The Painful Slow-Death of a Friendship



The Painful Slow- Death Of A Friendship

It felt innocent enough. After all, it was a busy summer for everyone.


Late September…

I called her to meet for lunch.

Her~ “I’m pretty busy with my new art classes” Hmm, was I imagining something off

Me~ “Have I done something to upset you?”.

Her~ “Of course not, I’m just busy!”.


Early October…

I called to meet for coffee.

Her~ “I’ve got book club and I’m meeting my new girlfriends from art class”.


Mid October…

I sent an email…chit chatting and asking to meet for coffee. No response.
I called and left a voice mail…No response.
I texted to follow up.

Me~ “Is everything OK with you? How are things in your life?”.

Her~ “We’re leaving town for Thanksgiving, in 3 weeks.”

This was the end of October! What’s up with that? Everyone’s busy, but a quick coffee is too hard to schedule within a three week period?


I followed up with a voicemail.

Me~ “Have a safe trip and Happy Thanksgiving! We’re taking off for a 3 week Motorhome adventure. I’ll call you when I get home”…No response.


Late November…

I send an email.

Me~ “How was your Thanksgiving, yada, yada, yada. Have you got time to meet for a quick coffee?”…No response.

Since she doesn’t answer (my) calls anymore I send a text.

Me~”Can you meet for coffee?”

Her~”Dinner party tonight! We’re leaving for Kansas in 4 weeks.” Seriously?

Me~”Have fun at the party, what’s in Kansas?”



This is a woman I felt very close to. We’d shared many laughs, confidences and seemed to be on many of the same wavelengths. We’ve only been friends for a few years, but we’d been close.

The sting got more painful the longer this went on so yesterday afternoon I phoned.
No answer…no surprise.

The Painful Slow-Death Of A Friendship

And it all just flowed out…

Me~ “Hi …, it’s Jennifer. I’m calling to find out if you’ve decided you don’t want to be my friend anymore. Maybe you’ve forgotten to tell me you’re through with me. I hate to think I’m imagining this. If I’m not, please put me out of my misery. I really hope you’re doing well. Take care. Bye.”
*I knew she was out & about, doing very well. I’d heard all about her busy party season.


I felt a huge weight lift. My chest didn’t feel tight anymore. I didn’t feel teary and puzzled. It felt like I’d ripped a bandaid off. Quick and clean. I’m usually a direct person, but this was the first time I’d put it all out there so openly. I’m sure my bravery was in no small part,  enhanced by the voice mail. No matter. I’m over it.

Her silence throughout the evening and this morning is confirmation that I really didn’t need. I knew it was over. I forced it to be over by opening a window to shed light on what now seems so obvious. She’s just not that into to me…anymore.

I won’t say being dumped by a girlfriend isn’t painful, because it is. This same thing happened to me about 20 years ago. Back then, the pain and wondering went on for months.
This time, I’m fine. What I tolerated at 38 is no longer acceptable at 58!
It doesn’t matter why she decided what she did. I won’t allow someone’s neglect or rejection of me affect how I feel about myself.

When you just know in your gut that it’s over, but you keep trying.

Can you save a friendship with persistence?

How long can or should you persevere trying to fix it?




  1. I’m so sorry you went through this, Jennifer, and so glad you stood up for yourself and spoke your mind. It’s flabbergasting that adults conduct themselves this way – suddenly ditching a friendship with no explanation.

    The closest I’ve come to this was in the first few years during / after divorce. It was like I was contagious. It added terribly to the hurt and isolation. And of course, it’s more difficult to make friends as we grow older in part because our lives get so busy. And, dare I say it, we’re a little more tired.

    Wishing you wonderful NEW friends in the new year who will fully and honestly appreciate you.

    1. Thanks DA! This happened right after I read and shared your wonderful post about how difficult it is to make new friends at our age. Poignant.

  2. Jennifer I think you dealt with this so well, that was brave and direct and I so admire you for it.
    To be brushed off in that way is really kind of humiliating isn’t it? You didn’t accept that, I think that’s awesome. xo

    1. Thanks Dani!
      It was humiliating.
      Even though it happened in the privacy of my own thoughts. Painful. I’m not usually quite this direct, but glad I was this time

  3. Hmmm…the silence seems so peculiar. Possibly you saw this in her personality before? I’m thinking passive-aggressive or very timid-avoider-of-conflict-at-all-costs? Either way it sounds like you took the healthy path and removed yourself from a painful situation. There’s an old saying about those unhealthy relationships. ‘We need to stop going back to an empty well…’ The important thing is that you don’t personalize her inexplicable behavior. One thing I’m learning as I get older is most of the time when I run into women who offend is it’s not about me. Sadly, it’s about them…I’m so glad you wrote about it and found such wonderful support from your readers. 🙂

    1. Thanks Leslie. The number of women who are sharing their stories amazes me. It seem to be such a common hurt.

  4. I went through the death of a 30 year friendship several times with the same person. I suffer from depression and it got to be too much for her. We even went for about 3 years without contact. Then I was feeling really sick and alone and I left a message for her, she was at my house within a few minutes. We had a long talk last week and decided to give it another try, we miss each other and love each other too much not to try again.

    1. That’s true friendship Sara. You are blessed to have each other!

  5. Interesting questions. I got dumped by a very good girlfriend many years ago. She sent me a letter out of the blue. It was very upsetting. I have a current friend who when I suggested we meet for coffee she texted back to say she did not have time. She only wanted to meet for dinner as couples (in other words on her terms).
    I have learned that it is really all about them and nothing about you in these situations.

    1. That’s strange. My husband even suggested perhaps they didn’t like him!! I said no, it had nothing to do with him. Just we two women.

  6. sounds like you extended the olive branch for a very long time…she must be going through some issues to be so cold and cut you off without as much as a word. It is her loss Jennifer.
    As a person who dislikes conflict I think you are a real gem and if you come back to Victoria we really Must do lunch!
    Take care…sending you a big hug.

    1. Lunch it is!! I promise to give you much more notice next time.

  7. I lost my best friend of 23 years only a few months ago. I have no idea what happened. She just freaked out one day and then stopped talking to me. It was like the person I’d known for 23 years wasn’t even there anymore. It made me question the reality of our friendship that had endured so much over so many years. I went out of my way to try to figure out what was happening but she shut off all communication. She blocked me from all her social media except Twitter where she went on and on giving vague references and posting expressions of someone that has been hurt. She refused to communicate with me what even happened. I was left bewildered. I found this to be so cowardly, immature and simply strange. I felt that after 23 years I deserved some reason. We were the type of friends that would email every day. Talk every couple of days. See each other once a week etc. I was planning a surprise birthday party for her 2 weeks before this went down.

    I wrote long emails trying my best to salvage whatever there was. All to no avail. She still hasn’t told me what went wrong.

    I seriously thought about just showing up at her doorstep. Confronting her. But I didn’t.

    She threw me away like a crumpled piece of trash.

    Needless to say I’m still trying hard to cope with the loss. It makes me angry and frustrated. With every passing day I’m learning to let it go little by little. I thought at the age of 58 a person would be more mature. I now see that with age does not come maturity.

    So yeah…I totally feel for you.

    It’s not easy to feel like you’ve been rejected for no reason at all.


    1. I’m sorry this happened to you Suzanne. It’s such a personal rejection. Showing up on her door front might have been even more painful. Moving on is tough when we have no closure.

  8. Barbara Stevens says:

    Jennifer, the longer I live the, the more I am amazed at the breath taking self focus of some people. Say a prayer for your friend, lament the loss for ten more minutes and then go Christmas shopping for Baby James.

    1. Wise counsel Barbara! I’ve only bought him a little pair of slippers! I’m way behind the eight ball on Christmas. I have started to knit him a hat though…I better get my butt in gear. xoxo

    1. xoxo Frances with an “e” :). Enjoy those Grandbabies!

  9. Rebecca Hively says:

    You obviously struck a chord with MANY women! And I SO agree with so much of what you said. Friendships are difficult to maintain in this fast world we live in so we need to make sure that EVERY one of them is meaningful in the time they are there. But these times do come and go. And the going can be very difficult. Thanks for sharing something that affects all of us women at different times in our life. It always helps to know we’re not alone.

    1. I do wonder if the frantic pace of our lives, contributes to this. Did this happen as frequently during simpler times? I imagine it did, but we didn’t have a forum to share. It does help to know one is not alone. I’m so heartened by the outpouring of support you have all offered me. Thank you Rebecca!

  10. This happened to me about 4 years ago when a couple we were really close to broke up. She dumped all their mutual friends, including me, who was her best friend. I made some effort to get to the bottom and then realized it wasn’t worth the effort. The hardest part was thinking that maybe she hadn’t been a true friend at all. Eventually, I worked through that yes, she had been, our friendship had been real, but that for whatever reason, she had changed and needed to move on. It is sad when these things happen, isn’t it? Sadder still that these are grown ups who don’t even have the guts to speak their truth, whatever that is. You are so wonderful and have such a positive attitude! Her loss!

    1. Thank you Wendy!
      Your comment reminds me, we can never walk in another woman’s shoes, and never truly know her essential truth. No matter how bonded or connected the friendship, we all travel our own path.
      Perhaps there are issues she wasn’t honest enough to share, but we now move on…separately. Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Jen…

    She has lost a good friend…or maybe not. Perhaps life will allow you to reconnect one day. In the mean time, it sounds like your energy has recharged and you have moved on.

    It’s good that you wrote about it.

    As always, you provoke thought…

    My blog friendships are much like my friendships with those nearby. I am the friend that lives in the wings. I’m the Carol King definition of friend. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall…(not the one you always hang with)…the one you call. A girl that will show up at 10am on a Saturday after a bad week and say…”Let’s crack a cold one”… because it makes us laugh to be having a “beer” before noon.

    At 10:30pm, I went down to the fridge in the family room and cracked open a Cranberry Ginger Shandy, and toasted you…the good friend that you are. ( I don’t think that I have ever sipped a brew after 10 on a Sunday.)
    …and look how many lovelies answered this call.
    I see that you called back each and every one of them!
    …so deserving of a friendship toast!

    Welcome home from your fun and beautiful road trip!

    1. You’re a dear friend Leslie! Thank you so much.
      I treasure my blog friendships, some of which have turned into “real-time” time ones. Regardless, the ones that remain through the written word are heartwarming, supporting and loving. What more could one ask for? Nothing!!
      Thanks so much for being my Carol King (love that) friend! I toast you and treasure you!
      xoxo~ J

  12. Jennifer, I agree with what another reader wrote-life’s a cycle and friendships have cycles too. It doesn’t make them any less real when they tend to grow apart. Times, circumstances and feelings change, with us and with our friends. I’ve learned that you can walk away, yet should never burn a bridge. You and she will always have that friendship foundation and you may need one another down the road for inevitable hardships. Great blog post my friend. Thanks for your sweet candor….we’ve all been there. Donna

    1. It does seem we’ve all been there! I hesitated to hit the post button, but now I’m so glad I did.
      You’re so right about not burning bridges. Life’s too short and we did share a very real connection, at one time. I certainly can’t predict the future, so try to leave myself open. Thanks Donna!

  13. Jennifer great post. I’m so had the same experiences and even recently. Hard part is as you get older it’s harder to find time for friends and when you do it’s extremely disappointed to find out that somebody wasn’t who you thought they were. It’s crushing and makes you not want to put yourself out there. Forget about her. Anyone who doesn’t love you as you are is not your friend! Do not second guess yourself. Life’s too short to be friends with these kinds of women!! xo kim

  14. This sadly happened to me as well. What I am realizing is that I don’t miss her, my relationship is better because i don’t speak or hear negative thoughts daily. I actually ( at age 72) like my own company. I appreciate the little things in life and am thankful for clarity in the way my life is progressing. I give myself permission to embrace passions that might be silly to others but are important to me.

    1. I’m glad you’ve moved on. Negative friends, are not friends, they’re toxic. We deserve to enjoy our passions,without critiques. Thank you for sharing Leslie.

  15. This, for me, applies to friends AND family. I know joy comes from giving. I live my life that way. BUT…when you give give give (of yourself and your heart…not things) and get ignored or manipulated or used, you find yourself exhausted in making efforts to make things different. When it’s one sided, it’s difficult to make the decision that enough is enough. Rejection in any form is hurtful; even more so when you feel you’ve gone above and beyond to repair or renew the relationship. But, when you reconcile the end of any relationship, it feels GOOD…eventually…finally… I am a big believer in figuring out the lessons people come into our lives to teach us. So, in your quiet moments, figure out what this ex-friend taught you at the beginning, middle or end. And thank them (silently) for that lesson, in an enlightened, chin-up, moving on kind of way : ) Oh, and you can have lunch with me too!!

    1. Thanks Lee!!
      I will look for the lessons. I’m sure there are many. I’ve already learned that being direct makes me feel instantly better. It’s a feeling of power rather than victimization.
      Lunch sounds perfect:)

  16. I’m sorry this happened to you. Good for you for being direct.

    1. Crap happens but I’m not usually this direct. I pride myself on my tact…but this just had to be said. Of course, as I said, there’s great bravery in voicemail.

  17. Now that she is out of your life, don’t be surprised how long it takes to quit thinking about her, she’s part of your psyche. But eventually it will pass and you are better off without her. Your blog is wonderful.

    1. Thank you Meridith! I hadn’t planned to write this post…it just poured out this morning. I’m glad it did!!

  18. Anna tvshopaholic says:

    Hi thank you for sharing. I was dumped by a friend years ago. She did it to my face, well on the phone. I was going through a divorce at the time and rang her to meet up and she just told me she didn’t want to see me again.

    I was hurt but eventually rationalised that i could do without that person in my life and she couldn’t really have been a friend.

    I do also find myself now that I’m older addressing issues that I would have ignored when I was younger.

    1. OMG! How shocking to be told she didn’t want to see you again!! That must have stung…but you are waaay better off without her! She was not a friend. She was a frenemy.
      The perspective of age is wonderful. It almost makes up for the aches and pains in my joints.

  19. YOU gave HER TOO many chances………………
    MOVE ON………don’t dwell…….and as YOU know I too have been through THE SAME!
    Seems we all HAVE!!!!!!
    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I’m realizing how many of us have been through this!!
      Merry Christmas my friend. How about lunch? :))

  20. Hard to know about people sometimes, especially if they won’t be honest with you – or at least have the courtesy to let you know. You gave it your best effort and patience – at which point, yes, we’re empowered being over 50. We move on and it doesn’t change how we feel about ourselves, except, redundantly here – being glad to be over 50.

    1. I’m comfortable with how I handled it. I did give my best effort. In the end, her lack of honesty and courtesy is what tore it for me.

  21. This happened to me too a few years ago. Jan and I had been friends for years We had so much in common and were as thick as thieves. Her marriage went through a difficult time and I supported her whilst not interfering or taking sides. Then out of the blue the big chill happened. I confronted her on this and her attitude towards me,which I thought was hurtful and mean. She responded almost immediately…. She told me that were a few friends that helped her through her marital troubles, and now every time she sees or hears from us, it’s just a painful reminder of what she went through. I accepted her explanation.. but thought to myself.. wow.. . okay.

    1. Wow B! That’s what we were, thick as thieves! And then the big chill.
      Your friend’s explanation sounds like a cop out…but accepting it and moving on is all you could do. And you’re better off! Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. Now I might be a little young to be reading this blog but your advice is wonderful. I have had this happen to me many times over. Sometimes it was them and sometimes it was both of us, but fear not. People come and go. If it always stayed the same then nothing would ever change and life and you would never progress. It was hard on me at first but now whenever a friend pulls this on me its like a weight is taken off my shoulders once I let go. Not having to deal with those that cause more trouble than good is a wonderful thing and helped me grow up and begin to think in a positive, self-improving, self-loving (in a good way) manner.

    1. Thanks for sharing Anna. You’re way ahead of the pack and wise for your age.
      Sometimes it IS both people, and I asked myself for weeks, what I could have done wrong. Finally it was not something. I would allow to hurt me…and had to let it go. It was the kindest thing I could do for me.

  23. Jennifer, I just ended a friendship, though, I didn’t skirt the issue like your friend did. For myself, I found it necessary to release myself from this person because I was beginning a new, more positive direction in my life. My ex – friend was spiritually draining. I don’t feel sad about my decision. I feel like we were in each others lives for a season. Seasons change.

    1. You did it the right way Glenda!
      Perhaps this women felt I was draining her! I’ve no idea because she wasn’t honest. No matter, she did it unkindly, and I can’t tolerate that treatment. Time for a new season:) thank you for sharing.

  24. Very interestingly, I was having this very discussion with a dear friend moments before I opened your post from today. There are friends and family in my life that no longer put out the effort to maintain the relationship, and at 58, I need to be discerning where I put my energy. I still love these people but it’s time for me to let go of what is no longer working in my life.I find there is a grief that goes along with this and I will let that grief run its course.

    1. Very wise Shawn. I’ve flushed relationships that were draining or negative. But I did it openly, and kindly. Her way was painful and her lack of backbone showed me her true character. Painful yes, but I’m moving on. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Laura Helbig says:

    Friendships are seasonal. The friends of childhood fade from our lives and new ones take their place At 62, however, I had thought the friends I’d made in my later years would stick, but recently I decided, pastor to pastor, it was time to talk to a friend about an issue I felt she needed professional to get beyond. I thought I was very gentle, but she took offense. She did not need help. What I did not anticipate was how she would present my good intentions to others. I lost her friendship as well as that of two other women. I am at peace, but I am still sad that my effort to be loving wasn’t accepted as such.

    1. Oh no!! That’s awful. It sounds like you struck a cord with her and her defensiveness showed in her reaction. No good deed will go unpunished. One day, I hope the other women will come around. It’s just a shame, but I’m glad you’re at peace.

  26. Bluebooby says:

    The hardest part has always been if I’m going to offend you I want to make sure I did it on purpose. I’m glad you called her on it. Fuck her.

    1. Yup! I couldn’t just leave it to fester and fade away. I had to be sure she knew how I felt.
      Love ya Doll!! xoxo

  27. Elizabeth Tierney says:

    1) Like we used to say about deadbeat boys in high school, forget her. She isn’t worth it. If she isn’t answering email/vmail/texts, she’s not the same person you chose for a friend.

    2) You can eat lunch with me.

    1. Thank you Elizabeth. I’m in the market for new friends!! Women with backbone, manners and kindness in their hearts.

  28. As I learned over the years, Jennifer, life is a series of cycles. People come in and go out depending on circumstances, be it geography or something else. Cycles are normal. It’s abnormal for us to lose girlfriends and I understand how you feel. Years ago one of my best friends (?) stabbed me in the back to make herself look good. I was wounded, almost fatally wounded. Later on, with much help from a shrink I saw a couple of times a week, my husband and other friends who knew both of us, I realized the narcissistic person she was. Something I had never seen before. All she cared about was what people thought of her. I couldn’t go to a swanky dinner party she was having & because she believed I had somehow turned my back on her, let her down because she NEEDED me to be there. My husband had obtained tickets to see Mama Mia the Christmas after 911, we had the plane tickets, the theater tickets, and had told his daughter, who lives in NYC that we would be visiting her for 5 days, we COULD NOT CANCEL. It doesn’t matter what she said, what she did, how she acted, I couldn’t change what was already planned as she wished. Sadly, she passed away the following August. I still mourn her loss, but now I remember the wonderful times we had, I have her photo in my bedroom, and I remember her frailties. You will move on, live your life and just know that your friend has her art class, her book club, her travels, her “new” friends; that her life has changed. One day Karma will take care of it all. Smile if you see her, then move right out of her sight.
    You have a wonderful life (maybe she’s jealous?), enjoy every moment !! The Lord wants all of us to be happy with each day, no matter what happens. Sending love to one girlfriend from another.

    1. Dear Marsha,
      You are a kind, strong woman to remember the good times with your friend.
      I’m a firm believer in the law of Karma, so wonder if this is Karma visiting me!
      I’m moving on and each comment I read, makes me realize how common this situation is between women. Sending love right back at you girlfriend! xoxo

  29. Marguerite says:

    omg, Jennifer, this sounds just like what I went through a couple of years ago. A friend I had known years, had raised kids with, helped support when her daughter had severe depressive episode, shared an exercise trainer with suddenly quit being friendly. I kept suggesting, inviting, calling with no reciprocation. I poured out my angst to my poor sweet husband on a regular basis. As you said, wtf? We ended up moving to a different city and have gotten a couple of Christmas cards from former friend, but nothing more. After asking around some mutual friends, I learned her husband has an immune illness and she is working in his business.part time. Still wouldn’t this be when you would need a friend? I’ll never understand it, but I’ve moved on.

    1. Thank you for sharing Marguerite. My husband has been hearing this from me for days! I had no intention of writing about it, but this morning I just HAD to. Writing about it has been very therapeutic. I’m sorry to hear you had the same thing happen, but we must move on.

      1. Marguerite says:

        Thanks, Jennifer. I guess we are still learning about life at 50 plus! P.s. You can eat lunch with me, too!

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