I found out this week just how easy it is to destroy a long standing friendship. But what I had to do in the end was simply necessary for my own best interests.
About 5 years ago I was engaged. Unfortunately, things didn't work out. We had a horrible breakup, but somehow we managed to remain friends. That's not to say we didn't have some time where we avoided each other or that it was necessarily my best friendship. But we still talked fairly reguarly.
About a month ago this person out of the blue asks me if I have any regrets. I said that I did, because I really did miss her. She was surprised by this because she felt I was rather aloof with her. But, I explained that I was mostly just afraid. I'd tried to get back together with her again in the past but it always ended up badly. She asked me what I would say if she asked me to visit. I said I'd be inclined to say yes. After more conversation, it was clear that she was serious. I'm really not sure what she wanted, but I took the conversation to mean some degree of interest in trying to have a relationship again.
Plans were made, though not quickly due to scheduling and probably just prudence on our part. I looked forward to this trip, but kept it quiet from my friends. I didn't want anyone to talk me out of it. I really wanted this shot. But it wasn't meant to be.
On Monday she started saying she wanted me to reschedule. She gave several reasons for the rescheduling but none of them made a whole lot of sense to me. We weren't rescheduling for a specific date and there was no goal to know when we we should reschedule. Ultimately, she finally just explained it as "instinct" and refused to explain further. I pushed for her to reconsider or explain her reasons in more detail for hours. But I never got a satisfactory answer. In the end I felt pretty hurt and betrayed.
This wouldn't be the first time she seemed like she wanted to try again and then backed out. In the past she'd always told me I was reading too much into things. But this time she initiated the conversation, her intentions seemed much clearer. So I felt like I had little choice as to what to do.
I had to end the friendship, break off contact with her. Now I've done this before. Only to get an email from her saying she was sorry. So I went back to talking to her. This time I'm going to have to really follow through. And it really sucks. It's not easy, I keep thinking of her and wondering what she's doing.
I should have learned a long time ago that it would never work. All I could ever really expect was to be friends, that we shouldn't ever try to take it past that again. I could have saved that friendship by simply saying no. Instead now I'm doing something that's even more distasteful than simply turning her down.
I wish her the best of luck. I'll never forget her. I just hope she can find whatever she's looking for in life and is happy.