When Your Friends Let You Down
When we trust our friends and loved ones, it can seem like a betrayal when they let us down. But there may be a good explanation for the person’s behavior. There may be circumstances that you’re unaware of or troubles within your relationship that you haven’t recognized. So, when a friend lets you down, it’s important to take some time to investigate the reasons and communicate before reacting. After you explore the situation together, you’ll know whether to reconcile- or part ways.
Communicate To Understand
Resolving issues of disappointment and hurt when a friend lets you down isn’t possible without a conversation. Not only do you need to understand the circumstances behind what led your friend to behave the way they did to let you down- but your friend needs to understand that you’re hurt by their behavior.
Discuss the issue in person. This minimizes the opportunity for misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Trying to resolve these situations in a text is rarely effective because it’s usually too brief, impulsive, and easily misinterpreted. If distance is a problem, try talking to your friend via video or chat, or email. At least an email can be written and saved for a few hours before you edit and send it. These types of discussions don't usually go as well in a text, email, or phone call, which should be used only if you are very far from one another. There is simply too much room for something to be misinterpreted and the situation to escalate.
Before reaching out, ask yourself if you’re prepared to see things from a different perspective. The truth might not be exactly what you thought. If so, ask your friend if something is going on with them that caused them to act so out of character. Be prepared to listen; you may find that their intentions were not mean-spirited after all.
Try to maintain your composure and avoid speaking from a place of hurt or anger. Being passive-aggressive or sarcastic will only make things worse; rather, be open and honest about your feelings regarding the friendship.
Remember to treat your friend the way that you would want to be treated if the tables were turned.
If at any point you feel that you are unable to listen effectively or can’t move past the anger you may feel, try to use your breathing to calm down. You might even suggest taking a break and asking to call back later if needed.
Respect Your Own Feelings
Just as you’ve extended the willingness to listen to your friend’s perspective, so should you listen to your own. Unresolved feelings can cause problems within a relationship, but they can also cause problems with our health, both mentally and physically.
A 2019 paper from the International Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research studies reviewed multiple published studies on the effects of repressed emotions and noted that “ individuals who repress their emotions also suppress their body’s immunity, making them more vulnerable to a variety of illnesses ranging from common colds to cancer.”
If a friend lets you down, it’s essential to acknowledge the feelings that follow. Feelings may be difficult to label because they often overlap. For instance, feelings of anger may also include resentment, emotional hurt, blame, and more. Try to isolate your feelings so they will be easier for you to understand and communicate with the person who has let you down.
After taking some time to communicate about the situation, you and your friend may decide to make amends and move forward with your friendship. Not only is forgiveness freeing, but it’s also good for your health.
You may find that your friendship has grown stronger because of this conflict, and perhaps because of it, you understand each other on a deeper level.
When you decide to forgive, you must commit to moving on. Be mindful of your words and actions regarding the situation- you may behave in ways that indicate you haven’t made amends without realizing it. For instance, it’s sometimes easy to frame your friend as “the bad guy” and yourself as the victim if you retell the story to others who don’t know the circumstances.
Deciding To Walk Away
If your friend doesn’t at least try to listen to you and acknowledge your feelings, you may need to decide to move on. Friends might not always line up with your expectations, but they shouldn't leave you feeling isolated or rejected.
If your friend does make that effort, but you just can’t forgive them, accept the situation for what it is and offer them grace. Giving them some dignity despite the situation allows you the opportunity to move beyond your bitterness. More importantly, be cognizant that your response to the situation reflects your character.
Be aware that it often takes time to work through the feelings when friends disappoint you. Realize that if you decide to end the relationship, proceed with caution. Some friends may let you back if you change your mind, while others won't.
Managing Your Feelings When Things Don’t Work Out
Even if you’ve managed to obtain closure from a friendship that’s ended, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. You may feel betrayed, abandoned, rejected, or hurt- but it's unhealthy to let those feelings consume your thoughts for long periods of time. There are things you can do to move on in a healthy way when a friendship ends:
Recognize that friendships aren’t always meant to be.
Like romantic relationships, friendships usually end for a good reason. Parting with friends can leave you questioning, "Why don't my friends like me anymore?" If you and your friend have parted ways, it might be for the best. Take some time to ponder that point and allow it to provide you with a healthy perspective about how and why your friendship ended.
Give yourself time to acknowledge your disappointment.
Relationships that don’t work out rarely end with a clean break. You’re likely to experience feelings of loss after you and your friend break up; it’s important to recognize those feelings and give them some space.
Give yourself time to adjust.
When you’re used to having a friend in your life, you can’t always predict how their absence will impact your day-to-day. Take some time to assess how your life will probably change without your friend in it anymore. From there, you can begin to structure a future without them.
Respect your other friends’ feelings.
Breakups of any kind often affect other people, perhaps in this case, others in your friend circle. Regardless of how the situation played out, checking in with your other friends about their thoughts and feelings on the subject may be a good idea.
Focus on the friendships you still have.
Once you’ve communicated openly with your remaining friends, take time to let them know you value their friendship and appreciate the things that make it unique.
There are a number of potential ways our friends can let us down. They may betray our trust, neglect our needs as a friend, or behave in ways that disappoint us. It’s normal for these kinds of situations to result in difficult feelings that impact other areas of our lives.
When a friend lets you down, it may negatively affect your self-esteem, create trust issues with others in your life, and may even cause feelings of depression or anxiety. If this is the case, it’s essential to seek support from someone objective and experienced. Online therapy provides a safe space to discuss these issues and explore your thoughts and feelings. The rise of online therapy has made it easier than ever to reap the benefits of counseling and take care of our mental health.
If you’re ready to take the first step toward better mental health, BetterHelp can match you with the right therapist on your time from anywhere with an internet connection via text, online messaging, video chat, or phone.
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