This time we'll address the question:
What if I'm the one being broken up with?
Ouch! That can really hurt!
A Breakup of Convenience
You may be very bonded to a group of women you're raising kids with. Then your family moves out of the neighborhood or your kids are a little older and in a different school. At first, you're surprised and then very disappointed when you realize the women in the neighborhood are still gathering and doing all the fun stuff you all used to do together. But there’s one big difference: they're not including you. When you run into these women, you recognize there's no ought against you, no snubbing or rudeness. It's just out of sight, out of mind. To them it was convenient to include you when you were all carpooling, watching each other's kids after school, and walking together. But now they assume you've moved on and they certainly have.
No sense picking up any rejection here because you truly have not been rejected.
Although you felt a great sense of closeness to the group, to them it was a relationship of convenience. If you're on the receiving end of this, it indeed can feel very strange and hurt a lot. But it happens all the time! It doesn't mean you didn't have a bond with the women involved, but maybe the bond was deeper for you.
Maybe you're a true connector.
Connectors really bond with their friends and feel deeply if a relationship changes or ends. Unfortunately, everyone does not bond at the same level and people sometimes do conduct relationships based on what's going on in their lives at the moment. So if you don't live across the street from the former friend, they don't think about driving to your house to take that early morning walk. Instead they find someone more convenient to walk with; this illustrates what a relationship of convenience may be. It may feel like a breakup, but it's hard to find validation because everyone still likes you and treats you well. You're just not included. This can cause heartache. And you may get stuck on mentally rehearsing the situation and trying to figure out what kind of people they must be. There's no fruit or peace in that direction. (Although it feels like people are giving us clues about who we are and our worth, remember, people are actually telling us who they are.) You need to process this somewhere safe. Talking to a trusted friend can really help. If all the "trusted" friends were in the former group, you may need to find a pastor, counselor, or therapist to help you unload and get beyond it.
When You’re Dropped for Another Friend
Sometimes breakups are more direct and cause a lot of feelings of anger, rejection, and insecurity. There are times when a friend you felt very close to just starts hanging out with another friend with no apparent reason or explanation. This is a tough one.
Should you try to approach the friend who's dropped you and find out what's going on? Always get closure if you can.
Romans 12:18 (NKJV) offers a specific admonition for this kind of dilemma, If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
The unspoken wisdom here is that you can't always make reconciliation happen! As much as it's possible with you, go for it. Approach your friend; have that conversation. Sometimes there's a reasonable explanation for your friend's shift in affections. But it may be confidential so your friend is caught between a rock and a hard place. (Maybe the new friend has a life-controlling struggle and has asked for help from your friend but privacy also.)
Your friend could also be fickle or have character issues that render her clueless that she has even impacted you. God may be delivering you from a narcissistic relationship before you've invested too much. It still hurts. Find someplace safe to talk about it without gossiping about her.
Whether you're the one being broken up with or the friend who attracts the toxic or chronically complaining companions, it’s painful and worthy of a little effort to make some changes. It's helpful to get some validation and assistance figuring these things out. The Bible says there is wisdom and safety in a multitude of counselors. (Proverbs 11:14)
What if these negative patterns with relationships keep repeating themselves? We'll look at that next month and see what some options may be. Keep the faith; friendships are worth the work it takes! You may be closer than you think to figuring all of this out.
Here are some resources to help you with friend relationships:
Why is it Always About You? The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss
"A how-to for disengaging yourself from the narcissists in your life, but also how to live with them."
How to be a Best Friend Forever: Making and Keeping Lifetime Relationships by Dr. John Townsend.
Friendships are crucial to quality of life and mental health. They require work. Here’s some practical advice.
Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website.
EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith. Click here to contact us.