on October 15, 2006
Being in the midst of just such a situation, I was glad to find this book. Having just finished it, I can say that I loved it. I have just finished composing a letter to the friend who is now snubbing me, and even if she never replies, just putting the feelings down on paper has already brought me a sense of relief. I don't understand those who think her letter writing advice stinks. I think it makes a lot of sense. In a nutshell, she says to state your feelings, don't be accusatory and rattle off the other's faults because it will just make them defensive, acknowledge the good things you shared, and leave the door open for reconciliation (if that's what you want). What's wrong with that? I suppose if you're the one doing the snubbing, you'd think this is a bad idea because you already feel guilty and it will make you uncomfortable to face the pain you are causing someone else. But speaking as the snubbed, I'm not saying it wouldn't hurt to get a letter like this from a friend, but that pain is a thousand times better than the endless unanswered questions and self-esteem crushing doubt that comes with being suddenly and unceremoniously blown off.
If nothing else, if this book makes people think about the impact that their behavior has on someone else, then it's a good thing. If you take nothing else away remember this, with someone that you have shared a bond (I'm not talking about a casual relationship), you are not sparing their feelings or keeping them from being hurt by disappearing from their life without a word! You are killing a part of their soul. If you dated some loser for six months that you never even loved, you would give him the courtesy of a letter or a breakup talk or something when you ended the relationship. Why would you not give someone who has been your closest confidante for many years the same courtesy? If you are doing the snubbing, ask yourself if the shoe were on the other foot if you would prefer to have an explanation (painful though it may be) and closure, or if you would want your closest friend in all the world to simply cut you off without a word. You know what the answer is.
So, I highly recommend this book. It's really comforting to know that others go through the same thing and it helps me not take things so personally. If you're lucky enough to have deep friendships that have never been troubled, then know that you are really blessed. But if you're like the rest of us and have wounded or been wounded by someone you called a friend, then this book offers really good advice to help you make peace with the situation and move on.
Pryor's book exceeded my expectations. I picked it up out of idle curiosity and, midway through, got on the phone to a female friend: "You've got to read this! I have a story..."
And that's the power of What Did I Do Wrong (WDIDW): universal appeal and a compelling "can't put this down" narrative style. Pryor creates a unique genre between self-help and personal essay: she's more like the big sister or mentor, with research and attitude, rather than the expert or ordinary person with an opinion. Not bad.
Pryor focuses on women who have close friendships, lasting several years, with frequent contact and conversation. We learn what happens when one friend says, "Enough! I'm ready to move on." Maybe she's just outgrowing the friendship. Or maybe her friend inadvertently did something that made her see their relationship in a new, ugly light. The "initiator" of the breakup tends to just disappear out of the "receiver's" life, leaving the "receiver" baffled, hurt and angry, often unable to feel closure.
Pryor encourages the "initiator" to talk to the "receiver," either in person or via letter. She has become something of an expert in helping others write these letters, beginning with the straightforward communication question: "What is your objective?"
Before reading WDIDW, I would have said, "Typically these conversations create awkwardness and accomplish nothing." But now I would say, "It can be important to assure the receiver that she didn't do anything horrible." The most painful stories in Pryor's book describe situations when one friend believed a false rumor about the other -- in one case, a woman left her neighborhood after friends dropped her based on a bizarre story spread by one woman's housekeeper.
So I would say the most important confrontation may not be about losing the friendship, but about asking the question, "Is this true? Did you do this?" In fact, if a friend doesn't ask these questions, I'd wonder what else was going on. What kind of friend believes an unconfirmed rumor?
Pryor's lack of credentials (she states clearly on the book jacket, "I'm not a shrink or a Pulitzer prize winner") makes the book fun to read. But a social scientist might encourage us to move to deeper questions, such as, "When are these shifts likely to occur? Are friendship changes correlated with changes in residence, career, economic shifts or marriage?"
My own friendships tend to evaporate following a move, marriage, childbirth, or other family event. When I returned to graduate school for a PhD, friends disappeared because my schedule, interests and sense of direction shifted radically. Pryor's stories mostly came from women who resembled each other in terms of life status, such as "married with children." In one case, a friendship broke up when one woman's husband disliked her friend. This topic might deserve more discussion, especially as more and more of us are single and living alone by choice.
With more casual friends, often a single incident made me say, "I don't want to spend more time with this person." So I think it's important to note that, in today's mobile society, we often assume we're friends when we're merely acquaintances. We need to take time to get to know someone before investing emotional energy in a relationship.
But Pryor doesn't seem focused on teaching us, let alone giving us the "10 tips" we see so often these days. She presents evocative stories that encourage us to ask our own questions, talk to whoever's in our current circle of friends, and ultimately find our own solutions.
Not a book to take with you to a desert island!
Cathy Goodwin (.com)
on May 1, 2006
This book was a wonderful read - I didn't want it to end. Liz's writing style is bouncy and easy going. She moves you through the visual elements of each of the stories of the women who's lives were left in tatters over unexplained abruptly ended friendships. I needed some help on this subject, having been dumped by a great friend from my childhood seven years ago. I still carried the confusion and sadness and wondered how she could have done this. What was she thinking?The book reveals much insight into those women who are the "dumpers" What that process was like for them. There aren't many books out there on this subject - so grab this one and have a few tissues on hand - the tears you will shed will be not only for these stories of broken hearts, but for the sorrow you still might carry around for your own loss. Well done, Liz
on November 18, 2008
While I think this is an interesting topic, Pryor's anecdotes are pretty one note and lack depth. She tells the same story over and over again in the same way and adds a few personal details about each woman-they're an actress you may have heard of! a successful executive who drops by to show off their fancy new car! a woman from Georgia who was part of a clique that had a silly name! (just like the ya ya sisterhood)in order to add some life and definition to them. Most of these details ring false and there isn't any insight into friendships breaking up just "wow, it's painful".
The most enlightening story in the book is about the author herself; after befriending a woman whose daughter was in the same ballet class, the author decided to end the friendship and iced her without telling her why, completely stopped talking to her and wouldn't return her calls. Four years later the girls end up at the same school and on the first day of school the author decides now would be a good time to renew the acquaintance, she says she is just trying to be civil but really, she didn't need the woman before and now she does (new school, new cliques of parents)so she approaches her as though nothing had ever happened and is shocked when the woman is rude to her and wants nothing to do with her. Shocked to the point of calling her and confronting her. Basically "get out of my life I don't need you, oh wait, now I do because otherwise this will be awkward for me". I think I would rather read the other woman's book, she may actually have some self awareness, the author does not.
on July 1, 2009
I am surprised to read all the positive reviews of this book. While I agree that this book has something good to offer those that are breaking off a friendship (don't just leave without acknowledging the friendship)or those who have a friend bailing on them (know that the woman most likely avoids you because she is avoiding confrontation), I found many of the stories and some of the author's sentiments quite shallow.
The underlying theme throughout seems to be that friendships are great, as long as they are serving your needs. When they're not, let's talk about 'options' to remove a person from your life (or scale back the friendship to fit your needs). Just like marriages, friendships have ups and downs, and people are not perfect. One story that particularly struck me as self-centered was where the women had been friends (talking multiple times a day) for 15 years & had children who's lives were intertwined. One woman decides she needs to break from the other and writes a letter saying so, where she also states that she's ok with her son not seeing her friend's son. (This letter was written with the author's guidance). When the friend who received the letter responds with outrage over the kid's relationship being pulled into the mom's fight, she is viewed as just not getting the point. Wow.
Of course, there will always be people that one has to decide to weed out of one's life, but many of the stories really came across as indicative of a throw-away society.
Read this book if you are looking to end a friendship (initiating or receiving the end) but not if you are looking to really learn about friendship & how to be a friend.
on March 28, 2007
The author made a good effort but it is missing something, maybe because it is based on her life and I am not in this social class.
For me this book reinforced the idea that Women are bad friends. The stories make me wonder who this author knows - sounds like a self-centered crowd.
The friendships she depicts seem shallow ending over gossip, petty squabbles and my personal favorite my husband doesn't like you. Is this the stone ages where a woman can't be friends unless her husband gives permission? My parents had individual friends and couples they were friends with. Each had individual friends that the other liked and didn't like so based on my experiences with friendship some of her stories seem silly and shallow.
I agree with other reviewers about writing a letter when you are in the midst of a painful end to a friendship is a bad idea. Most people are not going to wait until they have enough emotional distance to write such a letter and sometimes you have no idea what the recipient is going through. I would not want to write a letter to someone when I may not know what is happening in her life. Is she experiencing a deep depression? Is there a recent crisis? Sometimes regardless of the spirit in which a letter is intended the person will still read it though a lens that may be clouded by pain or bad circumstances.
This author is not an expert so in some ways her approach seemed fresh but having an expert voice involved could have made it a much better book.
on January 22, 2007
After the grief and confusion with my own personal loss of a dear friendship, this book was like a breath of fresh air. The author, Liz Pryor really hit the nail on the head, and tackled a very common, very taboo friendship topic--what to do when a friend basically disappears into thin air. I am so grateful to her for her storylike text and ability to share perspectives from both sides. Through the number of personal interviews and stories within, the reader is truly able to gain some clarity and insight without having to skip chapters only to find what applies to her.
I wanted to give this book 5 out of 5 stars, however--there is an underlying tone that has an air of pretentiousness about it. While I could relate (who's not a little pretentious at times...?) some readers might not be able to connect with the women who are clearly from upper/middle class lives(the author is married to actor Thomas Calabro, from Melrose Place); there isn't much here for women who have more domestic issues or those who come from a different background than many of the women interviewed in this book. Either way, my opinion is that if you can get past that aspect--you easily have a five-out-of-five star book. I highly recommend it to ALL women seeking solace during such a confusing time.
on March 30, 2006
I must say that reading Liz Pryor's book was like sitting down for coffee and a chat with a great and wise friend. Her style is comfortable, humerous and most importantly...personable. With a subject which can be painful, embarrasing, and isolating Liz Pryor holds your hand and tells you the bare, raw truth about how and why women so commonly end their friendships with a quiet blow off.
As a woman who has been on both sides of the various senarios discussed in the book, I found Liz's frank and informative book a real eye opener. I will never walk into or out of a friendship without concidering Pryor's pearls of wisdom.
Thank you Ms. Pryor!!!
on April 6, 2006
This book is like a great gabfest with a close friend.
Everyone can relate, even guys, to being dumped by a close friend. It isn't any better when you do the dumping. So reading Liz Pyror's words on this topic and the absorbing personal stories reminded me that I am not alone.
I think everyone who reads this will be more careful with the friends in their life.
on October 9, 2007
I was pleasantly surprised and gratified to find out about "What Did I Do Wrong? When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship is Over". This is a book I have been waiting to read for a long long time. Bravo to Liz Pryor for addressing a topic that has been completely taboo. Even between the women involved, there is usually NEVER an open or honest discussion about the painful experience of a friendship ending between girlfriends. With a wide range of anecdotal material plus illuminating stories from her own life, Pryor illustrates the possible causes of these "break-ups". Strange misunderstandings, moral judgments, competition, overstepping of boundaries, insecurity and lack of communication seem to be key (all aspects of ego-mind, by the way). Occasionally, but not entirely without angst, both parties agree to end the friendship amicably due to "growing in different directions". In my own experience, a major factor is that old bug-a-boo jealousy, which is mentioned only briefly. Perhaps with her next book Liz Pryor can delve more deeply into the psychological issues that are significant barriers to unconditional love, trust and caring support between women-friends. In my view the number one reason why women treat each other so shabbily stems from an early negative relationship with one's own mother. The mother-daughter relationship becomes the ongoing dysfunctional pattern for how a woman will treat the other women in her life, unless the wound is acknowledged and transformed. Cattiness, pettiness, bitchiness, negative gossip, competition and jealousy between contemporary women is so prevalent these days it almost seems to be the norm, and that is not right. Healed and whole, women are the force of love in the world.