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My dilemma – is it time to end a friendship? A very personal post.

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

I normally avoid sharing anything too personal here, but I have found myself very upset and at a loss as to what to do.

For years every time a particular friend has let me down, I have always given her the benefit of the doubt.

There have been countless occasions when I have been let down at the final hour ‘Oh, I wasn’t sure it was a firm arrangement and I know you wouldn’t want me to miss out on the chance to catch up with so and so, go to the theatre, have a last minute treatment at xyz, etc….’. I remember travelling into London for lunch to be told – oh I thought it was only a quick coffee – I’ve made other arrangements for lunch’.

My husband has repeatedly said- walk away. But I have always felt I should not throw away a long term friendship.

When she ran into major problems with a house purchase a few years ago she practically lived with us for 2 years while everything was sorted. We ran her everywhere, made calls, visited lawyers , translated documents ( her house purchase was in France and my husband is French, hence able to assist).

I have lost count of the number of occasions her excuse for letting me down has been a lost phone or mix up in dates.

Recently I have discovered that most of what she has told me about her life is untrue – from how many times she has been married, the circumstances surronding her divorce (where I was very supportive) and even how many children she has. I feel a fool, as I have met many members of her family (who have visited our home)  who must have been ‘briefed’ beforehand as to what they could and could not reveal on social occasions. She goes to enormous lengths to hide her real age –  and the ages of her children. She is now several years younger than me, although she was definitely older when we first met!

To the rest of the world she is sociable and good company.

The latest incident has involved her ‘forgetting’ a whole set of arrangements (which involved booking of flights) AND losing her phone so unable to call.

I am upset and hurt.  She is saying it is all yet another occasion where she ‘forgot’.

There are a lot of other elements which I will not divulge here – mainly to protect her should she read this post.

Should I just walk away? although this would have implications for mutual friends if I were to stop all contact.

What would you do?



Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Jane C Woods

    September 20, 2012

    Walk away, Ceri. You will feel so much better for it. You don’t have to keep ‘rescuing’ this person. First step in being assertive is having respect for yourself as well as others. This person has no respect for you so you must look after yourself. Walk away.

  2. Karen Knott

    September 20, 2012

    Ceri, I think you probably know the answer already. Friends don’t treat people in the way this woman has repeatedly disrespected you. What do you think will happen if you stop contacting her? Will she take the time to find out why? If she does, then perhaps you can have ‘the conversation’ and take it from there… if she doesn’t, well, that will simply confirm what you already feel. K x

  3. Judy

    September 20, 2012

    agree entirely with Jane, she is an emotional vampire, banish her now!

  4. Rosemary

    September 20, 2012

    It will be like a bereavement but it’s got to be done. It will be worth it, but it takes time to get over the break. Hugs.

  5. Elizabeth Whitfield-Smith

    September 20, 2012

    Ceri, you have to ask yourself a question. If she is lying to you about such aspects of her life as age, family, divorce, phones, lunch etc etc (normal stuff) then what else has she lied to you about. Seems like everything!

    You seem like a lovely, warm person who would help any friend out of a hole or on occassion accept that dates and times have been messed up – which happens.

    A friend is just that…a friend. You rely on them on occassion, have a glass of wine, a natter, a laugh. It’s something that should be reciprocal and not a one way street.

    You know what you need to do. I think we’ve all been in similar situations and although it’s hard, I’m sure you have other friends that you can spend lovely times with and not have to worry if everything that is being said and done is for another purpose.

    I’m with Judy on this!

  6. Pippa

    October 1, 2012

    Ceri, walk away! the world is divided into two sorts of people: drains and radiators. Drains sap your energy and giving nothing back. Who wants to stand next to a drain!

    I had a similar friend and in addition she made me feel I was the one with a problem whenever I tried to “clear the air”. I realised I was enabling her bad behaviour by allowing her to treat me that way.
    Walking away was the best thing I did for me and probably for her too.

    So,we are all telling you what we think you ought to do and you already know what you ought to do. The bit you may want to consider is what you want to do. That’s different. Because you have already realized that you can’t make her behave differently and yet you still open the door to her.

    Be curious about yourself, what are you gaining from giving her permission to treat you this way? To help yourself ask four questions and jot down the first things that come to mind
    What will happen if I do end the friendship?
    What will happen if I don’t?
    What won’t happen if I do
    What won’t happen if I don’t

    Then you can decide whether the “gain” is worth the “pain”.

    Good Luck – friendships are so valuable that it can be hard to let one, even a bad one, go. Let us know what happens next.


  7. Ceri Wheeldon

    October 2, 2012

    Thank you to everyone for all your thoughts. I did walk away from the situation, as hard and as upsetting as it was. Strangely I felt a mix of both relief and guilt. At the end of the day I decided that life was too short to invest emotionally in a friendship that was so one sided and where she only really made contact when she needed help. No doubt there will be some fall out as she talks to mutual acquaintances – so be it. Life moves on!

  8. Pat Cox

    October 20, 2012

    This isn’t a friend, this is a user! We all use each other to a certain extent – “Help my car’s broken down/there’s a big spider” but the difference is that you then reciprocate by giving a lift, getting something whilst you are shopping etc.
    This woman has problems – but they are not for you to sort out. You need to just stop contacting her and see how and when she contacts you and what for – and remember start saying “NO!”
    Friends, not users are what you need in your busy life x

  9. Chrissie

    October 20, 2012

    Start with what you feel you gain from this relationship. Relationships are about mutuality. It sounds like you have been used and that is painful. I have experienced this often. Of course your friend is not well to lie like that. I guess the fact that she briefs family members about her lies makes me wonder if you are being conned by all of them. So sorry about this hurt.

  10. Malbrown2

    April 1, 2013

    Friends are not measured by their performance but how much you like them and they like you. There should not be a need to ask that question. You should know the answer.

  11. Susan

    May 31, 2013

    I have a similar friend but the circumstances weren’t quite as extreme ie It hasn’t involved flights or lies about family but arrangements to meet always started to make me feel she was doing me a favour. Like your friend, we would arrange to meet for lunch but it turned out she couldn’t stay as long as she had an “appointment” with someone else (at a shopping centre?), I would give up calling her for our regular long chats because she’d quite rudely tell me that she had too much work to do ie bring work home in the evenings which I respe ted. I was a busy career woman too with 3 small girls but I always had time for her. As families we booked a holiday together and then they bowed out. She couldn’t tell me why but that it was an issue her husband had that stopped them continuing with the arrangements; we had been friends since late teens, my husband was Best Man at their wedding in our early twenties. These were really close long term friends. In the end I just gave up on her, with great sadness. I have never heard from her since. Maybe I wasn’t so important anymore in her circle of friends these days but I wasn’t going to cling and pursue a friendship that started to devalue me. Leave the door open to your friend but we all have to remember that over time we need different people for different reasons and true friends stay with us through every stage whether we change overtime or not. Mutual friends shouldn’t come into it. You will have said or done nothing hurtful, you will have just drifted out of her particular life.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      May 31, 2013

      Thank you Susan. I have kept distance – but with an degree of sadness. Life goes on – but in a different way.

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