Vera Venue

How to confront an emotionally distant relationship

Hi Maja! I’m really struggling with my best friend at the moment. She has always been very focused on romantic relationships and making sure she always has a person around to give her affection and attention. Since we came to uni together it has gotten much more intense and sometimes her love/sex life is all she talks about, and she doesn’t seem interested in me at all anymore. I don’t want to stop being friends but I also don’t know how to get her to change.”

Esme, 21

Hello Esme! Thanks for a great submission for my last ever Vera column.

Being in this kind of situation is very difficult and very common. Part of growing up with your close friends is seeing them change and go through phases, just like you are. Sometimes those shifts are positive, and sometimes they can create tension and friction where there were no issues beforehand.

While your frustrations are entirely understandable, it’s also important to see things from your friend’s point of view, for the sake of remaining fair. Her newfound interest in romantic and sexual relationships is probably, whether she realises it or not, an important step for her in figuring out what she wants in a partner and embracing her sexuality. While I definitely thought I knew everything at 21, I most definitely didn’t. I made plenty of mistakes along the lines of who I hooked up with and got into relationships with, but they were all mistakes that ended up shaping me as a person.

However, even if this time and process is really important to her, your friend should still be able to provide you the attention and support needed in a friendship. In all honesty, she probably doesn’t even notice how much she’s talking about herself– especially if no one in her life has called her out on it. And it’s not necessarily true that she doesn’t care about you or is purposefully choosing not to ask about your life. People who have a tendency to talk about themselves (myself included) are so caught up in their own little world that sometimes the thought of asking about someone else doesn’t even cross our minds. Having somebody call out this behaviour can be a really helpful reality check to bring them back to earth.

And it doesn’t have to be a confrontation either! Depending on your relationship, it can be a lighthearted reminder or gentle redirection to snap someone out of their bubble. For me, I appreciate the friends who will tell me they have something they want to talk about upfront, so that I know it’s my turn to listen and their turn to talk.

If it does turn into a confrontation, which it might (people tend not to take super kindly to being told they’re a neglectful friend), make sure you stand your ground. You are not stuck in any relationship, and there are always options to choose from. Whether you want to work on this issue with your friend or move on to other people, I love that you’re putting yourself first in this situation. No matter what happens, you deserve people in your life who know how to pay just as much attention to you as they expect you to pay to them.

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Maja Anushka

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June 2022
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