Should I stay her friend or should I call it quits?

This week, one of my listeners sent me a message asking for advice about an issue related to friendship, let’s have a look at her text.

When I read this message, I immediately thought about my own experience with a girl who was once my best friend. We met in university and stayed close after we graduated. She visited me abroad when I got married, when I gave birth and whenever I was in France I’d reciprocate even if she was far. I loved her and cared so much for her, I thought she’d be in my life forever. 

But then she started dating someone that in my opinion was toxic and everything changed. I don’t want to go into the detail of her relationship with him but I saw my best friend become a different person. Her mental health was in decline and I felt powerless. Suddenly, I was the one who couldn’t eat well, I couldn’t sleep well, I couldn’t even focus while praying, I was thinking about her and her problems non stop. I was worried about the negative impact that guy had on her. 

I was also angry at her, angry because she would ask me for advice only to dismiss it, angry because she was making herself go through hell by being with him when she deserved to be the happiest person in the world. Angry because I wasn’t able to say the right thing, the thing that will stop her from seeing him, the advice that will allow her to see what she had become and would make her go back to the healthy and strong woman she was when I met her. I felt like I was failing her, like I wasn’t a good friend. And of course I was angry at the guy, I hated him for the emotional pain he was inflicting her.

So there was a lot of anger, guilt, worry… All of that was keeping me awake at night and I was dealing with my own struggles as a new mother. I was going through post natal depression and she wasn’t there for me the way I wish she was. Eventually, all of that lead to me letting go of that friendship because it was hurting me too much to try to be there for someone who didn’t want to be helped. 

Your story is different but, reading this text, I can feel that you’re hurting because someone who was once a source of joy for you has now become a source of stress in your life. It’s confusing and you’re split between wanting to save the relationship or letting go of it and moving on, and I felt the same for a long time with my friend. 

There are several things I learnt from this experience. The first one is that it’s up to each one of us to define what friendship means to us and we should allow that definition to evolve with time. People change and so do we, sometimes we go in different directions but it doesn’t mean that the friendship has to end completely. It can evolve into something different. Maybe after living together and sharing everything, you both need space to find each other again. 

In your situation, your friend has been more sensitive than usual, snapping at you for nothing. This could be explained by so many different factors, it might not even have anything to do with you. The only way to know would be to communicate with her but judging by her behavior, it sounds like she isn’t open to talking to you at the moment. What you could do as a last attempt is changing the media you use: if she is sensitive face to face and by text, try writing her a letter telling her how you feel and give it to her for example. You have to express your feelings to her otherwise you’ll keep on carrying them like a heavy stone on your back.

Her answer will help you decide what you should do about the relationship. If she dismisses how you feel, then maybe you should take a break from her but at least you would have done it after emptying your heart from resentment. If she apologizes and acknowledges her mistakes, there is hope for the future of your friendship and you can both decide what you want to do to from there. 

I think what is most important in a situation like this is to not let someone disrespect your boundaries just because they were once a great friend. You have tried your best, if she keeps on hurting your feelings without making amendments, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to end a friendship that’s become a source of pain for you. You don’t owe anyone anything, especially if they start treating you badly. Just try to get closure. If you can’t get it from her, do the inner work. And by that I mean journaling, praying, meditating… Whatever helps you move the negative energy out of your body.

Friendships are supposed to survive through time and trials but when a relationship with a friend becomes toxic, the heartbreak can be as painful as the ones we experience when we’re in love. So be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Take time to grieve and heal from that loss. 

I’m curious to know what you guys would do if it happened to you, let me know in the comments! 

If you have questions or need advice with something, send me an email to Salam@soultysister.com and I’ll try my best to help you inchaAllah.

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