Subscribe to Bitch on Sale and help us reach our goal by Sept 30! Subscribe Renew Become a member Image Map

Ms. Opinionated: All the Advice You Asked For, and Some You Didn't

picture of Megan Carpentier

Welcome to the fifth installment of Ms. Opinionated, Bitch's advice column in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.

Dear Ms. Opinionated,

I'm one of those who needs advice on what to do when a friend disappears into a relationship. Different friends have dumped me during rosy periods in their love lives. In fact it's happened pretty recently, and I don't know what to do.

In life, there's basically one -- and only one -- thing you can do in this (and most) situations: Talk to the person. Assuming you want to stay friends with her, you go to your friend that pulled the disappearing act and say, "Hey, I feel like I never see you anymore! Can we make plans for lunch/coffee/drinks next week to catch up." And then, when you finally see her (it might take two attempts, and if it takes any more, skip down to the third paragraph) you say, "Look, you know you're my friend and I'm really happy that you're in a relationship that makes you happy. But -- and you've sort of done this before, or else I wouldn't say anything -- you've basically ignored me and our friendship for weeks over this guy, and it really hurt my feelings. I miss our friendship, and I miss being able to count on you, and I'd like to get back to that somehow."

She's going to respond one of two ways: either as a friend who's been told she's doing something we all know is shitty in general and now knows is hurtful to you in particular; or as the type of person who finds it "exhausting" to balance friends and a boyfriend right up until the moment she needs bridesmaids (and then people to attend her baby shower).

At that point, the decision is really yours. Do you want to be friends with a woman who thinks you're a useful diversion when she isn't in a Real Relationship, or sees you solely as a bridesmaid's-dress-filler? Or is she -- like buying stock in a typewriter manufacturer or dating an emotionally stunted drummer with obvious mother issues and a burgeoning alcohol problem -- a poor investment in retrospect? Effectively, everyone has at one point put time, emotional energy and trust in someone who's proved themselves not worth of any of the above.

And if your friend views friendship as a way to pass the time between relationships, well, then you know what you are to her, and you won't change that -- you can only respond in the way that makes sense for you. That might mean cutting her out all together, it might mean shrugging your shoulders and letting her call you whenever but not counting on her, or it might mean eventually refusing to be in her wedding. If not being a true friend to you is what's right for her, then you have carte blanche to do what's right for you.

But the other half of your question is about being friend-dumped, which can happen even when you're not friends with a habitual I've-got-a-boyfriend friend-dropper, and it totally sucks. In some ways, it sucks worse that a relationship-dumping, because at least there's a feeling with romantic relationships that you should end them if they are not working for you -- and there's not the same expectation around friendships.

But, why wouldn't there be? People grow and change, and sometimes they do so in ways that aren't compatible with the people in their lives -- friends or significant others -- or which make their relationships less fulfilling, functional or productive. And while there's a script to tell a significant other that it's not you, it's me... there isn't a set way to do that to a friend except to just slowly pull away and never speak of it again.

I mean, I've been friend-dumped, and it was really hard to understand why my best friend went from taking my calls one day to ignoring me the next week. The last thing she said to me before she stopped speaking to me was that she didn't understand why I had to use such crass language all the time, even though my use of crass language wasn't new, or something I'd kept hidden, or even something that had gotten worse. And I did the denial thing, the bargaining thing, I considered trying to rein myself in -- heck, some of the men I'd dated had asked that of me, too -- and I finally accepted that the person who I'd invested my time and energy was somehow not who I'd thought she was, and she wasn't and didn't want to be my friend, and I let myself be sad for that... and then I went and found other friends who loved me for me.

Personally, when I've done a friend-dumping -- which has been rarely, and only when the friend did something not in keeping with my personal ethics (domestic abuse, using someone, and treating a mutual friend with whom they slept rather poorly) -- I tend to be up front about why I'm disappointed in my friend. Obviously, you hope the unethical behavior changes rather than the friendship ends, but I doubt many people made my shit list without knowing precisely why they got there -- which seems more fair than the slow fade.

And while there are some warning signs for the type of person who will disappear into a relationship that you could heed before getting too deep into a friendship -- generally speaking, an obsession with the concept of The One, anyone who claims she hears her biological clock ticking, anyone who turns every girls' night into an opportunity to meet men (or women) and expects you to wing girl and anyone who claims it's just so hard to be friends with women to explain why she doesn't have other female friends -- some people are just going to surprise you in a bad way. And if talking doesn't work, and pointing out her behavior doesn't stop it, then decide based on what you know you're going to get from her, what you are willing to give to her. And then do that -- and focus your own energy on building up your other friendships or on the often time-consuming process of making new friends.

Have a question? Email us with "advice" in the subject line. Anonymity guaranteed. Photo credit: Kate Black, kateblack.com

Previously: How not to become that person who gets sucked into a relationship and abandons your friends.

Guess what? Subscriptions to Bitch—our award-winning, 80+ page print quarterly—are 20% off to help us reach our $25,000 funding goal by September 30. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

16 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Wow, this was heteronormative

Wow, this was heteronormative as fuck.

Agreed with the other

Agreed with the other anonymous. People who aren't "women in pre-marriage relationships with men" disappear into relationships in unhealthy ways, too. I'm not worried about my friend calling me up to be her "bridesmaid" or attend her babyshower, I'm worried about my friend disappearing into zir complicated queer relationship and out of my life. I would have expected more from a blog article from Bitch than to assume all relationships follow a hetero- or homonormative path of marriage/children/etc.

Also in agreement

I too was surprised at how heteronormative this response was. You cant assume this person is talking about someone who used the pronoun "she" nor, can you assume they are referring to their boyfriend. I hope future responses will be more inclusive of all types of relationships.

Also in agreement

I too was surprised at how heteronormative this response was. You cant assume this person is talking about someon who uses the pronoun "she", or that the relationship this person is referring to involves a boyfriend. I hope future responses are more gender neutral.

An apology

First off, let me apologize for being slow in responding to this criticism -- I didn't see when the column went up yesterday, and so I only saw the comments this morning.

Second, I'd like to apologize to people for the lack of inclusivity,. The question I used was actually one in a series on this topic, the first of which specified that the writer and the friends in question were both female -- but while that was obvious and felt like part of a series to me, I didn't make that clear in the piece itself and clearly made people feel excluded. In addition, the bridesmaid comments were simultaneously: a reference to a comment from last week; a specific example from my own life; and a reply to a private message I got asking me to answer to that example -- but, again, I should have made that clearer and tried harder, and obviously having not done so made people feel excluded and I have no one to blame but myself.

I obviously can't redo it, but I'll work harder to be less normative next time. Thanks for speaking out.

That doesn't give you an

That doesn't give you an excuse for this bullshit tbh:

She's going to respond one of two ways: either as a friend who's been told she's doing something we all know is shitty in general and now knows is hurtful to you in particular; or as the type of person who finds it "exhausting" to balance friends and a boyfriend right up until the moment she needs bridesmaids (and then people to attend her baby shower).

"She's going to respond one

"She's going to respond one of two ways: either as a friend who's been told she's doing something we all know is shitty in general and now knows is hurtful to you in particular; or as the type of person who finds it "exhausting" to balance friends and a boyfriend right up until the moment she needs bridesmaids (and then people to attend her baby shower)."

lollll, sexist much

Find some new friends

Some people are so focused on finding & being with that one perfect-amazing-astounding-all-consuming person that they lose sight of the other people in their lives. That's just the way it is with some people. They act like teenagers in love and behave with all the maturity that implies. My advice would be to cultivate some other friendships. Or, you can sit around & wait for that 'friend' who's perfectly willing to ignore you at the drop of a hat--but I can tell you it's going to be a cold and lonely wait...

And another thing, I agree with the other commenters about the brides maids and baby showers--what are we, in the 1950's? If the person asking for advice really mentioned those things, then they should have been printed along with the original question.

Bookstore Girl

Reply to comment | Bitch Media

I really appreciate this post. I

Ms. Opinionated: All the Advice You Asked For, and Some You

F*ckin

Reply to comment | Bitch Media

Good post. I be taught something tougher on totally different blogs everyday.
It can all the time be stimulating to read content material from other writers
and follow a bit of something from their store.
I

Reply to comment | Bitch Media

What

Ms. Opinionated: All the Advice You Asked For, and Some You

You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I
find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.
It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking
forward for your next post, I

Reply to comment | Bitch Media

Hello there, You've done a fantastic job. I

Advises play an important

Advises play an important role in our life, specially the advice of an intelligent friend or your elders!!

Ms. Opinionated: All the Advice You Asked For, and Some You

I don