor…sorry to hear of this situation. we know that people can fail us and often will. that is why our faith in christ and his friendship will be the staying influence for our entire lives. if you havent found the lasting friendship of christ yet personally, i invite you to log onto knowingjesuspersonally.com or click talk to a mentor above. you wont regret it!

  • Taylor says:

    Hi, Thank you for your site. I’m currently experiencing the pain of going through a dying friendship with another woman friend and it’s not a happy time. She just stopped emailing and calling and the friendship is basically evaporating into thin air. I have NO idea what I did wrong but there it is. I’ll get over it but the challenge will be to remain civil the next time I see her. I probably will still be angry and may want to not be civil but I will try to be nice and not act out in an immature way. Thanks again for being here. I’m sure you’ve helped many people with relationships!

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