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Does my friend need space or does he not want the friendship?


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I have an internet/college friend that I had became friends with less than a year ago. It started with just chatting about school assignments before getting on a more personal level. We found out that we both are suffering from depression and we both survived our suicide attempts, and because neither of us felt comfortable to constantly tell our own friends about how *** we're doing, we would confide in each other if we need emotional support. Whilst doing that, I try to be mindful of him because he may be dealing with his own *** at the same time, and I don't want to induce any additional stress/distractions if he's going through things in the moment. We have met up twice in person and both occasions went really well, we kept talking for hours and had great laughs together. Whenever we text several messages at once, he might take longer to respond (sometimes up to 6 weeks) but whenever he does, he always replies to one text at a time (not many of my other friends do that), and I would do the same for his because 1) I genuinely care for him and want to show him support during hard times, and 2) I really appreciate how he really tries to listen and give his best insights

2 months ago, he asked me how I'm doing, and after updating him and asking him back, my texts were left unopened, and still are to this day. He lives by himself, and I know he goes through periods of really dark times, so I would check his social media status occasionally just to see if he's (literally) still alive. Even though he hasn't opened my texts, I sometimes see him post on his IG story about once a month (we still follow each other), so even though I don't understand why he ignored my texts, seeing him active gave me a peace of mind that he's at least ok. I know he probably has closer friends to talk to, and because we only recently became friends, so I don't want to be overstepping my boundaries by excessively texting to check in. My stance is that if he doesn't have time for me now because of what's going through his head, I completely understand and am ready to give him that space. However, instead of at least reading the texts, I was just left hanging there for 2 months, so I'm a bit confused as to whether he still wants to chat with me and continue the friendship

What should I do? Should I reach out? Or should I leave it and see what happens? I am not at all trying to point fingers, I'm just lost as to what to do

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2 hours ago, Graystation108 said:

we both are suffering from depression and we both survived our suicide attempts, and because neither of us felt comfortable to constantly tell our own friends about how *** we're doing, we would confide in each other if we need emotional support. My stance is that if he doesn't have time for me now because of what's going through his head, I completely understand and am ready to give him that space.

Sorry this is happening. If he's updating social media he seems ok. However with severe depression he may not have the energy/wherewithal to be reliable or engaged in much.

Call a mental health hotline if you need to just talk and get support. They can also direct to to nearby appropriate care. Your friend as well would benefit calling if/when he is in crisis. Do you follow up with your therapist and physicians?

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9 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Sorry this is happening. If he's updating social media he seems ok. However with severe depression he may not have the energy/wherewithal to be reliable or engaged in much.

Call a mental health hotline if you need to just talk and get support. They can also direct to to nearby appropriate care. Your friend as well would benefit calling if/when he is in crisis. Do you follow up with your therapist and physicians?

Thank you for this. Yes I talk to my therapist (he has one as well from what I remember), I still have some really bad days but I'm doing better compared to last year. As I had mentioned, I try to be mindful that he may not be in a good place himself, hence why I don't text him whenever I'm going through something, only when I reply to his most recent messages. Because he lives by himself, I would sometimes worry for him because being alone can be detrimental when someone is already at such a low. Now whenever I see him (seldomly) post on his story, it's a sense of relief more than anything because it's my only way of knowing he's ok. I haven't messaged him after that because once again, I don't want to overstep any boundaries and I want to give him the space if he needs it

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2 hours ago, Graystation108 said:

What should I do? Should I reach out? Or should I leave it and see what happens?

Its kinda hard with people like that because you can never know what goes through their head. One day they are OK, next not really etc. For example, even if you did reached out, he is maybe avoiding you for some reason only known to him.

It doesnt cost you anything to ask how he is doing. If you see that he doesnt want to talk, just leave it alone. You support him as a friend, but you are not his schrink or responsible for him. If he doesnt want to talk and has his own thing to deal with, there is nothing you can do.

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1 minute ago, Kwothe28 said:

You support him as a friend, but you are not his schrink or responsible for him

That's very true, and it's not like I'm consumed by whether he's doing well or not, it's just that if I suddenly realize I haven't seen him active for a long time, I get worried for a bit. I also go through days where I feel great, and then having it all crash down for days, maybe weeks, so I understand that feeling. I'll probably give it a bit more time then message to check on him

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I do not have a mental illness.  I've had friendships with people who do. In my experience over the last 25 years or so most of the friends who end up being flaky/MIA or as they say "ghosting" have a mental illness. One in particular went MIA over a year and now wants to be buddy buddy again.  So I think it's fine to be friends with people who have mental illnesses and be mindful that if that person starts being unreliable, MIA that might be due to the mental illness. It still is frustrating and can hurt but it gives a different perspective IMO.

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No, don't reach out.  Leave it and see what happens.  Follow other people's cues.  If they're unresponsive, back off.  If they come around, then resume but tread lightly.  Don't over invest yourself in a friendship if there isn't mutual time, effort and care put into it otherwise the friendship is unbalanced and unfair.   

Don't be too warm.  Be nice yet cool.  You'll feel disappointed and disrespected if you expect more out of a friendship than the friend is capable or willing to give.  Lower your expectations.  Some friends will be lowered to acquaintances or less than that which is the way life is.  Remain realistic. 

Many people have their limits and boundaries so do likewise always.  Not everyone was meant to immerse into each other's lives.  Some friendships fizzle.  Some friendships remain afloat due to both parties cooperating with concerted efforts.  It takes two to tango. 

We all want to fantasize what an ideal friendship is.  Keep in mind, in order for friendships to thrive,  friendship needs to be in unison or on the same page regarding behavior, kindness, consideration, respect, empathy, space and morals. 

Optimal friendships are straightforward and simple minus mind games, lies, deception, betrayal, gaslighting and trickery.  Great friendships shouldn't be complicated nor high maintenance.  Great friendships are intuitively genuine and follow the rules of integrity.

If one side slips away and drifts, mutual interest doesn't exist anymore and thus, you should follow suit and go your own way.  Don't force it.  If it was meant to be, it will be and if it wasn't, it's time to move on.  Don't fret. 

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You can check in later with him but do not depend on his responses. Someone with depression or struggling with mental health issues (untreated) will have varying responses on different days. What you may want to focus on more is your own health and stay busy. You're a good friend to stay in touch but do not become so involved that your own health suffers.

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Some people exhaust themselves with what they've shared already.

What may have seemed like a relief to confide at the moment may have turned into a feeling that's too raw to deal with now that it's been exposed.

Unfortunately, you can be associated with feelings he might wish to retract.

I'd hold off on reaching out.

Head high, and read my sig.

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7 hours ago, catfeeder said:

Unfortunately, you can be associated with feelings he might wish to retract

I've never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Depression isn't all that we talk about, but for a while, it did become our main discussion and was partially why we got closer. I would understand if that's mainly what he associates me with, and that's not healthy for our friendship in the long run

On 7/7/2022 at 2:58 AM, Cherylyn said:

If one side slips away and drifts, mutual interest doesn't exist anymore and thus, you should follow suit and go your own way.  Don't force it.  If it was meant to be, it will be and if it wasn't, it's time to move on.  Don't fret

I completely agree with this. At this point, it should be both our priorities to work with our respective psychologists and get better. If he eventually wants to text back, I'm more than happy to talk. If he doesn't, that's ok too and I wish him the best

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Sometimes things serve a good purpose until they don't. This friendship once served you well, but now it's obviously problematic since it upsets you to the extent you're writing on a forum about it.

I'm thinking of how someone I knew went to AA meetings for 6 years and it helped him to stay sober and he enjoyed those meetings. But as time went along and he evolved, he found continuing on would become more of a negative than a positive to him, so he stopped going. It was time to discontinue speaking of those bad times in his life, as bringing up a bad past will stir up those same negative feelings within.

If he periodically returns and puts in effort, and you want to give him that chance, then do. But if you find the friendship to be more upsetting than fulfilling, it's okay to do what's best for yourself and delete contact. Nothing to feel guilty about. People have to have their own back. Take care.

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I also had an experience where a friend vented to me for months and months about her boyfriend - nothing at all abusive or anything like that just jerky behavior, cluelessness, he wasn't proposing, etc.  Once he proposed I was shut out of her life and it was obvious she didn't want any reminders of the pre-proposal venting and wanted to become a Smug Married Person. Ironically she was deeply religious so one would think that this sort of treatment of a good friend might not be consistent with religious values. Oh well.

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14 hours ago, Batya33 said:

I also had an experience where a friend vented to me for months and months about her boyfriend - nothing at all abusive or anything like that just jerky behavior, cluelessness, he wasn't proposing, etc.  Once he proposed I was shut out of her life and it was obvious she didn't want any reminders of the pre-proposal venting and wanted to become a Smug Married Person. Ironically she was deeply religious so one would think that this sort of treatment of a good friend might not be consistent with religious values. Oh well.

That was a bad experience with your friend.

I've had friends prior to marriage yet I did not retain all friends permanently.  It was nothing personal.   Just because I was married and we're Christians, it wasn't intentional to lose some old friends and gain new friends along the way.  Life happens.  I've confided in old friends.  However, some old friends were not meant to remain in my life forever.  It was nothing personal for them to drift apart from me either.  It just happened. 

My husband gave me such a great life that I don't crave nor need friendships.   I have friends, very close friends and casual acquaintances but we are mutually busy and make time for each other based upon our very hectic schedules.  

Some people take offense to being released from former friendships but many times, it's nothing personal.  Some friends outgrow each other, lose interest, grow unenthusiastic, move onto new adventures with their husbands, their husband's social circles, some have couple type friendships so on and so forth as it happened to me.  

Everyone has their own reasons and it's not always taken personally even though it's easy to do and feel offended, too.  

I'm so immersed in my married life and it's the way I am.  If anyone doesn't like it, too bad.  It's my life and my choices.  

Whenever we drift apart and fade away, for me, it's generally mutual.   

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Just leave him be. I'm sure with your own experience with it, you know how it goes sometimes... right?

You retract from everything for a while.

I've been there, depression, times of high anxiety, 'sensory overload'.  I needed my 'down time' from everything!

I also have friends this way... so I respectfully remain at a distance until they reach out.  If they do, we pick up w/out an issue.

As mentioned, focus on yourself & your own mental health.  Don't get lost in any of this....

 

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14 hours ago, Cherylyn said:

I've had friends prior to marriage yet I did not retain all friends permanently.  It was nothing personal.   Just because I was married and we're Christians, it wasn't intentional to lose some old friends and gain new friends along the way.  Life happens.  I've confided in old friends.  However, some old friends were not meant to remain in my life forever.  It was nothing personal for them to drift apart from me either.  It just happened. 

This particular person saw me as a reminder that she wasn't sure about her future husband and that he'd treated her disrespectfully.  Perhaps he changed and started treating her better as I believe they are still married and it's been since the mid 90s.  Most friends smartly realized that a change in marital status shouldn't affect a close friendship bond.  Some of my friends were more focused on couple friends and mom friends than close friendships.

One friend was like that and I welcomed her back in my life after an 8 year hiatus - and it's obvious to me she wanted to resume because when I called her I'd had my son and was married to my ex fiancee- who she'd known and liked very much.  And he'd known her husband. Yes I filed away her dismissal of me but I also realized she'd been battling a serious medical condition and we met when we were 12, so......

Finally I've had friends who tried to come back after dismissing me because they went MIA after becoming infatuated with a new guy - it depended how I felt -I totally get those who do the insta relationship thing (like in About Last Night) and disappear and I wasn't a fan of "ok now I met a guy and since I now have a boyfriend I will only need you after the honeymoon period when he stops calling me and I get anxious"

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On 7/10/2022 at 11:45 AM, Batya33 said:

This particular person saw me as a reminder that she wasn't sure about her future husband and that he'd treated her disrespectfully.  Perhaps he changed and started treating her better as I believe they are still married and it's been since the mid 90s.  Most friends smartly realized that a change in marital status shouldn't affect a close friendship bond.  Some of my friends were more focused on couple friends and mom friends than close friendships.

One friend was like that and I welcomed her back in my life after an 8 year hiatus - and it's obvious to me she wanted to resume because when I called her I'd had my son and was married to my ex fiancee- who she'd known and liked very much.  And he'd known her husband. Yes I filed away her dismissal of me but I also realized she'd been battling a serious medical condition and we met when we were 12, so......

Finally I've had friends who tried to come back after dismissing me because they went MIA after becoming infatuated with a new guy - it depended how I felt -I totally get those who do the insta relationship thing (like in About Last Night) and disappear and I wasn't a fan of "ok now I met a guy and since I now have a boyfriend I will only need you after the honeymoon period when he stops calling me and I get anxious"

Can't force it.  If friendships were meant to be, there needs to be mutual interest and effort put forth to endure.  If there's lack of enthusiasm from either party, friendships will disintegrate.  This is how life is.  Friends will waft in and out of a lifetime. 

I've retained some friends and other friends drifted and faded away.  No harm, no foul.

I met my childhood friend whom I've known since we were 9 years old.  We met for a walk and outdoor refreshments.  Fortunately, she's local and we see each other approximately once or twice a month. 

I have other friends, too.  However, not all of them were from long ago.  So many friends entered my life during various stages. 

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