A woman with Down's syndrome talking to their female friend on the sofa to represent the topic of the article - 9 Ways To Cope When Your Friends Let You Down

9 Ways To Cope When Your “Friends” Let You Down

 

There’s nothing more annoying than friends letting you down. As I’ve said before in a pervious article. This is especially problematic when you have borderline personality disorder (BPD) rooted in attachment problems. If you’ve read my “Making Plans” article, then you’ll already be aware of how badly I react in the past when my friends have chronically let me down.

 

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Why Friendships Matter

 

Where would we be without our friends? Often they’re the family we get to pick for ourselves. So it comes as no surprise that research has shown that not having a strong social support network can be detrimental to your health and mortality risk (Jane Murphy, Saga).

 

Although our intimate partners can make us feel happy with our lives (if you’re satisfied with the relationship), should something happen with our partners, then we can only be that happy with our lives because of the quality of our friendships (Kaufman, Rodriguez, Walsh, Shafranske, and Harrell, 2022). In short, it’s good friends, not family, that helps make life happy. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a partner who is also like a good friend too.

 

The fact that friendships, not family, can have a bigger impact on how happy we are in life is likely because friendships are modifiable (Materia and Baglio, 2005). No matter how I’ve tried to change and improve my relationship with my mum, it remains one of my biggest triggers for depression. It’s also easier to cut people out of your life when a friendship turns sour than it is if a family relationship does.

 

As de Leon (2005) stated, being connected to be through friendships with people you trust, value, and love provides meaning and purpose that is essential to the human condition and longevity. They can provide specific social capital resources that have tangible benefits to our health, such as better dietary habits and minimising stress.

 

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How Your Friends Might Let You down

 

Friendships are so important to us and for us to feel happy about our lives that it can be an enormous disappointment when our friends let us down. For me, the impact it would have on me would push me to the prink of suicide because I used my friends as a coping strategy.

 

Here are some examples of how your friends might let you down:

 

  • Repeatedly not showing up for agreed plans.
  • Not being there for you when you need them (Justine Carino).
  • Constantly cancelling plans they’ve made with you.
  • Not inviting you to social gatherings (Justine Carino)
  • Bad-mouthing you behind your back.
  • Not respecting your privacy and using you as a source of gossip by telling other people the things you told them in confidence.
  • Ghosting you until they need you.

 

The picture is split in two with the top image being of a little girls holding hands to support each other up a hill. The bottom image being of a a woman with a prosthetic arm hugging their female friend. The two images are separated by the article title - 9 Ways To Cope When Your Friends Let You Down

 

What To Do When Your Friends Let You Down

 

Examine your expectations

It’s possible that you’re leaving yourself in a loop of being let down because you have high expectations for them that they can’t meet (Harley Therapy). People are individuals and they will have their own set of personality traits and life commitments, which can also change over time. Thus, we need to be mindful of this when we place our expectations on them. Ask yourself, are the things I expect from them fair? How would I feel about them and the friendship if I got rid of those expectations? 

 

As a former people-pleaser, I would give my all to my friends, even at the cost of myself. However, that level of commitment to friendship was rarely returned. And rightly so in most cases. Unless your friend has become toxic or abusive, most friendships can be saved just by evaluating your expectations of the other person.

 

Journal

One thing you could do to help manage your feelings of feeling let down is to journal. Take the time to examine your feelings and make sure you’ve not fallen into the trap of a thinking error.

 

Projecting

According to Harley Therapy, feeling let down is a form of psychological projection, where we project our own trait on to someone else. For example, I would often cancel plans almost at the last minute because of my health or because I had spots on my face, letting both myself down and others. This can then be projected on to others, so you see it as them letting you down.

 

Projecting can also happen as a result of being a people-pleaser. In your efforts to move heaven and earth for other people, you can over extend yourself. This will cause you to let others down because there’s only so much of you that you can give away.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about people-pleaseing, then check out some of my other articles on the subject. You never know, it might save a friendship or yourself.

 

The Dangers Of People-Pleasing

A Personal Account Of Being A People-Pleaser

How To Stop Being A People-Pleaser

 

Boundaires

No relationship can survive without boundaries. They’re the things we have that protect our wellbeing from being harmed, intentionally or unintentionally, by others. It pays to look at your boundaries, as they could save your friendships, especially when combined with your expectations.

 

Call them out

One of the first things you can do if your friends are letting you down is to call them up on it, but do it in a friendly way. You don’t want this to turn nasty, as that’ll stop you from resolving the situation and saving the friendship. Have a calm conversation with your friend and explain how this has made you feel and inform them of your boundaries.

 

Just like any other relationship, friends rely on good communication. Talk openly with your friends about how they’ve let you down and how it’s affected you. Find out what happened. Engage in active listening and really listen to what your friends have to say. Talk about what could have happened differently and how you will all handle situations in the future.

 

Several of my friends have been called out about their conduct. I had one friend that would just not turn up at all to our agreed plans, no message, no nothing. While other times they might turn up several hours late. I had another friend that would let me know as I got to where we were meeting or while I was mid travel on the train. Really frustrating.

 

The latter friend I don’t really hang around with anymore, because even though we’ve talked about this issue, they didn’t get any better. But, the other friend is now one of my closest friends, because they changed how they behaved after we talked it out.

 

My partner had a similar experience with one of their friends, which they’d complain to me about a lot. So we talked about how they needed to have a conversation with them about it, and it appears to have worked.

 

Expand your social network

This can be easier said than done, the older you get. But sometimes we put too much stock in a handful of friends. This can be an issue if they’re a little flakey, if they’re flakey without intent to upset anyone. Thus, expanding your social circle can help you find friends to help avoid being let down. Services like Meetup.com could be one way to meet new people. I know one of my friends uses that to make new friends.

 

Reconsider the friendship

This is a polite way of saying you should think about cutting them out of your life. But I’m not talking about the kind of let down where, if you looked at it from their perspective, you’d understand why. No, I’m talking about being consistently let down by your friends. Friends that ignore your boundaries. Friends that you’ve spoken to about the way they’re treating you, but still haven’t changed. For those kinds of friends that routinely let you down, maybe it’s time to start asking yourself if they’re actually your friends or not. 

 

Accept change

As I’ve previously said, change will happen to your friends and your friendships with them. You have to accept that change will happen (Psychology Today), rather than trying to fight it. Instead, adapt to these changes in your friendships. Your friend will fall in love, move for work, have health issues, and start families. This doesn’t mean they’re letting you down. It means you need to adapt the friendship so it can survive the changes.

 

This is especially hard when it comes to distance when you physically move apart from each other. According to Preciado, Snijders, Burk, Stattin, and Kerr (2012), proximity matters, as literature argues that contact frequency and the strength of friendship decline with distance. I knew this first-hand as I’ve lost friends I thought were close friends after I moved away to go to university. But it’s ok, I’ve got new friends that are now my close friends.

 

Be kind to yourself

Above all else, remember to be kind to yourself. That’s one thing I didn’t do when my friends letting me down caused me to spiral into suicidal depression. If I had remembered to be kind to myself, I might have been able to think clearly and resolved the issues sooner.

 

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Summary

 

Having friends is an essential part of living a happy life, especially if you don’t have or don’t want a romantic partner. But the same thing that makes our friends important to us allows them to be a source of pain for us. That’s why it can hurt so much when we feel they’ve let us down. Because our friends are our chosen family, so it can feel like family has let you down.

 

However, sometimes that hurt we feel might not be fair to place at the feet of our friends. Sometimes, it’s ourselves we need to work on. Thus, this article should help you figure out what needs to be done to save and improve your friendships, or, in more extreme cases, help you to let go of a bad friendship.

 

As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with friendships and your friends letting you down in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.

 

Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, you can make a donation of any size below. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.

 

 

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References

Kaufman, V., Rodriguez, A., Walsh, L. C., Shafranske, E., & Harrell, S. P. (2022). Unique Ways in Which the Quality of Friendships Matter for Life Satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies, 1-18. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-022-00502-9.

de Leon, C. F. M. (2005). Why do friendships matter for survival?. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health59(7), 538-539. Retrieved from https://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/59/7/538.full.pdf.

Materia, E., & Baglio, G. (2005). Health, science, and complexity. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health59(7), 534-535. Retrieved from https://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/59/7/538.full.pdf.

Preciado, P., Snijders, T. A., Burk, W. J., Stattin, H., & Kerr, M. (2012). Does proximity matter? Distance dependence of adolescent friendships. Social networks34(1), 18-31. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4268773, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378873311000128, and https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2011.01.002.

33 thoughts on “9 Ways To Cope When Your “Friends” Let You Down

  1. This is definitely something that I have become more aware of as I have got older. I actually have been on both sides – being the one who is having to let them down and the person being let down. Unfortunately me cancelling was my unmanaged anxiety stopping me from going to social activities. When you have a mental health condition it definitely proves who your true friendships are. As understanding is so important.

    These are definitely some great tips to help you when you feel let down by a friend. I definitely feel an open and honest conversation should happen to ensure you are both on the same page. Thank you for sharing your suggestions.

    Lauren

  2. I have a tiny family so friends matter a lot to me. They are the family I chose but if one lets me down I will tell them and if they are worth keeping we will get over it.

  3. This is a great post and I’m sure many people will find it relatable. About a month before my wedding, my best friend of 20 years and I had a falling out and we were never able to repair it. She was supposed to be my maid of honor and I considered her as my sister. But if I’m being transparent, throughout the course of our friendship, she repeatedly let me down and I decided enough was enough. I’ve never felt a pain like this and two years later, I still mourn the friendship especially after the birth of my daughter. Takes time, I guess?

    Thank you for sharing.

    • It’s understandable that losing a friendship you had for so long will take time to get over, especially when you’d normally be celebrating those kinds of milestones together

  4. When I was in high school, I had a group of “friends” that would bully me every day. Then when I reached my tipping point, I decided it was best to cut them out of my life and my high school experience was much better after that, so I agree there are some sitautions where it is best to reconsider the friendship.
    Also, I have lost friends when I went to university and also moved to Denmark, but I now have several good friends here who haven’t let me down.

    • I can relate to your childhood bullying experience, I had something similar when I was being racially abused but wanted to be accepted. Thank you for sharing your experience and I’m glad you have good friends where you live now

  5. I have experience several let downs from a lot of friends. Great advice! It helps to react the right way so they can receive the message that you are sending

  6. I am meeting so many new people now that I am at university and, although I have not made any friends yet, I so love these tips for the future, especially your thoughts on talking. I love that talking helped you grow closer to that one friend and that communication helped you both! <3

  7. It’s almost as though I couldn’t live with friends but couldn’t live without them, then you get pushed to the limit. Calling them out and reconsidering the friendship really works for me, it filters out the real ones..another good read, thanks for sharing

  8. You have some great reasons and suggestions to alleviate the negative feelings associated with feeling let down by friends. One that stuck out to me the most was having the expectation that what you would do is the same as what they would do and that is not always the case. Reevaluating that expectation can definitely help to keep things in its proper perspective. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. These are excellent coping mechanisms. It’s difficult to accept when people let us down so having actionable responses to draw from is a great plan. Thanks so much.

  10. This is a topic close to my heart because I’ve been let down by many people in my life. At least that’s how I felt it. I’m sure I’ve also let others down due to my constant moving around and living in other places. One thing I had to stop was the people pleasing and being more comfortable with who I am. I had to learn to accept the change as you said and be kind to myself. Those are some great points you made. It can be a big slap in the face, when ‘friends’ let you down. But one incident made me review my approach to this and made me chose for myself. Thank you for posting! There were a lot of similarities with myself.

  11. Another timely and poignant post! As a former (working on this) people pleaser, some of my ‘friendships’ changed when I started putting myself first and being firm with my boundaries. Journaling has been very helpful in coping. Accepting change and expanding my social network have also been really good for me. GREAT article! Hope you are well. ✌️

    • Unfortunately, when you start to overcome being a people-pleaser, you’ll often find this will happen with some of your friends. But now you know who matters in your life. Thanks for sharing your experience

  12. Good article. It’s usually in times of crisis that you discover who your true friends are. My sister had that problem. She knows a lot of people who are more than happy to hang out with her. Yet when she was alone and came down with Covid only a few helped her with groceries

  13. This was a great post, sometimes we get so caught up in the emotions that we forget a simple conversation with a friend about their actions is enough

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