I met my best friend in college almost 20 years ago. After we graduated, due to life and career choices we have never lived in the same city, but stayed extremely close. We talk every day and have made an effort to see each other in person at least once every other month. Our friendship has always been effortless, supporting each other through life and knowing the other will be there when we need them. The best part of our friendship is that we have never put expectations or obligations on each other. Cherry on top, our husbands have also become best friends.
Since college we have always planned the time we will finally live in the same city. Ideally within a couple blocks of each other and then likely retiring and living Golden Girls-style together until we die. Our plan finally came together and she announced that she and her husband were going to move to our city! And then as life tends to fuck up plans, my husband’s job moved us to Europe for a two-year contract. Being ever supportive, she was excited for our adventure and we agreed what is two more years?
2.5 years later, we are still in Europe and life is almost perfect. My husband and I both have jobs at companies we love, we have made amazing friends and feel like we are learning and growing so much living here. Everything about living here seems aligned with what we want out of life, minus being far away. At this point, my husband has said he does not want to move back to the US at all. Besides missing friends and family, I also would stay forever.
I still talk to my best friend almost every day. They did move and are happy in the new city, but the past few months, she has gotten moody and passive-aggressive about the fact that we haven’t moved back. All conversations and letters start and finish with “wish you here already,” “when you finally move back,” “are you done with your adventure abroad yet?” It has gotten to the point when good things happen here, I question telling her because her first response is, “Oh, so you are not going to move back now?” I understand her emotion and since we have never put guilt on each other, which means she must be really hurting. I feel so torn knowing that I love it here—as does my husband—and our old plan doesn’t seem viable anymore.
What is the best way to deal with this guilt I am feeling for ruining our plans? And what is the best way to move forward with my friend?
There are a lot of things that tend to elicit poor reactions from me but few can drive me to such heights of madness than the feeling that I have been made a fool of. I’m able to withstand being wrong, being disliked, or being criticized with varying levels of ease but I truly cannot stand feeling foolish. What drives that feeling is often the late realization that someone else had important information I was not privy to: I am simply wrong when I mispronounce a name, but feel a fool when I realize after the fact that everyone else knew the right way to say it and just let me carry on regardless. A relationship coming to an end when I wanted it to continue is quite bad, but discovering that other people knew it would be ending long before I did is intolerable.
So far, you have done absolutely nothing wrong here. You are an adult who made choices that were right for you and it’s all worked out beautifully so far. You have a life you love and if it doesn’t comport exactly with the way you thought it was going to look almost two decades ago well that’s what happens to basically everyone who has ever lived. There is nothing to feel guilty about here, yet.
What can and should cause you to feel bad is if you don’t tell your friend that plans have changed. You can’t let her continue to think that you’ll be moving back soon when you know you won’t. She will feel foolish once she finally realizes and she will resent you.
I’m guessing part of her moodiness lately is due to the fact that she moved to a new city not all that long before every way we generally have of meeting new people and making friends was put on pause, so she’s probably struggling a bit and wishing her best friend was nearby. That’s a perfectly understandable way to feel, especially given the fact that she does indeed expect you to be coming back soon.
Since she is also a fully grown adult I’m sure she’s capable of adjusting to new circumstances and being happy for you, rather than sullen and passive-aggressive, but you have to give her a chance to do that.