My best friend of 15 years now wants me to be her Christian friend

I met this woman, D, on the first day of college. I didn’t expect to make good friends at the hokey orientation activities, but four of us really hit it off. We stayed friends through college. We stayed friends throughout our first grad school degrees, and then when we each individually became disenchanted with our first career choices, we all stayed friends while we got our second grad degrees.

It’s been six years since that point. And, although we don’t see each other as much as we used to, we all still keep in touch and visit once or twice a year. But D and I have been drifing for the past two years. She got married at that point. I thought most of my perceptions of our growing apart were from the change in our relationship due to the marriage. We talked about it, many times. I gave her the space she needed to devote her life to her husband. I decided this week, I needed a little more from her. I told her that I wanted more email, longer email or maybe a call once in a while. I didn’t do this as an ultimatum, I told her that this is what I felt I needed to continue on with our relationship at a somewhat close level. My feeling when I wrote that email was basically, “I’m frustrated. I need more contact with you in some form. If you can’t do that, then our relationship will change accordingly because right now this hurts me too much to give and get very little in return. I’ll still be your friend, but the quality of our friendship will change.”

She wrote back. Come to find out, it’s not the marriage or the impending baby-making or the demanding job that have been preventing her from connecting more fully with me. It’s that she’s accepted Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit into her life. And I haven’t. And so she can’t share the most important thing in her life with me because I’m not Christian. And then she asked if it were possible that instead of being best friends, maybe we could be Christian friends.

I wanted to cry.

We’ve talked about each other’s faith before. I was born Lutheran. My family wasn’t all that religious to begin with and gradually drifted away from the church when I was still in single digits. I’ve explored how I feel about various religions and have decided that the thing that comes closest to encompassing what I believe in is Unitarianism. I feel that all religions and philosophies that try to elevate human spirit or give hope are essentially different flavors, but they’re all ice cream. Yes, the human universe is a big Baskin Robins 32 Flavors for me. I also believe that a force great enough to set creation into motion, in whatever form that took like the Big Bang or many little bangs of contraction & expansion or just planetary evolution, is far too great a force for humans to fully delineate. God is by essence undefinable.

Anyway, as you can see, I have my beliefs, and she knows what me beliefs are. No, they’re non-traditional, but they are still how I live my life and see the world. And now, my best friend is asking me to become Christian to maintain some semblance of connection with our relationship. I know I’m not going to become Christian. But I don’t know what I’m going to do about this situation. I don’t know what I’m going to tell her when we talk next.

I’m sure some of you have had similar experiences. Could you share your insights? Thanks so much in advance.

If this should be in IMHO, Mods, please move it. I wasn’t sure…

I’m sorry to hear about this. If I may pry a bit, were you ever more than just friends, or did you want it to be more? I kind of got the impression that you were looking for more but “backed off” when she got married.

No, I’m hetero. I’ve never had romantic/sexual feelings for her. We were just really close, like sisters. I could see how that subtext might be there on rereading with an impartial eye, though.

No offense at the prying…if I wanted her to be my girlfriend/partner at one point, that would’ve been a really important factor in this.

I backed off when she got marriend because she said she needed to devote her time to her husband. She said she couldn’t be faithful to him and their marriage if she was talking to me on the phone once or twice a week – essentially if she was devoting time or thought to me. And she said she couldn’t talk to me about him or their relationship very much because that would be undermining his trust & love. When she said these things, I was hurt. I didn’t think a weekly phone call was so invasive. But, I asked her if she wanted me to stop calling at all for awhile, and she didn’t really answer, but I could tell that’s what she wanted. I didn’t call her for four months. I emailed her maybe twice a month, tops, during this time. I was concerned because it was obbious she was going through a tough time. I thought she was just having a hard time adjusting to being married, and needed to think only about how to navigate that new aspect of her life.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about your question, Ashtar. I know I never wanted to have a more-than-friends relationship with her, but you’re right that sub-text is there. A lot of her behavior and attitude changes since marriage could be seen in a whole other light if I think about the possibility that maybe she wanted more than friendship from me on some level. She has acted like it’s either my friendship or her marriage ever since she got married. I never understood that, but if, for her, I occupied the same place at one point that her husband now does, things make a lot more sense.

Speaking as a long-time married person, the idea that talking on the phone once a week (or even once a day) to a good friend would be significantly disrupting in any way is just…bizarre. And somewhat disturbing, as well. Do you know anything about her husband?

They say after six years of being a Christian, you lose contact with all your non-Christian friends. Sad, but I see it to be true in a lot of cases. That is sad.

As for the rest, whether your hetro or she’s not, there’s a boundary that friends usually have, and it seems really distorted in this relationship, IMO. I don’t know either of you, but when you say things like “I occupied the same place …that her husband now does” , "she couldn’t be faithful to him and their marriage if she was talking to me on the phone once or twice a week " and “if I wanted her to be my girlfriend/partner at one point, that would’ve been a really important factor in this” then I really wonder if you are aware of how deep this bond is, as the last statement certainly would be a factor in this. If my friend didn’t call me, I wouldn’t feel the need to say ‘call me more or don’t be my friend’ since I’d pretty much know that one way I’d never hear from them, and the other I’d rarely hear from him, I’d rather have the infrequent.

I had a very close friendship many years ago. It got difficult after several years, when her life took a slowly looping turn away from mine – in her case it was a disfunctional marriage and alcoholism, instead of life-dominating religion, but I think the effect might be similar. Our relationship was never sexual, but it was like a marriage in other ways: always being there for each other, talking about all kinds of things from macrophilosophy and theology down to the mundanest of details, even hanging out without talking, just for company. When things came to a head and exploded, it felt similar in many ways to the end of a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I felt like we’d had a divorce.

I don’t think it’s necessary for a friendship to become romantic for it to be as important as a marriage, long story short. (Though it sounds like it’s possible that that’s really a factor for your friend.)

It’s pretty messed up to think that a once-weekly phone call could threaten a healthy marriage in any way. That would worry me even more than the religious aspect of her strangeness. Do you have any reason to believe that her husband might be abusive – at least psychologically, if not physically? Separating one’s spouse from friends is a classic danger signal.

If she decided to separate herself all on her own, I’d have to think that either she was harboring romantic feelings for you all this while and is now trying to distance herself from them, or else she’s got a very disfunctional idea of what a healthy marriage is like.

My story has a happy ending – after ten years of not knowing anything about my friend, I reconnected with her this year. She’s happy, healthy, and sober, doing work she loves. If we didn’t live so far apart we might become friends all over again, though I also think there might be too much painful history between us for that to happen.

Maybe your friend is going through a superpious phase; not unusual, as I understand, with recent converts.

But if it becomes clear that she’d spend all her time with you trying to convert you, I can’t see how it could work out for either of your satisfaction. Did she explain what she means by “being Christian friends”?

I wish you the best of luck.

Anyone who needs to “devote her life to her husband” is of questionable character anyway, IMHO. I have no idea what’s going on in her life, but it stinks of fundamentalism judging by your description. If that’s the case, maybe a clean break is on order.

Both of my best friends from as early as elementary school (over 30 years now!) have turned into religious nuts (sorry. don’t mean to offend anyone, but I calls em like I sees em). Normal conversation is impossible with either one pretty much. They don’t listen to music or watch “normal” TV (I consider “normal” TV PBS and National Geograpic, Comedy Central, History and Discovery Channel) or movies.

Basicly, they have left the building as far as I’m concerned.

I have no friends! :frowning: (Gee, no kidding? Do the think the fact that I’m an Asshole has anything to do with it? :rolleyes: )

As a single person whose best friends are all married, I can tell you that this is total B.S. Either she’s got some kind of a problem in the marriage that makes her think this is required (she’s too clingy or he’s too controlling), or this is her way of getting rid of you without being direct about it.

I went through something similar once with another friend (however, what she wanted was for me to call and write though she claimed not to have time anymore, what with her new boyfriend/fiance/husband and all). At that point, it stopped being a real friendship, and I cut her loose. Hurt some at the time, but several years down the road, I have real friends and rarely give a moment’s thought to that self-centered person.

I’m sorry you have to go through this–I know it sucks. But if you just let her go, it will get better sooner than you think.

You’re describing the type of friendship we had to a tee, Emilyforce. We were always there for each other, and talked about things we were each trying to work through for ourselves and her MSW work and my library work. At the time when we were very close, I was having problems with my relationship with my mother. My mother is pretty manipulative. I sometimes called D for a reality check, because I was trying to learn when my mom was trying to manipulate me. D had went through the same sort of situation with her father, and so had learned those lessons and helped me a lot. That was just one of the things we connected on – not all of our friendship was built on psychoanalyzing my relationship with my mom!

And as for her husband, I’ve thought about him and how he treats her a lot. I know he’s not physically abusive. I think it’s possible he may be manipulative or controlling. I’ve always thought of D as very strong, but once she got married, she started to defer to his opinion on a lot of things. She now no longer swears because he doesn’t want her to. She believes homosexuality is going against God’s will, now, too. (At one point, while working on her MA, she shared a house with an openly gay man who made his living as a drag queen. She considered this man one of her good friends at this time, as well.) She doesn’t do anything besides work, husband and church, now, either. She says this is how she wants her life to be and that she loves her husband very much. I no longer know if I should believe this.

By being Christian friends, she means she wants to talk about the Bible and being Christian with me. I asked her why she couldn’t talk about these things with me now. If I’ve done anything to make her think talking about her religion is off bounds, I want to know. She’s basically saying that she can’t share this area of her life with me because I won’t understand it, not being Christian myself. I talk about Atheism & Methodism with my other two good friends from college. I care about their beliefs because I care about them. I don’t see why I have to be Christian to have a conversation about it with someone who practices it.

I’m glad your story has a happy ending, Emilyforce.

Quite a few things about your situation with your lady friend sent off warning bells in my head, but I’m only going to address two for the moment.

I was in a abusive relationship with my ex-husband for a little over three years, and only now am I begginning to realize the extent to which I was cowed. I didn’t have any real friends. I just dropped them, one by one, or tried other ways of driving them off. It seemed…easier. The same thing happened with my family. I tried being what he wanted…fixated on him and him only. God was he jelous. I couldnt have any kind of relationship with a man, out side of work. Women were just as much of a threat. To top that all off, his family didn’t accept me. I ended up with almost no-one to reach out to.

I had one good friend from high school who found out where I was, somehow got my number, and started calling. She only called every other month, sometimes once a month. She was busy with grad school and I had my husband and a baby to take care of. But it was persistent and through the course of about a year I finally opened up and started telling her about my life and what was going on. She was very supportive and offered varying opinions. I finally admitted how unhappy I was. I had sunk into a pit of depression that seemed to have unscaleable walls.

Thank god I am a rebellious little shit. :smiley:

On that note, the other bell~

Because of my faith, I have been told by a few people that they couldn’t maintain a relationship with me. Frankly, I dont want relationships with people who are religiously or otherwise intolerant, judgemental, ect. I just don’t have room for that in my life.

I have to say that, even as a Christian, I think this is very strange. I’ve heard that statistic about cutting loose all one’s non-Christian friends before but it has not been my experience (been a Christian for 14 years now). Are you sure she’s become a Christian and not joined some kind of cult? I’m very serioius. Not being friends with someone because she has to devote herself to her marriage is just plain weird. Unless that someone is a former love or something like that and you say that’s not the case.

In a different vein, I also have to add that I think it’s strange to ask someone to convert just so that you can continue being friends with them. A conversion experience is one that takes place in the heart for a variety of reasons, loving God being a required one I should think. If you are only converting to please her, it wouldn’t be a true conversion IMO. After being a Christian for 6 years, she should know that.

Very strange indeed…

Another question: how is she treating these other 2 friends? Are they getting the same wacky story that you are?

Argh. My first version of this post was eaten. It was probably better. Isn’t that always the case?

You’re all giving me a lot to think about. I’ve asked her before about if she’s happy with her husband, with changing so much of her life for him, and she said yes. She said everything she’s done has been of her own volition. I think I’m going to have to bring it up again, because the concerns some of you are raising seem justified – and this isn’t the first time I’ve felt these concerns. Plus, I want to let her know that even if the quality of our friendship changes, that I’ll always be there for her if she needs help, for whatever reason.

I honestly do think she can’t truly be happy in this relationship. But if her whole identity is entertwined between her faith and her husband, then it may take a very long time for her to realize that life doesn’t have to be this way. Also, because her parents got divorced and it was terrible for her and her brother, she’s very much against divorce. Other than approaching this subject and talking about my concerns for her again, I don’t know what else to do.

Also, the other two friends are getting the same story. They’re not as open to discussing difficult things like this, so they haven’t heard it as much or haven’t gotten some of the reasons behind it, but yes, she’s said pretty much the same thing to them. They’re also confused about her view that being married means you devote all of yourself to your partner. One of them even lives inthe same city as D. When D and her husband first moved to town, she tried doing things with them. Eventually there were enough polite refusals that she stopped asking, and has allowed D to decide when they see each other or talk to each other. They get together maybe 4-6 times a year at this point.

Can you tell us what church denomination D belongs to?

She’s Methodist. That’s what’s so weird. Methodism seems to be one of the more tolerant or liberal Christian religions. But both she and her husband are more evangelical than their church. Also, her husband’s father is a Methodist minister, and they’re more evangelical than he is, as well. I thought maybe this was just their brand of Methodism, but now I’m wondering.

I’ve been to her church for her wedding rehearsal and her wedding. I met some of the other congregants. They seem like regular people. I don’t think this church is a cult or has a cult within it.

QN Jones said, “As a single person whose best friends are all married, I can tell you that this is total B.S. Either she’s got some kind of a problem in the marriage that makes her think this is required (she’s too clingy or he’s too controlling), or this is her way of getting rid of you without being direct about it.”

I thought the same thing. As painful as it can be, sometimes friendships run their course and the bond that was there is no longer prevalent to both people. I am still going through this with a friend. The “breakup” has been going on for many, many years. I don’t hate her…I just have nothing in common with her anymore. She calls, and I find myself looking for excuses to not call her back. It sucks, but that’s the way it goes.

There’s NO chance of you regaling us with stories of hot lesbian action?!??! None at all? Are you sure? Couldn’t even slip her a little tongue?


I’m prepared for that, Kalhoun and QN Jones. It could be that we just no longer have enough in common to maintain the friendship. That’s why I initially emailed her about my frustration. I’m trying to get to the bottom of this. Is she wanting me out of her life or is she being controlled by her husband? I guess that’s why I keep trying.

Ultimately, I can’t know what she’s thinking without asking her.

At this point, I am really feeling like the best thing for me is to put her in the “someone I send Christmas & birthday cards to, but don’t talk to much” category. I feel like I’ve explained myself and my feelings to her, and I’m just kind of waiting to see what her response it.

All of your questions & concerns are really helping me think through this. Thanks everyone.

This is a little off-topic–Kalhoun, I’ve always appreciated reading your posts, so I really hate to say this to you, but I must say that I think this is rotten. When people are through with someone else, they should just do them a favor and let them know. It doesn’t have to be the “way it goes”. The world would a much less painful place if people were just direct with each other. That’s just MHO.

As to the OP, I’m really sorry that you have to go through this. Maybe her husband doesn’t want her to be friends with non-Christians and her asking you to be a Christian is her way of saying she really still wants to be friends with you.

Maybe you’ll need to be patient and leave her alone until she contacts you if that happens. Whatever happens, I wish you luck & strength.