Suppose a friendship or relationship ends. You feel guilty for getting rid of this person, so you are trying to save the friendship. Don’t bother. I used to do this all the time. It is a complete waste of time, as generally when friendships or relationships fall apart there is not much sense in putting them back together. If you get back with them, they will just keep on doing the same stuff that was driving you crazy about them before.
I have had some friends, who, for some reason or another which I could never figure out, never seemed like they really liked me. I mean, yes, they could be very friendly and sometimes they seemed like my best friends. But that wasn’t all the time. And I always felt that deep down inside, they didn’t really like me very much. Maybe they did not respect me. I have no idea. I kept getting back with these people, and they never did come around to truly liking me or respecting me. If it seemed like they never truly liked me or respected me before, then that was the case now too also.
Patching up friendships or relationships never seems to work. Sometimes you can get back together with a girlfriend you broke up with, but this second time around, the relationship will be even shorter than the original one. And if you get back with her a third time, then this time, it will be even shorter than the time before that.
It’s like the relationship is slowly dying every time you have these huge breakups and when you get back together it is like the relationship is damaged somehow and each time you break up, the core relationship suffers some sort of core damage that lingers. So each time you break up, the relationship gets more and more damaged. So you are tying to put back together a relationship that is getting more and more damaged every time. The first time you get back together, you are already putting back together something that is inherently weaker than it was to start with.
So think of each breakup as a heart attack, and yes, the symbolism is nice, isn’t it? Broken heart, heart attack: perfect. After your first heart attack, you don’t go back to normal. Afterwards your heart has been permanently damaged by that heart attack and there is no way to fix the damage. With each subsequent heart attack, your heart gets more and more damaged. So Dick Cheney with his four or five heart attacks must have a pretty messed up heart by now.
Putting friendships back together seems even less likely because friendships are less deep and powerful structures than relationships. It’s easy to let go of something that was not that deep to start with as you did not have a whole lot there to start with. A relationship often has a deeper and more powerful structure to it, so ending it is often quite painful, more so than a friendship ending. Because is it so much more painful and because it was so much stronger in the first place, people often want to put it together to end their pain of the breakup or to try to recapture that strong, powerful feeling they lost.
If you have lost a lot of friends over time, I would not feel bad about that. It doesn’t matter why they left. In my case, I more or less fell apart emotionally over several years and during that time, just about all of my friends slowly abandoned me. The few who stuck around treated me like crap but I kept coming around anyway because muh “I need friends!” and muh “I can’t have no friends! Then I will be a loser!”
On the other hand, trust me, it’s better to be alone than to wish you were. I honestly do not mind that any of these people are gone since the last time I was dealing with them, they were treating me pretty badly. If your last interaction with someone was lousy, you often to do not want to have an interaction with that person anymore because you think the next time you see them is going to be just like the last time you saw them. And you are usually right.
One thing I would recommend if you are not resentful of a person (and it’s better to be more forgiving and less resentful and resentment seldom does anyone much good) is to do what I call “leaving the door open.” That means you are not going to make any efforts to contact this person ever again, but “the door is open” if they really wish to get back in touch with you.
In other words, to rekindle the friendship, they have to actually come to you and by doing so, sort of beg you to come back. I would not worry about this too much as 95% of your ex-friends will not make any effort to get back in touch with you. But “the door ought to be open” for some if not most of your ex-friends. Now there are some people who are just hopeless. There was one guy described above where I always got a deep feeling that he never really liked me all that much. At one point after I had gotten back being friends with him, he even laughed and admitted it to me. He said, “You know what? I never really liked you all that much. I always thought you were kind of a geek.” Which is of course what I had always respected all along.
How can you tell if your friends really like you or if they deep down inside, don’t like or respect you very much? There is no way to tell except that you need to learn to be very good at social skills, including reading people. I can read people like books, but I have been studying and practicing over for decades. The answer is that you can just tell.
If someone truly likes and respects you deep down inside, you can tell. You can read it on them. And if someone never really liked or respected you, you can pretty much tell that, though it might take some time, like month, to figure that out. Once you figure it out and if you are a good people reader, the chance that you were wrong is low. And even if you are wrong, it doesn’t matter. Even if this person really likes you but it feels like they don’t, what’s the point of someone who gives off vibes of not liking you very much, whether those vibes are true or not? There is none. It doesn’t matter why someone makes you feel lousy. If they make you feel lousy for any reason on Earth, you need to get away from them.
I would add one caveat. If you leave the door open, there should be some basic rules, which are pretty hardline. The door is open, but open if they treat you with complete respect and decency. They have to be friendly and nice and they have to like you and respect you. I am not sure how to give off those vibes, but I gave off vibes like that to an old friend, he picked up on it, and he’s been very nice ever since.