Is it Me or My Friends?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Loss of friends after illness, and still happening 7 yrs later! Please, I need some advise. Several dear friends once avoided us when i was extremely ill, after open heart surgery & a very near brush w/ death. Friends evading me, was an added stress i did not need, nor did i understand their reactions. Things were never quite the same again in our friendships.

I have hashed & re-hashed my own, and my husbands actions, and simply cannot see that “we” did anything wrong or hurtful to receive such treatment. Now , one of those dear friends has not spoken to us again for over 5 months (when he stopped by to borrow some money!). We do not have a clue as to why he’s once again shut us off. he will not return our phone calls, or stop by…nor can we catch him at home.

Are my husband & I obnoxious? Driving our friends away ourselves? i simply don’t understand. I discussed this w/ other friends & relatives, and everyone says it’s not us…that we seem “no different” to them. I have heart disease, but I’m not Dead!! What are we doing wrong? By the way, we’re adults in our mid fifties.

A. There are two likely explanations for why your “friends” are avoiding you. One may be that your friends, like many people, do not know how to handle difficult situations. Some people feel extremely uncomfortable with the prospect of having to comfort others in such life-altering and complex situations. Your “friends” may not have known how to deal with your open heart surgery and so they avoided the situation completely.

The other possibility is that these “friends” were never truly friends to begin with. Perhaps you thought that these individuals were your close confidants but you misjudged these relationships. This is equally possible.

Your situation reminds me of a saying an older client often recited. She used to say that you’ll know who your true friends are when you get sick. By this she meant that her true friends were those people who visited her at the hospital and she meant it literally. The people who visited her in the hospital were in fact, her true friends, as she saw it.

I do not know if it’s you or them but my sense is that these people were never truly your friends. Your time and energy may be better spent on finding new friends. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Is it Me or My Friends?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/07/is-it-me-or-my-friends/