Everyone has that one friend in their group that just doesn’t click.
Maybe they’re a little rude or short. Maybe they’re constantly talking about themselves. Maybe the friendship feels unbalanced. But you’ve known them for a long time, you’ve got a lot of history together, and it would be outright mean just to cut them off for no reason, right?
Wrong. Friends like these (selfish, rude, inconsiderate) are not ones you want to have in your inner circle, especially as a young adult.
I had a friend – let’s call her Kate – who I’ve known for about 10 years now. Kate and I bonded over boybands when we were in the 10th grade and remained rather good friends for the rest of high school. Kate and I would eventually end up in the same friend group for senior year and later continue our friendship into university. Kate was never the perfect friend, some would hesitate to call her a friend at all. She would rarely reach out to spend time together. When we were together, she would probably flirt with your boyfriend or give side-eye as someone complimented your outfit. She never asked about friends or family or personal life. In her world, it was often ‘The Kate Show’ with guest appearances by her friends.
Since Kate was accustomed to being a shitty friend, her behaviour only got more and more selfish as time went on.
We all ended up going to Europe together for a two-week trip one summer, beginning and ending in Portugal, as per Kate’s request. Kate had already been in Portugal for a couple weeks with family, so my friend and I flew in to meet her at her summer home. When we were there, Kate was still packing up her things and her mom noted that since we were only going for 7 days she shouldn’t be packing so much. 7 days? We quickly panicked that Kate wouldn’t be with us during our last 4 days in Portugal – she spoke the language, booked the AirBnB and knew the city best. Without her, we would definitely be a little lost. She quipped something to her mom in Portuguese (red flag) before assuring us that of course she would be coming back to Portugal with us.
Throughout the course of the trip she was moody and difficult, refusing to pay her share of bar bills and hogging the one-person beds instead of sleeping with one of the girls we were travelling with. Every night, she’d sneak away to call her mom or ex-boyfriend for an hour about how terrible the trip was. When we were in Paris, she even tried to charge a $1200 Saint Laurent bag on my credit card (LOL!) because she maxed out her cards. And all the while, we assured Kate that if she didn’t want to be there, she could go home and give us a heads up to alter our travel plans and not lose money. But each time she insisted she was staying for the full two weeks. On day 7 of our trip, we arrived to the Budapest airport. We were going to fly into Portugal as planned when 10 minutes before our flight, like clockwork, Kate told us that she had to go home to Toronto because family dropped in last minute. We all stood flabbergasted and watched her walk to a gate across the airport. In a matter of seconds, she had left me and my friend, headed to a country where we didn’t speak the language, didn’t have communication with our AirBnBs and didn’t know how to navigate without Kate.
Of course my biggest mistake is that I never called Kate out for being a bad friend.
I would simply let this bad behaviour slide and focus on the more positive sides of our friendship. But the problem with letting too much slide, is inevitably you have a pile of problems you’ve yet to address that sooner or later – you can’t ignore. I’m not a confrontational person by nature, but calmly addressing these issues in our friendship might have made it stronger, or last longer. By the time the Europe incident happened, we were all at the end of our ropes. Kate left us exhausted, frustrated and just plain hurt. We told her how we felt and didn’t get apologies. To date, it’s almost been a year and we still haven’t filled that empty seat in the booth for birthdays or on my couch for monthly taco-night dinners.Photos she’s tagged in with the rest of us haunt us on Facebook, popping up every couple of weeks. While it’s definitely weird to say goodbye to one of your old friends for good, it’s definitely not a bad thing. As we get older, naturally our friendships and relationships change. Transitioning from adolescents to adults, we simply hope that we grow and change with our friends as opposed to without them.