Tell Me About It: Consider when, how to restart friendship
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: Your column (about dropping a friend who twice went years without returning calls) resonated with me. I've had much the same thing happen on both ends, where I was going through a rough patch for a few months and not maintaining friendships well, and then had one of my closest friends decide this was ground for abruptly and completely cutting off communication.
Fast-forward to now, five years later, when I got a surprise voice mail from this friend. I may or may not be interested in resuming the friendship.
If I understand your prior advice correctly, are you saying that the most important thing is to make sure to hash out what happened and set terms before doing so? And if those terms end up not being met, to explain why you appreciated getting back in touch but that it's not going to be possible to be friends?
Answer: I wouldn't apply advice from one situation to the other because there's a distinct difference in the details. The friend in the column dropped off the face of the earth twice, not once as in your situation, and the disappearance in the column lasted for years, whereas you went silent only for a matter of months.
I think these matter.
The advice I'd give for any situation like this, where you're weighing whether to trust someone again - that's what it's all about, right, details aside? - is to listen carefully to what your friend says; combine that with what she has done and decide whether your bull meter approves of resuming the friendship.
Once you have your answer, be honest about it with your friend. Leaving people to wonder is cruel.
Comment: I think a good rule to follow is this: If your friend is trying to reestablish a friendship, then it's a good thing to say something. I had a close friend abruptly turn hostile and I truly had (have) no idea why. It was confusing and hurtful, and an explanation would have been welcome, if difficult to hear.
If, on the other hand, friends simply grow apart or a friend doesn't seem to notice when you start to pull away, then there's really no need for a big formal breakup or "demotion."
Answer: Right. No need for answers when no one has asked the question.
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.