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Opinion

Ask Colleen: Is it worth saving a friendship you may not want to keep?

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March 29, 2017

Colleen,

I recently had a falling out with someone who used to be one of my very close friends. We got into an argument, and her actions that followed just really showed me the type of person that she is. 

After our fight, I tried to act like everything was fine for the sake of keeping the peace. However, I have recently been distancing myself because I really don’t think this is someone I want to be friends with in the future. She graduates in May, so I won’t be seeing much of her after that anyway.

I feel like talking to her about the issue would only make things worse, and we would continue to fight. I’m just not sure if it is worth it to try mend things with someone I don’t see myself being friends with in the future, but I also think that she should know that what she did was wrong and I am still mad about it. What should I do? 

From,
Hates Confrontation

Hates Confrontation,

It seems to me that you already have your mind made up about the situation, and that’s that you don’t want to remain friends with this person.

At the end of the day, I agree; that friend of yours should know how you’re feeling. I think it’s important to express these concerns with the people you are close with, because it gives you a chance to work on the relationships that are important to you.

However, if this is someone that you don’t see yourself being friends with in the future, I understand why you don’t want to say anything. The only bad thing about not saying anything is that, for the rest of the time you do have to spend with this friend, you will feel some kind of resentment towards her.

You may think you are keeping the peace by not addressing the issue, but I think this could potentially lead to a blow out between the two of you. This won’t be because of another argument, but because you’ll be holding all of this anger inside you toward her. Eventually, it will have to come out, and it may be the smallest thing that brings this anger to the surface.

There are a couple of things to think about here. Is what you are fighting about really worth ending a friendship over? Obviously I don’t know the situation, but from what you are telling me, this seems to be your breaking point with her.

I think we all have these moments in our friendships where we push the boundaries, right? Don’t we have to get to that point to know where we can or cannot go with our friends? If you don’t like confrontation, it makes me think that you have probably never confronted issues with her in the past. Honestly, she is probably really confused as to why you are distancing yourself from her. Nothing will change if you don’t say anything about it.

I think it might be a good idea to just tell her how you are feeling. You don’t need to bring up issues of the past or even that you may not want to be friends with her in the future. Just tell her how you are feeling now.

I sometimes hold things in for so long that when I do finally confront an issue, I am talking about things that happened two years ago. Now, I believe that I have every right to still be mad about them, but I should have addressed the problem when it first happened. We don’t want to go backwards; we want to move forward.

I know this is a lot easier said than done. Confronting her and telling her how you feel may help this friendship, but I think, most importantly, it will take a huge weight off of your shoulders. It’s not fun to walk around with all of this pent up anger, and I think talking to her, even if nothing changes between the two of you, will make you feel a lot better.

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how badly I want someone to change, I can’t change them. Once I realized this, it made situations like this a lot easier to grasp. You can only honestly tell your friend how you feel; her reaction is completely out of your hands. That’s the beauty of it. Once you confront your own feelings and tell her why you are frustrated, what follows is left to her.

Maybe she’ll prove you wrong, or maybe she’ll react like she always does. You’ll never know unless you try. But if you don’t say anything, then don’t expect this friendship to get any better. Change doesn’t happen when we just sit around and think about it.

Best of luck!

Colleen

Colleen Brown is a student at UW-River Falls.