Best of Dharma – The One Where She Disappeared


Happy Friday everyone – we made it!

This has been a week of reflection, and this is a great one as it was one of Dharma’s first ever questions. Would love to hear how this worked out – maybe Shunned 3 is still out there and could give us an update!

Dear Dharma,

There’s a group of 4 women who have been friends since high school. We were extremely close and shared secrets with each other that were shared with no one else. There were always open non-judgmental discussions. The kind of friends you call to help bury a body in the backyard.  Even though we have all moved to different cities the bonds were strong and we would get together a few times a year and have at least one official weekend together.

At one point, one of the women decided that the relationship wasn’t meeting her needs. Over the course of about a year she withdrew from the group – a process of reducing communications and then declining to attend gatherings without explanation.

The remaining 3 continued the relationship over the next few years, getting together and sharing our struggles and joys in life. Stories told, drinks drank, tears cried and many, many laughs.  Each of us has had very occasional individual, awkward contact with the fourth.

Now the fourth has suddenly decided she would like to return to the group. No explanation has been offered for her absence – it feels like too much time has passed to welcome her back!

How should we 3 respond to this?

The Shunned 3

Dear Shunned,

It seems that by the very nature of how you describe this friendship, the option of welcoming her back to the den has to at least be entertained, right?

Obviously when 25% of such a close knit group goes MIA, there are going to be hurt feelings and a huge sense of abandonment – and without the courtesy of an explanation!  That would make me crazy. I would spend so much time in wild speculation… why, why, WHY?  The possibility of a cult would most certainly be looked at.

In the end, though, you can only do that for so long. Maybe it’s time for a return to those “open non-judgmental discussions” you’ve prided yourselves on.

Since a three-on-one is only good in the exact right situation, I would recommend you assign a spokesperson to speak on behalf of the group – and then just be honest.

Explain the confusion and the hurt that was created by her actions.  She needs to understand your reservations about being brought back into the fold, and I really think she needs to come to the table with some kind of reasoning for her absence. She has to give you something to chew on to see if the 3 of you can swallow this down without choking on it for the rest of your lives.

Simply put, you need to decide what will ultimately work best for you in the long run – closing the door and standing on a principle of black and white, or letting in a few shades of grey, allowing the wounds to heal with time and then getting back to drinking those drinks.

After all, if you could bury a body together, maybe you could bury the hatchet, too?

Hoping this works out,



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1 Comment

  • Bill says:

    Get over it.

    Yep. Friends are  few and far between. Good friends are rare. Things happen in life which can cause a change in friendship. Understood or not. Just accept her back in the ‘fold” and be happy you have your friend back. Be happy for her and for you ( all three) that your friend is back and, then, move on with it.

Whether you agree with Dharma or think she missed the mark on this one, leave a Comment!

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