A Letter From an Old Former Friend

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A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by eselle28 on Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:49 am

Actually, since this is 2015, it was a long Facebook message.

So, backstory: I was friends with "Melissa" for several years, starting about a decade ago. We were part of a group, had similar (mostly gripey!) feelings about other group members, and enjoyed some of the same things. We started hanging out together, which generally meant going out with me picking up a couple of her drinks (because she was chronically unemployed despite being very well-educated) and then her sleeping over on my sofa (because she - and me too - used public transportation to get around and it was slow as fuck and mildly creepy late at night). We also hung out with some other people in the group, most of whom were my age and treated Melissa, who was 4 or 5 years younger than most of us, as a little sister.

This worked fine for several years. Then I got laid off, and well, things didn't really change. Well, I guess some things changed. I got a little tired of Melissa talking constantly about guys she'd been on one or two dates with months or years ago, and I was worried that she'd sometimes make big decisions that she thought were likely to please guys she'd just met. At some point, I started wishing she'd get a job or go back to school or think about something else and definitely talk about something else. I started telling her this, or that her self-identified problem of not being able to find a boyfriend would improve if she worked on other areas of her life. I was harsh. I nagged. I brought it up when it wasn't appropriate. I was definitely the jerk about this, at least. I was also messier myself and wasn't up to being a support person. I think she tried to be a support person for me, but she really didn't focus on anything but dating and it just wasn't helpful. I was also drinking too much during this period, and I suspect my friend was too. Anyway, we had a very nasty fight that was on the internet and viewed by basically all our shared friends about my having a going away party (because I was broke and unemployed and getting divorced and needed to start picking from among suboptimal options, which meant going somewhere else was the best choice) and her being upset and sad because there was a party going on that she couldn't attend because she'd moved out of state, and my being annoyed that she was making it about her.

Uh, wow. So, yeah. I meant to make that short and undescriptive, but I guess there it is. Anyway, I haven't talked to her in like 6 years. I defriended when our friendship ended. She's made a couple of friend requests, which I've basically ignored. Her most recent message is really nice and positive and many paragraphs long. She's apparently decided to go back to school. It's a program that sounds like a great fit for her. Her message was mostly about that. She asked what I was up to.

So, questions:

1. Should I write her back at all? I sincerely desire to wish her well at her master's program. I also don't really want to have a relationship with her again. I suspect she's rather different than she was when I knew her - I know I am - but it seems fraught and likely to be unrewarding given distance and just sort of like a pain.

2. If I write her back, does anyone have some scripts for congratulation that are't mean but don't imply closeness, either?

3. My life is, as always, up and down. I recently had a significant career setback. If I ought to write back to her, is it okay to not be like all shiny and braggy but also not to tell every detail? I kind of don't want to get into this sort of shit with her.
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Re: A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by BasedBuzzed on Sun Sep 27, 2015 8:07 am

Can you bring her up with a mutual friend and ask her if she's really changed/spy on her FB to see if she's perhaps wallpapering over her earlier personality?

Scripts that focus on her choice of master seem like a good thing. "Degree X? Sounds interesting/good choice, since it has a wide range of applicable skills/that's really cool, you get to study Y in detail". I myself am (neutral summary of life that turns the negatives into opportunities, and turns the positives as boring as possible)-half a sentence for dating, next job, hobby, living situation. No follow-up questions.

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Re: A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by readertorider on Sun Sep 27, 2015 9:14 am

If you do want to congratulate her I'd say go for it. My guess is that she'll also see the distance as a barrier to continued friendship, but it's nice to know that someone from your past (especially someone who you had good times but a terrible ending with) has benign feelings towards you.

Personally I wrote (and received) several actual letters and some facebook messages in the summer of graduation when everyone scattered. They weren't really meant to start a conversation, but more of a flavor of "I saw this and thought of you" or "I don't think we'll see eachother again, but I wanted you to know...". I don't know if Melissa intends to restart a relationship, but it's hard for me to keep in contact even when all parties want a relationship and long messages are kind of a way of saying everything you want to say in one go and then being done.

Agree with BasedBuzzed that keeping things very general about your own life is probably a very good way to go if you don't want more communication. Not including any questions about her life/major/program also obviously discourages responses. I think the combination of minimal detail about yourself and no questions seems like it will discourage more than a perfunctory reply even if you do send a very familiar congratulations.
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Re: A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by reboot on Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:26 am

I do not use FB, so I am not sure how weighty a reply might be or how much of a desire for a renewed connection it might imply, so no advice there.

If you decide to reply my go to would be, "It is good to hear you found a master's program that suits you". For what you are doing now, "Work is work", " Work is what it is" and then say what you are doing, not how the career is going. Remember not to ask any questions and keep it short if you want to keep this relationship an unrelationship.
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Re: A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by Caffeinated on Sun Sep 27, 2015 1:10 pm

I would lean heavily against replying unless you change your mind about renewing the friendship.

If you really do want to reply but don't want to renew the friendship, I'd lean toward something like "That sounds like a great program. Congrats!" and ignore the rest.
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Re: A Letter From an Old Former Friend

Post by eselle28 on Sun Sep 27, 2015 2:05 pm

Thanks, guys, I knew Nerd Lounge folks would have good advice when it comes to this! Asking mutual friends about her is probably not a feasible option. The larger group splintered when the recession hit, and the couple of people who we both talk to are purposefully neutral about all of this and would not appreciate being asked. It also kind of doesn't matter whether she's changed now that I've thought about it. I just don't really have any urge to revive the friendship.

I think I'll probably respond. I'll make sure to keep it short and generalized, and I can definitely make my answer as to what I'm doing now brief and purposefully boring. No question is a good suggestion as well. She's pretty good at emotional nuance, so I think if I keep it fairly chilly she'll get the message that I'm not interested in having an ongoing conversation.
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