I met Rachel* the year I moved to Colorado, just after college. We met at church, and she invited me to be part of her Bible study. Over the next year we built our friendship through coffee dates and nights spent watching our favorite TV shows. I also became friends with her parents, whom she lived with at the time. I remember chats with her dad as we all sipped coffee and leaned against the kitchen counter.
I thought everything was going great with our friendship when I noticed that Rachel started regularly declining my offers to get together. She always had a great excuse, so it took me months to realize that our friendship had fizzled. At that point, I made one last effort to revive our relationship, asking her if I’d done anything to offend her. “Oh, no,” she assured me. “I’m just busy.”
Death of a friendship
Being “dumped” by a significant other in a relationship is a topic we’re collectively familiar with. Romantic relationships either end with a long-term commitment or a break-up, so “getting dumped” happens. But people rarely talk about what it’s like to be dumped by a friend.
When I was younger, I assumed every friendship would last forever. I’m loyal, so if we became friends, you could count on me to stay in your life even if we didn’t see each other often. I still have friends from childhood and high school with whom I keep in touch. So, when Rachel unceremoniously ended our relationship, I was confused and hurt. What had I done wrong? Was I simply annoying or unlikeable?
In “How It Feels to Be Dumped by a Friend” Patti Miller explores these same questions through her own story of her friend Gina. After 15 years of close friendship, Gina let Patti know she no longer wished to be friends. Patti, who went through many of the same emotions I did, writes:
The most likely explanation is not that I did something ‘wrong,’ but that I was no longer worth the effort. Knowing Gina had time for others — I heard through a mutual connection that she had gone to Melbourne to visit friends — and not for me, who lived 10 minutes away, made me feel strangely ashamed. It’s not that I felt guilty, but in a sense, outcast.
Like being dumped by a love interest, being dropped by a friend is a form of rejection. However, having a friend break up with you might hurt more. When Rachel dropped me without explanation, I felt incredibly small and unimportant. I felt foolish for thinking we were so close when she obviously didn’t want me in her life. It took some time for me to get over the loss of her friendship.
If you have experienced being dumped by a friend, here are three things to remember:
Your value is not defined by the opinions of your friends. In the aftermath of being dumped, it’s easy to feel like a reject — like if you were smarter, funnier, or a little more fun, maybe your friend would have stuck around. However, just as your worth is not found in the affection of a significant other, it is also not found in a particular friendship.
Rachel may have no longer been drawn to me as a friend, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t worthy of love and friendship. In fact, I discovered others did want to spend time with me, which helped me recover from the loss of the relationship.
Jesus understands. When I think of the friendships I have lost, or those that have gone cold, I am reminded that Jesus had His own experience with this. One of His closest friends, Judas, traded his loyalty to Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It’s a well-known Bible story, but think about how Jesus must have felt in that moment. While being cast aside by a friend is never easy, few of us will ever have to face such a massive level of betrayal. When I am facing friend woes, I can be comforted in knowing that my Savior sympathizes with my sadness and understands how I feel.
God may be doing something new. I deeply felt the loss of Rachel’s friendship. She had been one of my first friends in a new state and held a special place in my heart. When Rachel shut the door on our friendship, I naturally began to invest more in other relationships.
Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us, “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” That doesn’t mean you can’t grieve the friendships that don’t work out. However, as a believer you can have hope because God is in control. You can trust Him to make a way for new friendships. During the next few years, I met some godly women who would be my roommates and some of my closest friends for the remainder of my years in Colorado.
I was in my 20s when my friendship with Rachel fizzled. Now, in my 40s, I’ve come to realize that not all friendships last. Some friends are for a season, while others are for life. But both kinds of friends have value.
Rachel and I shared some wonderful times together when I was freshly out on my own away from my family. She was there for me in a season where I could have been very lonely. She helped me plug into a church and a young adults group. In that way, I know our friendship, though fleeting, was the Lord’s provision. And I’m grateful for that.
*not her actual name
Copyright 2022 Suzanne Gosselin. All Rights Reserved.