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Managing challenging problems with our friendships

Updated on July 12, 2013

By Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin

Repairing a broken friendship

I have become distanced from my friends because of:

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“True friendship comes when the silence between two people is comfortable.” David Tyson, Gentry quotes

The above quote from David Tyson sums up perfectly the friendships that all of us strive for. This is so uncommon considering that the nature of two individual human beings is always so vastly different. Bearing that thought in mind, moments of comfortable silence between friends is a rarity to cherish.

Then, there are times when we will experience moments of comfortable silence with friends. As we get to know our friends better over longer periods of time, that silence becomes too comfortable and descends into anything but.

Two people are, and will always be, different. Friendships will, and always will, come with conflicts.Conflicts between friends are one of the greatest causes of emotional stress Knowing the causes of these conflicts and having some awareness of how to manage them can relieve a lot of tension.

What causes problems in friendships?

Many things can cause friendships, no matter how long they have been formed, to grow apart.

You will understand the feeling of suddenly no longer being as familiar or friendly with someone you might have known for many years. This happens, sometimes, with us scratching our heads and asking ourselves “Now why’s that?”

The causes of rifts in friendships may or may not be obvious ones to us. Whether they are or not, being aware of them can help us to negotiate the sometimes tricky business of managing them. Here are some of the common causes in friendships.


Causes of problems in friendships and their solutions


This must have happened to many of us all too often. We have run ins with friends, say or do something, not necessarily offensive, but rubs them up the wrong way.

Little misunderstandings like making a slip of the tongue and releasing a friend’s best kept secret. Or saying something tactless that rubs salt in a wound.

However big the misunderstanding is, it reigns as a top cause of rifts in friendship.

Misunderstandings all require time, a forgiving heart and a listening ear - rare commodities that sometimes need cultivating. For meaningful, long friendships, why not?


Friendship can sometimes get a little competitive. To a greater or lesser degree, we may feel sour when a friend has a better car than we do, or when our friends have climbed career ladders while we grapple with the rungs below.

That envy can start to consume and cause some very irreparable rifts. They can be very poignant when one friend tends to overshadow the other socially.

If we are the subject of a friend’s envy, the best thing we can do would be to give him or her a little space. Be sensitive to these rather touchy feelings.


Two friends may go in completely different directions in their lives. The develop new likes and dislikes, or need to pursue different paths.

As they walk on different paths, they grow apart and the friendship withers naturally.

I experienced this with a friend I spent my college years with. She was a top confidante in my junior college years, then we went to university. Pursuing different academic paths, we grew apart.

If encountering a similar situation, try to see if it is possible to establish a discussion about why there is a chasm. If not, try to maintain a distant connection without breaking off the friendship entirely.


Thankfully, the internet these days closes gaps somewhat. Still, distance does put a barrier on friendship.

The same friend I mentioned above married and moved to live with her husband who was posted overseas. Distance made communication even more impersonal and difficult and as a result we seldom speak to each other.

I am sure it is a familiar scenario to all.

We use the internet to cover the problems of distance these days, and some of my greatest friends are now writers who live in other parts of the world. But if that cannot be done, try again to see if a distant connection can be maintained.


Difference of opinion

Touchy issues like race, religion or politics are not the only culprits for rocking friendships. Difference in opinion over anything, no matter how sensitive or small, can undermine a previously solid social bond.

I know of friends which are no longer because of trivial issues like not eating in an agreed restaurant or being a tad late for a single appointment (mind you, not a series of them.)

While social politeness is important, it just might not be worth the rift. If the friend is close enough it would be good to work out an agreeable disagreement.

Ego and lack of compromise

People can be friends, yet be extremely competitive socially and professionally. Not being willing to back down in the face of disagreements can certainly put friendships to the test.

Again, if the friend is close enough, check each other’s ego by working on a way to disagree agreeably.

The lack of appreciation

A keen culprit for robbing a person of friendships is his own lack of appreciation. Being taken for granted by friends is bound to create distance.

Everyone likes and deserves a thank you, including our friends!


We may be excluded by two friends whom we have introduced to each other, or by a group of people we are trying to be friends with.

Ostracism can be a skilled saboteur of friendships. You can try to maintain relationships with individual members of the group, but if that is not possible, find a new group of friends to be with.


We have met the unreliable friend who cannot keep appointments with us or be trusted to keep to plans. And of course, we make quick decisions not to associate with him or her.

That lack of sense of security can make the building blocks of friendship stumbling ones instead.

If a friend like this is part of our lives, we should let the person know how it is affecting us. We can choose to dilate things by not seeing the person as frequently.

Being judgemental

At some point in our lives, we will come across persons who leave us with the feeling of our shoulders being constantly looked over. The constant criticism can certainly throw a wrench in the works of friendship.

If we have such a friend and she happens to be a close one, we could always ask if she meant to be so critical. It gives her a chance to step back and think for a minute, as well as to save herself from a bit of embarrassment.


The yellow rose

The yellow rose is a symbol of lasting friendship, and many things do make it wither. Do enjoy this little sonnet.

The yellow rose, it does wilt

Its envious blooms now furl

Its petals inwards, now do curl

Blossom now, inward tilts.

Petals inwards, though may curl,

Diverge and wilt, come apart

Droop lifeless with the turn of heart

And wrath of hurtful insults hurled

These petals do open, each its way,

Now at once, each not so near

Their thorns of belief, temper and fray

Scratch at entwined roots, once so dear

Withered leaves of ego will not stay

The yellow rose droops, fond words it does not hear.



Conflict will exist for as long as there are two people, and it is no less between friends. Here’s to managing our relationships well!


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Glim!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      7 years ago

      Interesting and thought provoking. I found that my friends seemed to change after I got married and had a child. Single friends seemed to fade away which I still find sad today. Nice hub.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Ish, we should all learn to move on! Thanks for sharing!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      A well-written hub with valid points! I can relate to this profound hub of yours as I faced such issues in life and I learnt to move on without looking back. Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up & shared on Facebook

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Carly! Yes, they take a LOT of work. But we have to keep at it! Thanks for sharing!

    • CarlySullens profile image

      Carly Sullens 

      7 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      This is an excellent Hub! I agree friendships do take work, and sometimes they do end. If someone is struggling with their friendship, it can go in one or two directions, work towards repairing and understanding or come to the resolution of letting it go. Voted up and shared.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Vinaya!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      7 years ago from Nepal

      Even though I sometimes say friends come and go, however, I have a friend, with whom I'm constantly in touch since 20 years.

      Your poem is lovely.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks for sharing, Mary.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Martie

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      This sounds like what I went through with a friend of is difficult and distance must be maintained because things gap have unfortunately become only salvageable if medical help is sought. Thanks for sharing, Fanet.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Thelma! Oh, I know of many people that way indeed! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Rasma!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      7 years ago from Florida

      I've lost friends along the way, and never really knew why. It bothers me cause I don't know what happened.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Interesting and profound article about friendships. One or the otherwise man once said that if people could know what others are saying about them, there would not be two friends on earth. Fortunately true love covers all differences .

      Excellent hub.

    • janetwrites profile image

      Janet Giessl 

      7 years ago from Georgia country

      This is a very interesting and informative hub about managing problems in friendship. I lost my best friend several years ago because of problems like misunderstanding, lack of communication, jealousy, lack of trust. We had been friends since kindergarten. But during our relationship she developed a mental illness and though I was always understanding and tolerated her changing moods she didn't really trust me anymore and she was also jealous of me. I tried to keep our friendship for several years though it got worse and worse until I couldn't anymore and broke off our relationship. You must know I'm a very understanding and patient person but this friendship nearly made me sick myself. She will always be in my heart and be an important part of my life. I have told and wrote her that.

      Thank you for sharing this important advice. I love your poem.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Misunderstanding, a friend who only see the negative sides of life and who only ask about yourself and others without sharing what is happening to her own life. That´s one of the problem in friendship.

      Your poem is beautiful. I like it. Thanks for sharing this hub, Midget. Have a nice weekend!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Jayme!!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      7 years ago from Daytona Beach, Florida

      Voted up. A most wonderful hub and good advice too. Enjoyed.Ever since my high school friend and I discovered each other again through the net we've kept in close touch. No problems here. Passing this on.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      Beautiful hub. And very important advice too! As always, an entertaining and well-written piece. Voting up!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Audrey!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Linda! High maintenance friendships can be very tiring and sometimes not they are tough!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      You really weave a beautiful hub Michelle!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Way to go Michelle! Fabulous hub! I've mostly distanced myself from friends when they became work. People change and at times they go in different directions...when a relationship becomes high maintenance, I move on. I lack the time and patience. It all works out in the long run :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Misunderstanding and lack of communication.....I have a very small handful of true friends. That's all I can handle because friendships, like relationships, take a ton of work. :) Well done and sharing.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine! Have a great weekend!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      7 years ago from New York, New York

      Beautiful poem on friendship and thank you for sharing reasons why friendships can go sour. I have had my fair share of these over the years ands can very much relate. Have, of course, voted up and shared all over. Have a great weekend!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      On managing friendships


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