1. The Promise Breaker
This friend constantly disappoints you or breaks promises, most likely because she herself was constantly disappointed during her formative years. Your friend is unable to stop herself from repeating that pattern. It is an annoying but comfortable pattern for your friend, and without psychological help, it may be hard for her or him to alter this pattern. You could abandon the friend and the friendship, or you could find a way to detach yourself by lowering your expectations for this friendship. If she promises to do something for you, even to meet you for a cup of coffee, you can say, "Sure," but protect yourself by knowing, in the back of your mind, that this friend ...view middle of the document...
If you have a cell phone or beeper, make sure your friend is able to contact you so at least you won't be left waiting if, once again, she cancels a meeting. Have "back-up" for any promises your friend makes; at least if the Promise Breaker disappoints you again, you won't be as inconvenienced by it.
The next time she promises something, try saying, "Yeah, right." When she gets angry at your sarcasm, explain that you are simply pointing out her habit of breaking her promises. Then reframe it in a more positive vein by saying, "Prove me wrong. This time, keep your promise."
2. The Double-crosser
This negative friend betrays you big-time. It could happen when someone does something to hurt you, such as spreading a malicious rumor about you. Or it could be an emotional double-cross; for example, when a close or best friend stops speaking to you and you never find out why. That's what happened to Jill, who is now 47. Although angry words were never exchanged between Jill and her friend, the silence, the betrayal of their commitment to be friends and to share, was just as real as any harmful action. Jill explains:
"She was the only real friend I ever had. I didn't make friends easily. I wasn't allowed to have friends. When I got to high school, I met Dale and we became very close. The one time I ran away, I ran to her house. It was a very special friendship. We went to nursing school together. Then one day she met another girl.... About a week later, she stopped speaking to me. I'd call her; she'd hang up on me. I'd write to her; she'd return the letters, unopened."
Ten years later, they resumed their friendship, although they still have never discussed why Dale stopped calling. The wounds from her friend's emotional double-crossing are there, however. "We're close, but not as close," Jill explains. But then she qualifies her description of her friendship with Dale as "close." "For me, for the type of person I am, it's close. For somebody like my sister, it's not close."
The double-cross could be something even more concrete, like the betrayal experienced by 43-year-old Susan, a homemaker. Susan was betrayed by a married close family friend who was attracted to her sister:
"He continued to express his desire and love for her, and when she insisted that he put an end to the numerous phone messages at her office and she told him of her disgust at this attitude, he turned around and told his wife that my sister was coming on to him. It was a real fatal attraction. I personally phoned him and ended our friendship. I'm talking real betrayal. Our family felt totally betrayed by this man, whom we had all known since childhood."
Susan shares other betrayals, by another friend: "One of my girlfriends is now using my sister and myself as an alibi while she carries on extramarital affairs. This is very upsetting. She has also repeated some things to another friend which were said to her in confidence." This second friend is putting Susan...