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I have a very good friend, let's call him Rick, who I have been acquainted with for the past 5 years. Our relationship was strong enough that he often told me that he was my best friend, and I often reciprocated as well. That being said, there is an "in joke" among my friend group where we tell Rick to "get lost". For example, if we're just hanging out and chatting, and Rick says something, one of my friends will sometimes respond "Rick, why don't you just get lost?" and then everyone else echoes this in turn and we all have a good laugh. Rick seems to enjoy this joke as well and takes it all in good fun with a smile and is not bothered by it. Or so I thought.

Last year at a birthday party thrown by my friends, I blew out my candles and someone chimed in asking what I wished for. While I know that making a birthday wish is just silly superstition, I decided to play along and maybe make a joke of my own. With a big smile on my face, I proudly exclaimed "I wished that Rick would get lost!" The joke went over well, as everyone had a good laugh (including Rick), but a few months later Rick moved to another city roughly an hour and a half away to live with his girlfriend.

At first I thought that this may be just a temporary arrangement and that Rick might move back after a few months (with or without his girlfriend). However, that is seeming increasingly unlikely as he has now purchased a house there. Normally I would not make a connection between me telling a friend about a birthday wish that they would get lost, and them actually "getting lost", so to speak, but now others from my friend group have started saying that Rick moved away because I told him to get lost.

Now I have begun thinking that maybe me telling Rick to get lost did contribute in some small way to him moving to another city. I of course never meant it when I told him I wished he would get lost, and I highly value our mutual friendship. I want to make amends and let him know that I was just joking when I said I wished for him to get lost, and if possible ask him to move back, as I rarely see him in person anymore (most of our interaction now consists of online group chat and occasionally playing video games online together). How do I go about making such an apology and let him know that he is welcome to come back whenever he is ready?

TL;DR: I told my friend to get lost, and a few months later he moved to another city. Some other friends are blaming the fact that he moved away on me and I feel like I may have contributed in some way. I would like to apologize to him and somehow make amends, and let him know that he is welcome back at any time.

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    Could you add some details as to why some of your friends are blaming this on you? Or could they just be teasing you the way you all Teased Rick? – Dan Anderson Dec 14 '17 at 18:48
  • Also, you've used the autism tag. Do you have autism? does Rick? – Dan Anderson Dec 14 '17 at 18:50
  • This is part of the conundrum that I have been trying to figure out. I am almost certain that this is just teasing from my friends, but at the back of my mind I cannot help having the niggling feeling that I really did in some small way make Rick move away. I have been thinking about this a lot lately and came to the conclusion that even if this is not the case, that I should be a good friend and apologize to Rick, and make sure he feels welcome in our friend group and with me, if and when he wants to come back. – Jordad Dec 14 '17 at 18:50
  • Yes, I an neurodivergent (on the autism spectrum), but Rick is not (his brother has Asperger's Syndrome but Rick claims that he has been tested and is not on the autism spectrum). – Jordad Dec 14 '17 at 18:52
  • Thank you, I just realized that I made a small spelling mistake but have now rectified it. – Jordad Dec 14 '17 at 18:54
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My advice for this would be to be blunt. Straight up tell Rick, "Hey, I am sorry if our constant teasing hurt you. We never meant it and it was all in good humour. You are always welcome to come back to us" or some variant thereof. Maybe doing it over your online chats or gaming time would be a good idea.

However, I do feel it was not-so-good conduct of you to make a birthday wish that one of your friends should disappear. I suggest you apologize for that in person whenever you get a chance to meet up with him. Do tell him how much better it would be if he comes back or you get chances to meet more often and show that you value your friendship with him.

Your relationship with your friend seems to be okay to me given that you are in talking terms and even play games with each other. So, my simple advice would be to maybe try to meet more often and show that you didn't mean the words that you uttered on your birthday. There is hardly any chance that this idea would ruin your friendship with Rick.

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    +1 It's hard to go wrong with open, and honest conversation. – Dan Anderson Dec 14 '17 at 19:19
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This reply is reinforcing that the first reply is a very good one.

This is a conversation that would be best done in person or by phone. But even if you can only do it by online chat or even email the best "bridge building" will be by jumping right into the topic, be candid about your feelings.

Don't minimize what happened or approach this indirectly. After an initial greeting or a little small talk jump right in. Say something like "I want you to know that I said something stupid. It was a bad joke that I really didn't mean and you are always welcome to return or be a part of..."

It's hard to gauge if your friend felt seriously hurt or offended - his move may have had nothing or little to do with what you had said. And he still interacts with you to some degree. But just in case it was a big blow to him, it's best to broach the subject candidly and make it clear that you think well of him and didn't intend to drive him away.

Your friend, who may or may not have been really offended may put this behind him immediately. Or it may take some time for him to reach out in turn. Say your part and then give him time, if he needs it, to let the friendship rebound.

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