Monday, February 6, 2012

Friends 4 Ever?

The New York Times' Sunday Styles section recently ran an article. "It's Not Me, It's You" about ending friendships. I've been brooding about the article's contents ever since.

One woman interviewed revealed that she ended a friendship by using the "bad boyfriend approach." That is, she stopped calling her pal and spurned the pal's overtures. Eventually, the scorned friend took the hint.

According to the approach described above, I'm a bad boyfriend--although I'm not a boy and haven't dated since I fell in love with Hubs decades ago. Can't a person be absorbed in work, family, and the weeds choking her roses without being seen as a hater?

I think fond thoughts about buddies all the time. Do I pick up the phone and call them? No. Text them? Rarely. E-mail them? Once in a while.

I'm busy, absent-minded, and unconvinced anyone's happiness and well-being depend on hearing from me. I may intend to write a catch-up email, but the cat throws up. I plan to pen a newsy letter, but it's my turn to blog. I HAVE NOT CUT ANYONE FROM MY FRIEND LIST.

You, on the other hand, may have cut me. If so, I am totally, pathetically unaware.

Perhaps you've broken up with me and are taken aback when I bound up to you at a conference or neighborhood gathering like the most affectionate puppy in the litter. I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING'S CHANGED, YOU SEE. FRIENDS THEN; FRIENDS NOW.

If you want to break up, you'll have to put it in writing or tell me to my face.

But is a breakup really necessary? I mean, given my ability to maintain fond feelings in the absence of all communication?

Presumably, you want a friend to hang with on a weekly basis, and my hanging time seems limited to a hour Tuesday and Wednesday and the occasional Saturday night.

Looking for someone to shop with? Argh. I hate to shop.

Someone to whine to? Uh oh. I'm a recovering problem-solver. A friend (I think) likes to vent, and I used to exhaust myself offering suggestions and advice before I realized she just wanted someone to listen. Once in a while, I catch myself formulating a solution to her problem but keep my mouth zipped. Usually. Frequently. When I remember.


I want to break up with myself, too.


Melinda said...

I have a friend who has done that. "friend". I thought we were. I thought we were great friends. And then one day she got snippy with me in an email. No biggie, I thought. She's having a bad day. Then the emails, which used to be nearly every day, became non-existent. When she does respond now, it's with one line usually. If that. We used to go out to dinner every other week or so. I haven't seen her in months. The last three times I've asked she's had "other plans". Sounds suspiciously like "something suddenly came up."

I have no idea what I did to cause this, as she won't talk to me about anything important. I've been shifted from "friend" to "acquaintance" or worse without her telling me why. I'm here to tell hurts. A lot. I miss my friend. And she'll never know, because I won't ever tell her. I can't. She won't talk to me. It's a vicious cycle.

She may just be busy. Absent minded. She might have picked up a boyfriend. I have no idea. All I know is now it hurts me too much to try, so I don't.

Just something to keep in mind :-)

Jane Myers Perrine said...

I always feel guilty when I don't email a friend for weeks or months--then it hits me, "Hey, if she wanted to get in touch with me, she could."

I would NEVER unfriend you!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks for reminding me my absent-mindedness may cause hurt.

You're powerless to repair the rift since your friend won't talk to you about anything important. Vicious cycle is right.

I hope something or someone reminds your friend her inaction has consequences, and you get the friendship back or some kind of closure.


Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Same goes, Jane. You're stuck with me. ;) said...

Pat, I could never unfriend you. You're the best friend anyone could ever have, absentminded or not. Even my cats agree. You should see how their ears perk up when I say your name. So I'm afraid you're stuck with ME!

Lark Howard said...

I'm sure nobody would break up with you, Pat. I have friends who come in and out of my life according to both of our busy lives. Some without any break in the friendship, others that I need to re-establish closeness with. Love them, but sometimes distance makes keeping in touch difficult.

On the other hand, I've eased out of some acquaintances that became too negative to save. In my opinion life is too short to spend energy on toxic relationships of any sort. I doubt any of those people wondered why I quit spending time with them, though. I'm just not that subtle.

Coleen Patrick said...

I'm with Lark about friends coming and going. I find the ones that matter usually are the easiest ones to keep though.
Btw Pat, I don't really like to shop either--except for books!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Pat, I'm a lot like your cat, Jack. He's oblivious to interfeline dramas and maintains focus on the vase of flowers on the high shelf or the toy that's just out of reach.

Haha on your cats perking up at the sound of my name. Convenient that we share the same one, isn't it?

You're stuck with me, too.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

You're right, Lark; we can't spend time on toxic relationships. And subtlety's too often ignored.

Other people's negativity weighs me down. My shoulders slump, and my neck tightens. That's why I limit my exposure.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I'm always glad to meet another non-shopper (I, too, like to shop for books and even get a kick out of grocery shopping.) Clothes shopping? Hate it.

Lark's smart, isn't she?

Christine said...

I hate shopping too, Pat, so mine never ask me to do that.

And I must admit to gently distancing myself from emotional vampires.

Because we travelled a lot I've friends all over the world. I don't see them much these days, but when we do get together it's as if we've never been apart.

LynNerdKelley said...

I'm the same way, Pat, about contacting friends. We just get caught up in everything, and time goes by so much faster the older I get and I don't realize how long it's been since contacting friends. Like you and Coleen, I'm not much of a shopper either, especially when it comes to clothes. Those dressing mirrors are hard to deal with! LOL!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

I like that expression, "emotional vampires," Christine. So true of some people.

Isn't it great to be able to pick up where you left off with old friends?

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

What creature's reflection doesn't show up in mirrors, Lynn? (Senior moments are hitting me with more accuracy these days.) I envy that creature--in that respect, anyway.

Happy Birthday to your dad!

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I have friends who've done to me what you described, and ones to whom I've done the same. I'm lousy at keeping in touch, that's all, and some of them are too. We know, and when we do finally connect, we have a good time and it's like nothing happened (because it didn't). OTOH, I have had those I've intentionally distanced myself from - one who'd gotten into drugs and I left no doubt that I had no desire to speak to her after she went off on my husband for nothing. Another was more of an "emotional vampire" and I just quit returning her calls. She hasn't called in a while, so maybe she got it.

Lynette M Burrows said...

Pat, put your mind at ease. People who know you -- know you. :) (At least that's what I keep telling myself.) It makes no sense. I'm a writer, how can I not sit down and write at least an email to friends? The answer is because I'm working full time, writing, being a webmaster, and now social networking. In between those activities I'm being a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a housekeeper, a cook, a chief bottle washer, and on and on. I don't snub those who try to keep in touch, in fact, I try to respond with enjoyment and appreciation. I always have the best intentions, sadly those intentions don't always lead to action. BTW, I do not like shopping either. Never have. I'm so bad at it, my hubby does all the grocery shopping!

Sheila Seabrook said...

OMG, this actually happened to me, probably because I'm the exact same kind of friend as you are, Pat. I can so relate to your descriptions, and even though we've never met in person, and even though you might someday forget to talk to me via email or twitter or facebook, should I ever meet you face-to-face, I will still greet you with a sunny smile and a hug. Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much you just described me. LOL! You are the PERFECT friend. :)

Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

Oh Pat. Don't break up with yourself just yet. Give it one more day and see what happens.

This post hits so close to home. It sometimes seems to me that if I don't take the initiative to call my friends, or do the inviting, I'm never called or invited anywhere. I'm always the one who remembers to send the birthday cards, yet I seldom get them in return (except from my outstanding husband) and still every year I send them out.

But it makes me feel good, so I do continue to do it.

I understand how you feel though. But you're still my friend, even if you break up with yourself. And I won't expect anything in return.

Now get out there, Sister and pull those weeds.

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Louise Behiel said...

Pat, you've written the story of my life. I was thinking of my son and his family, who live in another province. It is really clear that he doesn't have the foggiest idea of the things I'm into and what I like to do, except in a general way. My life is so different from theirs, that they can't relate at all. and that's okay, somehow.

I am perfectly happy with people coming and going in my life. i've decided I'm a person with a few good friends and everyone else matters while you're in my orbit. and yes, I'll hug you at a conference, regardless, unless I don't recognize you, which is highly likely. LOL

Karen McFarland said...

Oh Pat, I still have some zero calorie champagne left and would love to share it with you that is if we're still friends! lol

You crack me up Pat! :)

Kara said...

I think I may be guilty of this, I don't mean to be. I think of my friends often, but don't always get to tell them that:( And I hope if anyone ever had a problem with me they could tell me, not just ignore me. That doesn't seem very fair. Great post!