When it Stops Working, it’s Time to Say Goodbye…
I write a lot about friendships. I suppose I am intrigued by the way their complex nature is ever-changing. But one thing about friends which never ceases to amaze me is the way the boundaries evolve when their, or our life circumstances, take on a new direction. And sometimes quite abruptly…
Take the other day for example:
I was out for coffee and cake with a friend and her daughter – I do like an excuse for coffee, I do love an excuse for cake – and I kid you not, said ‘friend’ proceeded to talk entirely about herself, her daughter and their lives for an hour and a half. Without coming up for air!
-Her amazing job
-Her daughter’s amazing school
-Their fantabulous new house and all the land that goes with it
-Their up-coming holiday schedule
-Stories of all the places they had visited in the past year and a bit
-Their new pets
-The vast amounts of money they have pouring into their bank accounts
One word and one word only sprang to mind, okay, make that two: Bloody Rude.
I am not one to hog the discussion and admittedly, we hadn’t met up (thank goodness now it seems!) for eighteen months. But still… coffee and cake chat is meant to be give and take, not a slide show of somebody else’s life. And yes, I could have interrupted at any given point but I didn’t want to stoop down to that level.
When the chat isn’t naturally flowing, I become a Wallflower rather than a machine gun attempting to fire intermittent snippets of data whenever I detect a millisecond of silence. I sit there and nod and listen and think to myself ‘not much longer until I can escape… and Oh My God have I learnt my lesson not to hook up with this person again… unless we are diluted by a gazillion other people at a party and there are copious amounts of alcohol.’
And that’s the thing.
Friendship shouldn’t be so damn hard.
We shouldn’t have to shout over somebody else vying to be heard. We shouldn’t have to wonder when somebody else will leave a two second pause in their self-adoration so we can get a word in edge-ways. And we shouldn’t have to balk at the fact that not once have we been asked a question about what WE are up to, what we have been doing over the many moons that have passed.
Incidentally, there was a whole host of stuff I could’ve told her. But I won’t do a ‘Bad Friend‘ and repeat her performance verbatim by listing my accolades in writing. You’ll just have to imagine them!
It’s not just conversations with friends that should be a two-way thing though. There are myriad other forms of one friend giving and the other doing all the taking.
Here are just a few:
- Doing all the running around when it comes to lift sharing – be that after school clubs, nights out or just getting to the office.
- Constantly being the one to initiate texting or phone calls or Face Time or Skype.
- Always remembering the birthday cards and presents… yet getting sod all in return.
- Covering the coffee and cake, or drinks, or meal bill – again and again and again – next time they’ll pay, promise!
- Excusing someone’s lateness on a regular basis, despite the fact you always turn up at the allotted time.
- Being on the receiving end of cancelling out more times than you can recall having hot dinners.
- Dropping everything on a dime to offer your ever-reliable babysitting/shoulder to cry on/General Steady Eddie services.
I am sure you can continue painting your own pictures!
Though this article may be short, it’s advice is definitely sweet: Stop being the doormat.
That’s what I intend to do.
There was a time and a place when myself and said friend had a mutual respect. Now don’t get me wrong, she probably hadn’t any inkling she was being so self-absorbed. In her eyes, she has this fantastically wonderful life and she wants to shout it out from the rooftops… perhaps to prove how far she has come, perhaps because she has underlying emotional issues. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that no longer works for me. She didn’t used to behave like that. And it is not MY job to point out to her how ‘in-your-face’ she’s become. Rather, that friendship’s not one worth investing my time or ears in any longer sadly… and neither are any with similar one-sided dynamics.
Some days I really can understand the saying ‘You can count your true friends on one hand’.