[INFJ] - Reflecting on a faded friendship | INFJ Forum

[INFJ] Reflecting on a faded friendship

HeavyNeuralPayload

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Apr 12, 2024
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My freshman year of high school I befriended this other kid who was kind of goofy and extroverted and we were friends for most of that year. I don't even remember how or why looking back on it, but he turned kind of bullyish for the remainder of high school and we sort of drifted apart to separate groups of friends. It was ~30 years ago, and looking back on it I can't even really pinpoint a reason why the drift back then, but it seemed worthy of mention.

When I was in college we kind of reconnected and were really good friends for awhile there. I moved halfway across the country for a couple years (chasing a girl I met online that ultimately didn't work out) and the time/distance never really damaged our friendship. We shared an apartment for awhile after I returned to the state and things were generally good. I met my now-wife and eventually moved out of there, and her and I got a place together and things were still good.

He met his now-wife a short while later and things continued to be all right. The wives were friendly with each other as well. His wife came with kids from a previous relationship so he had to step up and be a father. Around the same time my wife and I were beginning to learn of our struggles with infertility (my wife has thyroid issues which spurn off all manner of other health troubles so this wasn't altogether surprising). If I'm being honest it never mattered to me much whether or not my wife and I had children, but this was very distressing for her.

A number of things kind of happened a few years ago and it's difficult to pin down exactly which triggered problems - probably some combination.

We were out for beers once and catching up and he joked that he had replaced us as best friends with this other couple who had kids. This one sort of soured me, but I get it. His interests after he met his wife had shifted somewhat and he was a lot more focused on Facebook and politics and we just never really saw eye to eye there. They had kids and experiences with sports and school and all that, and we didn't share in that. It's a shitty feeling to hear your best friend say that he replaced you, so I probably started putting some distance between us after this as well.

Some time later, his wife got pregnant and they were very happy, and we were genuinely very happy for them, but they also tend to be very self-centered and kind of oblivious to others' feelings. My wife was asked to throw a baby shower, which was distressing for her but she was also able to put feelings aside and helped ensure that his wife had a good day. I remember her coming home from that in tears.

After his baby was born, he came over with his wife's teenage son to help me out with a house project. When he arrived he said something kind of out of the blue along the lines of "my wife thinks your wife hates her." So I shared with him how upsetting that bridal shower had been for us, and mentioned that my wife had unfollowed or unfriended his wife on FB because the baby photo blasts were kind of ridiculous. After the work was done we had a few beers and I just remember the conversation was bizarre. He was sort of bragging about how he could cheat on his wife if he wanted with someone at work, but this was all in front of the kid, so it was super-awkward. I also don't think he was drunk - he's just kind of that abrupt sometimes. In the week following that we bounced a few emails back and forth and I was able to better-articulate how we felt, but I don't think they ever considered how upsetting that was for us. We invited them both over to discuss but he never responded and they never came. So I kind of wrote that off.

After all that, a few months went by where no communication at all happened before I finally texted one day just to see how things were going and we kind of caught up a bit. We've gotten together once or twice since then, but the last time I recall it was literally about 30-40 minutes of him talking about himself and his job and his kid and everything and me just listening and nodding along and I think he finally realized and was like, "...so how are you?" It was almost insulting. They also have a track record of coming over and gossiping/badmouthing their other friends to us, so I'm sure they've probably done the same about us to their other friends.

Another point of note is that he is racist and his comments at various points throughout our friendship left me feeling awkward - he uses a bad experience that a family member of his once had as a kind of justification for his stance. I never really felt a need to argue this. But our foster-daughter has been with us nearly a year now and she's black. In thinking about her well-being and all, I'm kind of left in a place where I'm not feeling like the friendship is even really in need of repair. It's shallowed down to where we text on holidays and birthdays, and this year he forgot my birthday but apologized for that a couple months later when he texted me about something else. It didn't even really bother me, but I was kind of thinking about it afterwards.

I'm close with my family, and I have a few online friends with whom I keep up with somewhat regularly, and I guess there are coworkers with whom I spend a lot of [online] time. But in "real space" I don't really have any remaining friendships, and I feel kind of sad about that. Maybe that will change as time passes and our kiddo is engaged with activities and school and forms friendships of her own. It's one of those things where I think I need to be kind of proactive, and I'm not really great at that. I'm not even sure this thread is so much looking for advice or anything so much as sharing an experience. Making friends as an adult is hard, so I always felt that I put a lot of care in preserving the few friendships I had already established. For all his flaws I considered this guy my best friend for a long time, but I don't think that has been the case for awhile now. I don't think I really have a best friend right now.

In reflecting on all of this, I think what I'm feeling is a kind of longing for a friendship that worked for us when environmental variables were different from how they are now. While I think his wife is a good person, I think our friendship was a lot more enjoyable before she entered the picture, for whatever that means. I don't remember him being so utterly oblivious/callous before. There was a point where someone else in my family announced a pregnancy on my wife's birthday and I remember walking with him afterwards and I remember him asking if I was okay, and I remember answering no. I miss that version of my friend, but I think he is gone, and perhaps this entire post is just my way of mourning the loss.


I was wondering generally if anyone else here has had similar experiences, or reminisces occasionally about past friendships that may have come unraveled in similar fashion.
 
I don't know exactly how to respond to this other than to say that I do relate to the difficulties of friendship integration both as a single person and as a couple.
There's a lot of complexity involved in making things work and most people suck at it.
That said, it sounds like a lot of what was going on was growth apart from one another which is also relatable.
Relationships change people, sometimes for the better but often for the worse as well, at least for a while.
 
That's fair. Looking back on the post one day later, it feels like it may have been kind of an unload/overshare. :grimacing:

I find myself occasionally trying to examine the way that things unfolded from his/their perspective. What is the story they tell themselves? I feel like some parts are conveniently omitted in that version. But we have no control over that and it's almost certainly unhelpful to dwell on that for too long. What amuses me a bit is how different their [somewhat toxic] real-life played out from the kind of "highlight reel" that gets put out to Facebook. I think I owe him credit for my overall distrust of what anyone puts out on social media.

So despite all of this long-windedness I have mostly moved on, but occasionally wonder how things are really going with them. But I don't feel any strong drive to reach out or bridge gaps. I suppose in many ways the void that rift created has already been filled by more meaningful relationships. My wife and I grew so much closer throughout out of this - I don't think she ever understood/believed that I felt her grief in quite the same way. I had shared with her the emails I'd written, and something in that had brought her to tears. She is undoubtedly my best friend now. And we have our little one to think about as well.

It's bittersweet, for sure.
 
I really feel for you @HeavyNeuralPayload - our type seems to have difficulty making and sustaining friendships over many years. Some off the top reflections but they are only possibilities to ponder.

In what you said, it sounds like your friend changed when he became involved with children - particularly after his own was born. This is pretty common and happened to my younger son and his partner after our twin grandkids were born a few years ago. Everything seems to be child-centric now and their friendships are certainly that way at the moment. It happens with relatives too - I’m not dad anymore but grandpa, a very different role lol.

You and your friend are both under considerable emotional stress. You and your wife because of the difficulties of starting a family, and your friend who will have had a big challenge taking on an instant family. The way you describe your friend over the years suggests he’s pretty much in the moment and not very reflective. He and his partner don’t sound very empathic and perhaps don’t understand your wife’s distress - it’s pretty common for many folks to have no idea what something feels like they have never actually experienced for real themselves.

if the heart to heart approach doesn’t work, you may well find that a few years’ distance makes all the difference again. They possibly fill their lives with kid-centric couples at the moment, but that doesn’t last as long as it feels like when you are in the middle of it.
 
For more context
I've lead a fairly strange life when it comes to friendships and relationships.
Several of my friends have gotten in relationships/married and essentially fell off the planet until those relationships ended in divorce/breakup/different relationships.
I have other friends who have never been married or had real steady long term relationships either.
My friend group(s) are relatively diverse so it's kind of a hodgepodge of social class/ability/confidence etc.
I've fallen in and out and back in with many people over the years.
I try my best to allow people to take their own paths in life so I don't exactly work really hard to maintain things myself, but I'm very supportive.

I think @John K is right, most people just aren't going to have the same level of depth of thought and feeling, and time-distance resolves a lot of things organically.
 
My freshman year of high school I befriended this other kid who was kind of goofy and extroverted and we were friends for most of that year. I don't even remember how or why looking back on it, but he turned kind of bullyish for the remainder of high school and we sort of drifted apart to separate groups of friends. It was ~30 years ago, and looking back on it I can't even really pinpoint a reason why the drift back then, but it seemed worthy of mention.

When I was in college we kind of reconnected and were really good friends for awhile there. I moved halfway across the country for a couple years (chasing a girl I met online that ultimately didn't work out) and the time/distance never really damaged our friendship. We shared an apartment for awhile after I returned to the state and things were generally good. I met my now-wife and eventually moved out of there, and her and I got a place together and things were still good.

He met his now-wife a short while later and things continued to be all right. The wives were friendly with each other as well. His wife came with kids from a previous relationship so he had to step up and be a father. Around the same time my wife and I were beginning to learn of our struggles with infertility (my wife has thyroid issues which spurn off all manner of other health troubles so this wasn't altogether surprising). If I'm being honest it never mattered to me much whether or not my wife and I had children, but this was very distressing for her.

A number of things kind of happened a few years ago and it's difficult to pin down exactly which triggered problems - probably some combination.

We were out for beers once and catching up and he joked that he had replaced us as best friends with this other couple who had kids. This one sort of soured me, but I get it. His interests after he met his wife had shifted somewhat and he was a lot more focused on Facebook and politics and we just never really saw eye to eye there. They had kids and experiences with sports and school and all that, and we didn't share in that. It's a shitty feeling to hear your best friend say that he replaced you, so I probably started putting some distance between us after this as well.

Some time later, his wife got pregnant and they were very happy, and we were genuinely very happy for them, but they also tend to be very self-centered and kind of oblivious to others' feelings. My wife was asked to throw a baby shower, which was distressing for her but she was also able to put feelings aside and helped ensure that his wife had a good day. I remember her coming home from that in tears.

After his baby was born, he came over with his wife's teenage son to help me out with a house project. When he arrived he said something kind of out of the blue along the lines of "my wife thinks your wife hates her." So I shared with him how upsetting that bridal shower had been for us, and mentioned that my wife had unfollowed or unfriended his wife on FB because the baby photo blasts were kind of ridiculous. After the work was done we had a few beers and I just remember the conversation was bizarre. He was sort of bragging about how he could cheat on his wife if he wanted with someone at work, but this was all in front of the kid, so it was super-awkward. I also don't think he was drunk - he's just kind of that abrupt sometimes. In the week following that we bounced a few emails back and forth and I was able to better-articulate how we felt, but I don't think they ever considered how upsetting that was for us. We invited them both over to discuss but he never responded and they never came. So I kind of wrote that off.

After all that, a few months went by where no communication at all happened before I finally texted one day just to see how things were going and we kind of caught up a bit. We've gotten together once or twice since then, but the last time I recall it was literally about 30-40 minutes of him talking about himself and his job and his kid and everything and me just listening and nodding along and I think he finally realized and was like, "...so how are you?" It was almost insulting. They also have a track record of coming over and gossiping/badmouthing their other friends to us, so I'm sure they've probably done the same about us to their other friends.

Another point of note is that he is racist and his comments at various points throughout our friendship left me feeling awkward - he uses a bad experience that a family member of his once had as a kind of justification for his stance. I never really felt a need to argue this. But our foster-daughter has been with us nearly a year now and she's black. In thinking about her well-being and all, I'm kind of left in a place where I'm not feeling like the friendship is even really in need of repair. It's shallowed down to where we text on holidays and birthdays, and this year he forgot my birthday but apologized for that a couple months later when he texted me about something else. It didn't even really bother me, but I was kind of thinking about it afterwards.

I'm close with my family, and I have a few online friends with whom I keep up with somewhat regularly, and I guess there are coworkers with whom I spend a lot of [online] time. But in "real space" I don't really have any remaining friendships, and I feel kind of sad about that. Maybe that will change as time passes and our kiddo is engaged with activities and school and forms friendships of her own. It's one of those things where I think I need to be kind of proactive, and I'm not really great at that. I'm not even sure this thread is so much looking for advice or anything so much as sharing an experience. Making friends as an adult is hard, so I always felt that I put a lot of care in preserving the few friendships I had already established. For all his flaws I considered this guy my best friend for a long time, but I don't think that has been the case for awhile now. I don't think I really have a best friend right now.

In reflecting on all of this, I think what I'm feeling is a kind of longing for a friendship that worked for us when environmental variables were different from how they are now. While I think his wife is a good person, I think our friendship was a lot more enjoyable before she entered the picture, for whatever that means. I don't remember him being so utterly oblivious/callous before. There was a point where someone else in my family announced a pregnancy on my wife's birthday and I remember walking with him afterwards and I remember him asking if I was okay, and I remember answering no. I miss that version of my friend, but I think he is gone, and perhaps this entire post is just my way of mourning the loss.


I was wondering generally if anyone else here has had similar experiences, or reminisces occasionally about past friendships that may have come unraveled in similar fashion.
Some of the things you mentioned are similar to what I've experienced with a relative. He and I were friends, but as he got older he became more self absorbed and ultimately repellant to be around.

I have always had and still have a sense of loyalty to my relative, and a desire to rekindle the friendship, but the reality is that the good person I knew is virtually gone. There's nothing but a jaded, selfish, immoral, and abrasive shell of a person who used to be a close friend.

I realised at some point that I was going through the loss grief cycle for a long time. I'd be in denial that the person I liked is mostly gone. I'd entertain mental bargaining, insofar as I'd think over if there was anything I could have done, or could do to bring back my friend. I'd feel anger and frustration, and would also feel the loss.

I think I've mostly let go now, and while I'm grateful for the friendship we had, I don't have a void in my life from his absence anymore.
 
Thank you, all three of you!!

I have considered the time element - even in the writing of the OP musing about how the friendship has waxed and waned over the years and ponder if there are parts of the story that simply have yet to unfold. I don't know that I've entirely shut the door. I just think the friendship has just kind of shallowed itself to this point of occasional text messages. Maybe it's less "I've written this guy off," and more "I've written this guy off for now."

Time has shown itself to me to have a wry and wonky sense of humor.
 
First, I want to highlight what a great trait it is to feel your wife's pain and empathize with her. You say "we" and "our pain" instead of "her pain," even though you admitted that you could have gone either way about having children when you set out to try. (I'm sure you feel different now that you have a child in your life.) This speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

While I understand why the emotional threads of this friendship hang on, I also don't get the logic. He wasn't good for you. He bullied you in high school and it sounds like he maintained that mentality but showed it in a different way later on. I understand why and how it would hurt and why you would reflect on it (I have my own ex-friend story, as we all do), but I think you should focus on the fact that you aren't good for each other or right for each other.

Imagine asking someone who is struggling with infertility to organize your baby shower. Imagine?! The first thing I would say to my friend in the same situation would be, "I'd like you to attend my shower, but if it is too emotional for you to attend, I understand." (And ask someone else to host it.)

I know it is really hard to have personal time as a parent, but maybe you (either separately or together) can join an activity (shared interest, club, gaming group, book club, karate... I don't know) once a month so you can meet more potential friends.

I have thyroid issues too. Relatable.
 
Experiences like this have left me feeling very deeply jaded with the human experience especially with the disposable nature of most friendships and relationships in an era where people are often spoiled for choice. Good friends are pretty rare these days and a lot of the neurotypical types out there like to use each other one way or another be it socially or for a quick recharge for example then dip once they've gotten what they've needed.
 
neurotypical types out there like to use each other one way or another be it socially or for a quick recharge for example then dip once they've gotten what they've needed.
In some way I don't ever want to understand, you have to give it to these types. The amount of energy they have to be social whether talking, social media, everyone's business, etc. WOW.
One 3-4 hour social gathering with more than 30 people, and bogged for 3 days minimum. So these types are truly bewildering.
 
My freshman year of high school I befriended this other kid who was kind of goofy and extroverted and we were friends for most of that year. I don't even remember how or why looking back on it, but he turned kind of bullyish for the remainder of high school and we sort of drifted apart to separate groups of friends. It was ~30 years ago, and looking back on it I can't even really pinpoint a reason why the drift back then, but it seemed worthy of mention.

When I was in college we kind of reconnected and were really good friends for awhile there. I moved halfway across the country for a couple years (chasing a girl I met online that ultimately didn't work out) and the time/distance never really damaged our friendship. We shared an apartment for awhile after I returned to the state and things were generally good. I met my now-wife and eventually moved out of there, and her and I got a place together and things were still good.

He met his now-wife a short while later and things continued to be all right. The wives were friendly with each other as well. His wife came with kids from a previous relationship so he had to step up and be a father. Around the same time my wife and I were beginning to learn of our struggles with infertility (my wife has thyroid issues which spurn off all manner of other health troubles so this wasn't altogether surprising). If I'm being honest it never mattered to me much whether or not my wife and I had children, but this was very distressing for her.

A number of things kind of happened a few years ago and it's difficult to pin down exactly which triggered problems - probably some combination.

We were out for beers once and catching up and he joked that he had replaced us as best friends with this other couple who had kids. This one sort of soured me, but I get it. His interests after he met his wife had shifted somewhat and he was a lot more focused on Facebook and politics and we just never really saw eye to eye there. They had kids and experiences with sports and school and all that, and we didn't share in that. It's a shitty feeling to hear your best friend say that he replaced you, so I probably started putting some distance between us after this as well.

Some time later, his wife got pregnant and they were very happy, and we were genuinely very happy for them, but they also tend to be very self-centered and kind of oblivious to others' feelings. My wife was asked to throw a baby shower, which was distressing for her but she was also able to put feelings aside and helped ensure that his wife had a good day. I remember her coming home from that in tears.

After his baby was born, he came over with his wife's teenage son to help me out with a house project. When he arrived he said something kind of out of the blue along the lines of "my wife thinks your wife hates her." So I shared with him how upsetting that bridal shower had been for us, and mentioned that my wife had unfollowed or unfriended his wife on FB because the baby photo blasts were kind of ridiculous. After the work was done we had a few beers and I just remember the conversation was bizarre. He was sort of bragging about how he could cheat on his wife if he wanted with someone at work, but this was all in front of the kid, so it was super-awkward. I also don't think he was drunk - he's just kind of that abrupt sometimes. In the week following that we bounced a few emails back and forth and I was able to better-articulate how we felt, but I don't think they ever considered how upsetting that was for us. We invited them both over to discuss but he never responded and they never came. So I kind of wrote that off.

After all that, a few months went by where no communication at all happened before I finally texted one day just to see how things were going and we kind of caught up a bit. We've gotten together once or twice since then, but the last time I recall it was literally about 30-40 minutes of him talking about himself and his job and his kid and everything and me just listening and nodding along and I think he finally realized and was like, "...so how are you?" It was almost insulting. They also have a track record of coming over and gossiping/badmouthing their other friends to us, so I'm sure they've probably done the same about us to their other friends.

Another point of note is that he is racist and his comments at various points throughout our friendship left me feeling awkward - he uses a bad experience that a family member of his once had as a kind of justification for his stance. I never really felt a need to argue this. But our foster-daughter has been with us nearly a year now and she's black. In thinking about her well-being and all, I'm kind of left in a place where I'm not feeling like the friendship is even really in need of repair. It's shallowed down to where we text on holidays and birthdays, and this year he forgot my birthday but apologized for that a couple months later when he texted me about something else. It didn't even really bother me, but I was kind of thinking about it afterwards.

I'm close with my family, and I have a few online friends with whom I keep up with somewhat regularly, and I guess there are coworkers with whom I spend a lot of [online] time. But in "real space" I don't really have any remaining friendships, and I feel kind of sad about that. Maybe that will change as time passes and our kiddo is engaged with activities and school and forms friendships of her own. It's one of those things where I think I need to be kind of proactive, and I'm not really great at that. I'm not even sure this thread is so much looking for advice or anything so much as sharing an experience. Making friends as an adult is hard, so I always felt that I put a lot of care in preserving the few friendships I had already established. For all his flaws I considered this guy my best friend for a long time, but I don't think that has been the case for awhile now. I don't think I really have a best friend right now.

In reflecting on all of this, I think what I'm feeling is a kind of longing for a friendship that worked for us when environmental variables were different from how they are now. While I think his wife is a good person, I think our friendship was a lot more enjoyable before she entered the picture, for whatever that means. I don't remember him being so utterly oblivious/callous before. There was a point where someone else in my family announced a pregnancy on my wife's birthday and I remember walking with him afterwards and I remember him asking if I was okay, and I remember answering no. I miss that version of my friend, but I think he is gone, and perhaps this entire post is just my way of mourning the loss.


I was wondering generally if anyone else here has had similar experiences, or reminisces occasionally about past friendships that may have come unraveled in similar fashion.
The relationship with your friend strikes me more of a trail of tears, than an actual friendship, for many years now. It seems your friends insensitivity to your wife's plight, and consequently your own plight, as you must endure her pain as well, is of little concern to your friend. Further, the consistent references to his poor character is brutal for an INFJ to tolerate, as it creates intense internal conflict in you, I expect.

Sometimes a rotting branch must be severed to preserve the energy of the tree. You cyclically now experience a haunting connection with this friend, each and every birthday, and other memorable events. If you severed the relationship, you may well view these event days and crowning achievements of emancipation, cyclically.


I hesitated to write this piece, as friendships are complicated, historical and hard to find, let alone keep. But I do know that I personally prefer solitude over marginalization, so I ultimately decided to share these thoughts with you.


Lastly, to me, there is no room for blind hate, such as racism. Egalitarianism is an ultimate principle. There is no hierarchy of people, and those that think that way are hurtful, selfish fools who make the world a lesser place. This is diametrically opposed to sound vision and an abiding life affirming philosophy. Being an INFJ is inconvenient, but it is sound and good to be one. My heart is with you.