Dear Carolyn: I have a longtime friend who I once considered a “best friend.”
We connect at the heart and have relied on each other a lot over the years.
Several years back, she went through a tough professional transition and completely cut me off. Not because she was angry with me, but because she needed to move through it alone. I was devastated that she would not return my calls, respond to my emails, accept my invitations, etc. That went on for nearly two years. Ultimately we worked it out, and all was well for a few years.
Then she underwent another difficult professional transition, and again cut me off, again for nearly two years. I tried calling, texting and emailing for months and finally gave up.
I grieved the loss of our friendship, because I knew that if she came around again, I wouldn’t be willing to rekindle our closeness and set myself up for this again.
She has emerged from her difficult transition and now wants to reconnect. I love her dearly and I’ve missed her terribly, but I just don’t think I can do it again. Am I being unreasonable? Do I have to tell her this, or can I just keep her at arm’s length as a casual acquaintance? – Confused
Demoting her to “casual acquaintance” without explaining yourself would just be a lesser version of the same friendship crime she committed against you.
So, yes, you do have to say you won’t get close again to someone who takes unannounced two-year breaks from returning your calls. Whether you’re being reasonable is beside the point (though you seem so to me); what matters is that you remain true to yourself and transparent with those you love – just as your ex-best friend unwittingly taught you to be.