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In Friends We Trust -- Until They Let Us Down

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QUESTION

Dear Irene,

About three or four weeks ago, I broke up amicably with a guy I was dating because the relationship just wasn't growing romantically. We lived about an hour apart and he usually would come to my place. As a result, he met many of my friends, especially one who was with us a lot. She had a difficult year and I tried to include her in things quite often. She became friendly with my ex, but they only knew each other through me.

This week, she called and asked if it would be all right if she went skiing with him. My ex had offered to take her. (We had all wanted to go this winter, but we never did make it together.) I told her she could do whatever she wanted, but I found the whole thing inappropriate. We had quite a long conversation and were okay for the most part. But after thinking about this for several days, I can't believe she even asked me.

Well, if that had been me (and any other friend of mine, it seems) I wouldn't have needed to know how my friend felt. I would have simply said thank you to my ex for the invitation, but that his invitation wasn't appropriate. This isn't the first trust issue I have had with these two.

As I said, I spent a lot of time with her until my work got busy several months ago and I realized I was neglecting other friends. She texted my boyfriend telling him that she thought I was pulling away from her. Then she followed up with an email. She asked him to keep both confidential, but I found out, asked him, and he flat out lied to me. Big fight, but we resolved it. I chose not to tell her about this.

I have been a good friend and obviously she is still having a hard time but I don't want to put any more energy into the relationship with her. I don't think my feelings are unfounded. I distrust both of them and feel hurt. I have been a good friend to both and they have not shown the same respect to me.

Signed,
Sue

ANSWER

Dear Sue:

You were probably caught you off-guard when your friend initially asked for your "approval" to go skiing with your ex. Then you realized that by asking her to go, your ex had betrayed you as well. The end of a relationship is generally disappointing. Even if we are the ones who decide to end them, we still mourn the relationship that might have been.

This unfortunate incident re-opened a painful wound. We always hope that good friends have the sensitivity to not say or do things that will hurt our feelings, but sometimes this isn't the case.

The more egregious the lapse in judgment and/or the more often it happens, the less trusting of that person we become. You are right. Your girlfriend should have anticipated how you might feel about being left out of a threesome you helped foster. To her credit, at least she did ask before she put on her ski boots. However, you probably should have been more candid and assertive in expressing your disappointment in her lack of good judgment earlier.

Interestingly, your letter didn't end with a question. Sometimes the passage of time makes a situation--which once seemed murky--crystal clear. It sounds like you no longer trust your friend. If this is the case, you just need to move on---unless she finds some way to regain your trust.

Best,
Irene


Have a friendship dilemma that is bothering you? Perhaps I can help. Write to me at: Irene@fracturedfriendships.com

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and is working on a book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Break-up With Your Best Friend, that will be published by Overlook Press in September, 2009. She recently co-authored Schizophrenia for Dummies (Wiley, 2008). She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog.