Betrayed by a Close Friend? Lower Their Friendship Credit Rating!

Reader’s Question

I am 27 years old. I was going around with my best friend of 8 years and very serious about him. One day I got to know that he was two-timing me with my other good friend. I felt shattered. I also got to know that he had been physical with her. When confronted he made it seem like he was an innocent pawn. I forgave him for it and we resumed our relationship but still I kept coming to know of his infidilities with my friend. Hi still keeps denying it. I just could not trust him though and this eventually made me break away from him. Life was hell as I loved him still. Time passed and things got back to normal and we continued being friends. But he could not bear it that other guys in my life were also my friends. He started calling me all kinds of names like cheap, a flirt etc., even though he knew they were just friends of mine. Recently I got to know that he was lying about a lot of things though he had promised me to never break my trust again as a friend. I was very shattered and when I confronted him he made me look like the guilty one saying that I believed everyone else over him and hence he lost his respect for me. The fact is that I have proof that he lied to me but yet he denies it. Things like this have happend repeatedly and now I do not know if I should talk to him or confront him or just stay away even if he tries to talk to me again. One, he was my first love and somewhere I still care for him, two he was my best friend for eight years and three we have the same circle of friends so it’s inevitable that I meet him. I seem to be having an emotional bond with him even though he has given me nothing but pain. I seem to take all his jibes to heart and feel hurt everytime he says something bad about me. He does not want to be with me nor without me. Have had many nights with wet pillows because of this situation.

Psychologist’s Reply

I suspect your friend has several characteristics I describe in my “Identifying Losers in Relationships” article on this website. He is selfish, dishonest, deceitful, verbally insulting when confronted with his mistakes, takes no personal responsibility for his behavior, blames others, and tries to con/manipulate/control those around him. I think after reading the article, you’ll see someone you know.

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What do you do? First, you can’t erase the memory of that “first love” — and we shouldn’t want to in most cases. As we go through life we collect a variety of “first” events that later become part of our history and memories. As you’ve discovered, however, most of the time you can’t go back. People change over time and he’s changed for the worse. In short, don’t try to forget what he originally meant to you but recognize that you’re dealing with a different person now.

Second, read the Loser article and see what you’re dealing with in this friend. As you’ve also discovered, he cares more about his feelings that about your feelings. He can be harmful to you…and it doesn’t bother him. Identifying him as he is now can protect you.

Third, if you must be around him in social settings — lower his credit rating. It’s sometimes helpful to imagine rating those around us like the local Bank might rate us — a credit rating. At the low end of the scale, strangers receive no credit — just polite conversation as though we were in an elevator together. Neighbors are rated at the “public information only” level — only telling them where we work, talk about our automobile, etc. — nothing personal. Friends are at the “family information” level and may have personal information about us — but they are not given intimate information about us. Close friends know all our secrets and we share very private information with them. Lastly, Intimate Friends are those who have seen us naked, we’ve had a prior intimate relationship with them, been sweethearts, etc.

When people lie, betray, abuse, use/manipulate us, or violate a confidence, we lower their credit rating. Your friend, who had a prior Intimate Friend rating, should be reduced to a “Family Information” level. Even when talking to him in social settings, we offer no personal, private or intimate information. If he asks for more personal information, we respond with “I think that part of my life isn’t your business anymore” or “We don’t have that kind of relationship anymore”. We can still be polite, but we shut down the opportunity to obtain personal information about us. He would use that information against us.

Lastly, after reducing his credit rating, I’d recommend reading my article on Emotional Memory on this website. Old friends produce a lot of Emotional Memory for us — memories of our relationship that contain strong positive and negative emotions. When we think of one of those memories — the emotions quickly follow. That’s why you cry just thinking about the situations — those memories contain feelings. The article will provide you with guidelines to manage those memories — even in his physical presence.

He’s moved through your life and your best bet is to learn from the experience. Fifteen percent (15%) of the adult population have significant personality disorders, and as we go through life, we run into several of these folks. Some are friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members and yes — ex-boyfriends.

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