Black Couch: What to do when your BFF bails

Dear Black Couch,

I have a friend who has basically bailed on me. We were very close, but now she spends so much time with her new boyfriend that she is ignoring me, it seems.

She says she is too busy to hang out with me, but then I find out she has spent time with him. I don’t really like the guy either, so that doesn’t help.

Signed,

Desperately Seeking BFF

Dear Desperately,

Let me tell you a story.

I have a best friend; we have been BFF’s for years. Sometimes we go months without speaking, and then when we do see each other it is as if no time has passed at all—we just pick up where we left off. She and I have gone through boyfriends and breakups, tantrums and adventures, empathy and laziness.

What is the one thing that always remains true? We want what is best for each other and we put each other’s needs ahead of our own when we can.

How does this story relate to you, you ask?

I hope, in many years, you and your BFF will have the same bond and same understanding that the friendship is solid and permanent. That may not be the case, however. This friendship may not have staying power, and if so, that’s okay too.

There’s an old poem that says people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. This friend could be any of the above. Maybe you’ve grown apart and you need to stop holding on so tightly, or maybe you need to simply be and understand what she is going through. Maybe you will both weather this storm and emerge as lifetime friends. You will never know that until you do two things: communicate and let go.

I would just have a talk with her if it were me. The next time you see each other why not ask for a little more time to chat? You have to be unselfish and honest.

You can be upfront and say “it seems as if we spend less time together than we used to. I understand that you are in a new relationship right now, so what do you need? Do you need more time to see where this goes with him? Do you want to try to spend time with us both socially?” If she says yes, then why not agree on a “friend night” so you know what to expect and can count on it.

Honesty is such a simple yet miraculous thing. Why not candidly say “when we break plans it makes me feel unnecessary and hurt. What can we do to nurture our friendship yet still be considerate of your new boyfriend?” After all, there’s more than one person in this equation.

I say you should be unselfish, but you have a right to be treated with respect. If she bails on you after you’ve communicated your feelings and made plans, then she’s not being respectful, but that disrespect tells you all you need to know.

If she is just as committed to the friendship as you are, she will make a point to be considerate.

Keep in mind that new love is very powerful; just because she is spending less time with you may not mean she’s abandoned you; it may just mean that she’s caught up in a new romance. It would be amazing if you could be the friend who tells her “I want you to be happy; I will be here when you need me.”

You did say you don’t like this new guy. Is some of your unhappiness related to your dislike of him? Would you feel as abandoned if you approved of this boyfriend?  Are you a bit jealous that she has found someone else–no matter who that is? And would you feel this way if you were also embarking on a new romance?

Bottom line: flip the situation—if she were you and you were her, would you want an understanding friend who recognizes change, supports growth and communicates honestly? Or a friend who disparages your new guy, makes you feel guilty for not spending more time with her and is unable to support your happiness?

Be the friend you want to have—and not just to her, but to others.

Who says you can only have one BFF anyway? There are billions of people on this planet; I bet there are hundreds of meaningful friendships within your grasp.

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