When a friendship ends (British Style)
Posted on May 5, 2011 by peacefulyorkshire
Our post How to make friends and Influence People (British Style!) has always been one of our most visited pages–can you believe it has had over 200,000 hits? But lately I have had the opposite problem: What happens when you decide a friendship needs to end with a person? And how about if this person is British? I bring it up because this topic runs parallel to Yankeebean’s latest posts where she has had to ‘unfriend’ some Brits on her FB page … the only difference is that I am trying to figure out this one ‘off-line’.
Margaret was my first official British friend ; I even wrote about the early stages of our relationship because it was such a new exciting experience. Unlike some of my American friendships, we didn’t ‘click’ straight away, nor did we immediately became ‘soul-sistahs’ confessing our deepest secrets about life. Even after 3 years, and even with being a part of her wedding day. I accepted this, but I can’t lie, it did bother me that we never seemed to get beyond the work we shared into a deeper way of connecting, but I had hopes it would happen— some day. And heck, after living in the UK for 7 years I know that things like friendship have different ways of developing and even fulfilling different aspects of life.
The thing is, after Margaret was married, she started to do some quite strange and hurtful things in our friendship. One day after 6 months of not saying anything about it , I decided it was time, because I was tired of pretending everything was ok. And I didn’t do it in a round about way either, I just let it spew out, unabashed–everything–how much she had hurt me, how I was worried about her uncharacteristic behaviour, how disappointed that I was that she would act in this manner. Trust me readers, It wasn’t pretty, and there was no way it was gonna be. Lump it or leave it, it was honestly how I felt and it needed to be addressed.
Looking back, sure I could have done it differently, might have ‘planned it all out’ in a long letter, might have done it in a way that is more ’roundabout- let’s- not- be- too- direct -about- this’, Or perhaps I could have even just ‘disappeared’ and ignored her forever. But I didn’t want to play those games.
The result? Erm, well, she refused to have any contact with me and ignored me for 3 months.
After a series of apologies on my end for hurting her feelings in anyway explaining what I was trying to do, I tried to make things right. Offered to meet to chat about it, offered to talk on phone. Offered my future first born son as a sacrifice to show her I wanted to continue. (Ok, you get the point) Despite this she has decided she can never see me again.—- Ok let’s press the pause button here—Yankeebean and I don’t like to share too many personal stories on this blog , and the only reason I write this here is because it turned into the whole ‘American- British thing’— Okay back to the story…now, then, this was her last email to me:
‘I don’t think that I can ever see you again or forgive you for this. I don’t know how friendships work in America, because I have never had an American friend besides you, nor have even been to America. In this country (referring to England, of course) you don’t talk to friends about issues like this unless you were intending on ending our friendship, because that means that you do no accept who I am. You need to learn that. You would not have even brought these things up if you were British, we don’t do that here…’
Yikes folks, all of a sudden this wasn’t about me, it was about my nationality. My heritage became the biggest flaw in this horribly awkward situation.
I began to really ponder: Is this really about me being an American or is she using it as a way to insult me and make me feel bad? Is it true that friendships between American and British person might have a set of rules that one needs to follow?
Look, I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do know that If I can’t be honest with my friends then it just isn’t going to work. You know, regardless of nationalities I am proud that I stuck to my guns (oh my gosh, I referenced guns! I really must be American…!! ) by being true to my self. And Isn’t that the most important thing anyway? Kinda reminds me of the lyrics to the song by Frank Sinatra….
To think I did all that
And may I say not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way…