Issues with ending a friendship

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Johnny Dangerous
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Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:51 pm

So I ended a friendship recently, not the closest friend, but we had some in depth conversations and such over a period of a couple years. I usually let other people decide whether or not to be friends with me and make a point of never cutting people off, but in this case I couldn't take it.

I'm left feeling like there's some lesson I might be missing from it. Basically this person needs constant validation and has a tendency to turn against his friends when that constant validation wanes at all. He also expects the other person to be solely responsible for all communication, which is what created the conflict that ended things. It ended up with him listing off this litany of everything that is terrible about me. We have shared interests, including Dharma, and it turns out that the whole time he was just simmering over disagreements we've had around our interests, and he believed our disagreements indicated character flaws only in me, rather than simply being disagreements.

Of course, none of this actually came up at the time, he just sort of saved up all his complaints about me to use as a weapon once he was sufficiently upset with me. I've tried to sift through some of the criticism to identify where he might have a point, so that this incident is fodder for becoming a better friend in the future for others. Other than that, what is the spiritually productive way to approach this kind of situation?
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Malcolm » Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:59 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:51 pm
Other than that, what is the spiritually productive way to approach this kind of situation?
As Shantideva says, one should avoid being intimate with childish people. Be polite, but disengage.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Virgo » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:01 pm

If there isn't enough compatability relationships simply won't work. In this case, he simply is not compatible with most people, or just not compatible with you. This relationship was probably never going to work. Be well.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Thundering Cloud » Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:51 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:51 pm
So I ended a friendship recently, not the closest friend, but we had some in depth conversations and such over a period of a couple years. I usually let other people decide whether or not to be friends with me and make a point of never cutting people off, but in this case I couldn't take it.

I'm left feeling like there's some lesson I might be missing from it. Basically this person needs constant validation and has a tendency to turn against his friends when that constant validation wanes at all. He also expects the other person to be solely responsible for all communication, which is what created the conflict that ended things. It ended up with him listing off this litany of everything that is terrible about me. We have shared interests, including Dharma, and it turns out that the whole time he was just simmering over disagreements we've had around our interests, and he believed our disagreements indicated character flaws only in me, rather than simply being disagreements.

Of course, none of this actually came up at the time, he just sort of saved up all his complaints about me to use as a weapon once he was sufficiently upset with me. I've tried to sift through some of the criticism to identify where he might have a point, so that this incident is fodder for becoming a better friend in the future for others. Other than that, what is the spiritually productive way to approach this kind of situation?
While I'm not a psychologist, your (former?) friend sounds as if he may suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder to some extent. Common features are a chronic need for validation, and a tendency to view others in somewhat polarized terms as either good or bad (called "splitting"), unstable and "stormy" relationships, etc. One day you may be on a pedestal and the next you're a total reject.

I'm not sure if it is possible to always stay in the good graces of such a person, but I can understand their suffering and do what I can to help them feel more self-assured before things fall apart. I'm actually not very skilled at self-assurance myself however, so my ability to help is rather limited. :(

My condolences though… losing friends always hurts.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Dan74 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:02 pm

Look at two things - your intention and your communication skills. Inexhaustible source of insight in these two and really worthwhile for ours and everyone else's sakes, IME.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Jan 22, 2020 10:21 pm

Thundering Cloud wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 7:51 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:51 pm
So I ended a friendship recently, not the closest friend, but we had some in depth conversations and such over a period of a couple years. I usually let other people decide whether or not to be friends with me and make a point of never cutting people off, but in this case I couldn't take it.

I'm left feeling like there's some lesson I might be missing from it. Basically this person needs constant validation and has a tendency to turn against his friends when that constant validation wanes at all. He also expects the other person to be solely responsible for all communication, which is what created the conflict that ended things. It ended up with him listing off this litany of everything that is terrible about me. We have shared interests, including Dharma, and it turns out that the whole time he was just simmering over disagreements we've had around our interests, and he believed our disagreements indicated character flaws only in me, rather than simply being disagreements.

Of course, none of this actually came up at the time, he just sort of saved up all his complaints about me to use as a weapon once he was sufficiently upset with me. I've tried to sift through some of the criticism to identify where he might have a point, so that this incident is fodder for becoming a better friend in the future for others. Other than that, what is the spiritually productive way to approach this kind of situation?
While I'm not a psychologist, your (former?) friend sounds as if he may suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder to some extent. Common features are a chronic need for validation, and a tendency to view others in somewhat polarized terms as either good or bad (called "splitting"), unstable and "stormy" relationships, etc. One day you may be on a pedestal and the next you're a total reject.

I'm not sure if it is possible to always stay in the good graces of such a person, but I can understand their suffering and do what I can to help them feel more self-assured before things fall apart. I'm actually not very skilled at self-assurance myself however, so my ability to help is rather limited. :(

My condolences though… losing friends always hurts.
I'm not a psychologist either, but have bare-bones mental health training from school, and it's definitely classic BPD type stuff, you hit the nail on the head. I guess I'm just feeling like "I should have been able to do something differently", but maybe I couldn't, and this is simply for the best. He definitely wouldn't acknowledge that any of this comes from him - the problems are solely due to my personality, others personalities, etc. according to him, so it's not like there's room for dialogue, and I can only take so many insults.
My condolences though… losing friends always hurts.


It does. I just want to hopefully come away with the ability to not make decisions that would lead to this kind of thing again, it might be that the best case scenario is not to initiate such friendships in the first place, IDK. So much of that kind of thing is karmic on a level that I can't see though, which is one of the reasons I normally try to have an "open door policy" and not end friendships...


Thanks for the advice all.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by 明安 Myoan » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:47 am

Hi, JD.
I'm sorry to hear about this.

Malcolm's advice is basically what I had to do in a similar situation.

There's a point where two people stop having a mind of goodwill towards each other.
In my case, I grew permissive of irritation and a lack of affection for this person, and we started to mistreat each other.
Their anger was justified:
The Wheel of Sharp Weapons wrote:23. When others find fault with whatever we are doing
And people seem eager to blame only us,
This is the wheel of sharp weapons returning
Full circle upon us from wrongs we have done.
‘Till now we have been shameless, not cared about others,
We have thought that our deeds did not matter at all;
Hereafter let’s stop our offensive behavior.
source

As far as what you can draw from the experience,
it seems like you have the right approach already :smile:
I learned that impatience is close to anger.
I learned that unpleasant interactions all too easily confuse my vision of someone as a sentient being.
And with a faulty view like that, all kinds of wrongs are possible.

One good thing to come out of it was reconsidering what kinds of interactions I should pursue with others.
Zhu Hong wrote:Making widespread connections with deluded friends is not as good as preserving one's purity alone and practicing buddha-remembrance.
source
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

Reciting the nembutsu and believing in birth in the Pure Land naturally give rise to the Three Minds and the Four Modes of Practice. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by muni » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:31 am

I am sorry to hear this. Hope you are well.

Some fellows are lacking confidence and need another to comfirm they are ok ( or more than ok), again and again. ( yes border line possible) And when that is not always done, they are disappointed and react with blaming others, so you. That is so exhausting. It is like a hollow cup which is never filled, needing confirmation, attention.
Not sure it is exactly like this but could be a variety of this problem.

At time of death, there will be nobody to blame, when the own collected dust so to speak, is all what is present. Therefore I hope he continues to study, contemplate, meditate and gets good compassionate guidance.
The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set out within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way. Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Ayu » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:29 pm

Hey JD,

I had a similar problem with a very close friend though. Already some years ago now. It is still nagging me from time to time.
My son suffered same kind of friendship. We were talking a lot about this phenomenon and identified the cause not only in borderline disorder but in normal narcism that went out of track.

Because it's very sad I thought it over every now and then. It was a big lesson for me to realize that some situations can't be solved. Not by metta, not by patience. Sometimes shit simply runs it's course.
For the benefit and ease of all sentient beings. :heart:

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Simon E. » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:33 pm

Ayu wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:29 pm
Hey JD,

I had a similar problem with a very close friend though. Already some years ago now. It is still nagging me from time to time.
My son suffered same kind of friendship. We were talking a lot about this phenomenon and identified the cause not only in borderline disorder but in normal narcism that went out of track.

Because it's very sad I thought it over every now and then. It was a big lesson for me to realize that some situations can't be solved. Not by metta, not by patience. Sometimes shit simply runs it's course.
This... :thumbsup:
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Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:35 pm

Ayu wrote:
Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:29 pm


Because it's very sad I thought it over every now and then. It was a big lesson for me to realize that some situations can't be solved. Not by metta, not by patience. Sometimes shit simply runs it's course.
Yeah, thanks Ayu. I'm beginning to think this sums it up, trying to look at it (among other things) as a lesson in impermanence.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by tkp67 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:20 am

Sounds like you are reticent because perhaps you see you could benefit them? Rhetorically speaking does setting boundaries require such finality?

I have a few friends for whom I am someone they reach out to for emotional support. Cumbersome at times and not very reciprocal in nature but I do what I can when it causes me no harm to do so. I sometimes see seeds of reason blossom into better things.

It often teaches me about myself in that I see my past self in them and identify challenges I struggled through already. It often reminds me how much I have accomplished as far as freeing myself from unnecessary suffering.

I try to remind myself of my debt to all buddhas when it comes to making compassionate decisions.

Just some alternative food for thought.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by emaho » Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:29 pm

tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:20 am
Rhetorically speaking does setting boundaries require such finality?
Sometimes, yes, unfortunately.

Some people simply don't respect other people's boundaries, in which case setting boundaries while maintaining the friendship simply isn't an option.

And sadly, also, some people are suffering from a delusion of innocence, meaning, they always see themselves as an innocent victim, even when they're in the role of the aggressor. In that case there is really nothing you can do, because there is no way of working through a conflict if the other person categorically denies responsibility for their own actions. I've been through this, too, with a friend who was somewhat between Borderline and Narcissism. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not to distance myself from her much earlier.
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by WesleyP » Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:47 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:51 pm
Other than that, what is the spiritually productive way to approach this kind of situation?
The practice of 12-steps AA Group Meetings.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by tkp67 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:56 pm

emaho wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:29 pm
tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:20 am
Rhetorically speaking does setting boundaries require such finality?
Sometimes, yes, unfortunately.

Some people simply don't respect other people's boundaries, in which case setting boundaries while maintaining the friendship simply isn't an option.

And sadly, also, some people are suffering from a delusion of innocence, meaning, they always see themselves as an innocent victim, even when they're in the role of the aggressor. In that case there is really nothing you can do, because there is no way of working through a conflict if the other person categorically denies responsibility for their own actions. I've been through this, too, with a friend who was somewhat between Borderline and Narcissism. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not to distance myself from her much earlier.
I agree to a point thus the rhetorical declaration. Yes, many times toxic people can pull one under. I have a friend who talks about toxicity in groups and calls it a "bucket of crabs" because if someone tries to transcend the bucket other crabs cling on making escape that much harder.

I have found that at some point toxicity is rendered impotent if you know how to address that type of toxicity properly. I have been skillful at not only setting boundaries but conveying them to minds that normally are hard to address. This is not to encourage people suffering others unreasonably. Please don't misinterpret. I am simply stating that even toxic minds are deserving of understanding and compassion and if one can accomplish those things, the toxicity no longer carries the same weight. This then gives a toxic person looking back at their own behavior. This has been my experience. Others may have different experiences.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by muni » Sat Jan 25, 2020 5:02 pm

I am simply stating that even toxic minds are deserving of understanding and compassion
:smile:
Instead of keeping a nasty grudge and keep looking back to an annoying or irritating one to avoid, one thing what can be done is including these beings/minds in practice, give them a warm place there.
That is very much releaving.

Or at least dedicate practices.
The presence of space makes it possible for the whole universe to be set out within it, and yet this does not alter or condition space in any way. Although rainbows appear in the sky, they do not make any difference to the sky; it is simply that the sky makes the appearance of rainbows possible.
Phenomena adorn emptiness, but never corrupt it. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by emaho » Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:20 am

tkp67 wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:56 pm
I have found that at some point toxicity is rendered impotent if you know how to address that type of toxicity properly. I have been skillful at not only setting boundaries but conveying them to minds that normally are hard to address. This is not to encourage people suffering others unreasonably. Please don't misinterpret. I am simply stating that even toxic minds are deserving of understanding and compassion and if one can accomplish those things, the toxicity no longer carries the same weight. This then gives a toxic person looking back at their own behavior. This has been my experience. Others may have different experiences.
Hmmm, yes, but we're not talking about "toxicity" or just normal everyday narcissism in the colloquial sense, we're talking about people with full blown personality disorders who simply aren't able to engage in rational discourse. If you have the Siddhi to get through to someone who starts to sing while covering her ears with her hands and leaves the room as soon as you say something she doesn't want to hear then kudos to you. And it wasn't even a conflict situation when she did that. Honestly I think you probably haven't met that type of person yet.

Also, deciding not to be friends with someone anymore doesn't mean not to have compassion for them. On the other hand, if you keep silently suffering somebody's irrational and aggressive behaviour there is a point where that person interprets your silence and passivity as confirmation and you become an enabler, which is not a compassionate thing because it means you are supporting that person's negativity.
"I struggled with some demons, They were middle class and tame..." L. Cohen

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:07 am

emaho wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 11:29 pm
tkp67 wrote:
Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:20 am
Rhetorically speaking does setting boundaries require such finality?
Sometimes, yes, unfortunately.

Some people simply don't respect other people's boundaries, in which case setting boundaries while maintaining the friendship simply isn't an option.

And sadly, also, some people are suffering from a delusion of innocence, meaning, they always see themselves as an innocent victim, even when they're in the role of the aggressor. In that case there is really nothing you can do, because there is no way of working through a conflict if the other person categorically denies responsibility for their own actions. I've been through this, too, with a friend who was somewhat between Borderline and Narcissism. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not to distance myself from her much earlier.
I had this exact thought the other day, I should have ended the friendship the first time I saw this stuff coming out. I had this dumb idea that I was being compassionate by continuing to be friends with him because I thought "I'll bet none of his friends stick around".
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by tkp67 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:12 pm

emaho wrote:
Sun Jan 26, 2020 7:20 am
tkp67 wrote:
Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:56 pm
I have found that at some point toxicity is rendered impotent if you know how to address that type of toxicity properly. I have been skillful at not only setting boundaries but conveying them to minds that normally are hard to address. This is not to encourage people suffering others unreasonably. Please don't misinterpret. I am simply stating that even toxic minds are deserving of understanding and compassion and if one can accomplish those things, the toxicity no longer carries the same weight. This then gives a toxic person looking back at their own behavior. This has been my experience. Others may have different experiences.
Hmmm, yes, but we're not talking about "toxicity" or just normal everyday narcissism in the colloquial sense, we're talking about people with full blown personality disorders who simply aren't able to engage in rational discourse. If you have the Siddhi to get through to someone who starts to sing while covering her ears with her hands and leaves the room as soon as you say something she doesn't want to hear then kudos to you. And it wasn't even a conflict situation when she did that. Honestly I think you probably haven't met that type of person yet.

Also, deciding not to be friends with someone anymore doesn't mean not to have compassion for them. On the other hand, if you keep silently suffering somebody's irrational and aggressive behaviour there is a point where that person interprets your silence and passivity as confirmation and you become an enabler, which is not a compassionate thing because it means you are supporting that person's negativity.

The big differentiator for me in the scenario you are presenting is it assumes silence. If there is a "pink elephant" in the room I am sure to make it apparent. This doesn't mean people are always receptive but I certainly don't suffer them unreasonably. Seems so impossible until you start doing it and then it becomes easier.

One of the things I have learned is human conscious abiding to any realm is still receptive to compassion. Doesn't mean they are to be suffered but rather they should understand compassion so they can understand their own lack. Some people respond well to it some are repelled by it. YMMV.

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Re: Issues with ending a friendship

Post by avatamsaka3 » Sun Feb 09, 2020 2:55 am

I'm left feeling like there's some lesson I might be missing from it. Basically this person needs constant validation and has a tendency to turn against his friends when that constant validation wanes at all. He also expects the other person to be solely responsible for all communication, which is what created the conflict that ended things.
Can you confirm that this is a complete and honest description of him? Were there ever times when he didn't need this? Or didn't turn against?
I'm left feeling like there's some lesson I might be missing from it.
I'm guessing it would be related to this...
I had this dumb idea that I was being compassionate by continuing to be friends with him because I thought "I'll bet none of his friends stick around".

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