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I'm sorry this is long but I figured some back story was needed as it’s a bit of a complex situation.

I’ve been friends with someone for 7 or so years now. We became fairly inseparable rather quickly after meeting. We're both equally socially awkward females that shared very common interests and then cultivated new interests together pretty consistently throughout the years. We're both mid-twenties and work together. We've taken a few trips together over the years and we have another one coming up in roughly a month.

So... here is the issue:

I feel like we've drifted apart, though... I may be the only one that feels this as I actually think she's ceased caring about much at all to do with me. Months ago I stopped trying to arrange plans for us to socialise on the weekends or after work, since I was getting the feeling that hanging out with me was becoming almost a chore for her. Indeed she would often cancel plans stating a lack of motivation or simply the fact that she felt like she had a busy weekend (spending time with her family) and wanted to stay at home. It's come to a stage where I feel she's more sociable with co-workers than she is with me some weeks. Lo and behold, we have not really had a social outing together as we used to (shopping, having a meal at a restaurant, etc) since I stopped initiating them. I make vague non-committal suggestions about movies showing or how long it's been since we've been to this restaurant or that but... she doesn't "bite the bait". I truly don't think she's interested and I've faced rejection, either directly spoken or inferred, too many times to push the subject any further without hurting myself even more.

Her attitude towards me is such that it reminds me of a yo-yo... one day she'll be the person I have grown accustomed to and can talk to for hours and comfortably spend time with, and the next she'll be someone who ignores my messages, stares at her phone during week-day lunch breaks together and makes no attempt to socialise with me past the bare minimum during working hours. Even our conversations over instant messaging have drastically diminished. Furthermore, whilst some shared interests remain, others have steadily drifted apart, even down to something as inconsequential as music tastes. I will often try to indulge her in new interests... the same courtesy isn't quite afforded to me so I prefer not to discuss my interests with her after one or two times, as a general rule of thumb.

Essentially, whilst I dedicate considerable time thinking about this friendship (truthfully my only close relationship, and hers too, as far as I know), somewhat resentful that we don't socialise like we used to, and wondering about her wellbeing (is it personal struggles of some kind - i.e. depression? - that has so dramatically changed her personality or regard towards me?)... She doesn't seem to share the concern or make any move to act in any way that would redeem recent behaviour.

This decline in "friendship quality", so to speak, began about a year ago after our last big trip together, and yet, because she suggested the trip and destination and I was amiable to it, we still booked another a few months ago - which, as I mentioned above, is coming up in a month or so.

In short, I think it's time to move on, as I'm investing more in this friendship than she is and it's, I think, emotionally damaging to me. There are many many examples of situations and circumstances I could describe but the overall gist is that I feel taken for granted and underappreciated. I'm wasting my time trying to connect with someone who doesn't seem interested, but somehow, in certain capacities (like travelling together for a month to a foreign destination and leaving me to plan the trip that she suggested in its entirety!) still expects some level of loyalty and consideration from me.

Cancelling the trip is not an option and I still very much want to go but... I'm afraid of what attitude I might face during the trip. In our last trip together (a short holiday interstate to a city we have been to many times for shopping and just quick weekend getaways), I felt that within a very short time, her attitude was that of someone who would rather be anywhere else. Petulant and reluctant, often expressing that she'd rather go back to the hotel than explore a new activity. It wasn't a pleasant experience and I'm somewhat fearful that the same might happen on this considerably larger trip.

How would I deal with this? If we find each other disagreeing on the day's activities, or if I want to do something but am getting the "vibe" from her that she would rather not... I don't want that to spoil my enjoyment or make me miss out on experiences that I could have, only because she has fallen into a sullen mood where she spends most of the time looking at her phone looking bored and disinterested in my company, let alone any scenery surrounding us. I'm unsure how to deal with this without causing hostility between us, which would be quite unfortunate when in a foreign country with nothing but ourselves for company!

I'm socially anxious as well, I've had situations in a previous recent small trip where she would refuse to do something as simple as take a photo at a landmark, either with me or even of me, and I lacked the confidence to feel comfortable using my selfie stick or to ask another person. These were isolated incidents, often in heavily crowded attractions (she's not a fan of crowds) but seeing as I never know what attitude to expect from her nowadays... that's a very likely scenario to happen. Personally, I have resigned myself to knowing that I have to build up the courage to get the outcomes I desire in these situations, but I don't want to do it in a way in which my frustration or unhappiness will be apparent to her, so as to not create animosity.

Basically I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. I want to enjoy my trip but am going to be travelling with someone I don't feel I can necessarily rely on or draw any enjoyment from - in fact, there's the possibility she could taint certain aspects of it. How do I navigate this diplomatically so as to step on no toes, or the least amount of toes? I want to look forward to this trip but the uncertainty of our relationship is causing me anxiety instead.

Suggested TL;DR

I just wasn't sure how to summarize this, sorry. But let's try: Was very close friends with someone for the better part of 7 years. We've been drifting apart for the last year or so as she makes me feel underappreciated, taken for granted and sometimes even like a nuisance. I want to cut ties to being only coworkers but we have a trip coming up. Since she has exhibited untoward behaviour in previous trips together (plus her overall attitude lately), I am feeling anxious about the possibility of this trip being ruined by her. Cancelling is not an option.

How would I negotiate the situation when she is acting sullen and uninterested in our activities or is exhibiting an attitude that is sullying the mood? I don't want to miss out on opportunities or experiences but also don't want to antagonize her or create an even more uncomfortable situation...

  • Do you have another good friend going to this trip ? – gowithefloww Jun 1 '18 at 7:12
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    If she suggested the trip, perhaps she isn't as disinterested in the friendship as you thought? – user2159 Jun 1 '18 at 11:31
  • She might be ill. If you by any means want to consider continuing this friendship, you should consider talking to her about this. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jun 2 '18 at 7:12
  • @FlorianGauthier nope. – nongrata Jun 3 '18 at 23:08
  • @DDD Yes, I wonder about this everyday. Like I said.. she's a yo-yo. – nongrata Jun 3 '18 at 23:08
19

I have had some similar things happen to me in the past, but for my friend and me it (kinda) worked out in the end.

What I suggest for the trip is that you try to get the most out of it. I know this isn't an easy thing to do, especially if you never have done it before or are hotheaded, but when she does something that makes you feel bad, insecure, sad or angry, just try to let it wash off of you.

It is a sort of mental click you need to make, but it gets easier to do the more you do it.

The picture example you give. I would recommend to stay positive and give her the benefit of the doubt, and ask her if she wants to take the picture, after all, sometimes she is the "old" her. If she takes it, nice. If not, then just smile and use your selfie stick. There is no issue with using a selfie stick for one picture, or ask somebody else, I find that most strangers will gladly help you out.

Do this for everything on the trip. Try to enjoy it as most as you can and every time she doesn't want to do something just accept it and try to make the best of it. If she wants to stay in the hotel room all day, I would even go out alone and give her the choice to come along or stay inside all day. It is a trip that took time to plan and money to book after all, so don't let it go to waste.

After the trip I suggest you talk to her. One on one, after work when you both have the time for it. You clearly are fed up with her by now and don't want to continue the friendship but at the same time I get the message that you have not really talked to her about this.

A friendship is a sort of relationship and a relationship is built on trust, mutual respect and communication. So talk to her. Tell her what you feel, what you think about her attitude for the last year and that it is getting to a point where you are getting ready to let the friendship die off.

See what she has to say about it. Perhaps she is indeed depressed, or struggling with something in another way. Perhaps she was oblivious to it all and is sorry for it. Perhaps she truly doesn't give a damn anymore about your friendship. You won't know unless you talk. And your friendship sounds like it has been good and long enough for you to make that effort I think.

Also, go into that talk with no prejudice or sense of "She is in the wrong". Things like this are complicated and to point somebody as the culprit is simplifying it. There is no good and bad side in this, sometimes friendships break or bifurcate and wither away. but sometimes there are things you both sense but are only clear when you talk about it, and these things can often be fixed as well. It would be a shame to let a good friendship go to waste because of that, we all know how hard it is to find good friends.

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    thank you for taking the time to answer . I wouldn't say I'm hotheaded, but perhaps I do wear my heart on my sleeve and if she hurts me or upsets me, it might be obvious. luckily, I have already been practicing "letting it wash off me", as lately she has been known to make a few 'below the line' comments about particular interests of mine she doesn't share anymore. being an anxious person, however, positivity is sometimes hard to channel. patience also, I think, will be needed. having a talk after the trip seems the most challenging obstacle. – nongrata Jun 1 '18 at 7:03
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    I understand, I am like you when it comes to character I guess. I would make the talk though, it can go south, and it can end your friendship. But the way it is headed now the end is already in sight. At the same time the talk could turn all that around and save it. I hope it all works out for the best for you though. – Robin Jun 1 '18 at 7:05
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    interestingly, I have gone through periods of bad depression (anxiety and depression do like to go hand in hand!) but luckily, I haven't felt that desolate in years. she knows this. I've tried to make it clear that I am still here for her, unfailingly, which sometimes makes me feel like a fool. I'm always available to talk and would meet with her any time she wanted to arrange but.. I know she wouldn't do the same for me. regardless, I haven't said or done anything that indicates I want to pull away from her. to start with, I just hope the trip goes well. thank you for your advice. – nongrata Jun 1 '18 at 7:15
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    It does sound like you'll have to revalue your friendship and give her a much lower priority, also if she does open up to you with her problems, be careful with helping her. While I believe we all can pull others out of a state of depression, it often times comes with a great cost on our own mental well being. And since you aren't mentally that strong (I don't mean this offensive), it might not be the best course of actions. You have no obligation of being her lifeline or mental supporter. Take care of yourself first, then of her. – Robin Jun 1 '18 at 7:20
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    no offense taken. it's precisely because of that, the reason why I want to indeed make her a lower priority and reevaluate. but I just need to get the trip 'out of the way' first. this situation has taken enough of a toll on me already to continue going this way. I do need to start thinking of what's best for me now. thank you so much for taking the time to read my rambles. greatly appreciated. – nongrata Jun 1 '18 at 7:28
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I appreciate you've already selected an answer but felt that I had something small to add. Rather than just making suggestions while you are away and having possible disagreements, maybe sit down and plan some activities before you go away - so you have a plan of key things that you would like to do.

This would allow you to at least have a rough idea of things you are going to do while abroad, and you can discuss this in a relaxed environment, with no pressure to make sudden decisions, unlike on holiday where you might have to decide to do something right now. Focus on what you definitely want to do, and what you might want to do.

When you're on the trip, it should be easier to achieve the things you want, don't be afraid to do them by yourself if you have to, but hopefully discussing and arranging things first will help minimize this risk.

The other answer covers discussions you might have after the trip adequately - I have nothing to add to that - only that maybe if this holiday goes well, maybe your friend will open up more about the situation (either on holiday or after it) and this will provide greater understanding to both parties.

Hope it goes well!

  • oh absolutely further answers are welcomed! I just really appreciated the frank discussion with Robin as I felt it was words I really needed to hear, or.. read, as the case may be. I fully intend to plan the trip and days before hand while sharing this with her. I have already started and so far, I get very little response from her or input so... I continue planning anyway. It's all in a shared Google doc so she has full visibility. my fears are truthfully a little less about vocal disagreements and a little more about a general sullen attitude... which may sour my mood as well. – nongrata Jun 1 '18 at 8:38
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I would suggest doing a lot of things to keep the interaction going. You don't need to talk about anything much, as the awkwardness is still there. Talking about stuff comes later. The more things you do together the more the bond that you had before starts to emerge. Just pick things that you both will enjoy. Doesn't need to be perfect just need to keep moving. Over time the talk will start too. Don't rush/force it. Nostalgia hits are powerful and they will give a boost too. Things that let you compete with each other are really good. Hope it works out.

tl;dr Do things together and then do some more, talk less at the start, don't force it. The bond will grow by itself.

Cheers

  • well, we'll be in a foreign country with no one but ourselves to do things with. I will try not to push for things, or show impatience. I'm mostly just hoping that it doesn't come to a point where conflict is apparent. I hope we just enter into a normal routine of checking off things to see and explore in peace. – nongrata Jun 3 '18 at 23:16
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Foreword

My suggestion is going to be more about handling the trip than fixing the underlying problem. Clearly the underlying issue needs to be discussed, but you asked "how do I endure the trip?", not "how do I fix our friendship?", so I'll answer the question that was asked.


Answer

You say that she doesn't seem to be interested in doing some of the things you want to do, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying them.

Instead of spending the whole day together, why not split up from time to time so you can each do things that the other doesn't want to do?

Sometimes I find that spending an entire day with the same person can get a bit tedious and I tend to loose my enthusiasm after a while, especially if I feel like I'm following the other person or I'm not getting chance to see the things I want to see. Splitting up for a while to do different things gives you both a chance to explore things without having to accomodate the other person.

As an added bonus, you'll have something to talk about on the trip back - you can tell each other what you did without the other person. Perhaps you or the other person will even think "actually, I might have enjoyed that" and want to do the same next time.

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    Be happy to do activities together. Be happy to do activities apart. If you have positive plans which make you happy, that is good. She may join in. Or not. – Nigel Touch Jun 1 '18 at 18:09
  • thanks for answering! the issue is, she would never go off on her own. she wouldn't be comfortable at all. she's sometimes not comfortable even with me. she's very shy. to counteract this, I always do plan well in advance and keep her informed, and I always ask to be sure on the day that she's happy with the planned activities. she's not one to be vocal about disagreeing but she'll sometimes adopt a general attitude about her that conveys boredom or dissent. and yet, when I ask her, what would she rather do instead, she responds with "I don't know" or "whatever", she doesn't care. – nongrata Jun 3 '18 at 23:13
  • @incog76 Are you quite sure of that? If so, that's unfortunate. (I could be wrong, but that sounds indicative of a possible underlying psyhiactric issue like anxiety or depression. I'm not a medical professional, but I have experience with the subject.) – Pharap Jun 4 '18 at 0:04
  • @Pharap I'd say it's indicative of the same too, I guess. but as someone who does have anxiety and has battled depression before, I don't remember forsaking my personal relationships in lieu of it. but hey, everyone is different. regardless, I had a small conversation with her today where she basically confirmed she has no desire to see me outside work hours anymore, after nearly 8 years. so any speculation about the state of this friendship has been confirmed and hopeful ideas debunked. I just want to endure this trip and then find some amicable distance between us. – nongrata Jun 4 '18 at 7:23
  • @incog76 I meant it as a possible explanation for gloomy/uninterested behaviour during such trips, not as explanation for not wishing to see you. (Though the latter is possible, it depends how she behaves towards her other friends - whether or not you can be sure they don't receive the same treatment.) In light of her confirmation, maybe it would be worth asking her why she no longer wishes to see you. If there's no hope for a good resolution, perhaps reconsider the splitting up idea? If you know she no longer wants to see you, perhaps making the trip enjoyable for yourself should be priority. – Pharap Jun 4 '18 at 7:51

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