Why Do My Friends Let Me Down?

Losing Faith In Your Friendships

Its hard to take when a friend lets you down.
Its hard to take when a friend lets you down. Steve Prezant/Getty Images

Friendship is important and can make your life better in a variety of ways, but when friends let you down, it makes you feel alone and unloved. You start thinking about all the times you were there for friends and get angry and resentful that they couldn’t do the same. You might bring it up to your friend or figure that if they really cared they’d know already and just apologize on their own. Maybe you’re even thinking about a total friend cleanse, where you walk away from several friendships at once.

Feeling this way is understandable, and we’ve all been there. Know that when you are disappointed in this way you aren’t alone. There’s someone else who feels exactly like you do right now.

But before you decide to walk away from all your friendships and move to a desert island somewhere, offer your friends some grace. They might be clueless or perhaps they let you down without realizing. Another option is that you might have misread something or have allowed your friends to treat you poorly.

Why It Feels So Bad When Friends Let Us Down

We’re invested in our friendships. Unlike other relationships, there is no formal commitment or promise to begin a friendship or stay in one. We’re friends with people because we really want to be, but not everyone responds the same way to this bond.

Some people have never really learned what real friendship is all about. Others might be selfish and want friends to be there for them but never return the favor.

Our attitudes reflect our upbringing and how much emotional intelligence we have acquired.

Still others are without a large family (or any family at all) and instead they get very close to their friends, so when they get let down, it stings. A friend who fails to support you can feel like your world just broke in half.

Fluidity and the Pacing of Friendship Is a Factor In How People Treat You

As if it wasn’t enough that we all feel differently about friendship, how this relationship develops is also different from person to person.

For instance, one friends might feel that friendships should develop slowly over time while another friend may feel the opposite, that you become friends with people first until they show you otherwise. Somewhere along this line, one friend may need the other to show up and be there for them, and if the timing is off, a friendship can implode before it even has a chance to start.

People change emotionally and their lives change, so is it any wonder that how they treat friendships will change also?

Time to Take Responsibility, Are You the Problem?

It’s never easy to admit that you’re actually the one causing most of your friendship problems, but if you find yourself getting frustrated with friends over and over, it’s time to look at your habits. For instance, are you choosing the wrong types of friends for you, not acting like a friend (and then expecting people to be there for you), so lacking in self-awareness that you have no idea if you’re a problem or not?

If you’re really stumped on this, you might want to seek out a therapist or ask a friend, even one you’ve just broken up with.

Be honest with them and say you are trying to improve yourself and you would like them to (kindly) be honest with you about what you’re like.

Posing a question this way should help your ex-friend to be nice yet still also give you some insight on the problems you’re having with friendships. Maybe you’ve got a bitter side to you (especially if you’ve been repeatedly let down by friendship) and this comes out in snarky, hurtful ways. Maybe you instantly like friends but then find things wrong with them, until little by little you’re acting more like a frenemy than a friend.

Or maybe it’s a simple case of setting boundaries. How far will you let a friend belittle you? Are you okay with doing most of the contact for get-togethers? Will you put up with a friend who has a short fuse or never stops talking?

You should know what you will allow people to do and what you will do for them in return, and when a boundary is crossed you should feel comfortable letting them know or walking away from the relationship.