Why Did My Friend Hurt Me?
“Kerry was my very good friend. I picked her up after work each day, since she didn’t have a car. Soon, though, I began to feel that she was taking advantage of me.
“She would get into the car busily talking or text-messaging on her cell phone. She never said thank you for the rides, and she stopped contributing for gas. And her conversation was negative. I became furious with myself for putting up with her for so long!
“One day I kindly explained to Kerry that I wouldn’t be able to pick her up after work anymore. Since then, she hasn’t sought out my company—which convinces me all the more that she only valued my friendship for what she could get out of me. And it really hurts!”—Nicole.
IT CAN happen to the best of friends. One day the two are inseparable; the next day they aren’t even talking to each other. How does a sweet friendship turn sour so fast?
● For Jeremy, everything seemed to change when a good friend moved about a thousand miles away. “After he moved, he never called,” Jeremy says, “and that really hurt me.”
● Kerrin started noticing a personality change in her best friend of five years. “Her attitude and speech really worried me,” Kerrin says. “She became negative and cynical about things that were important to me. When we tried to talk it out, she accused me of being self-righteous and disloyal and said that our friendship wasn’t healthy for her!”
● For Gloria, the end of a close friendship came without warning or explanation. “At first, we hit it off great,” Gloria says, “and she told me that I was like a sister to her. Then, out of nowhere, she stopped doing things with me, and she’d make up really lame excuses.”
● The trouble between Laura and Daria began when Daria stole Laura’s boyfriend. “She would talk with him on the phone for hours, even though he and I were dating,” Laura says. “I was betrayed by my best friend and lost a potential marriage mate—both at the same time!”
What Went Wrong?
Everyone makes mistakes. So it’s only to be expected that sooner or later a friend will do or say something that hurts you. To be honest, you may recall a few times when you have hurt others. (Ecclesiastes 7:22) “We’re all imperfect, and we’re going to rub one another the wrong way once in a while,” says a girl named Lisa. Usually a rift that’s caused by a minor misunderstanding can be cleared up with a brief conversation.
In other cases, though, a rift in a friendship isn’t the result of a single event but is caused by a gradual realization that the two of you aren’t as similar as you once thought. Remember, as you grow, your interests change—and so do those of your friend. What can you do when you sense that you and a friend are drifting apart?
How to Mend a Friendship
Have you ever torn one of your favorite articles of clothing? What did you do? Throw it away? or repair it? No doubt, much depended on the extent of the damage and how much you valued the garment. If you really loved that article of clothing, you probably looked for ways to repair it. In many cases, the same is possible with a damaged friendship. Much depends on what has happened and how much you value the relationship.*
For instance, if you’ve been the victim of some unkind word or deed, you may be able to cover over the problem by following the advice of Psalm 4:4: “Have your say in your heart, upon your bed, and keep silent.” So before throwing away the friendship, think carefully. Was the act intentional? If you can’t be sure, why not give your friend the benefit of the doubt? In many cases you can let ‘love cover a multitude of sins.’—1 Peter 4:8.
You might also examine whether you contributed to the problem. For example, if a friend betrays a confidence, could it be that it was unwise on your part to burden your friend with the information in the first place? Another question you could consider is whether you set yourself up as a target for ridicule—perhaps by excessive or foolish talking. (Proverbs 15:2) If so, ask yourself, ‘Do I need to make changes so that my friend will respect me more?’
“Can We Talk About What Happened?”
What, though, if you feel that you cannot simply dismiss the matter? In that case it might be best to approach your friend. But be careful not to do so when you’re angry. The Bible states: “An enraged man stirs up contention, but one that is slow to anger quiets down quarreling.” (Proverbs 15:18) So wait until you’ve cooled down before you attempt to resolve the situation.
When you do approach your friend, remember that your objective isn’t to “return evil for evil.” (Romans 12:17) Rather, your goal is to settle matters and restore the friendship. (Psalm 34:14) So speak from the heart. You could say, “We’ve been friends for some time. Can we talk about what happened?” Once you know the cause of the problem, it may be easier to mend the friendship. Even if your friend is unresponsive, you can find comfort in the fact that you have tried to restore peace.
In the end, be assured that although “there exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces,” there’s also “a friend sticking closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Granted, even the best of friendships may undergo occasional strain. When that happens, do whatever you can to mend the relationship. Really, being willing to patch up differences is evidence that you’re becoming a mature adult.
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 1, CHAPTER 8
Some of your peers may spend hours chatting on the Internet. What’s the attraction?
“If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.”—Romans 12:18.
Before jumping to conclusions, get your friend’s side of the story.—Proverbs 18:13.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
People in healthy relationships give each other a measure of space. (Proverbs 25:17) In contrast, becoming overly possessive of a friend’s time and attention can smother a relationship.
If I need to approach a friend about a hurt that he or she has caused, I could start by saying ․․․․․
Even when upset at what a friend has done, I will seek to maintain peace by ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why do friends sometimes drift apart?
● What type of offenses might you be able to resolve in your heart, and what type of offenses would you need to talk over with the friend who hurt you?
● What beneficial lessons can you learn from going through the experience of being hurt by a friend?
● What precautions can you take in order to reduce the chances of being hurt by a friend?
[Blurb on page 95]
“If I had it all to do again, I would not have expected perfection from our friendship. I would have listened more and supported him and not magnified his flaws. I understand now that what makes a successful friendship is working through the tests and challenges.”—Keenon
[Picture on page 94]
A rift in a friendship is like a tear in a garment—but both can be mended