How Eating My Birthday Cake Alone in a Restaurant Ended My Closest Friendship

Imagine me blowing out the candle and eating alone, being abandoned by my friend for someone else, on my birthday.
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Tiffany Sy
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Imagine me blowing out the candle and eating alone, being abandoned by my friend for someone else, on my birthday.

I was excited to turn 23 this year. Something about it made me giddy inside; the whole year was going great for me, so I had a good feeling that this birthday would be better than the previous birthdays. This year, I decided to celebrate it in one of my favorite steakhouses.

I don’t have the biggest network, so I decided to invite one of my closest friends, Sandy*. I was excited to have her company since it’s the first time she'd be joining me on my birthday, and I was sharing my enthusiasm about this for several weeks since I rarely eat out often. I met Sandy in my college public-speaking class, and she was the first person in my life to ask me first to hang out, and I jumped at the opportunity because when I try to make new friends and ask them to hang out, it seems I always get declined. We became really good friends, so I thought I had a new best friend. She also told me that I'm her best friend, and that she values friendship over anything else.

At my birthday dinner, the time leading up to the main course was great; since I graduated, we don’t see each other often, so we were catching up on each other’s lives. She told me how she and another friend of hers had become really close lately; then I told her what’s been going on in my life (which is basically nothing).

After we devoured our steaks, she told me that she and the newly close friend were planning to go do karaoke later, which I thought was fine — I have nothing against it. The waitress gave us the dessert menu, and I knew that it would be complimentary seeing I told them that it’s my birthday.

When I was choosing the dessert, Sandy was texting on her phone, and when I suggested the dessert to her, she just said "Whatever." I chose a dessert that was not so much in my palate, but I knew it was something Sandy would enjoy.

About five minutes later, she flagged down the waitress and asked to pay her portion of the bill since she was in a hurry to leave. We each paid our bills and waited for the dessert, but as soon as the dessert came, she told me that her friend was outside — and she darted straight out of the restaurant.

Imagine how I must have felt during that moment. Looking at a cake with a candle that says "happy birthday" — alone. Imagine me blowing out the candle and eating alone, being abandoned by my friend for a new friend, on my birthday. Imagine the stares from the patrons around me.

The waitress asked me what had happened to my friend, and another waiter came by to try to comfort me. The people at the table next to me said “I can’t believe your friend would leave you on your birthday.”

I felt so embarrassed, abandoned, and humiliated.

A half-hour later, she texted me “Enjoy your cake.” I didn’t bother to respond. The next day, she texted me, “How come you didn’t respond to my text?” I didn't not respond to that either. The following day, I decided to tell her what happened after she left.

She apologized and claimed that she thought “we were not gonna order dessert." I just said that it’s fine, “don’t worry about it.” She hasn’t texted me since.

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I eventually decided to message her on Facebook to explain my thoughts about the situation. It took three messages for her to even look at what I wrote, which made me look desperate considering she should have messaged me first, even if it’s just to check up. A true friend would show effort, ask me how I'm doing, and apologize again with me having to pester multiple times.

She easily could have told her friend to wait a measly five minutes, I told her. I would expect her to cherish quality time together since we rarely see each other, especially since she saw this new friend every day in the same classes. I would expect her to consider the fact that I went an hour out of my way and picked a location near her so she wouldn't have to travel far since she doesn’t drive; how there’s 364 days in a year to go hang out with your friend, but only one day to celebrate a friend's birthday.

I asked her how would she have felt if I did the same thing to her.

I could see she “read” the messages but didn’t bother to respond immediately. When I saw that, I sent another message asking why she didn’t respond and telling her how I felt used and taken for granted since I drove her around, invited her to stay at my house, helped her with her homework, gave her advice, tolerated being the third wheel when she was with her boyfriend. 

I finally got a response with yet another mediocre apology, and she said she would understand if I chose to end the friendship. That made me really skeptical because it implied she didn't want to be friends anymore.

I gave it some thought and sent her a third message saying I forgave her — let’s just move past this. But what do I get in return? A scathing email explaining how I was "totally wrong" because she ended up studying that night instead of going to karaoke.

Really? It took two weeks to tell me that she was studying instead of going karaoke? It was a big red flag, making excuse to make me look like the bad guy and make her look like she was in the right.

I decided that I will not be friends with an immature person who doesn’t value my friendship, someone who would do something that low to me. It really was a sign of her true character. I tried to be a good friend, and I ended up feeling like I can’t trust people.