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The Wrong Way To End A Friendship

April 2, 2018

At first, I didn’t think anything of it. Luther was a very busy guy and it wasn’t unusual to have a difficult time getting hold of him. But, as time went on, I started to wonder. Eventually, I came to a very sad realization; Luther had decided to not be friends with me anymore. And instead of discussing it with me, he’d simply ghosted.

We live in the internet age. I’ve made and lost friends with people I’ve never met in real life. Luther was different. Luther and I have been friends for about 5 years. And, we met in real life long before we talked online. We met through a local social group.

Luther and I were pretty close. In fact, he was one of the people I felt closest to in our group. Our politics were very different. I’m conservative, he’s liberal. I’m LDS (Mormon,) he grew up in Utah as a “non-Mormon.” But, Luther was a good person and we hit it off well. If anything our differences gave us interesting things to talk about.

Luther eventually married Lacey, another member of our social group. I’ve known Lacey even longer than I’ve known Luther. They are a great couple and two of my favorite people in the world.

We all eventually drifted away from the social group that brought us together. But, I remained friends with Luther and Lacey. More with Luther than his wife. He started a Community group focused on the poor and homeless. It’s an important work and I was proud to call Luther my friend. He was an inspiration. He maintained a fulltime job in IT while also devoting countless hours to his homelessness advocacy.

While, homelessness is an issue that I care about, I didn’t really get engaged with Luther’s group. We all have a limited amount of time. While I respected the important work he was doing, I focused on other interests.

But, Luther and I still talked regularly. We occasionally went to lunch. I reached out to Luther when I had questions about some of the areas he was so involved with.

Then, two of my daughters found themselves homeless. One because she was fleeing an domestic abuse situation, another because she opted out of state custody at 18. She could have stayed in foster care and the state would have funded school, housing, etc, but she insisted she’d “figure it out.” Well, figuring it out meant that she was homeless a week after the court date.

I reached out to Luther for help. I knew he was in Denver conducting a national conference for his advocacy group. He was even busier than normal. In the meantime I was able to get my daughters the help they needed to be off the streets, at least temporily, but they needed to get plugged into the social services available to the homeless. Luther was too busy to get back to my texts or facebook PM messages, but I’d seen him this busy before.

One of my daughters was in Park City, UT. I saw Luther was holding a local meeting in Park City. This seemed like a perfect chance to get him and my daughter together so she could start getting the information she was going to need.

I didn’t really consider the situation unusual. Luther was the leader of his organization and he was the primary point of contact. I felt bad about pestering him, but he was the organization. I drove out to Park City and picked up my daughter and took her to the meeting. We met up with Luther and several homeless advocates in Park City. Overall, I was a very relieved father. I felt my daughter was starting to meet people who could really help her.

It was shortly after this that I realized that I could no longer see Luther’s posts on Facebook. I sent a couple PM’s.Then a sicking feeling started in my stomach. I tried calling Luther. No answer. I tried texting him. Nope.

Finally, I reached out to his wife, Lacey

LACEY: Hi, what’s up?

ME: We’ve been friends a long time. Feel free to be straight with me. Did I do something to tick off your husband? He blocked me on Facebook and doesn’t answer my calls. At first I thought it was how crazy busy he was in February. But, then I realized I can’t see any of his posts. I have no idea.

LACEY: Ok, to be straight with you–your incessant messaging and calls are inappropriate and creepy and that’s why he blocked you.

ME: I appreciate you letting me know.

LACEY: yep

ME: I didn’t realize. If you get a chance, or feel inclined, please let him know I apologize. Any chance to salvage that friendship, do you think?

LACEY: That ship has sailed Rodney. But I’ll tell him you apologized.

ME: Well, separate from any of the homeless advocacy, I’ll miss being his friend. What’s that mean for our friendship?

(Long pause. . . )

ME: Another ship that sailed? Well, again, I very much appreciate you explaining this. I apologize to you as well. Had to have been uncomfortable having someone creeping on your husband.

If either of you are ever interested in rekindling the friendship, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You’re still two of my favorite people in the world.

You can let Luther know I’ll be withdrawing from any involvement in the advocay group. What he’s doing is too important for me to be a distraction. Thanks again, my friend.

LACEY: Ok thanks, that sounds good Rodney. Take care.

And that’s how a five and six year friendship ends. I’m reminded of a line from the Bette Midler movie Beaches,

Well, what the hell did you know? Did you know how bad things were for me? No, because you wouldn’t even open my letters. If you had even answered on, just one! Told me what a jerk I was, anything! But you didn’t. You took your friendship away without even discussing it with me.

I’ve gone back through my facebook messages, my texts looking for clues. Obviously, I was annoying Luther. And as his friend, had he said, “Rodney, you’re being a jerk,” or “Rodney, I’m feeling a little creeped out here,” you know what I would have done? Probably the same thing you would do when you inadvertantly annoy your friends. You’d back off. You’d apologize. You’d try to make it right.

I’m left to wonder, were we friends? Did I misunderstand five years of lunches, emails, political discussions, talks about raising kids, his wedding: did I misunderstand our friendship?

I’ll never know. Lacey made it pretty clear she’s not interested in going into any more detail, and sadly not interested in our friendship either. You can’t be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends with you. So, that’s the end. It’s easy to say, move on. And, of course, that’s the right course.

But, I miss my friends.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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