When Is A Friend Not A Friend?

Let me ask you a question about friendships…is there a line that can’t be crossed?

What would you do if a friend acted in manner so egregious, so counter to your own value system?

Have you ever said to yourself, I can’t be friends with someone like that, and end the friendship?

It happened to me.

I met her at the gym; she overheard me talking about my obsession with all things Chanel and we became friendly.

My tugboat man coined the phrase “friend not friend” because all we did was shop together. We never went out for dinner as couples and we never socialized together with our husbands. She had been to our house, but had never invited me to hers.

She was a “shopping friend.”

That means we’d meet every couple of weeks or so and drive in one car to a mall, either Fashion Valley in San Diego, or South Coast Plaza in Orange County.

Whoever didn’t drive bought lunch for two; that was a fair trade.

That was the only thing we had in common, even though we learned that our kids attended the same elementary school at the same time.

She’d been a working mom throughout their entire childhood; I’m an ardent advocate for the stay-at-home-mom situation.

She had a tough childhood: was unwanted, abused by a stepfather, and forced to travel around the country with her migrant worker family.

She managed to graduate from college and has been married to the same man for about forty years, the only man she’s ever slept with.

He just happens to be a millionaire, which is an amazing rags to riches tale.

Her inner fortitude and drive to extricate herself from poverty are admirable qualities and I’m sure that somewhere in there is an explanation for the way she acted the last time we spent the day together.

On this particular day, it was her turn to drive. Since she never had new clothes when she was growing up, she became a compulsive shopper, and always bought something, no matter what the cost. I’m more of a browser, and fairly thrifty except for that one (or two) Chanels.

After six hours at South Coast Plaza, we were on the highway heading home.

Looking out of the passenger window, I spotted a little puppy walking in the weeds parallel to the freeway.

I pointed and said, “Oh my gosh, do you see that? Pull over, pull over, there’s a puppy right there. You stop and I’ll run out and get it before something terrible happens.”

She wouldn’t stop.

She would not stop.

She flailed a hand about —  you know, in that way, that universal sign of blasé dismissal — and said, “Oh, someone will help. It’ll be fine.”

“No it won’t. We have to help. We HAVE to. Get off the next exit and let’s go back. ”

She refused to stop the car, no matter what I said.

“How could you say you love animals but you won’t stop to help a creature in dire need of assistance?”

I was powerless. I hate feeling ineffectual, useless, helpless.

I’m sure she endured all that and more growing up with her dysfunctional family but it would seem that she might have felt more of a kinship toward another helpless creature, not apathetic indifference and total lack of compassion.

I was silent for the remainder of the ride.

By the time we got back, it was getting dark. I thought about jumping in my car and driving back to where I saw the puppy but I didn’t even know the exactly where we had been, which is the reason why I hadn’t called CHP or animal rescue. It would have been impossible to locate. All I know is that it was somewhere on the 405 South from Newport Beach.

That was the last time I saw this friend not friend. She went on a vacation soon after that and when she returned, I heard she started going to another gym.

I’m haunted by the vision of that puppy that I couldn’t help.

Of course I couldn’t be friends with someone like that.

Everything I needed to know about her true character was revealed, and for me, that’s a non-negotiable area.

A deal breaker. A heart breaker.

Have you ever had to end a friendship?

54 thoughts on “When Is A Friend Not A Friend?

  1. Wow she was cold! Speaks volumes about her character. She didn’t even pull out the whole “it’s not safe to pull over here” bit. I have had to end friendships and family relationships. You get to the point where they are too negative or they prove they could care less about you. It took me a long time to realise that hey that is ok. Sorry you had to find out that way though.


      • Especially given her history. It’s like she forgot her past. Or maybe growing up, caring for other people or animals wasn’t a luxury given her hardships so she never learned. And now, apparently doesn’t need to.


      • I shouldn’t have been too surprised. One day we were shopping locally at Nord Outlet and her daughter in law happened to be there, too, and wanted my “friend” to take the baby so she could shop and not stress out her baby and my “friend” said OK, and then she just walked out. I said, hey you said you were going to watch your granddaughter, why are you leaving? and she said she wasn’t anybody’s maid. I thought to myself WOW, it was a BABY. I don’t have grandkids yet, but I don’t think I’d avoid any precious time together. That’s now how my mom was. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, right?

        On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 11:31 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


      • The DIL was just going to try on an outfit and said she’d be right back out and then could my “friend” take the baby for a while-she seemed to be a perfectly nice respectful DIL and was happy to see my “friend”. She left while they were in the dressing room!!!! Just took off. My mouth hung open. I didn’t get it, but if she could do that, she def was heartless enough to leave a puppy.

        On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 12:14 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


      • Before this happened, she shared her entire life story with me (see it’s true, people talk to me!) and said she never tells people stuff cos she’s ashamed of working in the fields, but I told her I’d help write the story and I knew we could get a publisher, etc. It always was all about her, she never wanted to hear about me or anything, but since we had a basically superficial relationship, that didn’t bother me. The baby thing did and I was on the fence about continuing, but the puppy was the last straw. But I need a shopping buddy!!


      • I think you dodged a bullet in the long run. It’s a “enough of me talking about me, why don’t you talk about me” thing. It would have to be some damn good shopping to hang round her! 🙂


  2. Yes, I have ended a few friendships once it became clear that our values were not the same. I was on a “power walk” with a “friend” once when along the way we noticed that someone’s lawn sprinkler had been moved and it was now watering the street. I thought the home owner might appreciate knowing that they were wasting their water/money on watering the road, so I told my friend to hold on a second. I was going to knock on the front door to alert them about their sprinkler. My friend said “Nooo!!!! Don’t do that!” I couldn’t imagine why not. So I proceeded to the door. “Oh no! How embarrassing!” she said and she literally ran and hid behind a tree while I rang the bell, pointed the situation out to the owner who thanked me and moved his sprinkler back to his lawn. The rest of the way home she babbled on about her tennis game and I knew then and there that not only did we have little in common, but a simple act of kindness was perceived by her to be an embarrassment. I haven’t seen her since.


  3. After reading your story and then all the comments, it sounds like early in her life nothing was about her, so she’s making up for lost time. Everything seems to be about her. The comment about not being anybody’s maid struck me. Pretty sure I’d walk away from that one without a second thought.


  4. Yikes, I think you made a good call there. I’ve only given up one friendship, and it was a weird sort of thing. We were in HS, and out in Santa Monica… and she became offended at something one of our other friends said… and found her way home. Without telling anyone. She just called a cab and went home. I was horrified. We searched for her for 15 minutes, called all our parents… worried sick for her, and then realized she was just miffed. We were planning a trip to NY together, and I cancelled it because I couldn’t stop thinking that — what if that happened while we were out together in NY? I guess sometimes you have to make a hard decision like that.


    • Yeah, there’s no point in continuing when something happens like that. She shouldn’t have made you guys worried and scared – it shows there are deeper issues going on. I gave up another friend who wanted me to take drugs with her- a grownup friend! And that was crossing the line for me, too. We were both moms. We have different paths in life, I guess.

      On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 3:35 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  5. Errr, my heart aches for the poor little puppy. I can relate to how much it haunts you.

    I have had to end friendships as well…for different reasons, but as you said some things are non-negotiable. Deal breakers. Probably the very hardest was ending a friendship with someone who was my best friend for 10 years. We went through a lot together, but then there was the deal breaker. It could not be mended.


    • I’m sorry you had to go though something like that. But if something is a deal breaker, so be it. That’s the healthy thing to do. As someone, I think it was Guap, commented, I didn’t have much invested in the friendship, it certainly wasn’t 10 years like yours, so I don’t feel so bad for the loss of a friend which she wasn’t anyway, hub was right friend not friend, only not being able to help the poor animal.

      On Tue, Sep 17, 2013 at 6:49 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  6. No, I’ve been fortunate enough to never end a friendship like that. I mean, I’ve had ones where we drifted apart, but that? That was heinous! Even if she didn’t care about stray animals (how could you not, though??), at least she should have seen how important it was to YOU to stop and help. 😦
    She must have been one of the ones who dropped cats off at the bluff…


  7. To me, a real friend is someone that I can turn to when I’m in trouble, in reality, there’re few in my life. Many are just merely ‘talking friends’ ! How to end a friendship? Most of them just fade away from my life!


  8. “Cut bait or swim.” I can’t really add to what everyone else has said, but yes, I have ended a friendship–or aquaintenceship if you will–when she attacked a mutual friend who I was closer to. I disagreed with her logic and accusations. Even when she was like “But you don’t know what she says about you when you’re not there.” For a moment my heart sank but then I thought, “I haven’t told her anything in strict confidence that I wouldn’t tell others, and if I know her then her retelling is probably downright hillarious!” So I ended the relationship with the acquaintence and kept the closer friend.


  9. Ugh, can’t believe she wouldn’t stop…
    And, yes, I’ve had to end a few friendships over the years for various reasons, which mostly all came down to they engaged in behaviors I had outgrown, and having them around was dragging me down. The ones that ended early in life I’ve never regretted, but I miss some of the friends I used to have from college… I wonder where they are now and if they’ve changed…


  10. It doesn’t matter what the action is… when they cross that line where you have to question their friendship or they have disrespected you in some way…. I cut it off… it might be cold and juvenile of me, but I don’t have the time or energy to waste anymore. After my mother had died, I had a friend who insisted on coming out to L.A. to visit me and I kep saying “It’s not a good idea, I’m not really good company right now”, but she insisted she would come out, stay with me and be no bother. I insisted “If you come, you must rent a car. I cannot take anytime off from my job because they gave me a month off for the funeral. I don’t live near good mass transit so you need to rent a car.” She came to L.A. despite me saying it wasn’t a good idea. She did not rent a car and I ended up having to drive her places 5 out of the 7 days she was here.and well the day she left, I moved back into my bedroom. I gave her my bedroom and I took the futon in the Living Room because I leave for work at 5am and wake at 4am, this way I didn’t wake her, so i move back in and boom…. she had left a wad of gum on my leather inlaid headboard…. I didn’t know what to say,,,, I text her on her flight… and she answers “I meant to throw it out’ not… a SORRY or any REMORSE of being disrespectful and disgusting…. I just cut it all off after 15 years…. when they are that inconsiderate from the beginning when I said “I don’t think this is a good idea”…. it’s not worth and there was no loss of a friend. Sometimes you have to do it.


    • Wow, how inconsiderate, and especially after the tragic loss of your mom. I’m sorry to hear that. Yes, sometimes you have to do it and it’s the right thing to do. It sounds like this girl didn’t know how to be a friend, and my “friend” didn’t know how to be a human being. I’m sure you’ve found other people that have much better qualities that deserve to be your friend. thank you for sharing your story, it sounds like it’s still painful for you.


    • Well said, Lynda. When you and I both know it’s the little things that have the most value, huh? Little puppies, little seashells, little emails from my hub (sigh). Well she lost me as a friend and I’m a good friend, too. Her loss, not mine. It’s not the lost “friendship” I mind so much, it’s that poor baby. I can’t stop thinking of what a loving home he would have had with us. It’s just not right.

      On Thu, Sep 19, 2013 at 9:26 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  11. I think you can rest assured that there are other folks out there like you. We’ve rescued little puppies & big dogs in traffic before. Our daughter found a little dog last month and did everything to find the owner (she even took the little girl to a vet before bringing her home). She ended up keeping her – even the miniature pinscher rescue group didn’t respond! I’ve decided to believe that someone did rescue the little pup you spotted. 🙂


    • Well, I could just tell that you are a lovely, compassionate lady and of course your daughter would be exactly like you, caring for and rescuing animals. If only there were more like you! I will try and hope the same about that puppy, otherwise, I just drive myself crazy with worry. I worry about all of the unloved animals in the world. So sad.

      On Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 2:32 PM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


  12. I agree, yes,I only believe in friends who are good people with decent values.I never understood the idea of having a ‘friend’ that you did not like.It makes no sense to me.I have squelched many a potential relationship when the other person was showed bad behavior or character.You were right to drop that one, and I hope someone decent stopped for the puppy.


    • I can only hope that puppy found a home as loving as ours would have been. Maybe next time I get friendly with a new potential shopping buddy, I’ll ask her a hypothetical question: If we were driving down the freeway (or anywhere) would you stop to rescue a puppy (or any other animal)? If the answer is of course, I have a new friend. If not, bye.

      On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM, Enchanted Seashells…Confessions of a Tugbo


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