Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

It May Be Too Late to Save Friendship

DEAR HARRIETTE: There is someone who I used to be really close friends with -- to the point where I considered her more like a sister than a friend. We haven't spoken to each other since her birthday (near Thanksgiving) last year.

She threw herself a birthday party the night before Thanksgiving, which happened to be the night that my entire family drove up for the Thanksgiving dinner that I was hosting. I was planning on attending her party for a couple of hours to show face and support her. I tried to call and let her know that I would be running late due to my work schedule, but rather than listening, she hung up on me without letting me get a word in. Naturally, after being treated so badly, I second-guessed going at all. After an internal struggle, I decided not to go.

I called the next day to wish her a happy birthday, and the response that I got was unexpected. She said some of the most disrespectful, foul and unnecessary things -- things that I wouldn't even say to an enemy. And she ended the conversation with, "I don't want this friendship. I don't need this friendship." That was almost a year ago.

She tried calling me this summer to apologize. At this point I can forgive, but the damage has been done, and I don't know that I will ever look at her the same way. My family thinks that I should try to resolve things and reach out to her since she has extended an olive branch, but I'm not really interested in inviting the dramatics back into my circle. As a sign of forgiveness, I am considering wishing her a happy birthday via text. Should I reach out or leave things as they are? -- On the Fence, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR ON THE FENCE: Before you reach out to her, decide what outcome you would like. It is smart to forgive her, as holding onto a grudge hurts you more than anyone else. You might even want to have a conversation with her to hear her out and let her hear you out. Doing so does not mean you will rekindle your friendship. What it can do is help you both understand where you were and where you are now. If you are ready for such a communication, send her a birthday message. If you do not want to open this door again, do nothing right now.

If you find yourself thinking about this friend, go ahead and reach out to her. Some relationships require closure -- or at least clarity -- in order for people to be free of them. When you do not drum up the courage to face a challenging relationship, it can fester in your soul. Then, even when you do not mean to harbor bad feelings, you might be doing that, something that is unhealthy in every possible way you can imagine.