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You Asked: I Feel Smothered and Guilty

DearSugar --

I'm older, I have raised children, and I recently returned to school. My best friend and I have grown apart. We work together, and I'm busy with school and grandchildren, etc. I just don't have time for her like I once did, and she's making things uncomfortable at work. Even her husband called, telling our boss that his wife/my friend is upset because I don't sit and talk to her like I used to.

I told her last year that my studies would require more attention. I feel smothered, and I feel guilty returning to school. She makes me feel awful. I love my friend, but it is my time, and when I started school I told her over and over how busy things felt with school and my family.

I work about 35 hours a week and take 3 classes. Sometimes I think she might be jealous because I'm a little more outspoken and can make friend more easily. She even told me once she gets jealous when I talk to other people at work. I think I may have to leave this friend behind.

What do I do? ~ Guilted Abigail

To see DEARSUGAR's answer

Dear Guilted Abigail --

You seem to have a pretty good handle on what's happening within this friendship. I can't tell if you've talked with her about the situation at work, which sounds very unprofessional and potentially harmful to you both. I hope you'll make it clear to her that such behavior is unacceptable, and that your personal lives should be discussed outside of work. I also can't quite tell by your note if you wish to preserve the friendship, or if it's become too difficult and uncomfortable for you.

I can tell you that our closest friendships ought to be based on love, support, encouragement and mutual understanding. Your friend sounds unable to temporarily put her own need aside and help you manage these new challenges in your own life. She also sounds as if she struggles with jealousy and may in fact see your education and growth as a personal threat. If your friend can not express her needs and feelings in healthy ways, or if she's unaware of them herself, she will probably continue to express them in ways that create more conflict, guilt, and chaos for you.

While it's sad and regrettable, some relationships won't make it through all the upheavals and changes life throws at us. You deserve friends who admire and encourage your personal development, and who understand that small sacrifices and patience are also acts of friendship. I wish you luck at school, and I especially hope your work environment isn't compromised any further by your friend's resentment.


Join The Conversation
andaman andaman 10 years
Have a long chat with her and tell her she's making you feel very uncomfortable at work. Tell her she's stressing you out. Ensure her she's still your best friend but you have a lot on your plate at the moment. If she doesn't listen then I think you should really take a break in this friendship. Remember the bottom line is a good friend should feel happy you've gone back to education. A good friend should be proud of you instead of moaning about how little time you have for gossiping!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
She sounds like she has hurt feelings and low self-esteem. If it's true that friends need to support each other, then it sounds like she is in need of support. I'm not saying she's not acting weird, but I'd hope that if I were struggling with similar issues my friends wouldn't all abandon me.
Marci Marci 10 years
Why would anyone's boss care to hear what an employee's husband has to say about the state of his wife's friendship with someone else? But your old friend is simply jealous that you've kept moving and changing in your life, and part of that moving and changing is leaving her behind. I've had this happen with old friends who reach a certain point in their life and then stop growing; just stand still. It's tough, but you have to be true to yourself and leave her behind.
jamiegirl jamiegirl 10 years
Although I agree with dearsugar I can't help but feel a pang of sadness for a friendship that has lasted so long to end because of jealousy (on your friend's end)and the fear of losing you that is actually pushing you two further apart.:(
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
I can't imagine how you must dread going into work in the morning! This situation sounds unbearably uncomfortable. That her husband actually called your boss and brought him into your personal business shows that as a couple they have some twisted ideas about professional/personal boundaries. Perhaps at one point in your live this woman was a good friend to you, but clearly that time has passed! She is jeopardizing your work and making you feel bad about continuing your education and expanding your social circle, that is not friendly at all! Like Dear said, she should feel happy for you and be supporting you during this time of growth in your life. Indicate to her either through a serious conversation or a letter that things have gotten out of control and you are setting some new boundaries. Tell her you hope for the sake of all you have shared in the past that you can still have a civil relationship. Please don't allow her to continue as she has been, it sounds like it is really draining you, and you have enough on your plate without worrying about how she is going to sabotage you or make you feel guilty next.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
up to the point where her husband called your boss i felt like maybe you could work things out for this friendship, but that sent it over the top. this couple is making you uncomfortable with the life you have AND WANT. i call that being not so friendly. one letter, painful as it sounds, to let them know that you have moved on and are happy about it should be all it takes. you valued the things you shared but your lives are different now; you aren't "best friends" anymore. this seems odd to me. at what point do people grow up and become happy and appreciative of and for their friends?
kendalheart kendalheart 10 years
Well I think dear is right in that sometimes friendships do not last through the things life gives to you. I think a friend who you would want to keep around would be happy and proud of your recent accomplishments. A friend who is jealous that you talk to other friends is way too attatched to you. I have a friend who is a bit like this and I can understand how you feel that you are somewhat obligated to continue the friendship. You have to ask yourself 1 important question, "is this friendship giving and getting support equaly?" and I think you know that answer.
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