THE BLOG

Owning Up

09/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

QUESTION

Dear Irene:

About 8 months ago, I had my heart broken by my best friend of three years. Liz and a guy I had been dating for a short time slept together after they had been drinking excessively. Liz and the guy, Dave, had been friends since high school and she was the one who set me up with him. However, this particular night, she told me she was lonely and was going to have sex with him - I didn't believe her. When I found out, I felt devastated and betrayed by them both.

Dave apologized repeatedly. We are no longer dating but I have been able to forgive him.
Liz, on the other hand, hasn't even apologized once and refuses to take responsibility for her part in what happened. She blames Dave completely and says he took advantage of her. She and I have had many talks but her story doesn't quite add up, especially since she said she intended to sleep with him that night.

Whenever I speak to Dave or mention something about him, she makes me feel so guilty for talking to him "after what he did to her." Our mutual friends think she is blaming him so that she doesn't have to admit that she did something so wrong and hurtful to me.

Since this happened, I have turned into a jealous, self-conscious, mistrusting person with friends and boyfriends alike. I began self-medicating with alcohol and got into bad situations. She blamed me for anything bad that happened instead of seeing that I was in pain. In her eyes, we are still best friends. We have even discussed moving out of state together. However, I still don't forgive her or trust her.

I want an apology. I want to stop feeling manipulated, self-conscious, and depressed. I will always love her and don't want to hurt her, but being friends with her is hurting me. Why haven't I been able to move past this after 8 months? Is there any chance our friendship can be saved? How can I talk about this with her without feeling guilty and manipulated?

Signed,
Hayley

ANSWER

If Liz hasn't taken responsibility for her actions after 8 months, she isn't likely to apologize any time soon. Adding insult to injury, she has positioned herself, rather than you, in the role of the victim. You were the one who was betrayed by your two friends. Liz may believe you are still best friends simply because you've taken no steps to make her think otherwise.

Sometimes people believe they need to obtain closure from another person before they sever a friendship. This isn't true. Be forthright and open in expressing your anger and disappointment in Liz's behavior and move on. Follow up your words with actions. This will give you a sense of closure.

Liz lacks the empathy and insight you would expect from a good friend. You will continue to feel badly about yourself if you continue this toxic friendship in the hopes that Liz will change.

Hope this is helpful.

Best,
Irene

Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and her book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend will be published by Overlook Press on September 20, 2009. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog.