Dear Captain Awkward,
FYI: she/her pronouns for me and “Amy”
I had a falling out with a friend and do not want to try to repair the relationship. I am wondering what I owe this former friend, in terms of an explanation for why things have gone cold between us.
This friend and I are members of a parenting social group. “Amy” and I have kids the same age, and everyone has been friends for 4 years. Our kids are still too young to have 100% independent friendships, so if your kids decide they like each other? It requires the parents facilitating the relationship and means the parents sort of have to become friends, too.
I’ve come to realize that Amy isn’t the type of person I’d pick as a friend for myself. While she has several great qualities, she can also be very rude, cheap, thoughtless, and insensitive. If you point out “Hey Amy, what you just said/did was rude, cheap, thoughtless, and/or insensitive”, she’ll respond “I’m from Europe. That’s just how Europeans are”, which seems like a bullshit excuse to me. Sometimes she’ll even excuse her behavior immediately after she’s done something thoughtless. So, she *knows* she’s done something out of line, but she’s preemptively telling you to get over it, because Europe.
I’ve been ignoring her periodic rudeness for the sake of the kids’ friendship until recently. Last week, she made an insensitive comment about my kid and told me that her kids didn’t consider my kid to be a friend. Which sucks, because my kids *did* consider her kids to be friends. I don’t think “my kids don’t like yours” is a temporary, little-kid-moodiness thing, where they say they aren’t friends one day and then back to being friends the next. She totally meant that her kids disliked mine and have for a long time. Which is confusing, because if your kids don’t like my kids, why the heck are you inviting us over to play and for multiple kid parties every year? Why do you extend us invites and accept our invites? What’s that all about, Amy?
Since telling me that her kids don’t like mine, Amy has been extra friendly with me, texting me, liking alllllll my posts on social media, and generally buttering me up in ways she never has before. She texts to see if we want to come over (No), how we are feeling (Fine), do we want to meet at the park? (Can’t), are we coming to her kid’s birthday party next week (No, thank you). She knows something is up, and will eventually ask why I’ve distanced myself.
Do I owe her an explanation? I’m 100% done with the relationship at this point. I don’t like her, her kids don’t like mine, so there’s pretty much nothing keeping us together, in my opinion. The “Good Girl” part of me feels like I should explain why I have put distance between us, but I know that she’ll just blame the whole thing on me not understanding Europeans and try to “fix” things by shoving her kids at mine via more play dates. I don’t know what her motivation is for wanting to keep this non-friendship going, and I don’t care to find out. I’m done.
What do I owe her?
-Not Chasing Amy
Dear Not Chasing Amy,
I think after yesterday’s post, this week has a theme of “You don’t have to work so hard at people who regularly piss you off,” so thanks for this!
As far as Amy goes, you could keep avoiding invitations forever, and it’s not that you owe her an explanation, but it might be kinder to everyone if you give one. Try this as a script:
“Hey Amy, thanks for all the invites, but since you mentioned your kids don’t like playing with mine anymore, I just haven’t been very interested in getting us all together. Why force it?
Maybe the kids will bond again next year when they’re in school*, who knows? Until then, don’t worry about including us, let’s let everyone take a nice long break!
Hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that [Birthday Kid]’s party was the best time. Take care, Not Chasing”
Then I want you to make a filter so she can’t see your social media posts, and unfollow hers. Keep cheerfully declining any invitations that come your way. You told her you wanted to take a break, so, take the break!
Amy might try to tell you that she didn’t really mean it or that her kids didn’t mean it about not liking your kids, like, she may act pretty surprised that you took her words seriously. It’s okay to maintain your distance, like, “Oh, weird, you seemed really insistent about that when we talked, and it definitely made me question why you wanted to hang out all the time if they felt that way. Now that I’ve had a chance to think about it, though, little kid friendships and Mom-group friendships aren’t meant to last forever, let’s not force it! Of course, I’ll still be glad to see you & catch up at [the library storytime/swim class/parent group events/other kid’s parties/public/social things where Amy is unavoidable, etc.], no need to make it awkward on ourselves! But yeah, I think a break is the right choice for me as well as the kids. I’ll get in touch if anything changes.” Keep your tone pretty bright/neutral if you can.
I don’t think you’ll ever really get a satisfying explanation from her about what’s going on, or that she’ll agree and understand where you’re coming from, so just focus on saying your piece with as little emotional engagement and worry as possible. “Let’s take a break!” and “I don’t really want to get together, but I’ll get in touch if anything changes” are not mysterious statements (even in Europe)(Que será, será!)(C’est la vie!)(That is a joke, people).
*As much as you’re done with her, you don’t want to create a situation where your kids or her kids are the only kids in the class not invited to stuff.
Good luck! Hopefully this all blows over with a little bit of time.