Depression and loss of friend

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have had a rough couple of years. A few bad things have happened and I’ve been trying to piece things back together but it’s taking time. It’s caused some depression as well. Through it all I had a very good friend. We knew each other in high school and then met up again a couple years ago when I was starting through all the bad stuff. He has my exact sense of humor, likes the same things I do, there’s no one else like him in my life. We always had a good time hanging out and because of him I was able to handle the bad stuff with more ease. He did a lot for me and I did a lot for him. We were always there for each other. I trusted him more than anyone and found myself talking about things with him that I didn’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone else. We were in synch and made a great team.

The only difference was that I am gay and he was straight. But he was cool with that and I never tried to bring things to any kind of romantic level. I just enjoyed his friendship.

Then he started acting strange, not calling or returning calls, and I figured it was because he was depressed sometimes and tended to isolate for periods of time. After a few weeks he contacted me and apologized, said he was just a little down and was isolating, as I’d thought. We hung out and he apologized again and said he’d missed me. I felt like our friendship hadn’t skipped a beat and might even be stronger. That night we went out and got a little drunk and then he was asking me about relationships and sexuality, and we talked about that because I figured he’s just an inquisitive person. Then he asked if I wanted to go watch TV at his place and I said sure. As soon as we got to his place he initiated sex. It wasn’t awkward or shameful like you’d think that kind of situation would be. It was close and intimate and had a deep connection, and it was very intense on his part. I spent the night and when we woke up in the morning, I figured he’d freak out but he didn’t, and in fact initiated it again. We hung out that morning, not discussing it at all, just hanging out as friends. It happened again a few days later, when we were both sober.

We hung out other times without having sex and it was cool. We talked on the phone frequently but we were both busy so didn’t see each other much. Then a couple weeks later he called me and told me he didn’t want to be friends anymore. When I objected he got loud and angry and said some hurtful things that didn’t make sense. Then he came over and reaffirmed it and then said maybe he needed time. He never gave any clear reasons, made up some stuff but just said he didn’t want me in his life.

Come to find out he’d started a relationship with a girl around the same time we were having sex. I waited a while and contacted him again and he got angry again and said he didn’t want to hear from me, but we talked for a while and he then said he needed a little more time, whatever that means. I’ve been so depressed about this I can’t even describe it. I think about it constantly and it makes me sick. I wasn’t the one who initiated the sex and had I thought it would ruin our friendship, I would have stopped it. It was amazing but I needed him as a friend, not a hook-up. I miss him and hate him at the same time. I just want to rewind time and stop this from happening so I can have my friend back, but that’s not going to happen so now I’m left with my misery.

I feel like he had sexual feelings and exercised them with me at the expense of our friendship, which makes me feel used. I also feel like he wants to make it so the sex never happened, and the only way to do that is to make it so I don’t exist in his life, which makes me feel like trash. It’s been weeks and not a day goes by that I’m not really depressed about it. I have no other friends that I see on a regular basis (he was the one I talked to all the time) and that makes it lonelier. I could make other friends but never one as perfect for me and as connected with me as him. And I don’t think I’ll ever trust anyone again anyway, at least not that much. I told him all this when we spoke the second time afterwards, and he just kind of said he hopes I feel better but doesn’t want me in his life and needs more time. I don’t know what to do to make things go back as close to the way they were with him as possible, and I don’t know how to get rid of this misery either.

A: I’m so very sorry that this situation has made you so miserable. This may be small comfort, but I don’t think it’s about you. It looks to me like your friend is struggling with his sexuality and is having a pretty hard time of it. Apparently, you didn’t have the same difficulty getting clear who you are sexually so maybe you can’t relate to what he is going through. It may well be true that you’re right: He wishes it hadn’t happened and the only way he can make that so is to try to erase the feelings he has for you. It probably won’t work but he’s giving it a try anyway. He isn’t trashing you. He’s avoiding coming to terms with himself. On your side: It’s emotional blackmail to tell your friend that you will never trust again and it’s all his fault. He’s telling you he “needs more time” because he doesn’t want to hurt you but the truth is that he isn’t ready or willing to take the role you want him to take in your life.

You have idealized your friend in a way that is making trouble for you. As the expression goes, you’ve put all your eggs in one basket. As wonderful as he is, I doubt very much that your friend is the only match for you in the world. Of course, if you act like that’s so and don’t make friends and look for lovers, you won’t find any.

Yes. It would be great if your friend was comfortable with being gay. But he’s not and it’s foolish to try to push his process. What you can do is push your own. If you are interested in finding a lover, it means making yourself available and trying out relationships until you find one that clicks — this time mutually. With time and the willingness to take some emotional risks, I have every reason to believe you will find what you are looking for.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). Depression and loss of friend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/10/depression-and-loss-of-friend/