Dear Dr. Romance:

I have a number of people I would consider friends - two in particular, that have lately become acquaintances, rather than friends, per se. One, in particular, my ex-girlfriend (who was a good friend 12 years prior to romance), no longer contacts me: calls, notes in the mail, or emails (except for a once in a blue moon occurrence) she only texts. In a couple weeks is a huge event in my life, one that I invited her to attend. She lives approximately 100 miles from me, a two hour drive. She has done the drive many times in the past, but I have not seen her since last October.  I invited her to join me in celebrating the milestone in my life (a religious rite) and her response, after a long wait for an answer, was "Sorry, gas is too expensive and I cannot spend the money". I get the sensation, implication, that our friendship is now ended, too, as she never has time to consider thinking of me.

 Another friendship that I have seen go by the waysides is with another man, a friend I have known for 17 years, since our first year in college, when we were neighbors in the dorms. We've had problems, partly due to the fact that he has an autism spectrum disorder that I only recently (two or three years ago) learned about, and I have my own issues - some resulted from a traumatic brain injury in 1985 that are long-term. For years we could see each other often and have no fights, problems, or qualms. Then one day we decided it would be better to see less of each other as we tended to get in quarrels and spats over little things; essentially seeing too much of a person, like married couples, even, needing space.

Quite recently he has stopped contacting me for social engagements -- except on vary rare occurrence. Instead, as in today, he might call when he needs something from me, like today it was my assistance in emailing a company about a business venture. He even told me his plans for later in the night and how they did not include me, yet was disenchanted when I mentioned he could include me too. He stated he has *a special relationship* (It is not romantic) with the other person, a father-figure, if you will. I feel quite abandoned by the both of them especially, probably because I became accustomed to their being in my life. I have dealt with the ex-girlfriend being distant for four years, and that is minor by comparison, but the man lives in the same town as I do, and he is shirking his friendship responsibilities (too strong a word, as friendship is not a responsibility).

Dear Reader:

I'm wondering if you're not putting out angry messages you're not aware of, and thus putting people off. There are natural reasons why friendships fade away, especially in the instance of an ex; she's just moved on in her life, and you probably need to get that and let her go. It's time to make some new friendships. Also, if you're expecting that she do all the driving, it may seem too unfair for her.  Offering to pay gas money for her to come to your ceremony might be helpful.

As to the male friend who lives close by, I'm guessing that the problem is the anger expressed between you. Why don't you try asking him how he feels, and if he still wants to be friends? If he mentions that you seem angry, take that to heart and work on it. Given that you have problems stemming from a brain injury, the objective feedback from a therapist might be very helpful in gauging your own behavior. "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" will help you find a suitable therapist.  "Apology and Forgiveness" will help you understand more about how to repair relationship rifts.

Sad as it is, friendships drift away for all of us: people change, grow apart, and move away. Therefore, it's important to be open to new friendships to keep your social circle active.  "Make New Friends, Keep Good Friends"  will help you expand your friendships.

It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction will help you understand yourself and your friends better.

It Ends With You

For low-cost counseling, email me at tina@tinatessina.com

Author's Bio: 

Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again; Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, The Commuter Marriage, and her newest, Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She writes the “Dr. Romance” blog, and the “Happiness Tips from Tina” email newsletter.

Dr. Tessina, is CRO (Chief Romance Officer) for LoveForever.com, a website designed to strengthen relationships and guide couples through the various stages of their relationship with personalized tips, courses, and online couples counseling. Online, she’s known as “Dr. Romance” Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, and such TV shows as “Oprah”, “Larry King Live” and ABC News.