THE BLOG
03/04/2011 11:53 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

When friendship makes you feel like you're walking on eggshells

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I haven't spoken to an old best friend for quite some time. I was the last one to initiate contact after the relationship had become uncomfortable. I decided to stop and see if she would contact me. It wasn't that I didn't get a response but I felt like the response was bland. I also feared that if I kept contacting her (this certainly wasn't going to be a constant or regular thing), then she would say something I didn't like.

It's her birthday shortly and I am unsure what to do. I feel okay that the friendship has ended but I feel if I do send her greetings, I am somehow not respecting her boundaries. If I don't and she expected me to, I worry for some odd reason that she will do something nasty to me. I know that sounds strange. I'm not sure why I feel like this.

Thank you for your help,
Michelle

ANSWER

Hi Michelle,

It's natural to think about a friend on her birthday. But when a friendship gets to the point where you have to worry about everything you say or do (even something as simple as sending a birthday card), the friendship has reached its expiration date. You haven't gone into details so I don't know when or why the friendship became this uncomfortable.

It sounds like your'e in a Catch-22 or no-win position---either because your friend put you there or because of your own feelings. In either case, something's amiss. If you want to send her a birthday card or express birthday greetings on her Facebook page, by all means, do it. But don't do it in an effort to alter the relationship. And don't be surprised if she isn't appreciative.

My advice: If you can't have an honest and open discussion with a close friend (either because of her or you), it's time to let go.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Irene

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