We’ve all had them. Relationships with people who take more than they give. I’ve even had a few where I really liked the individual, felt like I had a lot in common with them, and still had a hard time staying friends with them because I was responsible for their happiness or their problems or their homework.
I hope that doesn’t come across as whiny, like these are the only people I meet because that’s not true at all. I am surrounded by a veritable herd of friendly friends. I have more friends right now than I have ever had at one time in my life. I’d even go so far as to say that there are more good friends in my life right now than several periods of my life combined. So I am not at all complaining, just contemplating there is still this particular brand of friend out there and why I still feel torn as to what to do with them and why they keep appearing.
Maybe it’s the demographic I currently inhabit. I spend a lot of time with other stay at home moms and sometimes all of us fall into the trap of continuous complaining. When I hear a lot of gripping from another mom sometimes it starts feeling like my responsibility. There is also this artificial feeling that gets going between stay at home moms that makes you think you are better friends than you actually are just because your kids are all the same age. I have fallen into this trap with a few women. I’m currently trying to correct it by actually becoming friends with them.
Maybe it’s because I don’t share myself easily. I feel like I share with people I know but there is that conundrum of how do you get to know someone new without sharing first. I find that with new people I think that they don’t know me very well and so assume that they don’t want to or worse, assume they know me on the basis of a few casual encounters. (Of course, I guess by putting all this out here I’m allowing a few more people to know me better.) Maybe this is because I’ve had a couple of good friends for 15+ years and they have all the shorthand of my personality and history so there is so much about myself that I don’t have to explain or that they just “get” because of all of that history. They know me and maybe this is just what I’m missing with new people.
Maybe this problem is because I think everyone should be my best friend. And really, that’s just not possible. Sure you can have a lot of friends, an even wider circle of acquaintances but actual close friends? How many can one person realistically juggle? I think this is too much pressure on everyone involved. So then how do you catagorize the ones you have? I’ve not yet figured out how to be successful with this.
Maybe it’s because so many of us are just broken. I know most of us are damaged in some way over something in our past. Sometimes we deal with it and go on and sometimes we just can’t get past it. And sometimes even when we are actively trying to get pass this stuff, we still run into it in our relationships. I still occasionally deal with fallout associated with my parents divorce (both in my own marriage and in my interactions with others) and I feel like I have pretty successfully dealt with their separation.
I know this is a very girl thing to contemplate but the real question here for me is what do I do with those one-sided people when I encounter them and how can I not be one myself? There have been periods of my life that I have rather ruthlessly cut this kind of person from my life, either because they took so much that I distanced myself for protection or I recognized what they had the potential to be and ran before they sucked my will to live. I find myself less able to do that now and I’m not sure what that means. I’m lousy at being a martyr so sticking it out for the long haul just to be able to say I’ve done so seems silly and a waste of time to me. But at this point in my life I do feel a certain obligation to people even if it seems we are currently in a one-sided pattern.
I don’t have any pat answers. I don’t have any catchy line to tie back to my thesis to go here. Just know that I am thinking about these things. Maybe you are too. I think we are meant to spend at least some time thinking about how we interact with others and how we impact their lives. I want my impact to be a good one.
Update: Someone just sent me an email and I wanted to add her thoughts here at the end because I didn’t say specifically that this is something I am working on but feel it is true for me as well. “I am trying to not put my expectations of friendship, commitments, and life in general on other people. In other words, I try to remember that not everyone is coming from a perspective like mine. I try to be happy with the response I get from people, however small it is sometimes.”