Codependent Friendships

Another friend of mine, Spencer, ended our friendship two weeks ago because he had stronger feelings for me, and the friendship was too difficult for him. At first I felt like he was being childish, but when I stepped back and looked at it from his perspective I realized I’d have never been friends with me in the first place, simply because I wouldn’t want to spend time with someone who I liked for more than a friend if they didn’t reciprocate the feeling. So I could understand why he did it.

During the two weeks we weren’t talking, I realized I had more time to do what I need to do: write, read, homework, spend time with other friends. My friendship with Spencer had been codependent. We’d text first thing in the morning, throughout the day while I was at work, at night before bed. It wasn’t fair of me to focus so much on him knowing he liked me for more than a friend. It would’ve been wise for me to keep a healthy distance, but I didn’t do that.

Prior to my friendship with Spencer and with other guy friend Kevin, I didn’t have close guy friends. When I first got sober I made it a point to focus on my female friendships. I guess after my mom died and then my ex and I broke up, that changed for me. Spencer was always available, he made me laugh, and I liked the attention I got from him. When I was drinking I had plenty of guy friends but like all of my other “friends,” other than my best friend, I didn’t get close to them because I was emotionally unavailable and just incapable of doing that at the time.

The thing about women is that we’re not as available as men. Most women have husbands, children, other friends. My friend Molly didn’t have all of that, so she too was often available, so much that she was downright needy at times. Most guys don’t come across quite as needy as women can (the women who are needy, that is), so I did my best to be there for her as much as I could while at the same time trying to keep my distance, if that makes sense. In other words, when an acquaintance of hers died I listened to her cry and I sent her inspirational quotes, tried to show support. Deep down I judged her, felt she was overreacting to a situation that wasn’t that close to her, she hadn’t talked to the girl in years, to be crying over it seemed odd to me. She’d been friends with her years ago, they’d had a falling out, and I think they’d made up, but they didn’t talk much. But then I thought, who am I to judge someone else’s grief? Maybe they’d been better friends than I thought.

The thing about guys (Spencer) is they won’t (he wouldn’t) usually call you (me) crying like that. He didn’t demand so much of my time, or so it seemed. Instead he was just there when I wanted him or needed him to be. I enjoyed his company, so it seemed benign. But isn’t that just using someone?

Thursday night he asked if we could be friends again, and I said sure. Friday I worked all day then I had a meeting with my sponsor and all of the other women she sponsors, which is something we do once a month. Saturday I had the March for Our Lives event and falling out with Molly, and I felt physically and emotionally drained all day. After the march I visited with my sponsor who advised that I keep Spencer at a distance. When I asked her if I should have any conversation with him she said no, I don’t owe him anything. I knew that wouldn’t go over well but decided to try it anyway.

Spencer and our other two friends had talked about going to a meeting (AA) that night and then to the diner afterwards, but then our other two friends were on the fence about it later. Spencer sent us all a few texts letting us know that we’d let him down, that it was easy for us since we only lived a few minutes away from the meeting but he had to drive all the way from his area to get there, and if he didn’t have a commitment from us then he wasn’t going to bother. It just made me want to run. I said something along the lines of I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to go to the diner, and if Spencer wanted to skip the meeting and see us at the diner if we went afterwards then let’s just do that. So then the meeting happened, and I’d felt physically and emotionally drained all day, I had a headache, my body hurt, my heart hurt, and I wanted to go home and take a bath and go to bed. So I’m standing there talking to two new people at the meeting and just got finished telling them I’m not going out tonight when Spencer walks up. Now that I saw he was there, had driven all the way from his part of town where he lives 30 minutes away, I decided I would go ahead to the diner.

We sat next to each other at the diner but didn’t talk much. At one point I sent a text to a guy I met on Match, and Spencer asked me who I was texting, was it one of my Match guys? That was annoying but I just shrugged it off. Mostly he talked to our other friend who was sitting on his other side, and they were discussing the sale of marijuana in Colorado, which I have limited interest in. Spencer had gone to Colorado just before he got sober last year and took pictures of his time in a marijuana store, and… I just want to be sober, live a sober life, talk about how to live a happy, spiritual life, and I don’t have any interest in going back to my old lifestyle. I find nothing nostalgic about it the way Spencer does.


I found the quote/image above on Pinterest via this blog, On Letting People Go.

Also, so many other people were there it was hard to have that intimate of any conversation which suited me fine. Like I said, I felt crappy, so I just didn’t talk all that much though I tried to be polite and nice to everyone.

Yesterday (Sunday) I had the day off, so I did laundry, worried about my upcoming school assignment, went to the grocery store, started on school work. My friends were sending texts as we often do and I only interjected a few times, tried to focus on homework, finally turned off my phone.

After maybe an hour I turned my phone back on and Spencer had sent me a lengthy text wanting to know why I was ignoring him, why I had acted so “fake” to him the night before. I told him (again) that I was tired, didn’t feel well, had just had that falling out with Molly, and was trying to do homework. He knew all of that. What I didn’t tell him was that Kevin had told me Friday morning that his dog may have lymphoma and his mom was in the hospital getting a stent put in her heart, so I was trying to be available for him.

Spencer sent several more texts, that he’s not buying my bullshit, that I’d been “fake” and rude to him, that he doesn’t have any interest in me anymore, he’s not attracted to me, he’s not jealous of my online dating experiences and has no interest in them, but he doesn’t want to be acquaintances, that we had a real friendship and he wants that back.

Nevermind that I just told him (many times) that I wasn’t feeling well Saturday. That I’d had a falling out with Molly. That I was trying to do homework. He wasn’t accepting any of it. It turns out I have a life outside of Spencer that has nothing to do with him, that I have a lot of my own concerns to deal with. None of that mattered to him.

Lately I’ve been focused on being alone and doing my own thing, reevaluating my friendships, trying to take care of me. I want to treat others fairly, not give someone attention simply because I want their attention. I want to be a positive force in someone’s life, and I don’t want friendships based on need. I want to be there for others, and I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, but I’m pretty sure it does not consist of texting someone 24/7. And I don’t want to write about all of this as though I don’t have a part in it.

My time here is up for now—I’ve got a dentist appointment to get to before work. More evaluation on this subject later!

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