How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

Sinking Friendships

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I can’t presume to believe that a large enough number of people read this website that I could conceivably reach anyone I’d like. That would be arrogant of me.

But I wonder sometimes if people from my past, people who’ve closed the door on me or that I’ve fallen away from, might somehow stumble on this carnival sideshow by accident.

Finn sitting on a trainLook at this growing boy. Growing like a freight train sitting… in a freight train.

My son is making, what I would say, are emergent versions of friendships. He’s quickly learning the gentle art of making enemies, the politics of pissing people off, the warfare of social dynamics and the advantage of being friends with lots and lots of girls. The apple and the tree, whatever.

I saw my son sitting next to a boy in his class at preschool this week. He’s as rambunctious as Finn but has a shadowy streak in him, and the streak could be either abundant intelligence or a dark side. I’m not entirely sure yet. They’re similar enough that they get along… But…

And then it hit me. The scenario looked all too familiar.

I had a friend growing up, one of my first real “best friends.” But the definition of friend seemed a bit hazy back then. It could’ve been my naiveté or the fact that it was Kindergarten, but this “friend” was both friendly and antipathetic toward me. He would push me over in the sand as I tied my shoes, and, let’s be honest, by “tie” I mean “velcro”. We grew up talking about things I could never say in front of anyone else. He acquainted me with fireworks and cap guns. He introduced me to a ton of experiences that were both dangerous and formative. From Kindergarten until Middle School, he dominated conversations, wrestling matches and excursions. We’d play fight and he’d always best me. He was ostensibly a bad influence.

But his dominion began to crumble when we both hit puberty. I grew faster and bigger than he did, and it evened things up. He was both my closest friend and my toughest adversary but because of our fraternity, our familiarity and a mutual intelligence, I stuck it out. He was a brother in every sense of the word but blood. We were, in more ways than I care to admit, like Lancelot and Arthur.

Charlie Capen as a toddlerI mean, who would want to be mean to him/me? Old me. Young me. Whatever.

Our friendship came to an end abruptly. He was on the wrong side of a break-up with a girlfriend of mine. Things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped. It was a storm.

Years later, I reached out to him and we decided to meet up. It was a rambling meeting in the bar up the street from his childhood home we’d passed every day as kids. Enough time had passed and we were allowed to drink legally together now. Another first for us. It was obvious to me that we were two people well-worn by our very different paths in life. It was tough to reconcile a normal conversation and there was an overbearing subtext made it erratic. He let me know that my former girlfriend cheated on me with him. I brushed it away, either too hurt or too far away from it to care very much. I still don’t know which.

But then things went even further astray.

He asked me why I was really meeting with him. I had mentioned earlier, in passing, that I was in town to check in with my family while my father was undergoing cancer treatment. But he meant something more sinister. He kept pressing me, and all I could say was that my father was sick. That wasn’t the right answer. We left it there. How could I disprove something didn’t exist?

Somehow, this photo ended up in this post.

A couple tense and accusatory conversations by phone in the space of five days after that and we were done, again, but finally.

When my father finally passed away, there were articles in all the papers about his death. Ben Fong-Torres, a kind friend of the family, wrote a nostalgic piece about my dad and his legacy on the radio airwaves in San Francisco. I wanted so badly to cut the articles out and send them to my former friend, like some sort of friendship ransom note.

But I didn’t. And he will probably never read this. Hell, I’m barely reading this. There’s a giant of part me that wishes I had had the balls to let my pal know. As this website becomes about more than just me and my weirdness, I wonder if people from my past will end up here. What happens if they stumble on a story or an image suddenly realize who it is?

But really, my main question for today is: will my son have to endure the feeling of cold steel sliding in between his vertebrae as someone whispers, “I’m your friend” to him?

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52 Responses to “Sinking Friendships”

  1. Christina says:

    I had a friend like that in High School. I sent me an email once sometime in the last 2 years asking if I was “ashamed” of him and that’s why I haven’t called in a while.

    Truth is, I don’t want him or his mother anywhere near my kids.

    I think my junior year of school, I felt what your saying every time he said he was my friend. The knowledge that he’d betray me if given the oppurtunity and enough incentive?

    The desire to protect my kids from friends like that is profound. But the more I push, the more they’ll push back. All I can do is equip my kids with enough common sense and pray they’ll end up with a good amount of discernment and be close by when the world falls apart in their young, naive perception.

  2. David Barchas says:

    Yes he will experience it. It will make him a better person in the end. Think of how many people you have met in your life who are the most clueless suckers, usually because they experienced no backstabs or erratic-insanity-breakups in their life. The older you are for your first one, the longer the destruction and more damage it does.

    Hope the first one to be young …

  3. Hannah says:

    Seriously, what a jerk. I don’t think I have/had any friends like that. Gosh, I hope I never do … and even more fervently, I hope my kids never do.

  4. Amy says:

    My husband and I both had a friend like that at different times in our lives. Unfortunately, it happened to me twice. It sucks, it hurts, and it makes you wonder “why?”, but in the end, it makes for a wiser heart and a clearer picture of what a true friend is.

    • charlie says:

      Yep. When we compare true friends to friends who aren’t helpful, it’s pretty obvious. It’s just hard to tell the difference sometimes.

  5. This post touches on some things I worry about for my young daughter. At three, she is starting to form real friendships. They mean a lot to her. I’m concerned about what will happen when (and I do mean when) one of her relationships goes astray. When she gets stabbed in the back or hurt by someone she considered a friend. I’ve always thought of girls as being worse about this, but I guess guys do it, too.

    I think it is just part of life. We’ve all been through something similar to what you describe. And we got through. Moved on. Live and learn and all that. As a mother, however, I don’t like to think of my daughter learning these lessons the hard way.

  6. Tricia O. says:

    Growing up, I had a few jerk friends like that. I kicked them out of my life when I was in high school and they were acting like high school girls do.

    The problem is that now in my mid (okay, late)thirties, I have suddenly been thrust back into the junior high BS that some girls apparently never grow out of…and I’m so mad at myself for letting it happen. I’m mad at myself for allowing these new “friends” to treat me so badly, and for not recognizing it for what it was when it was happening.

    I’m even more mad at myself for allowing my five-year-old (also named Finn)see it happen. I know most of it goes over his head, but he does notice when people who were supposedly my friend six months ago act like they don’t see me when we are at our neighborhood pool. He knows enough to know something is up.

    So I started blogging about them. I’m also in the process of writing a book about them. So, yeah, they are going to know what I think. Eff them.

    • Nicole G. says:

      Good for you!! I had the same thing happen. I wish them all the best, but eff them for taking advantage of and crapping all over my kindness. Turd herders. I did get an apology….almost three years later. Like it meant anything.

  7. Maura says:

    Oh, this one got to me. Loose ends, man. All the loose, fraying, uncomfortable ends in life, just waving around out there. I don’t know how to snip them off. Mine is an old boyfriend, who is now a friend of friends on Facebook, which is weird. The only “closure” I’ve had, or will ever have, is the passage of time.

    I know my daughters are going to go through the same stuff. Or close enough to feel about the same. I’m trying to let them know that Mom’s got their backs; that’s about all I can do, I think.

    • Nicole G. says:

      You know… I am finding the most cathartic thing you can do for yourself is to go on being a trustworthy, genuine friend to others. Then you will never lose a wink of sleep. Protect yourself from “those types” you’ve had run-ins with in the past. Steer way, WAY clear of gossipers. That is about the only thing you CAN do for your kids. Be a model in your relationships and be ready to catch them when someone yanks the rug out form underneath them.

  8. Sam says:

    Great post, Charlie. It really captures the complexity and frustration that sometimes comes from male “frenemies.”

    I had a “frenemy” relationship with a guy that started in junior high school. He was considered to be ultra cool and we shared a love of then-contemporary (early 1980s) mainstream and nascent alternative rock.

    At the time I was totally blind to his occasional subtle put-downs and sarcasm; all I cared about was being as cool as he was.

    Heck, in a fit of frustration at my parents in junior high I packed a suitcase and told my parents I was running away to his house. But when I called him to tell him I was coming he told me that I shouldn’t come. OK, the cluephone clearly was for me at that point but I wasn’t seeing the signs.

    A few years later he abruptly stopped being my “friend” by choosing to totally ignore me. He stopped calling. When he saw me at school he acted as if I didn’t exist. He wouldn’t respond when I spoke to him. It was totally and absolutely awful. I still remember how raw I felt when he started that and as he continued that.

    A few years later he abruptly started casually talking to me again but by that point I really didn’t want to have much to do with him, which probably was his whole modus operandi for doing it. Still, it sucked.

    More than 30 years later I’m married and have a 4 1/2-year-old daughter and nearly 3-year-old son. My prayer is that I will be able to help them discern similar warning signs in any “frenemies” they are associating with, as well as help teach them to discern those signs themselves.

    But even if I see the signs in their “frenemies” and try warn them I’m not sure if they’ll listen. If my parents tried to warn me about my “frenemy” I likely didn’t listen or brushed it off. Unfortunately, I had to learn the lesson the hard way.

    I hope my kids don’t have to do so as well but it may be the only way they truly learn it for themselves.

  9. Louise says:

    I had a few ‘friends’ like that in high school. One just pretended to be my friend so she could humiliate me later. My best friend during high school ended up conning money out of me and stealing from my wallet. When i finally made some true friends, i doubted the genuinity (i’m not sure if that’s spelt right) for over a year.

    I really hope my baby never has to experience anything like that. I also wish teenage me could have read this post. Inspired.

  10. alkd says:

    I’ve had several frenemies, especially when I was younger. The one that sticks out most in my mind was a friend for nearly my entire childhood. She had a habit of cutting people out who she didn’t consider to be valuable anymore. She was always on the road to being popular, so I guess I was just flattered that she kept me in her life while so many of our friends were left wondering why she wouldn’t talk to them anymore. I always wished I had answers for them, but I never did, because it rarely made sense to me. That should have been a sign.

    When we both moved back home after college (during which we kept in touch & visited regularly), we started hanging out much more frequently again. I helped her get her first apartment, and encouraged her in her job search. I’d started seeing a guy that I’d dated before. She didn’t like him due to something that happened between him & I when we were both 18. That whole year she’d make disparaging comments about our relationship, which happened to be the first healthy romantic relationship I’ve ever had. The day he proposed (and I accepted) was the day she stopped talking to me. Nothing to explain, no goodbye, just silence… and blocking me on the relevant social media sites back then (oh, the scorn!). Bleh. I’ve seen her a couple of times in the city, but I pretend that I don’t. It doesn’t hurt anymore, but I still don’t feel like re-opening those lines of communication.

  11. Judy says:

    My daughter posted a comment today “You can’t make a person respect you, but you can refuse to be disrespected”. I think this speaks volumes. Perhaps if we can teach our children the fine art of ‘how to be a friend’ as well as to recognize what constitutes “not” being a friend, then healthy friendships will evolve naturally. But I think it all boils down to self-respect *in balance* with respect for others and recognizing that having a true friend is to be blessed and being a true friend even moreso.

  12. I’ve always been a “chaser”- well I think as I’ve gotten older I’ve outgrown it to an extent, or at least learned to recognize it sooner. Do you’all know what I mean by a chaser? I would develop an intense friendship with a person, and more often than not that person would be the kind who liked to be chased. So essentially I was always the one making the phone calls, etc. to keep the friendship going. When one of my oldest & best friends (or so I thought) didn’t come to my wedding (and didn’t let me know until the night before *via email*) that I realized I really don’t want to chase people anymore. I never responded to her email and haven’t spoken to her since (it’s been almost 4 years). I know, not the most mature reaction but I was sooooo unbelievably hurt.

    Anyhoo shortly thereafter I had my son so that pretty much curbed any time I might have for chasing anyways 🙂

    • And with regards to my son…. LALALALA can’t think about it yet 🙂 Too hard to think about all the bullies and complex mean behavior that lies in wait. UGH.

    • Lacey S says:

      I know exactly what you mean by “chaser”… and there are three types of people who make you pursue friendship with THEM – 1)the self-absorbed, 2)the clinically depressed, and 3)the pathologically busy. It’s taken me 30 years to learn to stop the differences and for my husband and I to drop all the first category from our lives. My hubby is also all for dropping the second category, but since he IS one, I have a lot of sympathy for them and keep prodding him to reach more out himself. My best friend is a #2 – she always convinces herself if I haven’t been online in a while that I’m mad at her, and not just busy with my toddler *sighs*.

  13. Marcy says:

    My older son is 4, and as I watch him interact with kids on the playground and at school, I cringe thinking of the hurt and rejection I’m sure he will experience as he grows up. I was pretty awkward and shy as a kid and teenager, and he takes after me in many ways… I know many of these “lessons” can be helpful in the long term even if they hurt in the moment. It’s just never fun to watch your child go through anything painful (or even just anticipate it happening in the abstract).

  14. Josi says:

    What a great, honest post. I think it’s important for parents to remain close enough to their kids so that they’ll feel comfortable sharing things – not to interfere with situations, but to help them sort their feelings out.

    But you really did not answer his question: why did you reach out? Yeah, it’s true you were in town for your dad, but you could have refrained from seeking your former friend out. You need to answer the question for yourself. Maybe you were seeking some kind of recognition that he did you wrong, maybe even an apology? Seems like this is what he thought, which made him get defensive – in which case then he totally KNOWS he was a jerk to you and should have owned up to it without putting you on the spot.

  15. Dena says:

    There is a tagline used constantly by Lenore Skenazy, author and host of Bubble Wrap Kids that has become my mantra in the face of things like this, because while my protectiveness of my children looms *HUGE*, I also want that protection and strength to be an enduring thing that they carry around with them when they are facing and figuring things out on their own.

    “You can’t child-proof the world, you have to world-proof your kid…” (something along those lines!)

    There is nothing like the perspective of having kids of your own, is there? It feels so easy to me now to refuse those eroding kind of relationships – if I wouldn’t want X near my kids, why would I let X near me?! So I guess my goal is to (hopefully!) help my kids catch onto that concept *years and years* sooner than *I* did! 😉

    • Ady says:

      Great answer! I’m also telling my wife that we can’t wrap our boys up in cotton wool most of the time! Have you also read Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families – he talks about something very similar.YOU choose how you respond to the world or something along those lines!

    • Nicole G. says:


  16. Mike L. says:

    Watch your kid’s favorite movies with him and (with remote control in hand) provide the real life commentary that life isn’t like the movies. Entertainment was created as a means of escaping the harshness of reality, but only for a moment. Documentaries are meant to educate, not entertain, and should be viewed as much as distractions (movies) in order to achieve a sense of balance between fantasy and reality. I can only wish that my parents did the same for me. Too late. They’re gone and I’m going.

  17. Nate W. says:

    Just having had my 10 year high school reunion I really enjoyed this comment of yours, “It was obvious to me that we were two people well-worn by our very different paths in life.”

    Seeing some of my best friends from high school was weird because of the experiences, challenges, and successes we had during those 10 years really changed a lot of us.

    Some of the people I saw at the reunion were people I spent a lot of time with in school, but after experiencing a bit of life I wouldn’t consider them friends. We were friends in high school because I was too chicken to tell them anything they didn’t want to hear (ex. When I thought they were being retarded or the fact that I actually enjoyed Star Trek, The Next Generation).

    When I saw one of these “friends” at the reunion, I told him that I was a stay-at-home dad and that I enjoyed reading extremely large books (consumes 90% of my free time). I expected him to make fun of me, but I was surprised when he started listing off some of the classics.

    We’ve now formed a real friendship (based on honesty) and we email each other talking about the latest books we’ve read.

    I know it’s new age crap that you find in Disney movies, but I’d tell your son to just “be himself” with his friends and he’ll have much more meaningful relationships.

    If he likes Star Trek and thinks his friends are being idiots then he should tell them so. 🙂

  18. Girls aren’t the same, or maybe I just had never had that kind of friend. There was one girl though who would verbally abuse me, tell me that she honestly didn’t care how I felt, and then the next day, pour her troubles out to me. I still feel bad for her because her dad passed away when she was sixteen, and she had a lot of trouble in her life. But I couldn’t handle *anyone* insulting my family members, so we kind of drifted. Probably for the better.

  19. Coincidentally, I had someone contact me via Facebook because he read one of my blog posts that his sister shared on her timeline. We had grown apart and after reading some posts he felt he had to reach out to reconnect and to let by-gones be gone and to try to do a better job of keeping in touch.

  20. WeirdFish says:

    Yes, it will happen. Yes, it will suck watching it. No, we as parents should not interfere or intervene to prevent a trainwreck friendship — our children need to develop that armor like we have (it’s when we DO become overbearing and overprotective that we end up raising kids who have no business functioning in this world, and the result of that is more reality TV).

    We can only guide and soothe the hurt when it happens. *WHEN* it happens.

    I had some friends through elementary and junior high who I would term as total D-bags now. They separately were just mean-spirited in general, but not even in that Cool Kid in the Hall kind of way. They were, in all practical terms, bullies to varying degrees. But not to me. Which was why we were friends.

    I hadn’t come to realize that until high school and our class schedules and such made us all go our separate ways. But things they did or said, and things I was party to as a result of being their respective enabling partners, still stick with me today well over 25 years later, and I’m full of regret for doing so.

    Not long after, my family moved to a different state, so I’ve lost all contact from anyone in my original hometown, which was probably for the best. Today, I maintain contact with three people from my “new” high school, and with the newest crop of friends, they’re all I need.

    But that experience with Nathan way back then helped shape who I am now. Nearing my 40s, I can use that experience where I was passively terrible to people who I shouldn’t have been that way to, people who actually WERE my friends, to not only prevent myself from ever doing that again, but also watch for it in my son and his interactions with others.

    And of course, as an epilogue, if I met those guys again, I highly doubt I’d have anything to say to them. I’m not one to rekindle old friendships for the sake of doing so. My philosophy is that if we were meant to remain friends, we would have. And personality-wise, I feel I’m a much stronger person today and have much less tolerance for the behavior exhibited back then, and the confidence I have in myself means that I don’t need to cower and be a partner to bullies for acceptance’s sake.

    My son will find himself in similar situations. Just being half-Asian will make him a target, because kids are and can be mean…especially if they have mean and/or ignorant parents.

    I can only help him thicken his armor. I cannot shield him from the evils of the world.

  21. Monica says:

    So I am reading this kinda late. Friends come and go and some are not meant to stay apart of your lives. What is sad is when Family decides you aren’t good enough and they shut that door on you. I have someone who decided he was far above the ENTIRE Family and cut us all out. I wrote a poem about the experience and part of me would love for him to read it and the other part of me says no b/c he just wouldn’t understand anyway. He made up his mind a long time ago and I finally stood up for myself and said no more. So, He closed out the whole family.

    Finn might grow up and learn the lessons of Friendship, but lets just hope he doesn’t have to learn what it is like to have Family turn on you just b/c they think they are somehow better.

  22. Lacey S says:

    We moved when I was young (4th grade) and a kid helped me settle in. We were friends, but not best friends, and drifted apart over the summer. So the next year I took a new kid under my wing, showed her the ropes, introduced her around and by the end of the year she was tight with a group of girls and I was on the outside… but I was OK with it. Did that again the next year, and the next and on until my freshman year of high school when I made a HUGE success out of a new boy (seniors yelled his name when he entered a room, and everyone called me his “shadow”). Then I came back my Sophmore year looking for a new friend… and there was the boy, hugging me, telling me how much he’d missed me over the summer and I realized that for the first time I’d made a real friend. We’re still good friends and accept each other for who we are, even if we can only keep in touch via Facebook (he runs a resort down in Oaxaca, the SOB, while I’m still up in the rainy NW :D).

    I really hope my son has better luck in making and keeping non-relative friends than I did…

  23. Justin says:

    I had a similar situation in college. The guy that I hung out with and did everything with in high school had a very checkered past, but he mad so many strides in putting those things behind him. I was a year ahead of him, and he came to the same school I did my sophomore year in college. College is always an adjustment, but it was obviously harder on him than I thought be cause he got arrested and called me to bail him out of jail. He has overcome a lot since then even, but it was clear we were going down very different paths. I still consider him a friend, but we are definitely distant friends now.

  24. Nicole G. says:

    I have had, unfortunately, more than my fair share of prickly-under-the-surface best-friendships. Over the years they have dropped like flies. There is no feeling like betrayal to turn you into a cynic. I was once trusting, loyal to a fault, willing to work anything out. Someone who I looked up to years ago, a mentor if you will, drilled into me that “relationships are not disposable” and “as believers in the principles and precepts taught by Christ we should always seek to reconcile our differences.” You can imagine the guilt I’ve felt when I realized how so, so very wrong she was. Was I really even a believer if I was hacking off rotten limbs? Life happened to each of us in a different way. For some it has been sweet (which it makes it difficult to share the same belief system at times) and for others we have been choked out, shaken all around, battered, bruised and come out on the other side, some for better and some for worse. I found that when I came out on the other side, some “best friends” didn’t like where it led me. My values had changed, my beliefs, and blessedly, my tolerance. The toxic things I allowed to consume me out of “love” or whatever are now the things I am acutely aware of in others. Suddenly, friends became INSULTED and had all of these OPINIONS about things that never mattered before. Everyone had a solution to each other’s problems. I’m not as trusting and I am protective of who I allow into my children’s lives. What I am learning is, it is OKAY that we move on. While I would never wish that my children would feel the palpable sting of betrayal, I am wiser by leaps and bounds. While I still nurse those old wounds, I wouldn’t change those experiences. Think of it as a refiner’s fire. It burns but you come out with a purer understanding of relationships. Who perpetuated this idea that we were going to grow up with umpteen best friends? The kids, like us, will figure it out the same way. Let’s just be there for them when it happens. It hurts like hell. I’d love to see a children’s book that addresses this topic.

  25. MaltyMama says:

    We just don’t know what goes on in “the other person”‘s head. What crazy crap lead them to invent the things they think we’re thinking. It sucks, because we are usually innocent of these accusations, but it makes one wonder…. have I thought something false of a long lost friend? Have I invented parting reasons that never existed?

    Makes a body a bit paranoid, eh?

  26. Sarah says:

    I had a friend like that…from 2nd grade to junior year of high school. But she treated me like I wasn’t important to her, made a lot of choices that I don’t want to be involved with and our friendship fizzled. We kept in sporadic contact over the years. Looking back on the friendship with my aged wisdom (har har) I realize it was a very selfish relationship and I was always bending over backwards to make her happy. We did have a lot of fun times though and I think that is why I still keep in contact. It did teach me not to be taken advantage of, and that was a good lesson. I don’t want my daughter to experience the pain of fizzled friendships, but I can’t protect her from everything and she will learn hard lessons no matter how overprotective I am. I think you learn and grow from relationships and if people from your past do read your words, maybe it’ll be a good thing. So often we are able to put into words what we can’t articulate by mouth.

  27. Fay says:

    My Son had a friendship like this, on one, day off the next, a bit rough, the boys actions a bit worrying, mud and wee thrown at kids, property hidden and sometimes miraculously discovered and presented.
    Till one day my sweet natured boy said: he said I wasn’t his friend again today, He said I was a baby. I asked what he did and my son replied: I thought to myself, I have had enough of this, I am just fed up so I left him on his own and found some other friends to play with. he has not looked back since. proud mum moment 🙂

  28. Bryan says:

    Life’s an unfair teacher as it often gives you the test, and then the lesson with hindsight as the text book. Sometimes the stuff you’d rather forget is the best resource for preventing a repeat lesson.

  29. Holly Stewart says:

    My husband and I call them toxic friends. We have both had our share of them over the years but without them, some important lessons might not have been learned. I think we are actually closer because of a few toxics we shared. However, I really hope we can just teach those lessons to our kids and they don’t have to experience it first hand!

  30. Chilling, and wise, and isn’t it weird how our children’s growth brings back and up all these experiences? Thanks for sharing, Charlie.

  31. Melanie says:

    For a long time I had a best friend. She was 4 and I was 5. We met everyday for years. When I was 7 I left and went to 5 different foster homes. Years later, I do mean years we met up again. She just had a little boy and a long time live in boyfriend. They just finished purchasing their little home. I visited again for many years and then I grew busy and as time wore on we lost contact again. We reconnect over time but, it’s not the same. The comradarie we used to have was gone. We don’t know each other anymore and I tried to reach out several times but, she didn’t want it. So I moved on. It’s tough to know my son will go through the same things. And I in turn have to help him through the best way I know how. You really nailed it when you said: “will my son have to endure the feeling of cold steel sliding in between his vertebrae as someone whispers, “I’m your friend” to him? ” because the harsh answer is : Yes.

  32. Holly Webster says:

    I could feel the unease in this story. I’m still haunted by a long term friendship that suddenly and strangely came to end. I still don’t really understand why, but know that I’m better off. The only thing anyone could figure was that her life wasn’t going as well as mine and it made her feel bad to be around me, so she just bailed. We had been very close and I was really hurt when she stopped contact, especially after trying so many times to help her with whatever she was going through. So maybe she didn’t want my help, just to be around people that didn’t make her feel like a screw up in comparison. It’s been over a decade since we last spoke and I still feel sad and confused about the way it turned out.

    Anyway, my mother’s advice has always been to be aware of who my kids’ friends are. My oldest kid is 6 and has had one friendship most her life that I often wonder how will evolve. I encourage my daughter to help her friend out and try to make her feel better when she’s having a tough time, then wonder if I could be encouraging a friendship that could one day go bad. Yeah, I make it a point to get to know her friends and their parents.

    • Kevin says:

      I had a friend like this growing up. We were besties and he was my neighbor. We played on the same soccer teams, lacrosse, participated in scouts together and church groups. He was a brother to me. I never picked up on it as a child but there was definitely a “frenemy” relationship there. The sarcasm and rudeness went unnoticed, or in challenged for far to many years which lead him to believe it was okay? By high school I had finally started to catch on that I didn’t like him. But he was the ring leader of our group of “friends”. My ” friends made high school miserable for me. Not with taunting or bullying but by not including me in anything. I was miserably loneseome trough highschool. We reconciled our ways a little after high school and continued to be “friends”. We would hang out as a large group with a our spouses every few months and just deal with the fact that everyone was an ass to everyone else. And most of it stemmed from this one ” friend” the ring leader. Anyways we no longer see those people. It took me over twenty years to finally realize what a jerk he is.

  33. Kerri says:

    Charlie-what was your parents’ view/attitude toward this jerk friend? Any valuable advice from them? Did they approve of him? Were they hands-off about your choice of friends?

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