Relationships: Love & Friendships

Long-time friends who cut you off for no reason: Red flags & How to deal (Updated Feb 2020)

When long-time friendships cut us off for no reason, it usually takes us by surprise and some of us never recover. Here we explore the red flags that might have already come up in the friendship and explore some ways of how to deal with them.

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In part 1, I talked about why people, specifically long-time friends cut you off for no reason.

In part 2, I talk about the possible red flags in the friendship you might have missed, based on my painful experience when a friend of 17 years cut me off, and how you can deal with such an upsetting situation.

The Red flags (that were already there)

Sometimes, in our friendships and relationships, we get so comfortable and used to the status quo that we fail to see the blinding red flags in the friendship that may have crept in over time.

As I examined this former long-time friendship, I do notice certain patterns in our friendship, and issues on both our parts that led to the eventual cut-off.

#1: I was dropped every time she had a new friend

Over the years, we changed classes several times and I always noticed that once she got closer to someone new, it was almost as if I never existed. And if we got thrown together in the same place again, she acted cold, distant and weird, ignoring me completely and acting as if we weren’t friends before.

#2: We both always had to be right

Any sort of disagreement always turned into a full-blown row cause of how we both insisted we knew better.

I still struggle with this sometimes and understand that it stems from a fragile ego/insecurity. It could stem from an unmet childhood need that resulted in them always feeling like their voice is never heard.

Both of our childhoods consisted of us always vying for attention in our respective families and never really having our needs met.

Put two people like that together and you can see how it can be a disaster when we refuse to calm down and listen.

#3: A conversational narcissist

One other thing that led to the huge cooling off of our friendship was – what I felt – her habit of constantly turning my issue into something about her.

Our final row stemmed from a comment I was making about my own life at that time. And it somehow turned into some issue that she thought I had with her.

We all can feel the need to “hog the spotlight” a little in our relationships from time to time. That’s normal. But if you are with someone who does this often, it can get pretty draining.

Not to mention, it can make you feel very picked on (if they turn it into a row) and unheard.

#4: Poor relations with other close friends

Always remember this – One BIG CLUE that someone won’t be in your life long? Observe how they treat their loved ones or close friends in their lives.

Do they have a tendency to badmouth, gossip about, hate-follow and cut people off for no reason?

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Are they especially vindictive, revengeful and harbour lots of hatred towards very close people who have done little to raise their ire?

Then there’s a HUGE red flag you’ve got there.

If they are doing this to other people, remember that are very likely gonna do this to YOU in the near future.

Your friendship never really feels “safe”. One “mis-step” in the wrong direction and you are done for.

I still remember her being very vindictive and especially hateful to a once very close friend of ours who was dating someone she didn’t like. I have no idea why someone would be this bothered about the dating choices of their close friend. But there you go.

#5: I didn’t have a healthy level of self-esteem

When I was younger, I had a serious people pleasing problem. I’d still forge ahead with the friendship despite seeing things I wasn’t comfortable or happy with.

This was what went on in my friendship. Despite seeing glaring signs that we weren’t very compatible as friends, I still invested tons of effort and time in an effort to “prove” to myself that we were BFFs.

#6: I had an unhealthy definition of friendship

I always thought friends had to be intense, loyal and utterly devoted to each other. No matter what.

It was very obvious to me actually that she wasn’t the kind of person that suited me as a friend, but I still pushed through anyway. Forcing her and the friendship into a hole. And then getting utterly disappointed when things didn’t happen the way I wanted it to.

Are you expecting your friends to live up to an idealised version of friendship?

#7: The friendship wasn’t based on a strong foundation

We only had fun when we were having fun. We ultimately didn’t share the same values, interests and outlook in life. She also couldn’t seem to understand or empathise with the family stuff I was facing at that time.

That greatly disappointed me.

When you let everything in your world rest on something that wasn’t built from something strong, it is bound to crumble.

How do you deal with a friend cutting you off?

Allow time to grief

A friend cutting you off is akin to a breakup, especially if you have been friends for ages. The pain and the hurt is real and can be absolutely devastating.

Our brains experience this as a great loss and the lack of forewarning and closure can make it very difficult to get over. This was someone we shared a lot of our life with.

Allow yourself to grief the end of this friendship. You might cycle through all 5 stages of grief or find yourself going back and forth between stages. It is all ok. You should give yourself as much time as you need to sort your feelings out.

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Understand that it probably has nothing to do with you

It’s all too easy to blame yourself when something like that happens. We cycle through all the events we might have done our friend wrong and start to feel guilty.

And this can be a hard pill to swallow – through my experience, I realised that sometimes you just never really know what is going on with a person. They might be struggling with something for awhile now and didn’t feel comfortable enough to tell you.

While in some cases, it could have been something you did, understand that a friend that treasures what you have would reach out to talk about it. And not run away.

It can be difficult, but don’t punish yourself day and night, racking your brains analysing what could have happened.

Reach out to them

I’m not sure if it’s pride but I rarely reach out to someone who has already shown signs of cutting me off.

This could have shown up in different ways – blocking me on whatsapp/facebook, unfriending me on social media, not returning or replying any messages or calls.

If you are alright reaching out to them to talk about things, hey go ahead! But do remember that you might not get the response you want.

People who initiate sudden cut-offs aren’t really going to be ready to tell you the reasons they did so and some of them have no desire of ever talking to you.

So do bear that in mind if you reach out and never hear back.

Accept it and let it go

Sometimes all we can do is accept the situation as it is, and learn to let it go over time.

Accepting isn’t about being OK with what happened. It’s about accepting the reality that this friendship isn’t a part of your life anymore. Things have now changed and we need to re-adjust.

You will always have the good memories to look back on.

Write an unsent letter

I learnt this technique of the unsent letter when I was coping with my own friendship losses and I found it very therapeutic.

What you do is that you just write a letter to this person and never post it to them.

Just write whatever it is you want to, all your feelings, thoughts, opinions. How unfair you feel this whole thing is etc. Don’t hold back. You may even find yourself crying a lot as you write them.

Sometimes you need a couple of unsent letters addressed to the same person to start to really come to terms with things.

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Nurture other friendships

We all don’t have just one friend in our life that we do everything with. Most likely, we have different friendships where we enjoy different activities together.

For example, I attend dance classes with only one particular friend, and travel with another.

Nurturing current friendships or cultivating new ones can make you focus less on that one friend who got away, and make you realise that the world is huge.

Meaning, if someone doesn’t want us around or appreciate what we have to offer, there are others out there who will.

Look out for them and treasure them.

Re-examine your definition of friendship

Sometimes we get blindsided by our friendships because we buy into this myth that we are supposed to have a BFF, that we must be loyal to our close friends, we can’t betray them etc.

Sometimes our pursuit of this idealistic notion of friendship can result in inaccurate perceptions of others.

And these notions can led to a lot of unrealistic expectations about your friendships as well as disillusionment, disappointment and general unhappiness.

How are you defining friendship? Are you heaping unrealistic expectations or friendship fantasies onto people?

Always look out for the red and amber flags

I mentioned a number at the beginning of this post. Just to be clear, in friendships, there might be times where either party will do something that hurts or disappoints the other.

That is inevitable in close relations.

But if those red flags keep coming up time and time again, then that’s something you need to pay attention to. Ignoring it and allowing it to fester may lead to a lot of issues further down the road.

Your thoughts?

What next? 

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  1. lee

    at 8:59 am

    Very insightful article. This happened to me a couple yrs back. I have long since moved on, but was looking for some solid advice to send my mother…yes, my mother! Talk about role reversal. I shared my experience with her and the tendencies of my “then best friend” but thought an objective view may help her more. If someone can treat others in a certain way, no one is exempt-as I thought I was. I believe I am fortunate, riding the tail end of the social media world so prevalent today. Sometimes it empowers people to hurt others, not dealing with direct confrontation & consequences of a relationship-an entirely human interaction. Life hurts, people hurt, no one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. However, when someone blatantly disregards another’s existence with no plausible explanation,they are plain cowards. As I see it, they took the easy way out, of course, for themselves.

  2. Claire

    at 4:06 am

    I was one of the dumpers. We were very close friends for several years. She eventually came and shared my apartment with me. She knew I was on a tight budget, without real other resources. So I asked that she give me at least a month to find another roommate, should she decide to leave. She agreed. Well, there came a day when she was tired of being “poor” and wanted to move back home. But she wanted to do it in the traditional two weeks’ time. I let her know that this was really going to put a dent in my budget cause stress finding another person, but she countered that “my mother said it is OK.” Well, it wasn’t her mother who made the agreement. She moved out and I made do. We remained friends, but I kept that ability of hers to make a commitment and then bail in the back of my mind, and I was determined that wouldn’t happen to me again. Months later, she wanted to know if she could move back in. I said no. She asked several different times over the months, and I still said it wasn’t a good idea. Later, I moved to a large city across the country. I had a serious boyfriend by that time, and we were coming out to visit my parents,friends, and scattered relatives. We were going to stay in motels, but she insisted that we stay with her. I said it was not a good idea, but she pushed and pushed. Finally, I agreed, but I let her know that we were there so that my boyfriend could meet all these people. It was too expensive to come out as much as I would have wanted. I let her know that I would not be able to spend all that much time with her. But she still insisted. Long story short, at some point she let me know that she felt like I was using her house “like a hotel,” and wanted to spend more time with me. I totally understood, but I repeated what I had said before. She then said if I didn’t spend time with her, she was going to ask us to leave. By then, our money had been allocated differently than to go to motels, and I certainly couldn’t get the discount deals I would have had I been able to make plans earlier. So, I relented and gave up my visiting my uncle. She was all happy. “That’s all I wanted. A little time with you.” It is sweet in a way, but it cost me that visit. And as it turned out, my uncle killed himself within the year. I would never see him again..
    I really resented her controlling ways, insisting that things had to be her way. And it felt like a replay of her moving out on me, breaking her promise, from before. It was all about what she wanted. When I got back home, I was furious. I did NOT want to start some sort of knock-down, drag-out argument where I might say some things I would regret. So, I just slipped away. When she called, I just answered her questions, and then ended the conversation. She sounded lost as I didn’t continue the talk, but I didn’t want to get into it with her. I should never have agreed to stay with her; so that was my fault, no matter how much she had insisted. But it really threw our plans into disarray, and she didn’t care. In retrospect, I did not mean to be cruel, but I still think that I was hurting so badly that I would have said a lot of things that might have been even more damaging. Even now, I don’t think of it much, but I wonder if I did it the right way. But I know I had no bad wishes for her. It was just what I felt I had to do for myself. Even now, I wish that that situation had never happened, and that I had not agreed to stay with her, and that we would not have had to answer to anyone about our itinerary.

    1. Sara

      at 10:40 am

      I think you did the right thing by not wanting to continue the friendship. Your friend sounds controlling, is selfish and a user. As I get older, I realise the importance of drawing boundaries, and that is incredibly important when you feel someone is overstepping their boundaries and taking advantage of you or the situation – friend or not.

      I wonder if you’ve ever gotten the chance to communicate to her about her behaviour though?

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