On deleting a former friend

I know you get about 1,000 questions per week, so I thought I’d try this again.

Last October I confronted my oldest friend (of 26 years) on a pattern of dick-ish behavior. He replied that it was all in my head, and that I was jealous of him because my life hadn’t worked out. Honestly, if we were making a material measurement, which I believe he was, I’d be generous to say we’re even, but that’s not how I ever thought of us.

To say the least, I was surprised by his very long reply, and then more so by his complete silence.

What’s eating me up is that I’m holding on to it – it’s still on my mind just about every day – and as a means of dealing with this I’ve kept an email in draft that I’ve read and revised as time has gone on. It was very extensive to start, calling him out on a long line of his bullshit, and has since been reduced to a sentence or two; a simple reply to when (not if) he comes around – he’s gone ghost on me twice before, and then comes back with a long story about what he was going through.

My 2 questions: 1) Fuck him, right?, and 2) Why am I holding onto this for so long?

Thanks for your site. I’ve gotten some huge laughs and have forwarded so many of your answers to friends.


1. Sure, fuck him.

2. I don’t have the slightest clue why you’ve been holding on to this for so long. The only thing I know for sure is that you’d be a lot happier if you weren’t.

So, you tell me. What are you getting out of it? What purpose does it serve for you to keep him under your skin?

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s somehow a product of your own self-loathing. (These things usually are.) If you had more self-respect and/or self-worth, you’d have dropped this asshole decades ago and never given him another thought.

If you want to borrow some of my self-respect, go right ahead. As soon as you’re done reading this, immediately trash that email. While you’re at it, unfriend him across all social media. Gather up any mementos or reminders of him that you keep around and either throw them away or stick them in a box.

Fucking delete him already. Let him go. Move the fuck on.

That’s an order.


23 thoughts on “On deleting a former friend

  1. ABAB says:

    I asked a similar question a few months ago. I say cut him out, too. If you’ve noticed this pattern (and it sounds like you’ve had plenty of time to observe it) then remove him from your equation.

    I had a shitty friend that I forgave twice for their betrayals/bullshit and after that second time I cut them out of my life–rather abruptly I’ll add, and it got SUPER messy–but it was worth it. There was a lot of shit talking and painting me to be the bad guy but I ignored it because I knew the truth, and I knew my real friends (we have A LOT of mutual friends) wouldn’t be fooled.

    Eventually, the dust settled and I was absolutely floored at how much energy it freed up for me. Mutual friends came out of the woodwork telling me, “I always wondered why you stayed friends with them for so long” etc etc and my quality of life improved significantly.

    When I began dating my now BF (who is established in an field they’re super interested in) they *suddenly* came to their senses and came to me to apologize and try to re-kindle our friendship. I accepted their apology but have kept my distance despite literal bribes to try and rebuild what our friendship once was. It’s not that I’m bitter, it’s that I recognized a pattern over 10+ years and know better than to fall victim to it again, after being betrayed twice.

    I recommend cutting out the dead weight this guy sounds like he is in your world. Sure, sometimes you’ll miss the good times, but I promise you there will be better times ahead. Snip snip!

    • Un-Friend-er says:

      Hey Abab,

      I didn’t notice the pattern until this time around when I was left with nothing but thinking about it. It was so clear to everyone who is close to me, and that was a surprise to me, as well, while also being a testament to my loved ones’ ability to be polite to people they can’t stand.

      When I think of everything I’ve accomplished thus far, and things on the horizon (including my acceptance of how meaningless it all is) it’s foolish to have wallowed like I did.

      The cord is cut. He’s a dot in a distance.

      • Bob LobLaw says:

        This is hard to do – cutting the cord. As I state below, I had a similar experience.

        Great job with everything you have accomplished.

  2. Un-Friend-er says:

    Coke, Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I deleted him off social media some months back and have now deleted the email.

    Honestly, I hadn’t noticed the behavior before the past year when things began really going well for me. That’s when this started – I more than doubled my income, bought a nice house for my kids, and traveled overseas (things he had handed to him because of a fortunate situation of birth).

    After writing you the first time I contacted a friend who knows him longer than he knows me, and the guy said, “Dude, this is a golden opportunity. Take it.” Another friend said, “he doesn’t respect you. Fuck him.”

    I was honestly surprised, but reading people has been a huge weakness of mine through the years.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to reply. Having an uninvolved 3rd party helped. It’s as though it’s all just finally washed away. What had been slowly leaving me is finally gone.

    I guess I just thought, ‘we’re friends. This will pass.’ And now it has.

      • Un-Friend-er says:

        Hi Lily,

        I mean if you were to look at our balance sheets it’s about equal. We both have our own home, our own businesses, etc.

        Non-material things include family and personal achievements (education, awards, athletics), but even those all cost money. They simply aren’t something you’d try to sell.

        • Girl Comic says:

          Had someone like that. She loved loved loved the shit out of me when I was a scholarship student from the wrong side of the tracks. And she was so into me going into comedy instead of the social work career that my degree afforded. But then I landed a tv writing job, my own apartment in the big city, and stood in as an extra here and there.

          Her? She suddenly thought I was better than all that. That the show wasn’t up to my standard. Also that I could be helping children as a social worker.

          It was difficult because she was my biggest cheerleader it seemed. I went to her home in Greenwich for holidays; we did spring break together with her telling me how great I was when I bombed at open mics while blitzed.

          But that was just it. She wanted me to fail.

          That’s the common thread that held the relationship together.

          • Rasta Ray says:

            EVer hear of “malignant narcicism”? That’s what your college friend sounds like. She loved your failure: ie; bombing on stage drunk; a career as an impoverished social worker, etc.

            grats on your success. I’m sure she’s off somewhere worrying about country club status while her bored husband is boffing some blueblooded nobody.

          • Girl Comic says:

            Just Bing’d that (if you don’t know about Bing, you can Google it).

            Makes a lot of sense. She really did seem to take pleasure in her parents having a fancy house while I didn’t have parents, and that her college BF was in finance while mine was undecided. Though it didn’t stop her from always introducing me to other guys with fancier majors but otherwise terrible qualities.

            It’s painful to think that when opportunities came my way her mask of concern was just the costume she wore because she was afraid something good would happen to me. I hate to think that she’s saying dismissive or ugly things behind my back. But I know she is because I know her.

    • ABAB says:

      It’s always a shame when you find out someone you thought was on your side actually is not. It sounds like you’re doing well now, anyway. Consider it a blessing that he revealed himself while you are in a good place and can afford to lose him, as opposed to finding him out in a time when you need support.

  3. Bob LobLaw says:

    This story could have been mine, as well. I thought a particular childhood friend and I were growing in parallel, but weren’t. He seemed to resent me at some steps, and show contempt in others (the diff being that we resent people who are better than us, and feel contempt for those beneath us).

    In the end, I am sad to say I find him to be very pathetic. Like the OP, this guy and I are from the same place, and grew up with so many similar experiences. Except I can now see all of his decisions, which I once thought made him interesting and bold, were centered on looking forward to receiving family money, making him just an idiot looking to be admired while fantasizing that everyone was jealous of him. In the meantime, I built up a career as well as investments.

    As my life trajectory was rising, I never really thought about it compared to his – why would I? But he got wrapped up in it, it seemed, and all of the talk he would have of people being jealous of him made me recall the adage: “We hate most in others, what we most hate in ourselves.”

    Examples include:
    – A business I started (it failed) when I was 18. He was extremely negative about it, and I thought, ‘maybe he sees something I don’t since he comes from a business-oriented family.’ Years after my business failure, I found out the most successful person in his family made their money the same way. Did he say, “I should connect these guys?” Not at all.
    – I made a big career change after the business failed, and he said he was against it for moral reasons. I respected his right to have an opinion on the matter, though not the opinion itself (this was a highly successful endeavor that has paid me many thousands of dollars, even years after leaving it, and I am personally proud of everything I did, and was involved with).
    – Lastly, I entered into a field similar to his. He questioned the integrity of the work I was doing. When I pointed out the exact similarities to how he was making his money, he fired back with a NastyGram that loosely translated to, “I should have fucked off long ago, but wanted to be able to blame you for the fallout.”

    Now he can, and it is glorious!

    • Damon Wade says:

      “Years after my business failure, I found out the most successful person in his family made their money the same way”

      Wow. Just, wow. If this doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does. I’ve been holding on to some stuff about a similar friend that I never told anybody. Reading about similar experiences here is huge.

    • Ridley Scott's Ghost says:

      No. Not in my experience. I once got over a lost friendship, and was able to move on, but part of me felt in the same place meaning I did not get passed it. does that make sense.

  4. Girl Comic says:

    A sad story. But sometimes we just outgrow one another.

    Many a gal-pal has come and gone from my life. They were there when I needed them to be, and then we hung on to each other at our own expense.

  5. Kilamanjaro says:

    This reminds me of a fallout I had over email. It bothered me for a while, but as time went by I realized this friend added no joy or value to my life. Often when I think of an old friend I haven’t seen in some time I remember them more fondly than they were. With him, I realized bad things I had been blind to.

    For example, he was a wimp – always cutting out of relationships when shit got real, but saying the women were “too intense.” He was a loser – living off family money but pretending he had a successful career. He was a mooch – staying on his parents phone and insurance plans while his dad got him a home loan, but refusing to participate in a thriving business started by his grandfather.

  6. The OP on This One says:

    Per @Jay ‘s request, an update:

    Have not heard from Former Friend. After digesting the things that we can only see from a distance, I’m glad.

    My wife made an observation that helped a few months into him ghosting me. She said, “well I’m glad. Because now I don’t have to go to his parents’ house and pretend to be so impressed all the time.”

    She laid it all out in a way I couldn’t see: his parents were from wealthy immigrant families, and used that 2nd Gen cash to spoil their 3rd Gen kids who have pretend businesses while living off trust funds.

    His mom called me a couple years ago to ask me to join an MLM scheme, which is pretty sick because her husband cheated me on a recent business deal that had later fallen apart for him.

    His dad called me around last Christmas to say hi. He said Former Friend married someone. They live in a house his dad bought him.

    • Wendy says:

      Thanks for taking the time to write out this update! I always wonder how things work out for people after they get Coke’s response.

      • The OP on This One says:

        Yeah, I’m much better off for having cut the dead weight.

        It’s crazy that someone can just give you nothing and try to sabotage you, too, then hang around like they aren’t wishing you the worst.

        But it doesn’t surprise me now. This guy’s sister was dating a guy who Former Friend knew was cheating on her, but never told the guy to do right by his sister, and wouldn’t tell his sister what he knew. The guy was a business partner in the fake company. Maybe the cheater’s parents were providing the money for them to keep pretending they were businessmen. I can’t say.

        When I began drawing a hard line with people, things got a lot better.

        I have new friendships, stronger old friendships, make more money, get more shit done that I love (get to talk more about shit I love) and am more relaxed.

        • Jay says:

          I’m very glad to hear it turned out for the better! Life’s too short to keep those kinds of friends around. I cut ties with someone I went to high school with when I was in my early 20s and reading your account of how the friend treated you, I immediately thought of her.

          The kind of people who aren’t glad when you do well are the wrong kind of people to keep around. I remember it wasn’t just me doing well, it was as simple as someone complimenting me in her presence. Man, I’ve been wondering if I should reach out (I did consider her my best friend at some point) but this makes me think I should just keep my distance.

          Thank you for sharing!

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