Q: I was friends with a lady who was my job coach. She retired at the age of 64 but said she wanted to remain friends. We spoke to each other through January. Then in February she called me and said that she was very busy with her family. In March she called me again and said she was still very busy and had no time for friends. I did not hear from her all of April, so in May I called and told her it was over. Did I end it too soon? -- Debbie, 46
Dr. Susan: Once you're an adult, being "friends" doesn't mean what it did when you were in high school. You can stay friends with someone without seeing them (or even speaking to them) for long periods of time. You may have misunderstood what your former job coach meant when she said she'd like to remain friends. Rather than say good-bye forever, which is hard to say and harder to hear, she said the gracious thing: "Let's be friends." That can mean anything from "Let's stay in touch every so often," to "Let's go out to eat together sometimes," to "Don't call me, I'll call you."
On the other hand, she may have left with the best of intentions of staying in touch, and then her retirement became much busier than she expected. There was no need for you to take it personally, or negatively, or as a sign to give up entirely. Unless she was particularly abrupt at her last call, I would have just left it "as is" and waited to see what might happen in the future. But as you've ended it, the best thing to do now is simply let it go. Make some new friends with whom you have more in common.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.