Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dear Mary: Our friend treats us like doormats and now she's off with new friends gone

Our reader has texted her friend many times to meet up. (Stock photo)
Our reader has texted her friend many times to meet up. (Stock photo)

Mary O'Conor

I am writing about an issue that has caused extreme upset to me and my close friend. The issue is our other close friend. The three of us have been close for a long time but for over a year our friend - let's call her Deirdre - has been treating us like doormats and constantly cancels on us. My other friend - whom I shall refer to as Aoife - has also noticed this, and it is so hurtful as we were once so close.

The three of us are professionals in our late 30s and early 40s and I'm married with family. We've all been there for each other through thick and thin. In the past year I've only met Deirdre twice - the last time was last October, not for want of trying on my part. Aoife last met Deirdre 17 months ago and there have been texts and Facebook correspondence between them but I'm not on Facebook.

I have texted so many times and tried to arrange to meet but it's impossible. Deirdre's elderly mother has become more frail and therefore she goes down the country to see her almost on a weekly basis. She works her shifts together to spend more time with her mother until she has to come back to Dublin to work. I totally understand that she is worried about her mother, and she spends a lot of time with the rest of her family who all live in her home county.

Deirdre was never reliable but has become worse of late. She cancelled me four times since Christmas, and I asked her last week if she didn't want to see me any more as I was just tired of trying to meet up and couldn't keep asking. She said she had explained her situation many times and that she was never in Dublin and that she needed time to herself too. She then said she would call to me before the weekend. I was thrilled and got food in only to be cancelled again the night before. I got a strange text saying she had to go to her brother's family to help them and that family will always come first and I wasn't to cry or give out, that she loved me and would see me when she got back. The next day she went away with two friends from her work to a luxurious getaway.

Myself and Aoife have never met these friends and we were hurt that she has managed to organise all this for herself and yet won't meet us even for a cup of coffee. Her text hurt so much as I saw myself as a sister to her. I'm very giving and would do anything for anyone.

My husband says not to bother with her as he has seen how upsetting this whole saga has been. What do we do Mary? As I write this she is away on her luxury weekend with the new friends. We've tried to meet her so many times and it's the same thing - she's working, too tired, going home or going to help with family and this has been the final straw.

Mary replies:  Friends fall into two categories - those who are important to us at specific stages of our lives, and those with whom we are friends throughout our lives. We see a lot of the first category for as long as we share a common theme, such as small children, sports, hobbies or schools. Then our lives take a different direction, or we move, and we don't see as much of them as we did and we make new friends. We may not see our lifelong friends very much at certain periods, but we know that we can contact them and pick up where we left off without rancour on anybody's part. An old friend said to me one time, not having been in touch for quite a while: "just because I haven't been in touch doesn't mean I haven't been thinking of you" and I think that just about sums it up.

It sounds to me as if Deirdre has her hands full with her mother and family and that she welcomed the chance of getting away from it all for a few days. That doesn't mean that she thinks any less of you, it just means that she is at a different stage in her life than you are.

She is very obviously not to be relied on to keep dates, but she has always been like this. And while it was an inconvenience to have her cancel so very late the last time, it wasn't a huge crime. So try to keep smiling, welcome her the next time she contacts you, and if she doesn't, be assured that she will when the time is right for her. She just has different priorities right now. But old friends are best. Try to be non-judgmental and more accepting of her faults, and you will feel so much better.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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