I am a scorned friend.
It’s hard to say that so publically because I’m not innocent in my friendship behaviour. I have hurt my female friends, I’ve said the wrong thing, and I’ve made too many faux pas than I care to admit.
Friendships aren’t perfect, and I’ve never expected either myself or the other person to always get it ‘right. I’ve accepted my fair share of forgiving, as much as I’ve asked for forgiveness.
Yet, I have a hard time trusting female friends.
And for many years, I believed they weren’t for me. I believed a female friendship sucked. And it stemmed from my experiences with a few deceitful people to form my opinion and make me draw away.
For years I couldn’t move the past trauma of how they lied, deceived, and mocked me behind my back. I thought every female would hurt me the same way if I allowed them to get close enough.
Sometimes I wonder if it was me who got the ‘female friendship’ idea wrong.
Or whether female friends really do suck.
One Broke My Trust
I’m standing in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. It’s our second day in London, both with boyfriends waiting for our return to Melbourne three months later. I turn to Lila, who’s notoriety for drunk, shameless behaviour was legendary, and state:
“What happens on this holiday stays on this holiday. If anything happens, you know I won’t tell anyone at home.” She agreed.
I assumed at some stage she would slip up. Shameless drunk cheating. I wanted her to know her loyalty laid with me.
Skip forward three months, I return home and she stays on to pursue an education opportunity. I’m asked by our mutual friends what ‘happened’ on our Europe adventure, I say nothing. Yet, everyone at home knew every detail. Including our pact. Word-for-word. But they knew nothing of what Lila did.
Which, by the way, I still won’t say. Because I promised to keep her secret.
I thought your girlfriend keep secrets
There is an unsaid bro-code among men that seems ignored with some female friendships. Guys seem to understand that a secret is a secret. They also acknowledge that choosing to divulge elements of your life takes courage.
And courage should be rewarded with loyalty and requested secrecy.
But the females of my life did the opposite. Females possess an innate need to gossip. We have to tell someone to make it feel real. Because if it’s a thought floating through our head, it isn’t real yet.
Yet, do we understand the consequences of breaking the trust of a friend?
One Cheated On Me
I loved my two best friends, Anne and Weston. But it turns out they loved themselves more.
As they secretly started dating, they didn’t tell me. They were falling in love with each other, lying in bed together as they exchanged messages with me. They lied about where they were, or why they couldn’t make it to a ‘date’ with me.
Because they were too busy hiding their relationship behind my back.
Their relationship lasted for years. Even when I confronted them, they never admitted to the romance. Nor did they accept their secret-keeping to be an issue.
I thought your girlfriends didn’t lie to you
What are relationships worth if honesty doesn’t exist? It is a friendship if there is lying? I wonder what Anne thought of me as she worked so hard to ensure I didn’t find out.
When we put all this effort into lying and deception, it shows our priority is with the lie, and not with the person you’re hiding it from.
Friends can cheat on you too. We associate cheating as romantic deception. But, cheating is a variation of lying. It’s doing something behind someone’s back and concealing it.
Worse than the cheating was the confrontation. Anne never said if the relationship existed or not. Now she was lying by omission.
Anne had the opportunity to repent her unfaithfulness. Yet, she persisted, confirming what I thought was true. She didn’t care about me.
One Kept The Secret
Everyone knew about their relationship, except me. And Julie, my closest confidant after I found out the affair had begun, I began to lean on.
I cried on her shoulder about how I felt betrayed and lied to. I expressed how sad I was that two people I loved, that I would lay down my life for, would hide something significant from me.
I asked Julie if it was true. And she said she wouldn’t answer. Julie knew if it was true or not, but she refused to tell me. Despite my tears, despite the trauma from losing both of my best friends, she stood by Anne.
She stood by the liar.
I thought your girlfriends would stand up for you
While I know Julie was being loyal to Anne, what about her loyalty to me? Though I don’t envy the fact she was stuck in the middle, what does it say of our friendship is she was happy to watch me get humiliated?
To watch someone suffer, what type of friend does that make you? Especially when you know you can do something to better the situation.
I assume female friends were a little more like mediators. That they heard both sides of the stories and helped bring people back together. That they helped end suffering rather than let it continue.
It’s made me think females can only be loyal to one. If we pit two females against each other, they feel as if they have to choose sides. In reality, we should be able to co-exist together.
One Blindly Believed What Everyone Else Said
Suddenly, Jocelyn stopped talking to me. She was one of the girls, friends with Anne, Lila and Julie.
I wondered why her sudden silence. But once Jocelyn deleted me off Facebook, I found out she had heard the story from Lila. And she knew about the affair with Anne.
She’d decided I was a bad person, and no longer wanted to remain friends.
But never once in her decision to unfriend me, to cut me from her life, did she come and talk to me. Ask my side of the story. Find out what happened from my point of view.
Or hear my hurt first hand.
I thought your girlfriends would hear you out
It was too much to expect that someone in my group of friends would understand my side. But how can you expect understanding when people don’t listen?
This is where the distinction between listening and hearing comes into its own. They are very much two separate ideas. We accept that listening means you’ve not only heard the other person out, but you’ve also digested and reconciled your thoughts on it.
But when someone you love doesn’t even give you the opportunity to be heard, how can you call them a friend? If they can’t give you the time of day, what is a friendship?
Stay A Little Cynical
As much as I would like to say that these four people in my life are rarities, there are many more females who’ve left me scorned. But now I’m a little wiser, a little less trusting, and a little less reluctant to give my friendship heart away so easily.
With a little cynicism, a little dose of reality, I can make better choices with my friends. I can better assert how friends should treat me. Yet I need to remember that not all friendships crimes are cause for a break-up.
Remember to forgive, or forever remain friendless.
This problem isn’t genderless
The hurt inflicted from friends isn’t gender-specific. From the situation with Weston, I can attest men can be as disloyal friends as females. Yet, I have less male friends who’ve let me down.
Perhaps that’s because I went to an all-female school. Or worked in jobs where women out-employ men. Or it’s because I’ve always enjoyed wanting female friendships, and sought them out.
Or maybe it’s because I’m not built for all-female friendships. Where it’s all about the female agenda. Where boys are the enemy.
I’ve often looked over old photos of myself and the girls I’ve mentioned in this story. Together, we were insular. We were unable to allow new people to penetrate our inner sanctum. And too often we chanted, ‘No boys allowed.’
In retrospect, the tantrums, the drama, the gossiping was exhausting. It was a constant battle between what I should do and what I was doing wrong.
I never got it right. I never truly fit it in.
I’ve always thought it was me who had the problem. But as I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve realised that this idea that only having friends that are the same sex as you is unhealthy.
Because adulthood isn’t high school. The all-female school environment isn’t representative of the actual world. The ‘no boys allowed’ policy is delusional.
We need the other sex to learn from, to grow with, and to create change with.
My now female friends are incredible. I met them long after school ended. And long after the pain has subsided.
But there aren’t as many as I once had. Yet these friendships, they’re the real deal.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love and relationships through fictional-reality. The anecdotes might not always be true, but the lessons learned sure are!
More from me:
The Twenty-Fifth Does Not Define Christmas
A Covid Christmas doesn’t scare me, because I’ve always had a family-less Christmas day.
Is It Time To Put The Closed Sign On Your Door?
How I Learned It Was The Right Time To Shut My Business