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Ask the Coach: My friend dumps me when she dates someone new
Dear Coach Linda: I see that you are hosting some events to help people build up their social networks (in person and not just on Facebook) – I want you to know that I completely agree with you about the importance of creating and sustaining a healthy network of friends for support. I love my friends and really invest a lot of time in cultivating each friendship. I’ve been divorced for 5 years now and am single but I never feel like I’m missing out on anything, thanks to my friends. But here’s something I’ve experienced and I just don’t understand. I have a friend who must think friends are only useful when she feels lonely — when she meets a new romantic interest, she ignores her pals, including me. Is this normal? Should I be offended? ~ Jayne
Hi Jayne, thanks for your question. I can see how much you value community and authenticity! First, remember that it’s natural for your friend to get excited about a new love interest, and therefore devote most of her free time to him in the beginning. Most people do the very same thing. However, like anything in life, balance is the key. So if your friend is consistently dumping you (meaning that she no longer returns phone calls, can’t be bothered to reply to text or email, or iseven standing you up) when she meets someone new, she’s creating a bind for herself and being unfair to you. As I’ve said many times before, isolated singles become isolated couples become isolated divorcés. For her own sake, your friend should be able to date her new guy and still make time for friends if she wants to be fully satisfied in her life.
When a New Romantic Relationship Begins
To be fair, it’s important to cut your friend some slack during the early stages of her new relationship. After all, it takes time for a healthy relationship to grow, and sometimes that requires spending time alone with each other. However, true friends would never completely blow off previously made plans with you to spend time with the new romantic interest. A good friend would never refuse to answer your efforts to communicate or get angry with you for trying to get in touch.
Is There a Pattern?
If your friend completely forgets who you are when she’s in a relationship, yet comes crawling back each time she’s single again, that’s a problem for both of you actually. In your case, your friend is displaying a pattern of “bad friend” behavior, and showing that the friendship really isn’t a priority in her life. So if this person has done it before and you see another similar episode about to happen, talk to your friend. Tell her that your friendship is important to you, and that you don’t want it to end just because she’s in a relationship. Let her have the “new and in love” time at the beginning, but if you see that your friend is drifting away from you again, talk about your feelings. Your friend may not realize that what she’s doing is an unhealthy thing. (I’ve had this happen with a few friends myself.)
In her case, if she regards friends merely as “something to keep her busy” until she meets a romantic partner, she’s not only missing out on a very important part of her emotional life but she will inevitably heap too much responsibility upon her partner, expecting him to satisfy her every need. No romantic relationship will endure that kind of pressure and will undoubtedly fail – plus isolation from social input comes with a long list of emotional and physical ailments. In the long run, she will lack the balance and support that friendship can give. My teleseminar on Boosting Your Attractor Factor by Expanding Your Social Circlewill highlight all the great reasons why Empowered Singles (and Empowered Couples) NEED to nurture healthy support networks. Too many people do not devote enough time in this area — there’s just no way to have a great life without the support of community.
Know When to Leave the Friendship
Choosing to let a friend go is never an easy decision. If your friend consistently shows you that she’ll leave you high and dry whenever a new boyfriend comes calling, it may be time to walk away. Before you do, make sure she understands why you feel this way. If she’s sensitive to your feelings and is willing to change, give her a second chance. If not, she probably wasn’t that great of a friend to begin with. While we all know that isolated couples will eventually break up, we sometimes can’t save them from their fate no matter how hard we try. If you decide to “break up” with your friend, sincerely wish her the best and then return to the friends who treat you well. Good luck!