A few months ago I was working with a client on dealing with some icky things she was going through with a friend. Some of her frustrations included:
- Her friend not hanging out as much anymore.
- Her friend not responding to texts and calls.
- Her friend constantly canceling plans.
I could go on and on. I personally felt every frustration my client felt. I knew she was doing everything in her might to keep the friendship going and her friend just wasn’t having it.
The friendship had changed.
And this realization hurt.
In my experience, there are two ways we can approach this situation:
1. We can allow our frustration to drive how we interact with our friend.
Pissed she’s bailing, again? Sad she hasn’t responded to your text in about a month? This might sound like, “I’m really disappointed you can’t go" or "You never call anymore."
2. We can take what our friend is GIVING us in terms of a friendship and run with it.
This is the harder option I know. This means focusing on the positive. "I'm so glad we found a day that works for us to hang!" or "It means a ton to catch up." This also means leaving your anger at the door.
What type of response would make you want to hang out again?
I know we learn throughout our lives how important it is to voice our feelings and be assertive. And trust me, I am a total advocate of this. But when you're in this situation, you've got to be careful that your anger isn't in the driver's seat. Otherwise, you will most definitely push your friend away.
If your goal is to keep this friend in your life, then the aim should be on letting go of what you cannot change and focusing on enjoying and treasuring the times you do have together.
You can tell your friend that you miss spending time with her or that you feel bummed about not hanging out as much, but I strongly encourage you to communicate these feelings when your anger has passed and you feel more in control of your own emotions.
Remember that you are not the same person you were yesterday, last year, or 5 years ago, and neither is your friend.
Just as you are changing, she is too.
Notice it. Accept it. And more importantly, focus in on being the kind of friend you ultimately wish she was to you.