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Old April 11th, 2018, 06:05 PM
blooferret blooferret is offline
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Need Friend Advice

Two years ago I responded to a Craigslist ad posted by a woman who was seeking someone to help her spend time and groom her three horses. I drove to her house and learned that she was also a member of a drill team, which she asked me to join.

We had a fantastic summer, carpooling to practices, riding, and visiting. I shared space with her in her motor home during the week of fair while the team performed. I became close with her kid granddaughter as well as her husband. I helped her with a project for her business, did some work towards a new business plan which she intended to eventually share with me, helped her move her terminally ill sister from into a nursing home, then to a new nursing home, house sat, and pitched in with whatever she asked of me.

Following that summer, I lost my job. Last year I accepted a job offer that required me to move out of town and I gave up fair and the drill team. It was hard on both of us. I ended up not enjoying the job at all and moving away only to discover I had left everything important to me behind. Before the end of the summer I quit the job and moved back and was able to spend the last few days of fair. Throughout all of this time we stayed in constant communication.

I had to move in with my family when I quit my job and came back to town. I am not very close with my family. I particularly struggle to get along with my mom, who carries a lot of baggage from her childhood. I asked my friend if I could move in with her instead while I looked for a new job and place to live. She said that she would have to discuss this with her family, but never did, and eventually confessed to me that she didn't think it would be a good idea. I said that I understood and we did not argue.

Over this last winter things became difficult. I had to deal with some emotional problems of my own (which I did manage to find help for) and since my parents had no room for me in their house, I slept outside in an old RV with no heating. During this time my friend was supportive and also allowed me to spend the night at her house during the weekends. In return I helped with chores, work around the farm, and ran the occasional errand. She also always insisted upon paying me for the work and always did no matter how often I told her it wasn't necessary.

My friend is in her sixties and I am in my twenties. She has three sons. The oldest lives in town in a house that my friend owns and rents to him. The middle son lives at home. They both have alcoholic tendencies. Her youngest son is married and lives on a house on her property with his wife and two children.

When I first began spending time with the family, her middle son (in his thirties) had a girlfriend who lived with them also. Last summer they broke up. My friend was the first to tell me and seemed really excited. From that point forward I fell under the impression that she wanted me to date her middle son. I kept a very safe distance for several months. She never directly said that she wanted me to date her son and I understand that it is unfair to assign motives to other people. We did discuss the situation after her son asked me to dinner. I approached her about it and she said somewhat jokingly that if I needed her to bless the meal, she would. I was concerned at that time about her son's drinking problem, but I was willing to believe that if he had something better to do and got out more it might go away.

I went on one dinner date and one hike with my friend's son. After that he asked me to the bar with his older brother and older brother's girlfriend. The oldest son began joking around about how I was the daughter their mother never had, how if I waited long enough she would screw me over eventually, and saying some pretty nasty things overall.

I was really upset by this. Being someone who almost never drinks, I became overly emotional after only one drink. I texted the middle son and told him that I was upset, that I wasn't interested in spending time with two grown, drunk men who wanted to sit around and blame their mother for their problems, that their mom cared about them and it wasn't fair for them to say the things they had been saying. I did not tell my friend the details of the conversation, but I did tell her that they weren't being very nice and that I felt bad about the situation.

The son responded by saying that maybe our going out wasn't a great idea, that I was his mom's friend first, and I agreed that we should just part peacefully.

Things changed. The room I had been staying in at her house was upstairs in the area that she rented to this son. She said she had to ask him if it was okay for me to continue staying nights there. He responded that he was fine with it during the days that he was not home. And after that it was just different. It felt wrong to me. Then one day my friend began this very long explanation about how all relationships are based on need, how someday I would find a guy and she and her family wouldn't be important to me anymore, and that this was okay because it is just how things work.

I got upset because my friend is the kind of person who always claims to be extraordinarily independent. She says she is not as needy as most people. I got scared that she was ditching me and I told her that not every relationship has to be based on need and also that she does need people even though she never admits the fact. She got very angry. I apologized. She said she could forgive me, but that forgetting would take longer.

Shortly afterwards my friend sent me a message saying that I was no longer allowed to speak with her about my work, by text, email, that she was not in good health, that she had too much work to catch up on, and spent way too much time talking to me. I was upset by this because I took it as a sign that our friendship was ending and I voiced some of my discomfort, but agreed to do as she asked.

Not long after that she began to tell me stories about having other mutual friends over to spend time with the horses. It hurt to hear that because to me it meant that she really did have time, but that things between us had changed. I just said I was glad she had a good time with them and let it go. In further conversations she also accused me of not really caring about horses, of only acting out of self interest, and only being interested in what she and the horses could do for me. I told her she was wrong and she said it was possible, but I could tell she didn't really think so.

She asked me to a weekend horse seminar that she had decided to participate in with her horse. She asked me to make her two clay horses to give to the presenters of the seminar and I agreed.

The seminar leaders also announced that they would be having a retreat in France this May. My friend really wanted to go. She told me she would love to sign up, but probably wouldn't be able to since her husband decided to have back surgery this year and it was very risky due to some other health conditions he has had. She would have to be home to take care of him.

I realized that I would be able to go to France and I really wanted to go also. I love horses and I love to travel. I talked it over with another friend and said that if I had to chose between my friendship and the trip to France, I would chose the friendship. This person told me that if my current friendship with this woman was worth giving up France for, then it would also survive through France. I decided to sign up, but I also decided not to tell my friend right away, given the rocky circumstances of our relationship.

The weekend seminar was amazing. It taught me a lot about how horses behave and communicate. I went to my friend's house afterwards to spend time with her and the horses. She told me that I was doing things wrong and had misunderstood what they had been teaching, that I had to move more slowly and many other things. I disagreed with her and calmly and reasonably explained why. She took great offense to this and asked me for my address so she could mail me payment for the clay horses I had made for her. I said she didn't have to pay me. I told her it was fine and to just focus on taking care of her family. She said that I was being selfish and wallowing in self-pity. I said that I simply did not want to fight.

She has said repeatedly through this recent struggle that I am not her child, that I am only a friend, that she does not want to be responsible for me in a motherly way. I accepted this, told her that is okay.

Her husband had his surgery and I counted on a mutual friend to give me updates because I was not sure that my friend would respond when I asked. She did, but it was very strained.

I eventually told her about France. She was shocked and said she was excited for me, but also jealous. I admitted that it had been difficult for me to tell her. She was upset that I hadn't told her and when I explained why she said she found it incredibly sad to find that my mind worked in such a way and that I didn't think our friendship could sustain me discussing it with her before I signed up. We continued to struggle to get along. I told her at one point that if she wanted to go to France and changed her mind later on, I would be willing to stay home and help her family and let her have my place. Her husband has also told her she can go if she wants to, but she said no. She has said she won't go and that it is fine.

I told her I wanted to ride on the team this summer, but not if we were going to be fighting the whole time. She said she was fine with me riding and wouldn't kick me off the team for personal reasons, but proposed that we take a break during the last month until practice starts. I agreed to give her space, which has been difficult for me, but I have done what she asked.

I don't know where to go from here.

Any advice, perspectives, or input on this situation is greatly welcomed.
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Old April 11th, 2018, 07:01 PM
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LucyVanPelt LucyVanPelt is offline
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Re: Need Friend Advice

Your friend is 40 years older than you, and in a different place in her life. I think she has a lot of things going in wrt you: you are old enough to be her daughter and she probably resents feeling motherly toward you. You are a younger woman who is able to accept opportunities, like going to France, that she must decline because of her husband's health. You had the chance to date her son, but decided that the drunkenness and bad-mouthing were deal-breakers, probably making her feel judged as a mother. It's like she's your mother-in-law!

All of these things stress your friendship.

You are wise to give her the space she asked. Move on with your own life. When she calls because she misses you, you can decide what to do then.
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