June 27, 2007 in Features

Carolyn Hax: Childhood pals can grow apart

Carolyn Hax Washington Post
 

Hi, Carolyn: I am supposed to attend a wedding this summer. The bride is my best friend from childhood, but our relationship has been very one-sided for the past five years with my doing all the work. We have grown quite distant.

At her bridal shower and bachelorette party, I met all of her new friends and a few old ones that she has stayed close with. I left the parties feeling rejected because she’s made it so clear she’s not interested in being close friends anymore, and jealous that she was giving attention to these other friends that she has not given me for a long time. Now I am just plain angry. And one of the strongest reasons I have for attending the wedding now is to show up looking fabulous to upstage her. It is so wrong, I know, but I just can’t get rid of all of these hurt and angry feelings. At the same time, ditching her wedding seems like a very bold statement. Plus, my mother will be attending the wedding. Should I go or cancel? – Angry

The decision itself isn’t important. What matters is the reasoning behind it.

You’re hurt and angry and that’s understandable. But I’m going to tell you the oldest story in the world, to see if it changes your mind.

Once upon a time, there were two little kids who were best friends. As they grew out of the sandbox and into big kids and finally grown-ups, they remained close almost out of habit while their lives and choices diverged. They will always love each other, though – a love between the little kids they used to be.

The end.

Now the Q and A portion: When you’ve grown apart from a friend, how have you handled it?

Please reconsider your anger. She might be striking the best balance she can between her adult preferences and your feelings. Which, of course, are going to hurt no matter what. But maybe not for as long as you think.

Growing apart is really more natural than personal – to the point where, if you think about it, maybe even you will agree there isn’t the kind of foundation between you anymore to support the attention you want.

Or, maybe you won’t agree. But you have to agree with this, that no one is ever obligated to like us – and so if people like us less than we want them to, there’s no blame to be handed around, no mistreatment to deplore, no foul to cry.

It’s just, cry. And then blow your nose and decide whether you want to celebrate the marriage of your favorite childhood friend.


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