Long-time friends who cut you off for no reason: Red flags & How to deal
In part 1, I talked about why might people, specifically long-time friends cut you off for no reason.
Here in part 2, I talk about the possible red flags you might have missed, based on my painful experience when a friend of 17 years ended our friendship without a reason, and how you can deal with such an upsetting situation.
The Red flags (that were already there)
Sometimes, in our friendships and relationships, we get so comfortable and used to the status quo that we fail to see the blinding red flags that may have crept in over time.
As I examined this former friendship, I do notice certain patterns in our friendship, and issues on both our parts that led to the eventual cut-off.
#1: I was dropped every time she had a new friend
Over the years, we changed classes several times and I always noticed that once she got closer to someone new, it was almost as if I never existed. And if we got thrown together in the same place again, she acted cold, distant and weird, ignoring me completely and acting as if we weren’t friends before.
#2: We both always had to be right
Any sort of disagreement always turned into a full-blown row cause of how we both insisted we knew better.
I still struggle with this sometimes and understand that it stems from a fragile ego/insecurity. It could stem from an unmet childhood need that resulted in them always feeling like their voice is never heard.
Both of our childhoods consisted of us always vying for attention in our respective families and never really having our needs met.
Put two people like that together and you can see how it can be a disaster when we refuse to calm down and listen.
#3: A conversational narcissist
One other thing that led to the huge cooling off of our friendship was — what I felt — her habit of constantly turning my issue into something about her.
Our final row stemmed from a comment I was making about my own life at that time. And it somehow turned into some issue that she thought I had with her.
We all can feel the need to “hog the spotlight” a little in our relationships from time to time. That’s normal. But if you are with someone who does this often, it can get pretty draining.
Not to mention, it can make you feel very picked on (if they turn it into a row) and unheard.
#4: Poor relations with other close friends
Always remember this — One BIG CLUE that someone won’t be in your life long? Observe how they treat their loved ones or close friends in their lives.
Do they have a tendency to badmouth, gossip about, hate-follow and cut people off for no reason?
Are they especially vindictive, revengeful and harbour lots of hatred towards very close people who have done little to raise their ire?
Then there’s a HUGE red flag you’ve got there.
If they are doing this to other people, remember that are very likely gonna do this to YOU in the near future.
Your friendship never really feels “safe”. One “mis-step” in the wrong direction and you are done for.
I still remember her being very vindictive and especially hateful to a once very close friend of ours who was dating someone she didn’t like. I have no idea why someone would be this bothered about the dating choices of their close friend. But there you go.
#5: I didn’t have a healthy level of self-esteem
When I was younger, I had a serious people pleasing problem. I’d still forge ahead with the friendship despite seeing things I wasn’t comfortable or happy with.
This was what went on in my friendship. Despite seeing glaring signs that we weren’t very compatible as friends, I still invested tons of effort and time in an effort to “prove” to myself that we were BFFs.
#6: I had an unhealthy definition of friendship
I always thought friends had to be intense, loyal and utterly devoted to each other. No matter what.
It was very obvious to me actually that she wasn’t the kind of person that suited me as a friend, but I still pushed through anyway. Forcing her and the friendship into a hole. And then getting utterly disappointed when things didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.
Are you expecting your friends to live up to an idealised version of friendship?
#7: The friendship wasn’t based on a strong foundation
We only had fun when we were having fun. We ultimately didn’t share the same values, interests and outlook in life. She also couldn’t seem to understand or empathise with the family stuff I was facing at that time.
That greatly disappointed me.
When you let everything in your world rest on something that wasn’t built from something strong, it is bound to crumble.
How do you deal with a friend cutting you off?
Allow time to grief
A friend cutting you off is akin to a breakup, especially if you have been friends for ages. The pain and the hurt is real and can be absolutely devastating.
Our brains experience this as a great loss and the lack of forewarning and closure can make it very difficult to get over. This was someone we shared a lot of our life with.
Allow yourself to grief the end of this friendship. You might cycle through all 5 stages of grief or find yourself going back and forth between stages. It is all ok. You should give yourself as much time as you need to sort your feelings out.
Understand that it probably has nothing to do with you
It’s all too easy to blame yourself when something like that happens. We cycle through all the events we might have done our friend wrong and start to feel guilty.
And this can be a hard pill to swallow — through my experience, I realised that sometimes you just never really know what is going on with a person. They might be struggling with something for awhile now and didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell you.
While in some cases, it could have been something you did, understand that a friend that treasures what you have would reach out to talk about it. And not run away.
It can be difficult, but don’t punish yourself day and night, racking your brains analysing what could have happened.
Reach out to them
I’m not sure if it’s pride, but I rarely reach out to someone who has already shown signs of cutting me off.
This could have shown up in different ways — blocking me on whatsapp/facebook, unfriending me on social media, not returning or replying any messages or calls.
If you are alright reaching out to them to talk about things, hey go ahead! But do remember that you might not get the response you want.
People who initiate sudden cut-offs aren’t really going to be ready to tell you the reasons they did so and some of them have no desire of ever talking to you.
So do bear that in mind if you reach out and never hear back.
Accept it and let it go
Sometimes all we can do is accept the situation as it is, and learn to let it go over time.
Accepting isn’t about being OK with what happened. It’s about accepting the reality that this friendship isn’t a part of your life anymore. Things have now changed and we need to re-adjust.
You will always have the good memories to look back on.
Write an unsent letter
I learnt this technique of the unsent letter when I was coping with my own friendship losses and I found it very therapeutic.
What you do is that you just write a letter to this person and never post it to them.
Just write whatever it is you want to, all your feelings, thoughts, opinions. How unfair you feel this whole thing is etc. Don’t hold back. You may even find yourself crying a lot as you write them.
Sometimes you need a couple of unsent letters addressed to the same person to start to really come to terms with things.
Nurture other friendships
We all don’t have just one friend in our life that we do everything with. Most likely, we have different friendships where we enjoy different activities together.
For example, I attend dance classes with only one particular friend, and travel with another.
Nurturing current friendships or cultivating new ones can make you focus less on that one friend who got away, and make you realise that the world is huge.
Meaning, if someone doesn’t want us around or appreciate what we have to offer, there are others out there who will.
Look out for them and treasure them.
Re-examine your definition of friendship
Sometimes we get blindsided by our friendships because we buy into this myth that we are supposed to have a BFF, that we must be loyal to our close friends, we can’t betray them etc.
Sometimes our pursuit of this idealistic notion of friendship can result in inaccurate perceptions of others.
And these notions can led to a lot of unrealistic expectations about your friendships as well as disillusionment, disappointment and general unhappiness.
How are you defining friendship? Are you heaping unrealistic expectations or friendship fantasies onto people?
Always look out for the red and amber flags
I mentioned a number at the beginning of this post. Just to be clear, in friendships, there might be times where either party will do something that hurts or disappoints the other.
That is inevitable in close relations.
But if those red flags keep coming up time and time again, then that’s something you need to pay attention to. Ignoring it and allowing it to fester may lead to a lot of issues further down the road.