Dear Richard Madeley: I feel like I’ve been ‘unfriended’ – what should I do about it?

As The Telegraph’s Agony Uncle, I weigh in on your dilemmas – the good, the bad and the ugly

I don't know if I've done anything to upset her
I don't know if I've done anything to upset her Credit: Ron Number

Dear Richard,

Some years ago, a very old friend of mine (our parents knew each other when we were toddlers and schoolgirls) tracked me down on social media, and my husband and I have been meeting up with her and her husband ever since – theatre outings (pre-Covid) and lunches out, and we also host each other on an alternate basis every few months or so. In between, we’ve often chatted online. 

A few weeks ago, I began to get the sneaking feeling that I had been “unfriended”: she was still listed as a friend in my settings, but several chat messages went unanswered. 

Eventually, I sent a longer message asking whether she was OK, and whether I’d done something to offend her. She replied breezily and at no great length, saying of course everything was fine, as if I’d been impatient or needy in some way. Since then, nothing.

I appreciate that worse things happen at sea, but I had come to value this relationship, especially the continuity with the past it brought as we got older (we’re in our early 70s). Plus, other friends across the country are travelling less and, well, dying off, so socially it was good to have someone not too far away we could go to things with. I find myself really quite bothered by this sense of being “dropped”, especially when I can’t account for it. What should I do about this, if anything?

 — Michele, via email

Dear Michele,

I hate to say it, but it could just be that you were being a bit impatient and needy with your friend – or at least, that’s how your message may have come across to her; a touch querulous and forlorn. 

There could be a million reasons why she was preoccupied and temporarily off-radar, none of them anything to do with you, and getting an angst-ridden message from you may have been the last thing that she needed. Hence, her brief and breezy response.

 Look, Michele, if you’ve been dropped, you’ve been dropped. Asking questions and demanding explanations will only push this person further away. And if you’re wrong – which I think you probably are – you’ll just irritate her and achieve the same result anyway.

My advice is to quietly back off. Don’t send any more “Is everything all right? Have I done something wrong?” chat messages. Wait until there is a legitimate reason to contact your friend – a birthday, say, or some shared anniversary. And then, when you do get in contact, keep the tone light and the content brief and straightforward.

Don’t turn yourself into a problem, Michele. You want this woman’s heart to lift with pleasurable anticipation when she sees your name in her inbox, not sink with gloom and despondency. 

Be a friend indeed, and not a friend with needs.

You can find more of Richard Madeley’s advice here or submit your own dilemma below.