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Best friend pushing friends away


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One of my closest friends seems to be pushing his friends away, including me. We've been friends for 15 years (we're men in our late 30s). There's probably 10 of us (men and women, including his wife) from that stage of our lives that have all stayed remarkably close despite gradually moving to different cities, etc. He's by far my closest of the friends and his wife would probably be the second closest to me. I've considered the two of them nearly family and the feeling has been mutual.


Three months ago he got mad at me over something that seemed minor (to me). I didn't even know he was mad. He just stopped talking to me. He's not told me what's wrong and hasn't given me the opportunity to even apologize or make it right. I've tried to reach out a number of times but no response. I've talked to his wife about it and she doesn't know why he's acting this way. Apparently I'm not the only one who's been singled out. He's admitted to her that he's pushing his friends away. She's quite private but she's admitted to me that she's upset about it, as am I.


He's someone that I thought I would be friends with for life. We've been through a lot of life stages and tough transitions together, we've traveled the country together through the years, and he's kind of like the brother I never had.


Do some people simply lose the desire to have friends as they age? At this point I feel he owes me the apology but I am worried even if we did reconcile, when will I make him upset again? I'm very sad and conflicted over this.

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It would seem that whatever is going on with him, runs much deeper than your friendship or whatever you think you might have done to upset him. When someone is pushing people away, usually it's either depression or some other personal emotional issues, including a possible mid life crisis going on. All you can really do is let him know that you'll be there for him if he feels like ever reaching out and give him space to sort himself out. This is a case where you really shouldn't make this about yourself and what you want or need.

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I understand the change is upsetting and perhaps because you didn't see it coming. Any change is upsetting when people generally aren't prepared for it. I don't think you should dwell on it and resist going behind his back to speak to his wife or loved ones again. You did what you could and now respect his wishes and pull back. Don't become overrun by your desire for friendship. Yes, it is possible for individuals to change. He may find he just doesn't have enough time to do other things he wants to do and it's not even personal. Let it go.


I have two very close friends. One where we've known each other since we were four years old (same age/met in kindergarten and went to school together) and another since we were seventeen/eighteen (met and lived together in a university rental/I am a year older). I've known them for many, many years, through kids, relationships and marriages and an annulment. We don't live in the same country but we do meet up in shared vacation destinations. Through the years there were disagreements and we were busy. There were falling outs and 6 months to a year where we didn't meet or even email or speak. Try to be a bit more fluid and less rigid in your friendships. You can't force people to keep in touch with you. They just do when they're ready and it doesn't always mean that's the best time for you either. Don't take it so personally. Allow each other to grow. I have a strong feeling that you're not growing or your friend doesn't feel like he's growing enough or he needs time to assess and think about things that have nothing to do with you. If he is a little annoyed at you, so what? Let him get the ants out of his pants and come back and chat later. It'll resolve over time. Don't rush things.

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There could be a lot more going on with him that his wife has elected not to share.


Perhaps he's suffering from a personal health crisis or depressive episode that he's not comfortable talking about yet. Maybe he's got a vice he managed to hide from everyone and for some reason fears it's going to come out and doesn't want you or any of your friends to know about. Or maybe his wife commented how hot you are and he's jealous or some such thing.


There are many different possible reasons, but unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do but take a big step back. I would stop trying to make contact with him. Chances are that he will one day reach out and be ready to talk about whatever has happened.

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You could do several things if you want to. One is to reach out to him and see if there was a misunderstanding or communication problem. Try to get to the bottom of this and find out what's wrong. This is if you wish to try to mend the friendship somehow. Or, you could guess that something is amiss in his personal life, he's easily agitated, stressed and in no mood for maintaining friendship with you or perhaps others, too. Maybe you're not being singled out here. You can try to contact him, discuss this with a phone conversation (preferably verbal) and work this out. Or, text if you prefer. Try not to extract nor expect an apology. There are times when you have to force yourself to have compassion and guess that your friend is going through a difficult, personal time even though you don't know his story. People act strangely and often times inappropriately whenever they're miserable for their own reasons. If you reconcile, move forward and don't rehash the past. Learn to forgive and don't hold grudges. This is if there aren't habitual repeats in the future.


Or, you can back off and wait for him to come around someday. If he doesn't resume nor rekindle friendship with you, then move on. Not all friendships endure. People will waft in and out of your lifetime.

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He might be suffering from depression. Read up on it a bit, and you'll learn that it's an actual illness rather than a mood or something that he can be talked out of. If you have access to a therapist through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at work or can contact your local hospital for a referral to a social worker, you may want to consult with someone who can help you to formulate the right kind of message to send him or the right approach to take with his wife. You may be able to partner with her to learn what kind of help options the two of you can gather and offer to him.

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