rebelling against low expectations

Is it worthwhile to try to keep a one-sided friendship?


L. WRITES: So I have this friend who will sometimes decide she’s mad at me, and she’ll ignore me for a couple of days, then she acts like we’re good friends again. I’m always the one who’s trying to get back together; she doesn’t seem to try. Should I keep trying to fix our friendship, when she keeps breaking it up? Is it worth the drama?

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  • One of my friends is having this problem with a friend of hers as well. Have you tried talking to her about her problem? Asking her why she keeps changing moods like that? I think if I were in your position, obviously I would pray about it, but if it didn’t seem as though the other person was willing to put as much effort into a relationship as I was, I’d probably just let it play out on it’s own. It depends on the person I guess, but there really isn’t such a thing as a one-sided friendship. Friendships take two people who are willing to make an effort in a relationship. It seems to me what you were describing isn’t a true friendship. I know how it feels to be in a situation like yours, and it isn’t fun, but sometimes the best thing you can do is let go. When and if that person is ready to get serious about a relationship with you, they will. If not, continually trying to smooth things over and stepping on eggshells to please someone, always wondering what will set them off, that’s no friendship. Real friendships are worth every bit of effort you put into them, but friendships take two. You can’t make a friendship work all by yourself. The other person has to be willing. I guess it’s up to you to decide if it’s really worth it, but for me, I wouldn’t want a friendship like that.

  • Oh boy… I’ve been there. Except, I was the one who was acting all weird. Fortunately, I’ve got an awesome friend who still is friends with me though I’ve acted like a jerk. I know that I would like for a friend to talk to me bluntly and honestly, but gently. Confront me about whatever it is I’m doing and/or how I’ve been acting, so I can address it appropriately. However, I think that if the friend is a really, truly good friend of yours, it’s worth trying to address the drama to continue. If not, then let it go. Friends will come and friends will go. But @Abbyallen1:disqus is right, it takes two people to make a friendship.

  • My advice: It may not work well to be “friends” in the traditional sense, but you should always be friendly! With that kind of behavior, a deep friendship cannot form, but one can always make an effort to be friendly. Heap coals of fire!

  • Don’t give up on her, talk to her about it. keep trying and pray for her. If it is just a chase of that she does not want to be friends with you you should talk to her.

  • I’ve had one-sided friendships, and I think they can be worth pursuing. I had one friend who was very shallow and mostly absorbed by her own interests, but she’d been through a lot and we still sometimes keep in touch. I don’t know if she appreciates it or not, but it’s worth the try just in case.
    On the other hand, I’ve had some friendships where I feel like I’m receiving but not able to give anything of value to people with so many great friends already. But I’ve appreciated the effort they’ve put in to keep in touch more than they would ever know.
    I’ve also had friendships where there are struggles below the surface that we never talked about but just kept moving on.
    In your situation, L., I really think it depends on the friend. She might be going through a tough struggle that no one knows about, or she might be annoyed at something you didn’t even realize you’ve done. I don’t know the full situation, but in my opinion it’s almost always worth the drama because you have a chance to bless her. Saying that, there comes a stage where (like Seth Yoder said) you just have to keep being friendly perhaps without putting a lot of your time and effort into someone who has such crazy ups and downs. But before you back off a little, it could be worth very humbly asking if you’ve hurt her in any way. The other thing to consider is her overall personality and experience. The first friend I mentioned rarely meant to be irritating, it was just that she didn’t always realize the needs of people around her.
    That’s just my two cents!

  • I’d typically say no. Friendship by definition has to be a two-way relationship. If only one person is making effort, that’s not a friendship, even if you imagine it to be. If I realize I’m the only one making effort in a relationship, I back off because it isn’t usually worth it if the other person isn’t investing.

    I guess there might be some cases where you should keep pursuing it, but if your friend is being dramatic and is a fair-weather friend, I’d say she’s not really you’re friend. Don’t start shunning her; still love her, but go find some people who will love you for you and be willing to be the kind of friend Hannah Leake just talked about in her article (Friendship is Painful, Messy, and Totally Worth It) the other day.

  • Talk to her honestly and gently and say how you feel. If she continues to be a bad friend, it’s probably not worth it. It’s painful, but if she’s being fickle like that and you’re the only one who really wants to put effort into the relationship, it might be time to find other close friends. Don’t totally ignore her or be rude! Just focus on spending time with other people you trust.

  • I’d agree with @ruthie_c:disqus – trying talking to her about how you feel when she ditches you for a bit, and then acts friendly again. If she refuses to listen, it might (note: might) be time to back off a bit.
    On the other hand, I have a friend who… well, she doesn’t do that hot-cold thing, but she’s kinda manipulative when we chat, and I feel like I’m the only one pouring into the friendship. But we’ve had some great chats, and occasionally I get to challenge or encourage her, so I keep up the friendship. I guess it really depends on the person. Sorry, that’s not much help. :/

  • To put it bluntly, if it’s not two sided, it’s not friendship. But like the others say, pray about it and talk to her. It might be an awkward conversation but it will be one worth having.

  • In situations like that, I just use the Speak Life principal when around them, but don’t spend much energy actively going after them to restore their problem.

    Minimize their problems with you in a way that’s kind, like say they’re mad because you like Mind Craft. If they say, “That’s stupid. I don’t wanna be your friend if you’re like that.”
    Don’t go, “WHY???”
    Just act like you think they’re joking and say, “Okay.” And smile at them like they’re acting like a three year old (because they are). But than say something like “But you’re awesome anyway.” And continue doing what you were doing.

    If they storm off, it doesn’t matter. They’ll return eventually, maybe to do the same thing again. Then you do something similar to what you did the first time.

    If however, they act kind and mature, act excited/engaged for them when they talk about something good they’re doing or they are excited about (as long as it’s a good thing). If you act excited long enough, you get excited. Speak Life as much as possible and invest in more stable friends as well, so they can be your close friends.

    Sometimes this changes them and sometimes it doesn’t (I have friends on both sides). Just be patient, calm, and love like Christ.

  • I don’t often respond, but for this one, I felt it really important that I do. I have been there. Twice. I completely understand what you’re going through. And I’ve been through it, made it to the other side. I understand just how heartbreaking this is, how frustrating, and how angering. Sometimes, I just wanted to give up. Sometimes, I wanted to angrily confront her and ask her why she was acting that way. Sometimes, I just wanted to cry. And I did. A lot. And I prayed. A lot. For comfort, and peace, and for her. And I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy. Or that their is some magic solution that will make everything work out overnight. Because it won’t, and their isn’t. But I will tell you, that it’s worth it. Persevering, pushing through, and growing during this trial is worth it. But it’ll be crazy hard. And I’m not perfect – I messed up a lot. But with God’s help, I was able to make it.

    What I learned, and what I’ve done: It’s NOT worth the drama. So eliminate it. Don’t take everything on face value. You have NO idea what’s really going on in her life. One of my friends? I discovered that her father was an emotionally manipulative Hebephile. My other friend? She was struggling with depression, and an identity crisis. Even though it’s been over 2 years, neither of these friendship situations have completely sorted themselves out. So I don’t have a magic solution. But, don’t burn bridges. Don’t try to stop being friends with her. Don’t yell at her. There comes a point that you may end up reaching, when you have to say: “I love you, but you’re hurting me. I will always be here for you, but my having to always be reaching out to you is damaging and detrimental to my well-being.” Still invite her to things, offer to go out to lunch together, text her little “I miss you! We should hang sometime!” or “Just a note to say how much I love you. Keep on keeping on!” messages, just be there for her. You don’t have to be continually reaching out for a lot of 1 on 1 friendship time, and you don’t have to be pushy, but just love her, and let her know that you love her, always. Pray for her. Pray for yourself.

    When I first began this journey, I seeked out online advice, as well. I was told to burn the bridges, cut off the friendship. And it sounded so blissful. So happy. But I didn’t. We may not see eachother as often, but when we do, it’s just like we’re best friends. It still hurts. A lot. Not gonna lie. But I feel much happier knowing that I continue to try. That she knows I am always there for her and that I always love her, no matter what she’s doing. I thank God that he has helped me through these trials, and that he helps me to have the strength and Christ-like compassion to keep on keeping on, no matter what. I shudder to think what might have happened, and how different my friends and I would be, had I taken that advice to just give up on her. Sorry for the super long, super rambly message. I hope something in here helped you. Good luck! I’ll keep you in my prayers. 🙂

  • Ok, this is the first time I’ve ever posted. I’ve been reading the blog for a year now, but never commented. This is a question that I have really had to face in the last few years, so I feel like I do have some experience to go on! Here goes….

    I have had two friends like that. The first one is kind of a grudge-holder, and generally only pursues me when she wants my help with a project. I wouldn’t even call her a friend at this point (although she also isn’t an acquaintance either, so…..), but she does occasionally still talk to me. Like I said, usually when she wants something. I’ve had several messy situations with her, and I’ve mostly decided not to pursue that relationship. It was kind of one-sided, and we really didn’t get along well. But when she does call me, I always help her with the project, and I usually try to have good conversation with her. She has been through some rough life stuff, and I always try to remember that God might be using me in her life. Or maybe God is using her in my life. I have learned several things about friendship from her, so I wouldn’t say our relationship is a complete waste. God is working in both our lives.

    The other is one that I’m really struggling with what to do. This friendship is one that I have never really been satisfied with. It always seemed a bit empty. Recently I have developed one of the deepest relationships I’ve ever had with a girl my age. That deep relationship has shown me how shallow this other relationship is. I didn’t pursue a relationship with her over the last several months, but I knew that we would see each other this summer at an event that we both attend every week. It was going to be awkward. Then, suddenly, she called me out of the blue! She told me some tough life stuff that was going on with her, some of which I could really relate to. I decided that this relationship, though not as deep as I would like it to be, is not one that I want to cut off. Once again, God is teaching me things with this friendship.

    So, my advice: Don’t forget that all relationships have value. God uses every situation to teach us. God is using this difficult friendship to teach you something about friendship. And perhaps he is using you to make a difference in her life. Every situation is different. I would say that my first friend is more like your friend. Difficult to get along with, and gets mad without telling you why. The drama made my life crazy, but I made it worse with some of my poor reactions. Again, I learned from those experiences.

    Something that you will need to decide at some point is which friendships are worth the time. When life gets busy, tough stuff happens, or when you or her move onto bigger and better things, the true worth of your relationship will become apparent. She may make that decision, or you may have to make it. Even if you don’t cut that relationship off now, later it may fade away because it was never built on rock. And that is ok. Friends come and go with life phases. Pursue the ones that grow you. And don’t forget that even difficult relationships can grow you.

  • If we’re supposed to love our enimies surely we can love our annoying friends, right? Maybe you two won’t be besties, but as much as you can keep the peace and be the best friend you can. Chances are they need you.

  • I think it depends.
    Story time: Earlier I was outside chillin, when I saw my neighbor “friend” walk by. She just kinda half-smiled and waved to me. I said hello and asked her if everything was alright. Things weren’t. I went on a walk with her, and she told me everything that’s been happening in her life. Her mom and dad are arguing, they’re pressing charges against her twin brother for being an unruly child (he’s gotten into drugs and other bad stuff), and her dad treats her like garbage. She has NO ONE to talk to, and she was so appreciative to have someone there to let her cry and talk.
    This friendship is what I would consider to be one-sided. We were best friends for seven years and, once the teen years came, we chose different paths. I’ve tried to keep in touch with her, but it’s difficult because she doesn’t really want to hear what I have to say. She is nice to me and cares about me, but she knows that I’m gonna tell her God is the answer, and she doesn’t feel like he’s fixing anything. I’ve kept pursuing a friendship with her because she has no Christian influences in her life to confide in. THAT friendship has been worth the stress and pain on my end because I can be there when she needs it and be a Godly influence in her life.

  • Every situation is different…
    Do you get enough out of the good times to motivate you through the bad? or are you just getting exhausted?
    Remember that it isn’t all or nothing. It is ok to have different friends in different parts of your life.

  • Hey L.! I’ve been there…and it’s a struggle, it’s annoying, and exhausting. So here is what I suggest doing
    1) Understand where they are coming from.
    I tried showing love to this one girl who’s dad is completely out of her life and her mom who is a school psychologist and counselor has a very skewed view of the world. I found her egotistical and annoying. But when I realized that she has been taught the philosophy ” Love yourself, because you are awesomer than all the haters” by her mom, I understood why she was so self-centered. It’s easy to judge a friend, but I would encourage you to find out why they act the way they act. This will help you approach them with love and understanding.
    2) Talk honestly and kindly with them
    I would suggest NOT letting it “roll off your back”. I tried this and it only makes things worse. Schedule a time to talk with her (and with a teacher or a person that both of you trust). Then share how you feel and why you feel without condemnation or being judgey.
    3) Validate the relationship
    If this person is pulling you away from Christ, you should stop being friends with them. Still show love to them, but be careful in what you say to them and what you do with them. (like I have a friend who is bisexual and I still love her and am her friend. But she isn’t pulling me away from Christ.

    • What’s the difference between loving somebody, and being friends with them? Jesus seems to think there is a difference when he says: “Love your enemies.”

        • Well, agreed. Jesus commands us to love all people and AS FAR AS IT IS POSSIBLE WITH YOU, live at peace with all men, implying there are instances where peace isn’t possible. Does that mean we need to LIKE all people?

          • yes, i mean, u can like someone but not love them. but u cant love someone and not like them.

          • I think you have that backwards… and forwards at the same time. You have ups and downs in any relationship, and sometimes you just don’t feel close to people you truly love. That is what I mean by loving someone and not liking them. The reverse is also possible where you feel close to someone, are even friendly with them, but there isn’t real love for that person.

  • As long as you recognize this friendship for what it is, I think it is perfectly good and healthy (as well as loving to the person) if you keep on loving them. This friendship won’t be one of your strongest, but it is still an awesome way to minister to that person.

  • Ummm… this relationship sounds more like an acquaintance to me…

    I’ve been in similar situations; and, to me, a true friendship (the “besties” kind) cannot be one-sided. Of course you can be a friend to the friendless… giving your time and energy to someone who perhaps cannot return the favor. But this is clearly not the above example.

    I have acquaintances that I enjoy spending time with for a season. We’ve exchanged numbers but don’t talk all the time… sometimes not communicating for months or even a year. We like each other but we’re not what I would call “friends.” We enjoy each other’s company once in a while… so nothing seems forced or awkward.

    • One mark of a true friend to me is that even though there is time and distance between your communication or interaction with the other person nothing changes because it’s a true friendship. You know?

      I agree, I think true friendships are hardly one-sided!!

  • It’s all up to the person who has the problem. We need to follow Jesus’ example and love everybody.

  • I should probably add, that is just drains you. I’m not saying you should abandon this person, but maybe just not go out of your way to spend time with them. Be friendly and get to together, but with some time in between. There are always people like this, so treat them as Jesus would!!

  • Hard question. I would say that somebody who behaves like that really needs to be loved. Do not try to “fix” your relationship, and don’t hold it against her when she breaks up your friendship. Let her drama role off of your shoulders. You don’t have to feel responsible for her behavior. I have been there, and it does not feel good. I could be wrong, but it sounds like your friend wants to feel wanted. Definitely pray. Pray, pray, pray, pray. Pray for you friend. Pray for your friendship. Ask God what he is doing through your friendship. I could be that God intended this as a growing experience for both of you -to grow in love, forgiveness, and patience for each other’s faults- or it could be time to end it. I cannot answer that for you.

  • I’ve asked myself this question too. I think you should ask God if the friendship is even in His will. If it isn’t then it’ll probably always be a one-sided relationship. That’s just me. Maybe it just depends. Hmm….

  • I would just say drop it… That may sound harsh, but I was just convinced that it is the only thing to do. I HAD some friends who acted all nicey-nice sometimes, and most of the time ignored me, while taking everything they could from my side. I was a little bit in denial, because they kept telling me they were my friends. I then went to a conference where I met with like minded people who actually invested themselves in a relationship. This only helped me because we went to my old friends graduation party promptly upon returning, and they were acting normal (to me), and I realized how much we actually weren’t friends. It really hurt, but it’s the truth. I’ve now just decided that the relationship was moved from wanna-be-friends to distant acquaintances. I would pray about it, and try going to different places — you’d be surprised at where you can pick up TRUE friends.

    • D, thank you for contributing this to the convo. You have no idea how helpful it is…
      (I’m the person who asked the question.)

  • hi i know this is quite a late response but hopefully it can still be relevant! a few years ago i was in the exact same situation and really hurt. then god lead me to the story of hosea, the guy who god told to marry a prostitute and be faithful to and to love even though she would be constantly unfaithful and hurtful to him. then it hit me- this was exactly the relationship we have with god, we say we are his, but then we turn from him, and then we come back to him and this is so hurtful to god, BUT he STILL loves us. after that it was still hard to be this girls friend but i was living in the knowledge that i could love my friend in the way that god loves me and hosea loved his wife, which made it easier. it was exhausting but god sustained me. what my friend needed was someone who could be stable and steady and loving despite her flaws and insecurities.

  • I’m quite late to this BUUUT I thought I would comment anyway. I’ve had a friend like this and as of late, I said my goodbye and we haven’t talked since. So yeah…that hurts a little, especially when it’s someone you used to be so close with, BUT I do believe that after awhile we are not meant to hold onto half-hearted connections and meaningless run throughs. We are the body of Christ, made for strong, real relationships. If your friend is still lukewarm at best some days, talk to God about it, but it might be time to end the relationship, even though it hurts.

  • I had a friend like this for 5 years it hurt me deeply to end it but it was hurting me more that it was helping me it was very draining and emotionally tolling. she would ignore me for weeks in front of “certain” people and then be my best friend in other situations it made me feel ashamed of myself and worthless. I still love her but i had to get some distance. I know i’m very late to this convo but, if your considering ending a important relationship i’d suggest seeking godly council preferably someone who knows you well but won’t be biased and can give you good advice towards your situation. part of me regrets how things ended but i know god planed all of it and i couldn’t have done it better myself

rebelling against low expectations

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