Relationships Damaged

Comments about relationships that were damaged / terminated.

“A few years ago, I reconnected with an old classmate. We were never really friends, more like members of the same group. Shortly after we reconnected, her husband died. I was widowed, had volunteered in a bereavement group, and rebuilt my life. I reached out to her and we developed an ongoing friendship.

That lasted until she inadvertently sent me an email, meant for another old classmate, in which she maligned my political leanings. I called her on it and the damage was done. She still calls with annual Christmas greetings but that’s the extent of our relationship.”

“I had this client. I hated going to his house because he had a big Trump 2020 flag at his front door, and he was always criticizing liberal thinking and ethnic groups. I finally decided to “fire” him as a client and quit. I simply had enough.  

I did the right thing and do not regret it. I am polite to my friends who are politically different from me, but there is a divide, and it is not a subject I care to debate with them.”

“I email regularly with some old college pals. To one of them, I made what I thought was an innocuous comment about a couple of Executive Orders the president made. My friend and her husband (who was not included in the email I sent) then sent a joint reply mansplaining Executive Orders. I replied by asking why they thought I needed their explanation.

I did get an apology from her, but the damage was done. Although they live less than an hour away, I haven’t seen them in a couple of years. We still email but less frequently, and I ignore feelers about getting together. I think the relationship has been permanently damaged.”

“I’ve been blessed to maintain my health and my business through this crisis. I’ve worked from home for decades, so in many ways, my day-to-day routine has not changed. And yet, the pandemic has offered up an unexpected set of challenges: not one, but four relationships now ended or drastically changed in the course of the past 10 months.

The first relationship was a 25+ year friendship with a woman who had been both a trusted, good friend and a client. You know the old saying, right? Don’t mix business with pleasure. Still, we’d managed to do that — mixing our friendship within the shared experience of being female sole proprietors of our own businesses — for a long time.

But Covid-19, the unknown factor of ‘what comes next,’ the financial uncertainty, the fear — put a lot of stress on a relationship that was already strained by boundary issues. What part of the relationship is friendship and what is business? How to help a friend vs. how to help a client? Is there business loyalty among friends? There is a lot of gray area there that would have been murky before Covid-19 and ended up toxic after. We’re not speaking now and I’m not sure we will — for a while, forever?

The second relationship — not nearly as intimate, but almost as long — was with my hairdresser. This was a direct result of the politics of the pandemic. During my first haircut after the shutdown, while I was in the chair, he complained about, adjusted, removed, laughed and otherwise scoffed at mask wearing, and questioned the validity of the science behind the shutdown. He continued this even after I talked about my risk factors, and the new infant in my family. I left feeling very violated and knew I would not return — even though this kind of letting go is really hard for me.

The third relationship was with a work colleague, a primarily virtual friendship shared through daily email and text messages for almost 10 years that ended abruptly. It turned out he was a rabid Trump supporter, and I am not. There was more to it than that, of course — boundaries, and inappropriate texts, and the overall fragile nature of relationships built virtually.

The fourth relationship involves the ending of a partnership with my boyfriend of many years. Not a big surprise really, since we pretty much hobbled into 2020 as it was. But add the pandemic, isolating in separate places, his escalated drinking, and differing politics into the mix and in the end, there wasn’t much left to salvage, really. Covid-19 was our reckoning — all of the things we didn’t say, the conversations we couldn’t have, the arguments we’ve avoided for years, the reconciling we never found a way to achieve — weighted the whole thing down so far that we just sank.

There are running themes in these relationships: a catalog of things I didn’t say, a list of murky boundaries, co-dependencies, a group of strained relationships pushed to the breaking point. Indeed 2020 equals plenty of hindsight.”

“Sadly, I have had several relationships changed or ended because of politics.

The past two years have been very difficult for me because Trump’s presidency created so much continual anger in my husband that it spilled over into our relationship. He spent so many hours every day reading books about Trump and all his threats to democracy or writing or emailing to members of Congress and senators all over the country, that I felt I was practically invisible to him.

Thank God Biden has won, as things are much, much better between us. The Covid-19 isolation did allow for more time together, but we did not always make the most of it. We are doing better now

I have other examples of relationships changed by politics. For one, my husband cannot abide a friend of mine who has adored Trump, even though she was very kind and helpful to us when he was ill. Although we had some good times together before last year with her and her husband, it is now impossible for us to be together as a foursome. So just she and I stay in touch and occasionally social distance together.

Another example: my husband’s friend of many decades seems to have ended their relationship over politics. My husband feels very hurt, but he has had to realize that you cannot change how people think — even if they are intelligent medical doctors!”