Ask Ciiku: Should I End the Friendship?

Dear Ciiku,

I’ll try and keep this as short as I can. The issue is a friend who dumps me whenever they feel like only to come back when they feel like they need me. We met in campus a few years ago and some strange trick of fate, we became quite close. There were people who were amazed at our friendship, we seemed totally in-congruent, but the connection was deeply genuine. We have grown together over time and changed as it is expected. My issue started about a year and a half ago, there was a disagreement and we had our biggest fight yet. I knew we would work it out since it was what we did. We had a tense period and slowly warmed up to each other then my friend withdrew affection and became cold and distant. I accepted my role in out squabble and apologised but that didn’t seem enough. I have many friends but with this particular friend the bond is quite strong and so I felt hurt at this turn of events. I also understand that some times people are going through their own things and they react differently, I encourage having a broad support system but this hurt. Let me know what’s happening for the sake of courtesy. This behaviour has become a habit now, my friend can be very good for some time, texting the whole day some days then going silent, coming back to me after the fun, the heartbreak. I have adjusted to this and now I understand that this is the friend wants to be in their life and we talked about it but they brushed it off. I’m tired of feeling like a substitute, someone who is remembered when nothing else is in sight. It’s not fair as I have put a lot into being a good friend. Should I end the friendship?

GK

Dear GK,

Before I go into a long post about what I am thinking etc, I have to tell you, you seem to know what it is you need to do and that is, to end the friendship.

I have to say with your letter, a lot of what is currently holding this friendship is the memory of what it was. For example you say that the connection WAS deeply genuine. And maybe for you, holding onto these memories helps in some way, ease the pain you feel when your friend is not being your friend.

I want to let you know that whatever it is you are feeling is a sign and symptom of an unhealthy relationship. And the fact that you have had discussion about it and yet you are still find yourself in this place where you know that the friendship might indeed have ran its course. If you see that you have communicated your issues and what it is you are feeling is that you are not being heard or that you are a “substitute”….. then you know what you deserve. You have experienced what a good friendship looks like and therefore it makes sense that you can discern that you are not in a good place. The truth is that you will likely not go back to the place that you once were with this friend. And while friendships change and morph, if you feel this doesn’t work for you, it is understandable if you let the friendship end. And I am truly sorry about this.

Remember GK that with friendship, like any other relationship, you deserve love, kindness, to be treated with respect and love. Things have obviously changed and the only person you can control in this situation is you. Be good to you.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I need to define boundaries with my friend with benefits

Dear Ciiku,

I have a FWB who is also a very close friend. I would like to ensure that it remains that way without feelings getting caught in the process but to also not treat them poorly in order to maintain this. How do I/we build the boundaries this relationship needs?

Anon

Dear Anon,

A dilemma of the ages if ever there was one. A close friend, a sexual relationship and boundaries. Will your friendship exist after the sexual relationship ends? That’s what the boundaries are supposed to ensure? From your letter I’m reading that you don’t want this to develop into a romantic relationship, that it remains a friendship plus sex. Is it possible that feelings can be caught by one party? Yes. Is it possible that the friendship might not exist once either of you get different sexual partners (on the assumption that it is monogamous)? Probably.

I’m glad that you acknowledge that one doesn’t and shouldn’t treat a FWB poorly. A FWB is like any other relationship in the sense that communication is key. And when I say communication I mean that conversations need to happen about what is happening, what is wanted, what isn’t. From your short note I see that you are clear about what you want, something you have thought about and this must be expressed to your FWB. Relationships work when the people in it are on the same page and have the same understanding of the expectations of each other. Not when we make assumptions of what the other person must be thinking or feeling. I must stress that this is achieved through honest, open communication. Talk with your friend. Lay your cards on the table. Soon. And remain true to yourself. Always.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: How do I deal with a toxic friend?

Dear Ciiku,

So I’ve had this friend for about 10 years. I use the term ‘friend’ very loosely here, reason being she’s very toxic. We were very close in college but drifted apart soon after. We lost track but she somehow managed to find her way back into my life. Thing is: she gossips a lot. The stuff she says about other people is so horrible and sometimes made up. And no one is safe, even her own parents & siblings have been trash talked. My way of dealing with this has been to ghost: I avoid her completely (I haven’t physically seen her in years but she always reaches out by phone). I tell her absolutely nothing about my personal life so she doesn’t have material to spread. I suspect there’s a bigger problem. Some mutual friends have told me that the issue may also be mental/psychological and the more I assess her behaviour over the years the more I think there may be some truth to it. My theory is she’s become so ostracized by friends and family cz of this behavior that she feels there’s nothing to lose by being a total bitch. So my question is this, how do I communicate that I think she needs to get therapy or some kind of help without offending her and without becoming a victim of her shenanigans? I think it’s a very sensitive conversation and I don’t know how to broach it since we’re no longer close (I’d rather not meet her to have this talk). Or should I just forget trying to help and continue to avoid her like everyone does?

Regards, Remote friend

Dear Remote friend,

I think we can both agree that she is not your friend. I don’t believe that just because you have history with someone that they deserve presence in your life as they please or even to be called friend.

Also, without a professional diagnosis, there is no need to say that this person has mental issues because they exhibit the behaviour you mention in your letter. People can be and are not good, they lie and are vile. I think assigning this to a mental issue to try and explain certain behaviour stigmatises those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. I understand that people tend to assign mental issues because they want to believe in the goodness of others. We really should not.

Let me repeat that: terrible, bad people exist. It is not your job to “fix” them. What you can do, what is truly in your control in this case and for your peace of mind, is accept that this person is not someone who exhibits behaviour you would associate with a friend and remove her from your life to the extent that if others begin to talk about her, you refuse to be part of the conversation. Completely dissociate yourself. So no, I don’t think you should have any conversation with her.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: My friend drugged me

Dear Ciiku,

My friend drugged me and I found out later. How do I confront this?

Maddie

Dear Maddie,

I am so sorry that this happened to you, that someone broke your trust in such a manner. Not only did they do something illegal, but as someone you call friend, they broke boundaries of trust on which friendship relies on to function. This is terrifying.

Your question to me is very open ended because asking “how can you confront” can be viewed as follows:

  • How do I confront my friend about what they did? How do I find out what the motivation behind drugging you? Because a part of you must be wondering how your friend decided that drugging you is something that they could do.
  • How do I deal with this invasion? How do I move on and trust people again? Because a part of you must be wondering how someone you consider(ed) a friend could do this to you

When you hear of stories or people being drugged for example in the bar, most times people sleep it off and continue with life because it is something that happens and you don’t know who drugged you.

When you find out that it was someone you know drugged you, the circumstances are completely different because of course you must ask them why.

There is some clarification I would like from you before I give a concise response and if possible, let me know what you mean by confront in your instance and maybe give more details? I know it may be difficult for you but your question is very loaded and without details I fear I may not be of assistance. Thank you.

Wishing you peace,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I feel like a dial-a-friend

Dear Ciiku

I have a friend who spends some months of the year out of the country. We talk a lot and whenever she’s having a problem I try be supportive and help her out. However, I’ve noticed that whenever she’s in the country the friendship changes. We talk less and there is little if any effort to meet from her end. Efforts from my end often end up in a cancellation. It’s not uncommon for her to be silent for days and text me when she’s out of the country again. But it is more than that. Even how we talk. The best way I can put it is that I can almost feel the dial of the friendships priority moving down and up depending on where she is. It is upsetting to be so close for so long and then suddenly feel like hi-bye friends.

I am beginning to suspect we are not truly close friends, only that I can be relied on for emotional labour when most of her other friends are not around. If she does not want to be close that is fine, but I would rather not share and be as open if our friendship is not that deep. My question is how to approach this conversation. I am realising that discussion on boundaries and defining friendships has a lot less information and guides than in relationships. I don’t know how to start this conversation without it seeming like an attack. What I really want is clarity but most of things that I can point to as changing are hard to put into words.

A friend

Dear Friend,

You deserve clarity. In fact, both of you need to be on the same page regarding this situation. And yes, a conversation must be had. It seems you have accepted that the friendship may not be as you viewed it. That’s a good place to be so that the conversation doesn’t revolve around how to make it deep but rather, how to get to the same page in your friendship.

The thing is, you can’t control how she reacts to the conversation. You can use the most pacifist approach and it may still be deemed as an attack. I think what you must focus on rather is ensuring that when the conversation is had, (and it must be had), that everything you are thinking and feeling is expressed. That, in my opinion, is the crux. Since it seems that you have better communication when she isn’t in the country then I think it’s best to have it then, in whatever medium is comfortable for you.

My opinion on this is you shouldn’t preempt the conversation by issuing a “we need to talk” notice. Just dive into it during any regular conversation you are having. And ask all the questions you believe will provide you the clarity you seek…… “how do you view this friendship? How come we never meet when you are in country? What kind of friend do you need me to be? How do you see this friendship? What defines this friendship?”

Both of you must be honest with each other to figure out where you will go in the friendship. And I wish you well.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I Distrust My Friend

Hi Ciiku,

I’ve had a rough couple of months and in this period I made a friend who seemed to have come into my life at the point where I had given up on people. We have grown rather comfortable with each other, we share details of what is happening and talk at least once a day.

It has been a fun time and it’s great that he respects the boundaries we have. My issue is that with time, I still mistrust my friend, and it shows. There are days I go without talking to him, not because I want to, but because I want him to do it first- and he usually does. I have put him through tests to check his loyalty and he does not seem to know. I know it’s manipulative but I need to be shown that he cares genuinely and not just a man playing out some sick twisted long game. I guess my question would be, how do I let go of doubt and be a better friend? Is it fair to him that I do all this or am I simply protecting myself?

Savage G

Dear Savage G,

Thank you for this question and I am sorry you have had a rough couple of months. I also need to apologise for taking so long to respond to this question, I didn’t want to give you a clichรฉ answer because I’VE BEEN HERE. Also I find when I mull over a letter, what I think becomes clearer.

I think that part of self preservation, especially based on previous experience, is that one doesn’t trust people easily. I understand why you would be doubtful of people. And sometimes the people don’t deserve it but because of some things that may have happened to you previously, you cannot trust immediately.

You are aware that you are being manipulative and I think that this is something you need to work on with your friend. You say that you share details and talk every day, I ask you, do these conversations include talking about how you feel about the friendship? Your misgivings? Previous experiences? If your friend is this friend who makes you believe in people again, then these kinds of conversations have to be part of the experience. You have to been honest enough with yourself and I think it’s only fair that you be honest with your friend.

What I believe most is that we should be having fair relationships and this is one way of achieving this.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know my stance on friendship and the heartbreak that comes from betrayal by friends is painful. That aside, there is great joy to be derived from fulfilling friendships but this comes from work and honest conversations. I implore you to have and continue to have these.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Will our friendship survive?

Hi Ciiku,

I am friends with a girl and I think I’m developing feelings for her. We hang out a lot and enjoy each other’s company. I haven’t yet told her how I feel yet, but this is because I think it might ruin what we have. I am not sure my feelings are reciprocated. Should I tell her and risk our really good friendship?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

I feel like I keep repeating myself when I say this but it is also apt for your scenario…. “the greatest predictor of love is proximity.” Do you know why this is so? Once you spend time with someone, talk a lot, share etc, it seems to only make sense that the relationship should turn romantic. Why is this so? I think that it is because a romantic relationship is seen as the pinnacle, the relationship above all other relationships. Therefore if there is a person in your life who makes you feel things, it makes sense in your head that it must be romantic feelings. Is that the case with you?

A couple of scenarios : She reciprocates your feelings and then you become a couple and live happily ever after. Second, she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings and you stop being in each other’s lives due to the tension. Three, you decide not to tell her and every time she gets into a relationship you are jealous and unreasonable. Four, you decide to not tell her and realise that the feelings that you felt were really related to a platonic intimate friendship and you realise that the relationship is a deep friendship and that only.

How do you then figure out what to do? For one, spend time with yourself figuring out what exactly you feel for your friend and if indeed it turns out to be romantic feelings, then you must decide what to do about that. And if she doesn’t reciprocate your feelings, you have to be willing to accept that the friendship will probably not exist after. Make the right choice because the only person you can control here is you.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I have never had a real relationship

Hi Ciiku,

I’m turning 28 soon and I never had a real relationship. By this I mean anything past four months, never really went on dates or spent a lot of time with anyone. I have a hard time making friends too and often spend a lot of time by myself. Lately, this feels lonely and I have no clue how to be more sociable or if this is something I even want. I feel like as I get older this will become tougher. What would you advise?

Loner.

Dear Loner,

I have to ask, are you comfortable by yourself? What does a real relationship look like to you? Do you go out with your friends? Do you have friends? Do you spend time trying to figure out what you want? Why do you feel like a relationship is something you need to have experienced? What has changed recently to make you feel this way? When did you last have sex? Is sex important to you?

Off the bat I am going to say that making friends doesn’t get harder as you grow older. And I say this with a lot of conviction not only as someone who keeps making new friends as I age but also as someone who believes that the people who peddle that story are holding onto friendships from their youth that don’t serve any purpose.

People make difference choices on how they live their lives and to be honest, most end up doing what seems to be the same thing because that is the template we are socialised to believe makes sense or the template of how a well lived life looks like. And if you have not done what a majority of people have done, it seems like you are not doing something “right.”

Please note I am not saying that you don’t need romantic relationships or friendships. Companionship has been scientifically proven to be a human need but what I believe to be more important is knowing yourself and therefore knowing what you want in terms of companionship. What does it look like? Who are the people you want in your life? What values do they espouse? That kind of thing.

Do you want to make friends? If so, then make the plans to do so. Do you want to be in a relationship? Same same. And I know this isn’t easy especially for someone who knows themselves in a world that doesn’t encourage self development (or encourages en masse self help led, development).

But do I think it’s possible? Yes. Friendship might be easier to do I think.

Finally, I think one of the greatest disservice we do to ourselves is keep people in our lives just because. You know what I mean? Like, being in a relationship with someone just because they gave you attention. Being friends with someone just because you’ve known them since high school. I wish we would be more intentional with our relationships. I hope you do too Loner.

๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ’“๐Ÿ’“

Ciiku