THE BLOG
01/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Friendship Too Broken to Fix

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

Nicole and I met soon after each of us moved to a new town and we hit it off immediately. We were both adrenaline junkies, partners in crime who enjoyed outdoor activities. Sometimes we thought of each other as twin sisters or maybe more, like teenage brothers. I'm a lesbian and Nicole is bisexual and we dated briefly. Nicole wasn't that interested and I decided to end it when she started avoiding me although I would have preferred otherwise.

We remained friends. Unfortunately, I noticed a cruel side to her personality after we stopped dating. She started to make condescending and dismissive remarks if I wanted to "talk" about what was bothering me about us. She even threatened that she would walk away from me if I brought up certain subjects.

If she met a new friend, Nicole would ask that I sit in the back of her car so her new friend could sit in the passenger seat. She'd call me to cry about her boyfriend who dumped her and she'd pick up girls in front of me while at clubs. She even started getting frisky with one, literally in front of me.

She knew I was sore and sensitive. I confronted her about her behavior and her response was that since I'm her friend and not an ex (we were never in a long-term relationship), there was nothing wrong with what she said or did. She seems to have conveniently ignored that I still had romantic feelings for her.

I requested a "break" for a couple months and then we started up our friendship again. She seemed really happy to see me and I was glad to see her. But I had unresolved anger and became passive aggressive at times. She requested a break. Several months passed. We tried to be friends again but now she's in a relationship a new boyfriend.

She wants all of us to hang out together since weekend trips and campouts are better suited to groups. I'm just trying to come to grips with my jilted ego over this guy who's taking away time I could be spending with her. When I expressed my discomfort, we went on a trip for several days without him but she was angry at me that her boyfriend wasn't with her. On our last night, she more or less gave me a threat/ultimatum that going forward, she's won't leave her boyfriend behind. I had to remind her that she chose to do the trip with me.

I'm tired of her hostility. I'm tired of how I'm feeling. I'll miss parts of her but can walk away but I'd rather salvage this relationship if possible. Is this too broken? Should I get a clue and move on? Please help. This is really about friendship with a misbegotten romance that may have complicated the issue.

Signed,
Lacey

ANSWER

Dear Lacey,

It's exceedingly difficult, usually impossible, to downgrade a romance to a platonic friendship AFTER SOMEONE HAS BEEN DUMPED. There is just too much residual hurt and anger. Nicole has made it clear that she no longer has any romantic interest in you. She's avoided you and dismissed you, yet you keep coming back for further insults and assaults to your ego.

You need to simply let go of her and look elsewhere for someone with whom you can to share your time, energy, and desires. For whatever reasons, she's just not that into you!

I'm not sure whether her hostility and ambivalence is only directed at you or to other "friends" as well---but that is her problem. Don't allow it to be yours any longer. You will feel much more in control emotionally if you make a clean break from this destructive relationship.

Also, It's hard for me to understand your ambivalence. Yes, your friendship is too broken to fix and you need to figure out why you would ever want to salvage it, given that has been so unsatisfying on so many levels.

My best wishes,
Irene

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 is working on a book about female friendships that will be published by Overlook Press in 2009 and recently co-authored Schizophrenia for Dummies (Wiley, 2008). She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog.

Have a question about female friendships? Email me at: irene@fracturedfriendships.com