Monday, May 7, 2018

With Friends Like These...

Don't stress over people in your past. There's a reason they didn't make it to your future.

My hiking partner had been uncharacteristically quiet for a few hikes. She kept the conversation light. We talked birds and deer, engagement party plans for her niece, the weather.
And then she said she told me something that she had been avoiding talking about because she was so angry with herself. It involved a woman she thought was her friend. This "friend" had hired my friend's husband to renovate their bathroom. (This isn't going where you think it is but bear with me.) And then the problems began. This "friend" wasn't happy with the budget, she complained about fixtures, she insisted that the workers had damaged some belongings. The complaints mounted. A supplier told my friend's husband that he thought this woman was scamming him.
By the time the job was finished, my friend's husband hadn't made a dime and had suffered many stress headaches.
And my friend felt completely betrayed by this "friend". Who does that? she asked me. I sighed.  Well...
I used to be like my friend. A "friend" would pull something shitty – she'd gossip about me, or exclude me from something, or accuse me of something I didn't do.
And I'd wonder what I'd done wrong to be so misunderstood.
A decade ago, when my world was collapsing around me thanks to infidelity, a "friend" turned on me around the same time. We were organizing a fundraiser together, divvying up duties according to our strengths and available time. And then the weirdness began. I would open my computer in the morning to long protracted e-mails about how I was "sabotaging" the event, how I wasn't a "team player". I felt blindsided. I was doing this volunteer gig – which had been my idea – while finishing up a big paid assignment. I didn't yet know my marriage was imploding but the storm clouds were gathering. I hadn't the time, energy or inclination to deal with asinine accusations.
So I didn't. I put my head down and did my work. And then, when it was over, I told her I needed a break from our friendship.
It was long overdue.
And that's the thing with toxic "friends". There's usually evidence that they're trouble, evidence that we often overlook or excuse. And there are inevitably other people in these "friends'" lives with whom they also have trouble. Toxic people can often fool those around them for a period of time. Sometimes years. But, eventually, people wise up.
When my hiking partner looked more closely at her "friend", she found a past littered with people who'd been similarly screwed over.
When I look at the "friends" who've turned out not to be, they've always ALWAYS had problems with other people.
In other words, it's not me. It's her.
That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, of course. Being rejected, lied to, betrayed by, or accused of is painful, especially when it's by someone we let into our life. Someone we thought was our friend.
But resist the urge to take the blame. See if there's a pattern in this "friend's" life that makes you not so much an exception but another in a line of suckers.
Your future should hold only people who've made the cut. And make sure the bar is high.

Want to join your BWC friends for a "showing up" on the North Carolina shores (no "retreat" for us!)? Check out My Heartbreak, My Rules, My Healing, a weekend of sharing our stories, making space for our healing and showing up in our lives. Space is limited. 


  1. I recently became aware of a friend/acquaintance that is ATTEMPTING to cheat on his wife of 30 years with both men and women.He accidently forwarded a set of email attachments to me instead of his intended recipient. He details a past affair with a man as well as his desire for discreet relationship with the new guy, and expresses his wishes to find a woman to join...He stresses his need for discretion. Im not quite sure what to do, if anything at all. I thought this forum would be a good place for advice. If this is totally out of place I apologize. Thanks.

    1. Unknown,
      I strongly urge you to tell this guy's wife. I know how awful a position that puts you in. Nobody wants to be the one to share bad news with someone. But I don't think there's a woman on this site who doesn't wish someone had told us what was going on long before we actually found out. For one thing, it gives us the opportunity to protect our health and get tested for STDs. For another, we deserve to know who we're married to. Depending on this guy's circumstances re. cheating, he could be secretly spending money (plenty of women on this site discovered their partners had spent $1000s). She might be making plans for herself based on her belief that she has a rock-solid marriage, such as buying property or retiring or moving. Please, please tell her. You could tell her anonymously by blocking out your e-mail and sending her the messages. You could mail them to her. Or you could tell her personally, simply saying "Here's what I know..."
      Don't go to him first because it gives him a chance to lay the groundwork that any accusations are 'ridiculous', or that someone's out to get him. It gives him the chance to cover his tracks, to bury any evidence.
      I wouldn't be surprised if she's suspected something not quite right for a while. Doesn't mean she won't be blind-sided. But many of us, once the information comes to light, realize that we've felt something was off for a long time. Having that nagging feeling confirmed goes a long way toward helping us realize we're not crazy.
      And thank-you for asking us. So many people prefer to pretend they don't know. I admire your integrity.
      Good luck. If you choose, let us know how this played out. We'll be keeping that wife in our thoughts.

    2. Further what Elle said I would recommended NOT being anonymous. I’ve received two anonymous letters, one pretending to be from a “friend” and the other from the COW’s ex-husband. Neither were signed or named and they are a source of questions and ultimately, doubt. A true friend would have put her name on the letter. Promise her your discretion and that you will never ask her about it, but offer your help and support if she wants it. Sometimes doing the right thing is hard. Good

    3. Thank you for the advice. A couple of things I failed to mention in my original post. First, I know him, I do not know her at all. 2nd, along with the emails he also sent a nude selfie. 3rd, this guy is a very successful head of a billion dollar corporation and a fairly well known person.
      I am honestly a little wary of poking such a powerful bear.
      All that said, I tend to agree with the advice being given. Its just something I need to figure out. Thank You

    4. Interesting details but they don't really change the fundamental question: Does his wife deserve to know what he's doing? And the answer is yes, largely because he could be putting her health in jeopardy but, of course, for all the other reasons too.
      I understand your reticence. But you're the one with the evidence that I'm sure he wouldn't want the rest of his world to know. Not that you would "out" him, of course. What happens between consenting adults is between consenting adults. But an innocent person is being hurt, even if she doesn't know it yet.
      I don't envy you, Whattodo. It's a horrible position to be in. But as we say a lot on this site, the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing.

  2. It only took me 50 plus years to figure this whole "friend" thing out :( I can't even begin to enumerate how many times I've been accused of one thing or another. And always with the same type of people. I always gave way more than I ever received in these "friendships" and I guess when you quit giving and agreeing well they are through with you. Not bad on them, bad on me for having a crummy friend picker. But I'm learning and I'm learning it's better to be alone than with someone who's not a true friend to you.

    1. TryingHard,
      I'm with you. I'm a slow learner. And I've come to accept that it's part of what I like about me: I'm compassionate. I give second chances. But I've also come to learn that, with the truly toxic people, the writing was on the wall.

    2. Elle--yes I'm compassionate too and I've always given people the benefit of the doubt. I always had lots of "friends" and it's what I liked about myself too. It's a tough lesson to learn that compassion and giving someone the benefit of the doubt is rarely a two way street.

  3. Yes!!

    In my case, my “friend” carried on a seven week affair with my husband, right under my nose. She lived next door to us. She watched my daughter every morning. We shared cocktails and laughter for months. And then.

    While I had no idea that she was capable of something so evil, I did have hints that she and her whole family were dysfunctional and that she was a fucked up narcissist. We had had fallings our prior to their affair. She screamed at my son. She had cut other friends out of her life. She was strangely aloof. She and her poor husband had drama that I witnessed. (Turns out she had cheated on him before, but that’s another story)

    Something didn’t sit right with me about her. But then I came around. Our families got along well after some time. And we had a lot of fun together. And then.

    She’s someone to stay clear of. I wish I had seen it sooner.

    1. Tryme,
      That's what prompted this post. The recognition that, inevitably, there's a trail of broken friendships, betrayals, etc. that these people leave behind but that so many of us dismiss. I can distinctly remember a high school who I watched cheat with other friends' boyfriends, etc. but who I was convinced "would never do that to me". You can guess what she did.
      What's more, I don't want to be around people with no moral compass. Whether or not they hurt me becomes immaterial. They muddy my life. No thanks.

    2. It is hard to fathom how people can be so evil. I feel for those who have been betrayed by their husbands and by a friend, too. The OW was a stranger to me but worked with my husband. Some might say she owed me nothing. I still feel like extending basic human decency was a reasonable expectation. She knew I existed, she saw our family life on social media where she and my husband were “friends”. Yet it didn’t deter her. But hurt people hurt people and now I have a whole lot more insight into how messed up she was/is. It doesn’t excuse her behavior but it puts it in perspective.

      “ I don’t want to be around people with no moral compass.” Exactly,
      I’ve learned that not everyone sees things the way I do. I probably won’t change them, but I also don’t have to have them in my life.

  4. Dandelion
    I met his cow a year before he finally ended the affair and she did attempt to tell me about their friendship but I was to trusting at that point but when she spilled her side of the truth with me I totally lied to her because I didn’t think she deserved to know the truth about my h and if she was his first and only but that’s what made her snap and stalking began. So glad my h chose to file charges and repair our relationship!

  5. I am lucky enough to have a few lifelong friends, really 40 years plus and going strong, and I have noticed that as I get older, and I don't know if it is circumstances, jobs, location, whatever, I have a hard time making new real friends
    I have a TON of acquaintances and contacts-- a ton of people I can have lunch or a superficial night out with, but have a hard time letting others in.
    I think this came about in the aftermath of having had a couple of "new" adult friends who turned out to have had a bigger relationship with crazy than they had with me.

    I pushed that feeling off so many times, I gave 2nd 3rd and 10th chances.

    I am getting closer, but I'm not sure if I either rarely trust my picker--that or I REALLY trust my picker enough that I have made just one real true friend in the last 10 years. Yet i feel my life is pretty rich. It's 5 GREAT friends, 6 if you count the H--and he's been questionable in the past, as you might remember..

    1. Hi Steam--You make an excellent point. Maybe I have fixed my picker or rather trust my picker now :) You're lucky to have one such great friend.



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