A former friend of mine, whom I’ll call Leah, and I have been working on our Marketing Honors Theses since the summer. She’s doing hers with the assistance of a thesis advisor in the Marketing Department; I decided to go another route and work with the head of the Writing Department (AKA my mentor)–probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Anyways, this year’s Honors Marketing students (i.e. Leah, a guy I’ll call Justin, and me), who are also working on their theses, belong to a group to kind of make it somewhat easier for those “in charge” to keep track of what we’re doing. And as members of this group, we are to participate in two progress-keeping presentations during the year. These presentations allow the Marketing Department heads and our thesis advisors to review what we’ve done and what we’ll continue to do as the year advances.
A week before Fall Break, Leah reminded me that we had our first presentation the week after the break. That same week, I remember I texted her (1st try) asking her when the presentation was scheduled. No response. Okay, I thought. She may not have gotten it; it happens [or does it?], no biggie. So we went on with our vacations.
Then sometime during the middle of our breaks, I texted her (2nd try) the same question again. No response. Well, that’s weird. Oddly enough, she still sent another study group of ours stuff about some assignment we had. So she’s alive–okay. Is there something she’s not telling me?
Finally, that weekend before classes resumed, I called her. She didn’t pick up, so I left a message asking her the same question (3rd try). She never called back. Ah, I get it, she’s definitely not telling me! Wow…
Then Fall Break ended, which meant that the presentations were coming up. Something told me they would take place that Wednesday, so I asked my advisor to ask the Marketing Dept. head when the exact date and time just in case. (Why didn’t I ask her myself? Because the latter had instilled a while ago in me that any communication re: theses should be handled between her and my advisor.) Wednesday at 2 PM. Awesome, I had ONE afternoon to prepare.
Then Wednesday came. In the morning, I met with my advisor. Then I was off to class with none other than Leah. I was MAD–kinda livid–but managed to hide it pretty well. So well, in fact, that after class, she asked, “Are you going off to work now?” (She knows full well I don’t even work on Wednesday afternoons). “No, I have a meeting,” I replied. (This was partly true: I did have another meeting before the infamous presentation, and then I had to prep and print copies of my work to show the other profs that would be attending!)
Then it was 1:45 and I just could NOT wait to see Leah’s face when she saw me at our meeting. I headed over to the room, went in, said “hi” to the Marketing head and glanced over at Leah. She avoided me, of course; I avoided her, too, only nodding here and there during her somewhat dry presentation. (She presented first, followed by Justin, and I went last.)
After all the presentations were over, she turned to me and said, “Good job.” “Thanks,” I said, without even managing a smile. My mentor was more civilized and commented on how good a job she had done. But I couldn’t even look at her. At our meeting that morning, I had explained the whole situation to my mentor (including how I thought Leah’s and my friendship was over), and she said something about how competition gets the best of people. I guess Leah became competition’s most recent victim.
With friends like that, who needs enemies?
(Just imagine if I had actually gone to work that day; she really would have NEVER told me about the presentation or apologized had I not showed up!)
The next day, Leah approached me after a meeting she and I had with members of another study group. She finally apologized: apparently, she didn’t know whether the Marketing head would have even wanted me to know when the presentation would be. (Seriously!) That gets a cynical “charming,” as my Business Law prof would say: She knew what she was doing ALL ALONG and waited almost two weeks to let me know how sorry she was and how badly she felt…
I admitted to her that I was very disappointed in her and couldn’t believe she had done this. I also told her that her apology meant a lot to me, and I think I forgave her. But honestly, I won’t forget about it. After all, forgetting about our pasts only condemns us to repeat them, or so the Colombian saying goes.
Today, I’m still civil around Leah, and try to act like the friend I was before the incident, but I don’t trust her anymore. She, our common friend Ava, and I had been wanting to form some sort of business partnership later on, but I don’t think I can anymore. Clearly, she values her own well being over anyone else’s, which is OK, but not to the extent that it hurts others.
If a relationship (even a friendship) isn’t adding value to your life–or worse, if it’s taking value from it or harming you–END IT. And pronto. Everyone deserves better.
Have YOU ever had to end a friendship or has someone ever unknowingly ended a friendship they had with you?
— — —
2014 Update: I haven’t talked to “Leah” since we graduated college in 2011. That business partnership is definitely never happening. Her loss!