Death of a Friendship

Someone I consider a good friend has not spoken to me in months and months and I do not know why. I call her and my call always goes to voice mail. I email her and the emails go unanswered.

Initially I thought she might just be busy and not have the time to call me back or write back. I can understand that on some levels because I am notorious for being slow to call people back or return their emails, simply because I dislike the impatience the modern age breeds in us all. When we email someone, we act like they're sitting in front of their computer with nothing else to do but reply to our email. We want a reply within the hour!

If two days go by we want to know, "Why hasn't this person responded?" But I grew up hooked to 19th century British literature, where the characters wait for replies that are given thoughtfully and with detail, so if it takes someone a week or two to reply, I understand.

But to not reply in months and months? That is more than being busy.

When I think back, I'm trying to figure out if there is something I may have said or done to offend her. Truly, I cannot think of anything, but that doesn't mean there isn't something I might have said or done to cause hurt feelings. It just seems that one of the rules of friendship should be that you tell your friends when they are getting on your nerves or when they've said or done something to hurt your feelings.

Some people revel in some sort of self-righteous victim hood, ever happy to go on and on about how offended they are that someone said or did something to them, and if you make up with your friend, you lose the luxury of attention paid to you when retelling the, "Can you believe she said/did that to me?" I do not think that sort of thing is my friend, but as time passes, speculation ensues.

I have also thought that it might not be something I said or did at all. Sometimes people go through things in their lives where they retreat into themselves, either out of embarrassment about whatever they are going through, or else they are depressed and truly can't communicate with others. If it's hard to talk about what you're going through, sometimes you just stop talking to other people at all.

Sometimes people grow apart and it is what it is. But at what point do I stop calling? At what point do I give up?


If the friendship is over she should still respond and let you know why.

If she is going through some kind of problem or depression she could shoot an email and let you know she is going through a hard time right now.

Too just disappear is strange.
Shawn said…
I recently went through a severe depression and lost most of my friends because of it.

One of my friends would leave me short messages on myspace and send me e-mail with encouraging words. She didn't know what I was going through and she also knew she didn't do anything that might cause us to not be friends.

She sent me an e-mail recently and I gave her my new number. She called me and we spoke as if we were communicating all this time.

Like you said maybe she is going through something. I would suggest you keep sending her messages and eventually she will come around.
Ian Lidster said…
I'd say leave the ball in her court, but I'd say her refusal to acknowledge you is at best sheer rudeness, but it may be something more serious as others have suggested.
Nerd Girl said…
Seems like you've done all you can - short of paying her a visit if that's a possibility. I think the next move is on her.

I lost a friend because of this. And it was my fault. She said something that hurt my feelings and even though I knew I was overreacting and that under normal circumstances what she'd said wouldn't have bothered me, I stopped returning her calls and now haven't spoken to her in over two years. I want to call her, but at this point am too embarassed to do so.
allison sara said…
My heart aches for you and your friend. Even though we have never met, I say as long as you keep being your wonderful loving self the friendship is still alive. You love this person, and in all likelihood they love you too. It's just that you're going through a rough spot. If you can stay with why you care about this person, that will give you strength to revive the friendship.
thailandchani said…
I have a really hard time with people who do that. Even though it seems rather strange to most, I will tell someone when I'm done.

It's just too simple to send an email or leave a voicemail saying "I'm in the thick of it right now but I'll be back around soon."

I wouldn't contact her again.

Anonymous said…
People react differently to situations but...
I am 8 months pregnant and a friend has not contacted me in 4 months. Occasionally she sends an email saying she knows I am busy so has not called or visited. (We live 10 minutes from each other.) As far as I can tell this began when I did not tell tell her I was pregnant until I reached the four month mark. She was upset and accused me of being secretive. When she had her last baby 2 years ago she voluntarily told me as soon as she got the positive pregnacy test. I used to visit often, dropping by with food, baby stuff.
I am just the kind of person who is very private about certain things, only my DH and I knew those first 4 months, not even family. I hoped my friend would simply accept me as I am. Surely there are worse things? But I guess she didn't.
Malik Akbar said…
Don't make any assumptions. I've had friends who I thought never answered my letters only to find out that I never got their reply because it was lost. Something that you're not aware of may have happened. Keep an open mind until you find out for sure one way or another.
Jameil said…
I say you stop calling now and just wait it out. You've left messages, haven't you? Why should you continue to do all the work? I'm not saying cut the person off (though I've been known to do so) but there's no reason to waste your time continuing to make unreturned and unanswered calls.
Anonymous said…
It doesn't necessarily have to be about you. Meaning, it's nothing you did or said. It could very well be about her and what she's going through.

My mother, grandmother and god-mother all were diagnosed with cancer within a month and two weeks time frame. Through all of this, I lost my grandmother and my eleven year relationship around the same time...people couldn't understand why I couldn't "shake it off". One friend told me, "Every time I talk to you, you sound sad...I want to talk to you when you are happy" I stopped calling her and or accepting her calls{hey, I wasn't "happy"}. I was very much depressed and thought I had a friend I could lean on, but I was wrong.

Nonetheless, your situation is different as you say, you can't recall any thing that transpired. So,I still say again, "It doesn't have to be about you".

Don't call again until Xmas or New Years...and when you do tell her that you are there if she needs you [if you truly will be]
Shiona said…
Like the previous commenters have said it is on her, you have done everything.

As for thinking about what you said I do that a lot. I am working at not over analyzing what I type.
Anonymous said…
If it's a reallygood fiend I'd leave a voice mial or email asking directly what's going on. Then I'd drop it.
Lola Gets said…
I suffer from depression too, and I started losing some of my friends then. They just stopped communicating with me. I always thought that communication was best in all relationships, but it seems like these particular friends think that they only need to "work" on their relationships with menfolks. Hmpf. Recently, one of them sent me "group" emails full of details about her pregnancy, but seeing as she never asked me how I was doing, I never responded.

I really cant tell you what to do in this situation, just do whatever you feel is best for you.
Anonymous said…
Gut check time. Clearly the caring is there! Give yourself and your friend the benefit of the doubt. You've done nothing knowingly to cause hurt and I doubt the intent of the prolonged silence is to cause pain. I suspect that your instincts are on target about sometimes you can put what is happening into words so you stop talking. You have let her know you care and want to be the best for her as a friend. Give her the understanding you would want if the situation were reversed-a friend is worth that kindness. Leave the door open if she wants to come in and let go. Hold on to the positive and trust in God or whatever Higher Power that is your spiritual tradition - that in the end it will all work out. As has been suggested maybe a New Years call. No act of kindness is ever wasted, whether we see the results or not.
Jen said…
I'd just leave a message asking her if there's something you did - or if she's going through something and then see if she responds. If she STILL doesn't respond - leave it. I had two situations like that - one friend thought I was upset with her, and it was just a family crisis that I was dealing with and I hadn't even realized I'd missed calling her back a couple of times - we now have a PACT that I'm to tell her if I'm upset (and vice versa, of course). I had another situation where I returned a call and that call was never returned - there'd been issues with this friendship before. It was very painful at the time, but I realize that I'm better without her in my life.
April said…
I'm with Jen of A2eatwrite, with a slight variation. I'd send one more email saying, "I'm getting worried. Are you okay? Are we okay?"
Jennifer said…
I had a situation recently where a good friend suddenly wasn't a good friend (or any type of friend, she just disappeared) and I didn't know why. I let it go until she came around (11 months later) and let her explain herself. Waiting it out worked for me. I say wait for your friend, she'll let you know eventually what's going on with her.
Sundry said…
First off, I'm so sorry to hear this. It's truly agonizing to go through.

When I read this, it brought to mind a friend I've decided is a bit like a feral cat. She comes and goes when she wants, and doesn't explain herself.

The last time this happened, it was right after she'd suggested me as a teacher in a program. I taught one 8-week class and decided that the particular venue was too stressful for me to continue. So I felt I let her down right about the time she disappeared for a while. Luckily, I learned that she evaporated from a mutual friends' life too.

She'd lost a dear family member, is prone to depressions, etc. She contacted me after about 8 months.

I understand that in your case, this is a new and unusual event. But I fall into the camp that says you may assume it has less to do with you than with her.

Look at all the thoughtful advice you received. It's heartwarming.
DJ Black Adam said…
I had the same thing happen a few months back, I say if you have left messages and they haven't called u back, move on, they obviously have a probelm (barring incarceration or hospitalization) and arent adult enough to deal head on.
Anonymous said…
At least he/she won't be entering the Wii contest so my chances of winning should be better!!!! Just kidding, don't worry about it I didn't talk to a friend for a year and I thought she was mad at me. I just called every month and left a message. One day she called me back and we've been fine. She wasn't mad at me her life was just going crazy.
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm having one of those "I Hate Firefox" moments. I replied to ALL your comments and then, of course, right when I was about to hit publish, Firefox crashed. Great, just great!

It's been such a busy couple of days and I wish I had time now to reply individually to each, but I don't. I will say though that you all have given me some GREAT food for thought from all perspectives. I truly appreciate it.

And Anonymous @ 1:21 PM, you made me LAUGH SO HARD. Oh goodness, that was FUNNY!
Miriam said…
"When we email someone, we act like they're sitting in front of their computer with nothing else to do but reply to our email. We want a reply within the hour!"

ROFL!!! So true! Guilty as charged.
Anonymous said…
It's usually something going on with the other person and not usually about you. That's been my experience. I gave up on a friend who did the same thing for a while then I really felt the need and I chased her down. It was great to catch up when we finally did. Whatever she was going through was not about me and she didn't even notice she hadn't responded. I needn't have worried about what I might have done. Good lesson for me. Have you read "A New Earth"? Helpful on these kind of issues...
Anonymous said…
Boy, I've been in this situation with people. I've had ever spectrum of problem - I did something,they have a new (fill in the blank - boyfriend, lover, job), family death, depression but more often, it's just what happens.

I think friendships are harder to maintain now. We are more distracted, more overwhelmed and in many ways, have less to say.


You present such a 'together' 'confident' front that she probably couldn't imagine that you were upset.
BlackLiterature said…
I've retreated from friends when there were some overwhelming issues in my life. I guess you could call it a depression. Some friends understood and took me back into the fold when I returned. Other's gave me self righteous grief. A few years later, one has stopped communicating with me. Not sure why.

All you can really do is wish your friend well and hopefully accept her should she turn up again. Sometimes people go through thingsin life and they feel they Can Not reach back to their friends. If that is the case, it really isn't about you... it's just their state of mind.

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