Friendships: Broken Friendships with Richard Kneip

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Ask a Therapist: Broken Friendships with Richard Kneip

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Some friends come into our lives for a short time and some are with us for a good part of our lives. Join Richard Kneip, PhD, as he answers your questions about broken friendships.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome everyone! Today's guest is Richard Kneip, PhD. He will be answering your questions about broken friendships.

lonelyeyes99: My friend became pregnant about the same time I found out I couldn't have children. I kind of strayed away but now realize how much we need each other. What can I do?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Overcoming estrangement in a relationship requires openness and honest communication. The fact that you recognize that your own feelings of envy over your friend's pregnancy created distance in the relationship is important, and your friend would probably appreciate your sharing this with her. Without knowing that, she may be left wondering about the reasons for your distance. As you share with your friend your thoughts and feelings, you will be making an important contribution to the restoration of the relationship. You can find more information about marriage, relationships and communication at

minou_5_1999: How can I forget somebody who broke my heart?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Having a romantic relationship broken off abruptly is one of the most difficult experiences we can have. While you may never fully leave behind the hurt you are experiencing, it will be important that you come to understand that your partner's decision was made for their own reasons and had nothing to do with your worth as a person. As you appreciate the fact that you are lovable and will move on and form new relationships, it will become easier for you to allow your partner to do the same.

floppygoth: When a person can't forgive you, is it just best to let it go until they come around?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Yes, of course. It may be important to allow for opportunities to talk about what it is that is troubling the other person, or specifically in what way they feel they have been wronged. Inability to forgive is usually related to our perception that we have been treated unfairly or wronged in some way. Usually, the wronged person would like amends to be made and sometimes a simple "I'm sorry" is sufficient. However, if it is not, then there may be little more than you can do other than to let them sort it out for themselves.

angelique_liz: I had a best friend and we broke up cause I was too jealous. What should I do to get her back?

Richard Kneip, PhD: I'm assuming you broke off the relationship as a result of your jealousy. If you decided that you are wrong and that you behaved poorly, then of course the first and most important thing for you to do is to express your regret to your friend. If she is truly a friend, then I am sure she will be relieved that you wish to renew the friendship. In relationships, the single most important factor in the quality of the relationship is open and honest communication. It usually isn't easy, as our feelings, pride, and embarrassment may get in the way, but overcoming these things and expressing ourselves openly is crucial in establishing good relationships.

floppygoth: If a friendship is completely broken off, what are some activities that can facilitate grieving and healing?

Richard Kneip, PhD: In part, that would depend upon the circumstances under which the breakup took place. Nonetheless, it is very important when any relationship breaks up that we come to some understanding as to why the breakup occurred. Usually, we defend ourselves against the pain and disappointment by blaming the other person entirely for the breakup. On the other hand, it can be equally destructive when we blame ourselves entirely. Recovery from the hurt cannot take place effectively until we come to a balanced appreciation of how we contributed to the breakup, and also what we can learn about ourselves so we can avoid repeating the same mistakes in future relationships.

joyciepooh_2000: Should I let my friend run over me just to keep her friendship?

Richard Kneip, PhD: I would not recommend it. If you continuously allow yourself to be used or mistreated to maintain a relationship, I have to believe that ultimately you will come to resent this, which will hurt the relationship in the long run anyway. Instead, I would encourage you to talk to your friend about the ways you feel you are being run over in hopes that your friend will be more respectful of you and stop doing this.

serenaraine: I recently lost a friend because she started working with me. She quit her job and hasn't spoken to me since. Should I try to mend the friendship by making the first move?

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Diet for Stress Management: Carbs, Nuts, and Other Stress-Relief Foods

Richard Kneip, PhD: Certainly. While you assume that your friend is having feelings about you and your friendship as a result of having lost her job, you can't really be sure what is going on until the two of you have a chance to talk about it. Why not approach your friend with the same enthusiasm that the two of you had before? If she has a problem, she will let you know. This will give the two of you a chance to work it out. Many relationships have been ruined because assumptions were made.

dava_00: I had this friend that recently got married and I missed it because of a bad fight we had. I feel guilty now and I want to apologize but she was to blame. Any advice?

Richard Kneip, PhD: If you feel like apologizing, then do it. As I have said, many good relationships have suffered when friends are reluctant to make the first move toward reconciliation after a fight. At the same time, you will have a difficult time apologizing because you feel that your friend was to blame for the fight. Approaching her with an apology would be very courageous on your part, and you would hope she would acknowledge her role in the fight and would forgive you for missing her wedding. At least this would give the two of you an opportunity to talk about it and work it out.

atomandhispackage: I have a friend who is ALWAYS contradicting me. I'm the kind of person who won't quit until everyone knows I'm right. We are currently in a fight because of it. I know I'm right but I know she will not apologize, and I wont either as long as I'm right. What should I do?

Richard Kneip, PhD: It is very important in relationships that we are accepting of other's views. It sounds to me that your friend might feel stifled by your insistence on being right all the time. Sometimes there is no one clear right answer. For a change, try asking your friend if she thinks you think you are always right. Ask her what that is like for her. Ask her if she thinks that you think that you must be right all the time. Try to get a better sense of what her experience of you is like. Maybe if you understand her viewpoint better, you will be better able to empathize. As the old adage goes "seek first to understand than to be understood."

martina_mcbride_fan: What should you do if your best friend tells you she's sleeping with your boyfriend?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Few scenarios that I can imagine would be as devastating as this. As in a single sentence, you have potentially lost two of your closest relationships. The hurt, anger, and sense of betrayal would be extremely difficult for anybody. What you do would depend upon the situation. No doubt you would confront your boyfriend with this information and then talk, a lot, with both of them. If it is as bad as it sounds, then this probably marks the end of both relationships as most friendships or romantic relationships could not withstand such a betrayal.

sasa_kelly: My friend is very jealous of any other friendships I have. It makes me angry and makes me not want to do things with her when she acts like I should only be hanging out with her. How do I handle that?

Richard Kneip, PhD: You have every right to be uncomfortable with your friend's possessive jealousy and should confront her with the fact that you can't tolerate it. She needs to understand that you need to maintain all of your relationships and that it would be best for her to have a variety of friends and activities as well. If she is unable to change, then you might be best off ending the friendship, as ultimately it will be doomed by her manipulative attempts to control and possess you.

sappygirl99: How do I get my friend to believe that I didn't' spread rumors at a party?

Richard Kneip, PhD: You tell your friend that you did not do it. If your friend is truly a friend, then he or she will believe you. If they don't believe you, then your friend is not a friend. Go get some friends that trust you and believe you.

sanjose_lady_nopm: My best friend told me that my husband tried to kiss her before we got married. He and I are not together anymore but not as a result of that. Now my friend and I are talking again, but I feel like she can't be trusted because she waited until after he and I split up to tell me. What do you think?

Richard Kneip, PhD: While certainly your suspicion and disappointment is understandable, you should also appreciate how difficult this information might have been for her to give you while you were together. She was perhaps fearful that it might create a problem in your marriage or in you and your husband's relationship with your friend. As I have said, I would recommend that you talk to your friend about this and try to understand her perspective. If this is the only thing that is causing you to feel that your friend can't be trusted, then you should think whether this is an isolated example, or is it another in a long string of examples of untrustworthiness. If it is an isolated incident, then perhaps you are allowing your anger to over-generalize.

loves2smile19: I am in love with my best friend. What do I do?

Richard Kneip, PhD: As difficult as it will be, you have no choice but to talk to your friend about your feelings. If you have been feeling this way for some time, then your feelings are not likely to change and, therefore, will have some impact on your relationship with your friend. It is very hard for us not to express our feelings, so I suspect that your friend will know or does know already. Talking about it will allow the two of you to work through it together, which may ultimately strengthen the relationship. Whether the two of you decide to pursue a romantic relationship together or not, at least the two of you will have a better understanding of why or why not.

cloundno9: My best friend just got a new boyfriend. Because I don't have a lot of good friends, I do a lot of things with her, but since her new boyfriend came along, she has completely blown me off. She never comes around, never phones, and she never shares things with me anymore. What should I do?

Richard Kneip, PhD: You should tell your friend how happy you are that she has found someone that makes her so happy. You might also tell her that you miss her and the wonderful things the two of you used to do together and hope that you can continue to do things together even though you understand that it won't be as frequent as it used to be. Your friend will be very pleased by your approval of her new relationship and will value your friendship all the more.

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Diet for Stress Management: Carbs, Nuts, and Other Stress-Relief Foods

ejaustin_07043: Can a friendship ever be the same again after there was a major problem in the past?

Richard Kneip, PhD: All friendships and relationships go through periods of growth, as well as periods of strain and distance. This is a natural thing in the development of relationships. When a problem develops, after that relationship, it never really is the same but in some ways may be better. Sometimes we feel even closer after overcoming obstacles in a friendship. Friendships that have weathered many storms can be very enduring. If the problems are not resolved, then there can be a gradual erosion of the relationship to the point where it dissolves. During periods of stress and crisis, it is most important that an open and honest dialogue be maintained with a focus of solving the problem. If this occurs, then the result might be an even stronger friendship.

Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Kneip. Unfortunately that will have to be our last question for today. Thank you all for joining us.

Richard Kneip, PhD: Thank you for all the great questions.

Moderator: We hope you enjoyed your time with us today and look forward to seeing you again soon.

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Reviewed on 10/23/2003 1:21:01 AM

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