I Love My Friends, But It Feels Like They Don't Love Me
Updated May 17, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault
Having friends gets harder the older we get. Our lives become busier. We get married, have kids, buy our first houses, and with all of that come responsibilities and obligations that take over our lives to the point where we simply can't make time for the same fun things we used to do with our friends. Gone are the nights of endless drinking, or binge shopping. Gone are the nights of movie marathons and spontaneous vacations.
The problem is that, because life changes so fast, we sometimes don't account for it, and so we don't know how best to manage the social calendar that, to be honest, we truly need but put off for the sake of pleasing everyone else. "I have to be home to make my husband dinner." "I have to help the kids with their homework." "I have to take the dog to the vet for his checkup." With all of these things going on, it may feel downright impossible to be able to do anything fun anymore.
My Friends Don't Love Me Anymore
Sometimes life gets busy. Sometimes friendships fade. Sometimes people just suck. In the case of busy lives, it's forgivable, but in the other cases, sometimes it's better just to cut your losses and move on. If your friends claim to be so busy that they can't get so much as text you back, not even with a happy-faced emoticon, then it's time to move on.
However, there are times when what we perceive is much different from what is truly going on. Sometimes, we are so riddled with anxiety, and our self-esteem is so low, that what we perceive as malevolence is something innocent.
Your best friend hasn't responded to your Facebook post, despite being obviously online. Perhaps s/he didn't see it? Facebook is changing its algorithms all the time, deciding who sees what and when. If you don't have your friend set to "Get Notifications" every time they post, then you may miss something. Heck, sometimes even with this setting on you may still miss something. Facebook is a fickle beast.
The same goes for texts. Sometimes, you get two texts at the same time, and you don't realize it. You're responding to the first one, a second one comes in, and it glitches. Technology has ruined many a friendship over a simple mistake. Give your friend the benefit of the doubt, wait a bit, and try texting them again. You may get an apology and a note that they never saw your text. No harm, no foul.
It's no secret that social media takes a serious toll on our social lives, self-esteem, and overall feelings of inadequacy. There's probably not a person out there who doesn't have "fake friends" on their profiles who are only using them to get a higher friend count. The true friends are the ones who make time for you, who enjoy spending time with you, and who go out of their way to see you, rather than resorting to a few digital characters shared over a post or status update.
How Can I Know For Sure If My Friends Don't Love Me as Much As I Love Them?
Sometimes, it's not just in your head. Sometimes your friends may be great actors. You think they care about you, but then you have that sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, they're playing pretend. Your self-esteem is fairly good, so you know it's not you. But you keep getting these vibes that something isn't passing the smell test.
Perhaps the most obvious sign is that your friend starts acting negatively toward you. If your friend is always starting arguments over nothing or is just generally treating you like garbage, confront them about it. If they don't stop, then it doesn't matter why they're doing it, just that you need to get away from them. The relationship has become toxic, and maybe they're terrible toward you because they want to stop being friends, but they have no idea how else to do it - kind of like when someone treats a significant other badly in the hopes that they'll break up with them.
If you haven't yet been taking note of it, you'll also want to keep tabs on how often you've been communicating, and through which channels. If you and your friend used to hang out constantly, but it's been months since you've last seen them, and you've only spoken with them through texts or social media, this may be a sign that they're moving on from the relationship.
And, of course, if you haven't even communicated with them that way, then this may be a red flag, too. In today's world, it's so easy to keep lines of communication open via social media that for someone not to is more than just being lazy - it's downright avoidance. It's also a bad sign if you're finding out about the major things in your friend's life through social media. If you find out they're getting married via Facebook, for example, then they're telling you at the same time that they're telling the rest of the world. This means that they may not consider you as valuable a friend as you consider them to be.
Something else to pay attention to is if you're always the one to initiate conversation. If your friend isn't making an effort, maybe it's time to move on to someone who will make you feel as if you're worthy of their time.
My Best Friend Doesn't Feel The Same Way About Me
It can be heartbreaking to find out that your best friend doesn't feel the same way about you. After all, you may have felt something akin to falling in love when you realized that out of all of your friends, your current best friend shot to the top of the list. So, it can be pretty disappointing to read or hear something about your supposed best friend referring to someone else as his or her "best" friend.
One thing to keep in mind is what it was about this person that made you consider them your best friend in the first place. Maybe there was something about their personality that wouldn't necessarily last the test of time. For instance, did you consider him or her a best friend because they went to all of your concerts with you? Or because they were there for you when your ex broke up with you, and when no one else was? Is it because they were always there to babysit your kids? Or is it because you both grew up together and shared a lot of history?
In each of these situations, the result can be different. For instance, once you both settle down in life, concerts become a thing of the past for a while, maybe even forever, and so there are fewer excuses to hang out with this person. Often, when the reason to hang out goes away, we don't come up with new ones, which causes friendships to suffer.
Maybe your friend was there for you in situations when you needed them to be, like as a shoulder to cry on or for babysitting help, but when it comes to managing their social calendar, your friend prioritizes certain things over others. Maybe it's the very fact that you do have kids and that you can't go to concerts and other fun single-people things that have caused your friend to become distant. S/he will still be there when you need them, not so much as a best friend but more like a good friend.
As we get older, our priorities change. The same reasons why some couples don't stay together forever are the same reasons why some friends break up, too. You grow apart. Things that used to be important are not as important anymore, and the things that are important to you may not be as important to your friend. This is the very reason why some friends who grow up together, and who base a lot of their friendship's importance in their history together, don't stand the test of time.
How To Address The Situation
First and foremost, if you think there's a problem with your friendship, you need to communicate this to your friend. Be as open and honest as you can, and allow your friend to speak, even if it hurts to hear it. You may learn that something you did anger your friend, and there may have been a miscommunication that you can clear up by simply addressing the problem and talking about it.
When talking with your friend, try to use "I" statements, rather than "you" statements. For instance, instead of saying something like "you hurt me when you did this," say "I felt hurt when you did this." Using "you" statements can feel like an attack, and while you may be hurting, it won't help the situation to fuel the argument further. The last thing you want in this situation is to cause your friend to shut down and become defensive.
On that note, you too need to refrain from becoming defensive. While it can certainly suck to find out that someone we care about no longer feels the same way for us, we can also use it as a learning experience - both to reevaluate what we want from a friend, and to work on any negativity within ourselves that might have led us to push our friend away inadvertently. It may be too late for this relationship, but you can work on improving yourself so that your next relationship is stronger and healthier for what you've learned from your last one.
Do you feel like your friends have betrayed you, and you're having difficulty coping with it? Consider reaching out to one of our licensed professionals who can offer you some words of advice and help you decide what your next steps should be.