Losing touch with friends: Drama or No biggie: A deliberately controversial post

Occasionally we’ll see a blog post or forum post in which the woman (and it’s always a woman) complains that her friends have lost touch with her and that means they’re horrible selfish people.

All of our really good friendships are ones in which people go in and out with no harm no foul. People get busy, lose touch, and when we reunite it’s like we never left off, even if it’s been 10 years.

We assume the best of everybody we (temporarily) lose touch with and assume they’re assuming the same for us.  It’s just easier that way. If that’s not what’s happening, then no big loss. The only people in our lives who get to act offended and have us take that seriously if we unintentionally ignore them are our significant others, and for #1, my kids (in theory also my mom or my sister, but they’re pretty chill so I can’t imagine that ever happening). I should not be important enough to anybody else’s well-being for me being busy to cause them to take personal offense. It’s not like this is middle school or like we’re living lives of socialites with nothing better to do but create drama.

But I do know from reading the internet that there are people who take strong offense to other people losing touch with them (or not calling, or failing to answer a text right away etc. etc. etc.). Those people are far too dramatic (or, more positively, not laid back enough) to be my friends.  Which is probably best for everybody involved.

What do you think?  Should people take offense if their friends lose touch with them?  Do you?

45 Responses to “Losing touch with friends: Drama or No biggie: A deliberately controversial post”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    All of our really good friendships are ones in which people go in and out with no harm no foul. People get busy, lose touch, and when we reunite it’s like we never left off, even if it’s been 10 years.

    I feel exactly the same way. I love my friends because they are f*cken cool awesome interesting people with whom I share cool awesome interesting history and experiences, not because they satisfy some bulleshitte expectation that they pay sufficient attention to me.

  2. femmefrugality Says:

    I feel the same way. I’ve had people get really angry at me before for falling out of touch, to where it destroyed our friendships. I used to move around a lot, and keeping in touch was not an easy task. It tore me up pretty badly the first time or two. Now it’s like you said: you know the really good ones will understand and you’ll be able to catch up like no time has passed at all. There’s also some really good ones who get angry, but eventually forgive.

  3. MidA Says:

    I’m in your camp–no big deal! This is likely due to:

    a) Personality (I’m more introverted, have always had a few core friends vs a big group, and, once a bond is established, have never needed frequent contact to feel assured of a friendship).

    b) Moving schools/geographies/jobs every 3 years or so throughout my life. It is simply impossible to keep up with everyone whom I’ve considered a good friend over the course of the past 30ish years. Of course, I love to reconnect when we find ourselves in the same city again–even if just for a drink.

    I’m sure this approach bothers some, but tant pis–best we part ways so that there is less frustration for everyone.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, we have friends from high school, college, grad school — all times when we’ve all moved around for jobs, school, relationships, etc. Now we’re more at a settled stage in life, but we all understand the moving thing.

  4. gwinne Says:

    Interesting.

    I’ve lost friends in ways that felt dramatic. I’ve also lost friends due to moves and changes in life situations, and those are the ones its easier to move back into…they’re just different when you return.

    I just got back in touch with someone from the dramatic breakup…she wrote me a letter and apologized and I wrote her a letter and apologized and it’s all good.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve gotten one of those apology letters before (this year, actually), though I hadn’t realized there was a dramatic breakup (I must not have been paying attention when it happened some 10-14 years ago). *shrug* Though to be honest, I stopped being interested in seeing her again even if convenient when she put me on a bunch of mailing lists for products she was selling a few years back. Like wth. Maybe the apology letter was just more marketing?

  5. Astra Says:

    I’m with MidA. Between being introverted and having moved around a lot, I tend not to worry about holding on to friendships. There are people I wish I saw more often and when we get together we enjoy it, but in the meantime, life goes on.

  6. Debbie M Says:

    “Should people take offense if their friends lose touch with them?” Ugh, taking offense is no fun at all, so no. I’d recommend Shola’s advice (http://thepositivitysolution.com/judging-others/) to get curious rather than offended.

    It helps that I have way too many friends to properly see them all as much as I want to. (This can happen when you stay in the same place a long time!) So, having some of them disappear actually makes my life easier.

    If other people have taken offense with me, I haven’t noticed it. Social cluelessness works in my favor!

    Once my best friend quit writing me for a while (pre-internet, pre-cheap phone calls). Her life wasn’t going well and she didn’t want to write about it. I think it was embarrassing to her because she wanted to be successful. I didn’t know why at the time; I got sad rather than offended. Sad isn’t fun either, but I still prefer it. Fortunately, we ended up moving to the same town after college and got to be close again.

  7. Holly@ClubThrifty Says:

    I don’t have a ton of friends, but the friends I do have are the really awesome, life-long kind. My best friend and I often go 6 months without talking and we always pick up right where we left off. I tend to focus on friend quality and not quantity, so I have never been in a situation where someone has gotten mad at me for losing touch. I always assume people are busy when I don’t hear from them. I know these past five years have been extremely busy for us with work and kids.

  8. Tragic Sandwich Says:

    Isn’t that what Facebook is for?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Apparently that’s not enough, because I still see these complaints from time to time!

      (And I’m not on Facebook, which means I must be a truly bad friend.)

      • Tragic Sandwich Says:

        True story: one of my cousins and I were talking about friends, and I mentioned the name of one of mine who she does not know. She said, “I thought you two were like best friends–she comments on everything!”

        One of the things I like about Facebook is that it gives me a glimpse into the lives of people I might otherwise never hear from again. And while we’re not always close, I do like to be able to give an easy, “Hey, what’s up?” Facebook facilitates my laziness, is what I’m saying.

        Or it’s one of the few things that actually lets me keep in touch with people, because between work, commuting, regular parenting, and 10 hours a week of ABA (that’s just the part at home in the evenings) with Baguette, I don’t have the ability to keep in touch with people the way I did years ago. So for me it works.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        There’s people who complain if their friends don’t comment on Facebook enough (and others who complain if people post too much), so I’m not sure it’s possible to win with everyone even for those on Facebook.

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        I “win” at Facebook by not being on it at all!

      • xykademiqz Says:

        Facebook scares me. As does Twitter.

  9. Revanche Says:

    Generally no but with the caveat that even with the very long perspective, some basic reciprocity is fair. Otherwise, you’re just the port in a storm and nothing else.

    I’d like to keep in touch with good friends more but usually it’s impractical so we catch up when we can. With some friends this is very easy. Less so with others who act weirded out or offended that you presume to consider them close & care after a period when they were too busy to keep in touch. What’s up with that? There are only a couple friends who are in that vein though.

    Yet other old friends I’ve been happy to let fall by the wayside quietly as they fail to keep in touch (or respond in any way, except for personal gain) for even the big important things like deaths in the family. No need to waste time or energy trying to reel them back in.

    • Cloud Says:

      If I call or email a good friend in a time of need, I think I *would* take it a little personally if I got no response. But I reserve that for big things, like a serious illness. For the day to day, I fall in Nicoleandmaggie’s camp: if we lose touch, no biggie. I’ll be thrilled to catch up when we can.

      I also know that some people are seriously offended if they learn of big life news via social media instead of directly. I can sort of understand that, but since I’m not on Facebook, I don’t have direct experience.

      In general, I dislike drama in my life, so I will go out of my way not to make any. This is usually a good thing, but does sometimes lead to me getting taking advantage of.

      • Revanche Says:

        That’s a better way to put it. Friends who don’t respond to the big stuff (I did have a feeling about it when a “good” friend failed to say boo when Mom died.) bother me, daily stuff, I
        don’t really care. Still, even for the big stuff now, I just nod and wash my hands of it.

  10. Chelsea Says:

    I’ve never been upset by not hearing from a friend for awhile and I don’t *think* anyone has ever been upset with me for that reason. In fact, I don’t really expect to hear from people I don’t see on a daily basis, and think of it more as a treat when I do or have a reason to reach out. Even though there are a number of irritating things about Facebook (my husband’s aunts are #s 1 and 2), it is really nice to be able to just glance and see what people are up to, and it makes it really easy to get in touch with someone or make a quick acknowledgement of something going on in that person’s life.

  11. chacha1 Says:

    I like Facebook as a way to keep “in touch” on a very trivial level with a broad set of people in various orbits (some being a good deal closer than others). I have used it to announce a life event of significance *solely* for the purpose of informing friends in that network so that they could then, in turn, if they so chose, contact my husband (he’s not on FB. This was about his father’s recent death).

    If there were a life event only of personal significance, e.g. if I found out I had cancer or something, I would not announce it on FB. That sort of “friend” is not, in the main, the sort of friend who needs to know. I am not going to be asking The World for help. I am an introvert and if I were ever seriously ill I would want to crawl into my cave and be left alone, not have to expend my energy on interacting with The World when I know good and damned well that The World cannot and will not deliver the care I would need. That’s what home health aides are for.

    I have disconnected and reconnected with certain friends at intervals, repeatedly in some cases, which I find not at all remarkable given that I am nearly 50 years old and live hundreds or thousands of miles away from some of these people. We all have our own lives. I send occasional cards just to let people know I am thinking of them, but I don’t schedule my life around waiting for a reply, nor do I take it personally if someone’s personal sh*t is taking up their attention.

    People who “take offense” are generally looking for any excuse to do so.

  12. oilandgarlic Says:

    I know someone who gets offended or at least sad/hurt if a friend doesn’t call for her birthday. Texting/email and facebook doesn’t count. I know very social people who ALWAYS remember to contact friends/family for their birthdays. I assume they take some offense if that is not reciprocated. For me, I try to consider a friend’s feelings, especially for those super social ones, but the only people who stay friends for long are those who understand that I’m pretty introverted, bad with birthdays and super busy with young kids, BUT that I am still a true friend and will be there for them in times of need (and fun). I do reach out every so often to set up events/get-togethers so it’s not that one-sided.

  13. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I have had friendship breakups but they were with dramatic people and things got way easier without them. They weren’t over keeping in touch either.
    I don’t take offense at losing touch with people. It happens. I do have a group of friends like yours– we can go months, years, without seeing each other and then we get together and it’s like Why did we stop doing this? I’m the one in the group people expect to bring them together too. Not sure why really but it’s been like that forever and a day. I don’t mind, I like it. Sometimes though I just shut down and need a vacation from everyone.
    I think sometimes there are friendships/relationships that sprout up because of necessity (close quarters for instance) but they really just don’t make sense. Some people try and force those friendships and that’s when things go bad. I’m not a pusher in that way. I like to live and let live. If we keep in touch, cool; if not, it’s all good too. I ain’t mad!

  14. Linda Says:

    Interesting timing on this post. I have a friend that I would say I’m close with who has sort of dropped out of site for the past two months. She’s not in touch with another close mutual friend, either. I’m not really upset by this, other than that it is a) distressing our mutual friend who feels that all her friends are melting away (I’m moving away soon, and this other friend moved away a few years ago, and yet another friend moved recently, too), and; b) out-of-touch friend was having some odd health things that she mentioned may turn out to be fairly serious. I just sent this friend another message yesterday asking her to please tell us if she is OK: just that, nothing more. So far, no response. :-(

    In general, though, I don’t make a fuss if this happens. I know that good friends tend to be there when you need them, and I try to do the same. I think the people who get all huffy about this are just into drama or perhaps want blog/social media fodder. As Mutant Supermodel said, life is easier without them!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Worrying about someone who has disappeared is definitely different than getting angry about them disappearing! Sometimes when #2 disappears for a few days I have to remind myself that her partner would let people know if she had gotten hit by a car.

      Hope your friend is ok!

  15. Leah Says:

    I had a friend who dropped me because I wouldn’t call/see her every day. I was moving out of town (6 months from then or more . . .), and she just couldn’t handle it. She was really co-dependent.

    In short, I’m in your camp. My only caveat is that I do get miffed if, say, I try to drop someone a line on facebook/email/in person more than once and get completely ignored. But by miffed, I mean that I shrug my shoulders and move on with life and usually don’t try to contact that person again.

  16. cheriarmour Says:

    I certainly don’t expect me and my friends to have sleepovers every day, but I try to drop my good friends a call once in a while, and I definitely get pissed when I get nothing back.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We couldn’t be friends. Fortunately there isn’t a danger of that, and we’re both better off without that relationship.

      • cheriarmour Says:

        I just work hard at my friendships so it kind of hurts my feelings if I call or email and get nothing back. A hey, how are you? Especially when life gets tough (my grandmother died and my mom had a stroke last year) a hey goes a long way.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Yeah, it won’t work out with us. We prefer less pressure.

        We are sorry to hear about your loss and your mom’s stroke. We hope your mom is doing better.

      • cheriarmour Says:

        Much better. I moved home for a little while and took care of her and then she and my dad moved to a much much smaller apartment. It has done WONDERS for her. She lost like a million pounds and is feeling much much better!

      • Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

        One of my oldest, dearest friends just simply doesn’t return e-mails or phone calls. I don’t let it interfere with our friendship, and when I see him once every couple of years, it’s joyously fantastic. How stupid would it be for me to lose out on that occasional joy out of pique over his non-responsiveness?

      • xykademiqz Says:

        One of my oldest, dearest friends just simply doesn’t return e-mails or phone calls.

        Hm. I guess people are different. If it were me, I would consider such behavior a cue that he wants me to leave him alone and not contact him again.

  17. hush Says:

    Like y’all, I’ve been extremely fortunate in the friend department, and I’m really grateful for that. But I’ve worked at it, too. I’m at a point now where I’m bringing my best self to my friendships most of the time, and I’ve never been permanently rejected by a friend (yet – lol). So this is perhaps easy for me to say but no, nobody should be “offended” when a friend does the slow fade on them or even actively friend-dumps them — though it’s healthy to maybe feel sad about it for awhile, because I’m sure it can certainly feel like a loss.

    I think folks on the receiving end of a friend breakup should be gentle with themselves, take a break from the internets, take some long walks, and learn to take it as yet another piece of valuable feedback that they probably need to start choosing to see these relationships a bit differently – and start using their words more, usually.

    She’s gotten too busy? Instead of taking it personally, maybe she’d like you to show up and help (extroverts). Or give her acres of space (introverts).

    She always forgets? Ask for what you want, preferably ahead of time. “My birthday is next Monday, I’m also having surgery on Thursday, I’d love it if would text me please.” And quickly forgive and forget if she doesn’t do it. Then lower your expectations next time. I bet having low expectations of others is highly correlated with overall happiness.

    She keeps making bad decisions? (or “I wish she would do it the way I do it”). Listen without judging. There are very few times IRL we truly need to weigh in on someone else’s life choices. Though it can be irresistible.

    You’re right: being able to pick up right where you left off is one of the best indicators of a healthy friendship. There is an ebb and flow to most healthy friendships.

    • Perpetua Says:

      I got dumped by a friend a couple of years ago, and it was definitely painful, especially because I was going through a really hard time and she was my closest friend. And I was angry too, because I was dumped (which is different than a friendship fading out over time). But I also got over it without drama, and I agree with you and CPP – if she got back in touch now, I would gladly have dinner, hang out, resume the friendship. You’re so right about the ebb and flow, but the key to building long term successful friendships is accepting people for who they are, in all their imperfections (and hope they will in term accept yours).

      You know what does annoy me, though? When I call or write and invite someone to something and they never get back. I’ve noticed more and more that instead of calling or writing back and saying, No sorry, I can’t! people just delete the voicemail and never get back, so you sit around for a while wondering, will they call? I wish folks would just say, No, sorry, I can’t! The art of saying no. But whatever, it’s a pet peeve, not something I’m in a state of rage over, and now that I know certain folks do that, I move on more quickly.

      • Sandyl FirstgenAmerican Says:

        Some people get over 100 emails/day through work. I am one of them. Sometimes I have read the note and want to write something meaningful back instead of a one word answer…then forget because the email gets pushed off the page and I’m overwhelmed with other tasks that take priority to the social stuff.

        I way get too many emails. You can’t assume email is an effective communication tool for all people. Some people are better at texting, some are better at talking live, some like email..some people don’t check their personal email for months at a time. You can’t assume someone is being rude just because they use a different tool as their primary form of communication.

        I am honestly struggling with the millennial generation because many of them will not talk as their primary means of communication, and I’m most effective at giving answers/advice/etc verbally. It annoys me when I ask someone to call me and they email me instead..because then I have to remember to respond to that email and it’s another thing on my to do list, and half the time I wake up at night and remember…darn, I forgot to respond to that email and I have to remember to do it tomorrow. Its complicated and it clutters my life.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I sometimes mean to respond to a friend’s email and it gets buried, or I get interrupted while responding and it ends up in drafts and I think I’ve sent it but I haven’t. I used to feel embarrassed when I came across the email ages later, unresponded to, and would just delete it out of embarrassment, but now I go ahead and send it with the apology.

  18. First Gen American Says:

    Good, interesting and awesome people are sometimes bad communicators. Once you realize that, it’s easy to not take it personally.

    I only get annoyed when a “friend” only calls when they need something but you don’t hear from them any other time. Random getting back in touch emails and/or phone calls from true friends are always welcome.

  19. xykademiqz Says:

    I don’t begrudge people if we drift away. I have some friends from high school and college whom I literally don’t see for years at a time, and when we do meet it’s like we never parted, because we know each other really deeply. But with most of the friends I met as an adult the connection is much weaker, superficial, so I don’t expect much to begin with.

    I do, however, try to keep in touch, call or email periodically to say ‘hi!’, congratulate birthdays etc. And I do pay attention to some reciprocity. If I am the one who called you the last however many times but you never seem to remember to call me, I will take it as a sign we are done and will stop calling, because it seems like I am bothering you and I don’t want to bother people. Sometimes the other person does realize we lost touch and takes the initiative, sometimes not. C’est la vie.

  20. omdg Says:

    It’s only a big deal because sometimes I miss seeing my old friends and the fun things we used to do together! I don’t think any of us make any drama out of it though. I wish we could catch up more often, but life moves on.

  21. Mr. Frugalwoods Says:

    I definitely don’t take offense! Life is a many branched path. We weave in and out of other people’s lives, that’s just the way it is. I also love reuniting with old friends. Facebook has made this a lot easier. When I’m in a random city for business, I’ll often look up who I know on facebook who lives in that city. Sometimes we haven’t spoken in 15 years… but it’s still fun to catch up over lunch!


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