How to Deal With Disappointment in Friendship

Let’s face it. No one’s perfect. Not your neighbor. Not your parents. And certainly not your friends. In fact, people closest to you are bound to disappoint you from time to time. How you handle the occasional disappointment in friendships will dictate how meaningful your long-term friendships are. Disappointments can range from small issues like petty disagreements to larger issues like your boyfriend cheated on you with your bestie. Depending on the severity of the issues, you’ll have to make a plan to restore the friendship or a find new friend to have an ugly cry with.

Sometimes we just need to ask ourselves a few questions before we decide if it’s time to move on.

  1. Is it devastating enough that it will really matter in five years?

So maybe she forgot to call you on your birthday. That’s definitely disappointing, but is it devastating enough that in five years you’ll still be fuming over it? Probably not.

But if you find your friend kissing your fiancé, you probably have a case for the devastating qualifier. It’s important to remember that’s right now, the issue at-hand may seem very hurtful, but in the grand scheme of things, it may not be as painful as you feel in this very moment. Emotions fade over time, and you can see things more clearly. Try to think objectively and evaluate if this is life altering enough that it will impact you greatly in five years.

  1. Is this your friend’s normal behavior or is something else going on with her?

Sometimes being a good friend means being the bigger person, especially when you know someone is going through a really tough time.

I had a really good friend who I spent pretty much every waking hour with. Then I went through some pretty devastating personal stuff that I shared with her. Consequently, I wasn’t able to pour as much time and effort into our friendship as I normally would because I was desperately trying to just take care of myself. To be honest, during that season of time, I truly wasn’t my normal self. I withdrew from people who loved me and backed away from commitments I had made. It was a dark time for me. I’ll never forget the day I started to come out of the darkness that had consumed me for weeks. It was my birthday, and I received a card in the mail from my friend. I smiled as I opened it, appreciating so much that my friend was as thoughtful as ever to send me an old-fashioned birthday card instead of just a quick text. When I opened it, a handwritten letter dropped onto my lap, and my heart sank as I read it. She told me that she was no longer able to be close to me because of me “being a different person lately.” With that brutal note disguised in a beautiful birthday card, she ended ten years of friendship.

How I wish that everyone would understand the difference between someone’s normal pattern of behavior and someone navigating a rough patch in their life, especially one that’s outside of their control. Think about your friend’s past and recent behavior. If they’ve disappointed you, is this an isolated event or season of their life, or has this been their M.O. since your friendship began?

  1. In the future, will I regret ending this friendship based on this current hurt?

Fast-forward ten years when life will look and feel a little different. Boys won’t matter as much. Drama is minimized. And girls typically aren’t as catty. When your paths cross at your kids’ dance recital or at the grocery store, will you feel a little sad that you threw in the friendship towel so easily? In this day of social media and technology, you will almost undoubtedly run into her again, either online or in person. While you can’t predict exactly how you’ll feel in the future, you can visualize the moment your paths will cross again and if your current disappointment is worth that awkwardness and angst.

In summary, when a friend has hurt you, ask yourself the right questions. If you decide the current hurt and disappointment are manageable, be sure to communicate the hurt to your friend. This will help them to be more aware of how their actions are impacting you. If you decide the friendship is too unhealthy to continue, due to your friend’s pattern of behavior and severity of what they’ve done, that’s okay too! However, I would advise against delivering it via the Trojan horse delivery style birthday card.