When You Don't Want to Reconnect With an Old Friend

What to Say to Someone You're Not Interested in Seeing Again

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Question:

An old friend of mine from college contacted me recently, and I just don't know what to say to her. We were so close, but a few years after we graduated, I got married and right at the same time my friend got dumped. We both thought she would get married first. She had dated her boyfriend all through college, while I was the one who never seemed to have a date.

But then I met someone and we fell in love and got married just a few months after we met. That was twenty years ago, and we're still married today. We've had a good life.

My friend hurt me because I asked her to stand up and she agreed but was horrible the entire time. She had an attitude and said some things about our marriage "lasting" that really bothered me. But I tried to understand. Maybe me asking her to stand up was a bad idea since she had just been dumped? I don't know. I've beat myself up about this for years.

Soon after the wedding, she wouldn't respond to my emails or phone calls. Finally, after a few months, she responded like nothing was wrong and asked me to go to this event with her. I went, but she seemed mad at me. We bumped into a guy from college at the event and when I said hello she sneered at me, "You've got a husband. Maybe you shouldn't be flirting with guys." I wasn't flirting. I was just saying hello to a former friend of ours.

I've thought about her a lot over the years. I've gone over what I did wrong in the friendship a million times. If she had contacted me ten or even fifteen years ago, I would have welcomed it. But now, after twenty years, I'm finally at a point where I don't think of the friendship at all. I've moved on.

Last week, she sent me an email. It was all about how happy she was in her life. No mention of our past. No explanation for why she stopped being my friend. Just said she was interested in "reconnecting."

I don't want to reconnect. I'm happy she seems like her old self, but I have no desire to go back there. What should I say?

Answer:

It's possible that your friend wants to explain her behavior from the past and that's why she wants to reconnect, but I doubt it. If she really wanted to make amends for shutting you out in the past, she would have alluded to that. Writing you a note after twenty years just to tell you how happy she is seems like a cowardly way of apologizing, even if she was indeed trying to do that. It sounds like she was upset that her life plans didn't work out the way she thought and became resentful at you for being happy.

You can choose not to respond at all. That would send her the message that you're not interested. However, she may try again and to avoid hearing from her in the future, say something pleasant but firm. Now isn't the time to rehash old arguments but to let her know you're happy for her but not interested in a rekindled friendship. 

I would avoid asking a question in this email, such as "I always wondered what I did wrong." This will only prompt further communication from her, and since you've finally moved on, do so without regret.

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