Thread: Some advice? Regret & issues in friendships

  1. #1
    Forums Member Culicarius's Avatar
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    Oct 2011

    Some advice? Regret & issues in friendships

    Hey all - I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice here. Just a forewarning, it's fairly long. It's also part of the reason why I turned to Buddhism.

    So, the story goes back to the end of 2011. I've been a part of a particular forum since 2006. It isn't really like a regular forum that you might be thinking of. Like, practically all of my closest friends in my life I met here. I've met up with 3 people from there and I would like to meet up with many more. There are a few dozen of them that I have on skype, or steam, or my facebook, I've had voice calls with some of them, I've watched movies with them, and as I said, some of them are the closest friends I've ever had.

    At the end of 2011, I made a friend. Let's call her N. N quickly became someone who I was extremely comfortable with. So much so that I told her insecurities and other things that I've never told anyone else because I was comfortable talking to her. Basically, I saw her as my best friend.

    Unfortunately, we didn't have a very stable friendship. Early 2012 we sort of had a falling out and didn't talk for almost two months. Eventually we started to talk again. We would end up having a fight maybe once a month or every other month, going all the way up to the very end of January this year. So, for a year and 4 months we had a friendship that was very rocky, but the times between were fairly nice.

    Now, this is a rather simplistic and short version of things. But she is one of those friends who I had calls with, watched movies over skype with, etc., and I cared a lot about her. At the end of January, she finally cut me off. She told me that I made her feel bad about herself and there were many instances where I did or said things that brought her to tears and really hurt her. The problem is not at all with her; the problem was with myself.

    Which leads me to when, last month, I became a Buddhist. I began to meditate and reflect a lot on my past, my interactions with N and other friends. What I realised was that before N and those other people, I never really had a -true- friend. I had friends who came and went in a few months, and any friends who stuck around longer I was never comfortable enough to talk to on a more personal level, such as insecurities and feelings. I opened myself up, and gave them a lot of affection. However, when I didn't receive it in kind, I became hurt. I felt like I was ignored, that people didn't like me, I would get jealous of them and that sometimes would lead me to feel sad or angry. Resentful, even.

    What I came to understand was that, even if I don't realise it, I can be pushy and try to hard in friendships. I have a problem with letting these things just naturally develop, and instead after a short while I start to feel comfortable and try to make push the friendship into a deeper level. As a result, I can become clingy, pushy, and as you can see, it leads me to hurt my friends. I've been trying to work on improving myself, but it isn't easy.

    Could anyone help me with not trying so hard? It's hard for me to... I guess understand how to just let a friendship grow and flourish. I've hurt a lot of people, and I don't want to do it any more. How can I calm down, relax, and just let things go with the flow?

    The other thing is regret. Going back to N - as I said, she is someone who I felt very close to, even if she didn't feel the same level of closeness as I did. Ever since that day when she told me that I make her feel bad and what a horrible friend I've been, I just feel a massive amount of regret. To some extent I feel it with the others, but it's incredibly strong with her. I haven't even meditated in four or five days because every time I try, I literally can't get her out of my mind. I become so overwhelmed with regret that it's impossible. It's an absolutely horrid feeling to know that for about an entire year of someone's life, you've been a roller coaster - there were really good times, but also times when you did horrid, unforgivable things to them. We had a small talk in the middle of March, but that's it. We don't really talk on the forum we're a part of, and we've deleted each other off of facebook and skype and whatnot. I can't contact her to talk; she doesn't want to talk to me or want me to contact her. She also mentioned in the beginning that this break could very well be permanent, so I can't just wait and expect things to go back to normal someday.

    Basically, this regret is with me for almost every waking moment, even if it's just in small doses. I've apologized profusely when we spoke in March, but N is still frustrated with me. Talking to her is not an option, and I won't contact her unless she contacts me first. If anyone has some advice for how I could try and lessen my regret so that it doesn't plague my mind, I would appreciate it.

    Thank you for reading.

  2. #2
    Hi Culicarius,

    I'm sorry, maybe I read your post too quickly - but I'm not very clear if all of the friends you mentioned are people you contact exclusively on the internet.

    Have you met any of them in the everyday world outside of your computer ?

    with kind wishes,


  3. #3
    Forums Member Element's Avatar
    hi Culicarius

    in reading your post, I sense that you are developing an ideal about 'true friendship'; what in Buddhism is called 'metta'

    imo, this is a very good thing. the Dalai Lama once said:

    May they achieve the eye of wisdom,
    knowing what must be done and undone,
    And abide in the glory of friendship and love.
    that said, I think true friendship is something not so easy to come by. I think it requires maturity & a lot of development

    for example, in my personal life, I do not have too many true friends & what is ironic is that those few people I can regard as true friends I am not particularly close to. they are just people who are acquaintances but I know if I truly need someone I can rely on them. this is due to their spiritual & personal maturity

    if we want something from another person in a demanding way, then this is an obstacle to true friendship

    about your regrets about N, I am not sure this is true friendship because true friends do not hurt each other or are not unfaithful to eachother

    if you wish to learn about what Buddha taught about friendship, you can read this link:

    kind regards


    "These four, young householder, should be understood as foes in the guise of friends:

    (1) he who appropriates a friend's possessions,
    (2) he who renders lip-service,
    (3) he who flatters,
    (4) he who brings ruin.

    (1) "In four ways, young householder, should one who appropriates be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he appropriates his friend's wealth,
    (ii) he gives little and asks much,
    (iii) he does his duty out of fear,
    (iv) he associates for his own advantage.

    (2) "In four ways, young householder, should one who renders lip-service be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he makes friendly profession as regards the past,
    (ii) he makes friendly profession as regards the future,
    (iii) he tries to gain one's favor by empty words,
    (iv) when opportunity for service has arisen, he expresses his inability.

    (3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who flatters be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he approves of his friend's evil deeds,
    (ii) he disapproves his friend's good deeds,
    (iii) he praises him in his presence,
    (iv) he speaks ill of him in his absence.

    (4) "In four ways, young householder, should one who brings ruin be understood as a foe in the guise of a friend:

    (i) he is a companion in indulging in intoxicants that cause
    infatuation and heedlessness,
    (ii) he is a companion in sauntering in streets at unseemly hours,
    (iii) he is a companion in frequenting theatrical shows,
    (iv) he is a companion in indulging in gambling which causes heedlessness."

    Thus spoke the Exalted One. And when the Master had thus spoken, he spoke yet again:

    The friend who appropriates,
    the friend who renders lip-service,
    the friend that flatters,
    the friend who brings ruin,
    these four as enemies the wise behold,
    avoid them from afar as paths of peril.


    "These four, young householder, should be understood as warm-hearted friends:

    (1) he who is a helpmate,
    (2) he who is the same in happiness and sorrow,
    (3) he who gives good counsel,
    (4) he who sympathises.

    (1) "In four ways, young householder, should a helpmate be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he guards the heedless,
    (ii) he protects the wealth of the heedless,
    (iii) he becomes a refuge when you are in danger,
    (iv) when there are commitments he provides you with double the
    supply needed.

    (2) "In four ways, young householder, should one who is the same in happiness and sorrow be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he reveals his secrets,
    (ii) he conceals one's own secrets,
    (iii) in misfortune he does not forsake one,
    (iv) his life even he sacrifices for one's sake.

    (3) "In four ways, young householder, should one who gives good counsel be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he restrains one from doing evil,
    (ii) he encourages one to do good,
    (iii) he informs one of what is unknown to oneself,
    (iv) he points out the path to heaven.

    (4) "In four ways, young householder, should one who sympathises be understood as a warm-hearted friend:

    (i) he does not rejoice in one's misfortune,
    (ii) he rejoices in one's prosperity,
    (iii) he restrains others speaking ill of oneself,
    (iv) he praises those who speak well of oneself."

    Thus spoke the Exalted One. And when the Master had thus spoken, he spoke yet again:

    The friend who is a helpmate,
    the friend in happiness and woe,
    the friend who gives good counsel,
    the friend who sympathises too —
    these four as friends the wise behold
    and cherish them devotedly
    as does a mother her own child.

  4. #4
    Forums Member Culicarius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Aloka: All of these friends I've mentioned are exclusively internet friends. I'm fairly fine when it comes to my real life interactions: I have a handful of close friends and a few dozen friends who are more casual, I've had issues in the past but they are resolved now. There are a few I've actually met in person but these are not people I speak to and see in person on a regular basis.

    Thank you, Element. I'm slowly beginning to realise that I was a very possessive and forceful friend when it came to my friendships and had a problem in understanding boundaries and how to conduct myself. It's going to take some time, but I think I've recognized these issues and can work towards correcting them. In regards to N, all the issues were with me - while before I would have blamed the both of us, I've come to understand it was I who was the cause of the problems. I may never speak with her again, but I hope to learn enough that I do not make the same mistakes with future friendships.

  5. #5
    Forums Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I have been in similar situations. I'd imagine most people have, but I could be wrong.

    If you do nothing about it you will probably eventually let go of her, and the regret and memories associated with her will lessen or become less important. If you desire an immediate solution then I'd say try being more diligent in meditation and try harder to see the world mindfully with the three characteristics at hand as observational tools.

  6. #6
    Forums Member Empty Bowl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Pacific NorthWest
    I used to have a Facebook account, but closed it two years ago. Friends want me to sign on with Skype and Twitter, bit I don't. Why not? Some of the reasons surface in your first post: in long-distance net 'friendships' you do not know a real person. Their way of relating to you, and vice-versa has little more substance than a character on a movie screen. What do you really know about what N goes through in her life, what she needs in a friend? Only what you learn over a computer!

    It seems that we have the potential to magnify the amount of stress already in life by taking on these Internet role-playing games. Things can be said back and forth without the clues of facial expressions and tone on Twitter, watching a movie on Skype is not interacting with a 'real' person. I did not participate in computer interaction to your degree, but I can say emphatically that when I walked away from the computer desk, my internal tensions shrank hugely!

    Since returning to real life, I have found friends nearby me whom I have drawn close to; I have become a better person at work to the point that people comment on the changes; I have become a godfather to a lovely ten year old girl whose mom died last year and has no father around. It's not due exclusively to the fact that I turned off the Internet, but it's part of it. Also, I had more time to focus on Buddhist learning and put it into practice. Real, intimate, one on one practice with real people, flaws and good points included.

    If N has said no more contact, then No More Contact! Think of this: she is on a point in her path of growth that requires her to make this decision and absorb the consequences into her life. You both had input into each other's lives, you both have changed as a result. You no longer influence her path. On your part, give thanks for the profound changes she brought to you, meditate on the lesson, keep walking the path. Your growth has been stimulated, perhaps hers has too, but you don't get to see that part of the puzzle of life, only yours.

    Take another step, look forward.

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