Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Dynamics of Long Term Friendship


My friend came to me today, deeply troubled.

Her 65 year friendship with her bestie was on the rocks.

Her friend, B, had made weekly plans with her, dinner on the Friday.

S, my friend, called her to confirm on Thursday.

B said, things had changed, now they would meet Saturday instead, offering no explanation.

S called her on Friday to confirm and B responded something more exciting had come up for Saturday so said they'd have to meet some other time.

S called B today to tell her how hurt she was and was immediately gas-lit. I've written about gas-lighting before as some in my own family of origin are experts. I didn't know anything about it until I read an article a few years back and the light bulbs went off. S had never heard of it either but when she went over how B had treated her on the phone:
(1)You're too sensitive
(2)I have a life, you should get one
(3)You're forgetting all I've done for you
(4)This is so trivial.
(5)You should apologise for harassing me.
(There was no apology offered by B, you will note.)
she kept nodding at me. It was familiar territory to her in this friendship.

I discussed a long term friendship I had lost. It all boils down to the respect given and received, doesn't it? How we value each other. There were underlying issues (passive aggression and continual tardiness) in my former friendship but basically, for me, it was that sense of having no value, evidenced by lack of contact - an inherent laziness - and dismissal of efforts made by me to cement and honour what we had.

We need to be seen and heard we both agreed. I suggested she take timeout as I had done, to re-evaluate. To get to the point, perhaps, where they could sit down and see what each needs from the other and how they could prioritize and respect what they have.

A difficult process but if both participated equally it could re-ignite that intimacy of 65 years and forge a new respect and connection.

Maybe I should have been a therapist?

I've often thought so.

14 comments:

  1. Someone here is afraid to tell the truth and therefore being evasive. The other is hurt. The only remedy is for the pair to talk but it does not sound like that will happen.

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    1. I am hoping it will but wishes don't buy milk. She is terribly hurt. I think B doesn't value S as much as S values her.

      XO
      WWW

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    2. I would agree. I also tend to believe that about the friend who just passed.

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  2. Losing a best friend in that way is very hard, very hurtful. I feel for your friend and I think you gave her good advice.

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    1. I remember the hurt I felt as well so know the feeling. It's only when we have rewarding and equal friendships we realize how emotionally abusive another one can be.
      XO
      WWW

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  3. Looking at the length of their friendship it's hard to think your friend would be better off without her (the other friend) but to outsiders it's a thought.

    I glanced at the 'gas-lighting' link - and have been looking elsewhere- and boy can I see examples of things said and done over the years that I thought were 'just him' and his different way of thinking and sense of humour. Not enough to make me doubt myself but enough at times to call him out and tell him I 'don't think that funny'

    Interesting post today WWW - I hope your friend achieves peace of mind in the end

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    1. Thanks Cathy, yes, she is working on it. I suggested she get a thank you card for a recent generosity her friend had given her so she followed through on that. I know myself when trauma happens that it can be extraordinarily hard to feel one's way forward.

      XO
      WWW

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  4. Gas Lighting is such a universal phenomenon that I see it around me all the time.

    Indeed you should have. I have often thought that you would make a great counsellor / therapist with all your experience.

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    1. Yes it is, Ramana and those dishing out gaslighting are completely unaware of what they're doing or are narcissistic in the extreme.

      Thanks for the kind words, am I too late? I should explore.

      XO
      WWW

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  5. Gas lighting and narcissism go hand in hand. My husband's family members are textbook cases.

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    1. Well said DKZ and I'm sorry you have to deal with this regularly.

      XO
      WWW

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    2. Oh, I don't have to. I "divorced" Terry's family almost 30 years ago and have remained at a safe distance. Terry's mother died last December so there are no connections now, just terrible memories. It was a long learning curve, though, before I got smart enough to handle it.

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    3. Wise decision then to avoid all that pain. I had such difficulty dealing with it in my own family. Tha pain can be awful, more like disbelief, until the pennies drop.

      XO
      WWW

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    4. Good piece on a tricky subject. Thanks!

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