When Your Friends Let You Down

Updated October 7, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Over time, you established a trusting friendship with someone.  You believed that your friend had your best interests at heart, and you trusted them with things that were important to you. When you've encountered a situation when friends let you down when you really believed they would have your back, you're left feeling shocked, sad, and disheartened. You're likely to spend time mulling over questions like "How could my friend do this to me?", "Should I be saying goodbye to a friend?" or "How could I have so badly misjudged their character?"

Even Close Friends Let You Down Sometimes - This Can Be a Disappointment

When My Friends Let Me Down, What's Next?

It's hard to understand the actions of another person, even if they are one of your friends. It is even harder to understand the hurtful actions of friends close to you. But, before you allow yourself to react quickly to the situation (perhaps asking questions like "Why don't my friends like me?", you'll want to take a minute to think straight. Here are some steps to take if you feel hopeless and disappointed by your closest friends:

  • Manage your hurt feelings
  • Consider your friend's perspective
  • Offer grace to your friends (if warranted)
So what can you do when friends disappoint you?

The Scope of Friendship Over a Lifetime

There's an old saying that says, "Friends come into your life for a season, a reason, or a lifetime." When you have been let down by friends, you need to ask yourself the following questions: Where do these friends fit into the scope of your life? What did you learn from the experience? Is this a friendship worth saving? The answers to these questions should guide your next steps with your close friends. In these situations, you need to determine the level of your friendship and how much you value these friends. Not everyone will have a smooth relationship with their closest friends, and it's important to realize that that is normal. In a trusting relationship, true friends can talk through the hurt together.

Be aware that it takes time to work through the disappointment when friends disappoint you. You may have to consider your friends and the events for some time and make a tough choice. Realize, if you decide to end the relationship, some friends may let you back if you change your mind, while others won't. So, proceed with caution. Try not to make an impulsive decision based on your initial feelings towards your friends. Give yourself the necessary time that you need to feel sad and assess things. Don't dwell on it for too long, and don't hang on to hard feelings about your friends forever.

Friendships are complex, like romantic relationships, and they don't always make sense. Here are some common questions you may ask yourself about your friends:

  • How do you know a friend doesn't care about you?
  • How do you respond to someone who has let you down?
  • How do you tell if a friend resents you?
  • What do you say to a friend who hurt you?
  • Why do friends cut you off?
  • Why do friends become distant?
  • How do you deal with friends who put you down?
  • What to do when a friend let you down?
  • How do you deal with disappointment from a friend?
  • When should you walk away from friendship?

How To Process The Disappointment

The following steps can help you learn how to deal with disappointment when friends hurt or disappoint you.

Managing Your Feelings When Friends Let You Down

It's normal to feel sad and disappointed for a short time when friends disappoint you. But, it's unhealthy to let those feelings consume your thoughts about your friends for long periods of time. When a friend does something that hurts you, the first thing you need to do is allow yourself some time to process all of the emotions you currently feel towards your friends. Try to breathe deeply and slowly and consider what has happened. Allow yourself to grieve what you have lost, and take care of your mental health. While you may not have lost the relationship completely, it may be the level of trust you had or the vision of what you believed you had with a good friend. when friends hurt you, it's natural to feel betrayed, abandoned, or rejected. 

"Sometimes when you're too close to the situation it's hard to separate the facts from your emotions. If you're struggling to sort through your feelings, talking to a licensed therapist can help you see things more clearly."

Occasionally, you may run into a friendship that begins well and ends up toxic. But, in most cases, when friends disappoint you, it's not a complete disaster. Sometimes it is even less about what your friends did and more about how you perceive what they did. While your friends may have made a mistake or acted impulsively, it may not have been intentional. You will have to try to be objective in the friendship to determine what actually happened and why. If you feel like your friends are constantly letting you down, it might be time to focus on making new friends.

Considering Your Friend's Perspective

After you have taken time to assess your feelings and objectively look at what happened with your friends, it is time to move forward and discuss the situation with the other friends or friend involved. Offer your friend respect and understanding. It may be useful to talk to the close friend that harmed you and learn more about their perspective. Your friends might not even know how much they hurt you. This is your opportunity to explain your feelings to your friends and ask them about theirs. As hurt as you may be, avoid going into this discussion believing you are right in your assessment of the situation. Also, avoid planning only to attack your friends and make them feel bad. The type of approach that you use with friends can make all the difference in whether it goes sour or turns out well. A discussion with your friends can help, and it may allow your friends to explain their actions in a way that mends the relationship. What works with one friend may not work with them all, but as long as your friend lets you know how they're feeling, you can avoid letting the disappointing feelings consume you.

Rules For Talking It Out

  1. Make time to have a discussion about it in person. Never try to resolve these situations in a text because they are often too brief, impulsive, and misinterpreted. If distance is a problem, try talking to your friends in video or chat or at the very least, email. At least an email can be written and saved for a few hours before you edit it and finally send it out. 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.
  2. Before you reach out, ask yourself if you are ready 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 to their explanation. You may find that their intentions were not mean-spirited after all.
  3. Make a point to maintain your composure and avoid saying anything out of hurt or anger. This isn't the time to be passive-aggressive or use sarcasm. Rather, be open and honest about your feelings regarding the friendship.
  4. Remember to treat your friend the way that you would want to be treated if the tables were turned.
  5. If at any point you feel that you are unable to listen effectively or have recurring resentments, try to use slow deep breaths to calm down. You might even suggest to take a break and ask to call back later if needed.

Even Close Friends Let You Down Sometimes - This Can Be a Disappointment

Offering Grace When Friends Let You Down

After allowing yourself some time to get over the initial disappointment of feeling let down, make an attempt to offer grace. When you do this, however, refrain from retelling the story with other friends or continuing to act like the victim in front of your friend. Forgive your friend and move on. Forgiveness is also good for your health. You might be surprised when you feel good after talking things over and offering grace to the friendship. Friends might not always line up with your expectations, but they shouldn't leave you feeling isolated or rejected. Consider the love and loyalty that you've experienced from this friend in the past, and decide whether you want more of the friendship.

While this is difficult to do with new friends, sometimes after an attempt to reconcile, you may need to decide to move on. If you are too angry or can't forgive them, accept the situation for what it is and offer them grace. Giving them some dignity in spite of the situation allows you the opportunity to get rid of your bitterness. More importantly, be cognizant that your response to the situation is a reflection of your character. Each opportunity is an opportunity for you and your best friends to rise above the fray, and a friend is a great thing to have in this world.

Getting an Outside Perspective

Sometimes when you're too close to the situation it's hard to separate the facts from your emotions. If you're struggling to sort through your feelings, and keep thinking the same things over and over again, talking to an in-person or online counselor can help you see things more clearly. You will be able to talk freely about what you’re experiencing in a nonjudgmental environment, and will receive actionable advice and guidance.

How BetterHelp Can Support You

Use of online platforms such as the credentialed counselors at BetterHelp can help you sort through your feelings and gain a healthier perspective with professional help. BetterHelp has online therapists who are available whenever and wherever to help you process difficult times and learn how to move forward in a healthy and positive way. Here you are able to make use of just one consultation or as many as you feel are needed. And, you will meet with a therapist on your time and where you feel most comfortable, through video, text messages, or phone calls. Below are some reviews of the counseling services provided by BetterHelp from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I have only been working with Danielle a short time, but her help has been invaluable to me as I have been through one of the most difficult times and transitions of my life. As a trauma survivor who struggles at times to make sense of life, Danielle has been a beacon of light, hope and encouragement. I have found the online platform to be, surprisingly, a very workable avenue for receiving professional support. Danielle has a true gift for compassionate listening and offers wonderful support and suggestions for moving through painful life situations."

"Mike had a fantastic approach with me. He was always straightforward with me, but quick to notice small improvements, and acknowledge them. He helped me work through my complicated family relationships, adjust to my new very stressful job, and change the way I approach not only my romantic relationships, but also relationships with my friends... After 7 months I feel incredibly emotionally strong and well equipped with new tools to face future challenges."

Conclusion

When a friend lets you down, it can be difficult to understand the situation and navigate your feelings. Using the strategies mentioned above can help you learn how to deal with the situation in a positive way. Whether you choose to continue the relationship or not, you can move forward in a way that you can feel good about. Take the first step today.

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