Not What Friends are For

I take my friending very seriously.

Several years ago, I wrote my own obituary for an undergrad writing class. It was that exercise that really brought into focus how important it is to my identity that I be thought of as a good and true friend.

I think I have a pretty good radar for people who will make good friends in return and, once or twice, the Universe has nudged me toward people who I might not otherwise have noticed (oh, who am I kidding – I’ve been SHOVED at people, and it’s always worked out wonderfully). My friends and I help each other through difficult times. We try to solve each other’s tough questions. We celebrate each other’s triumphs. We motivate each other and encourage one another to strive for our highest being. I feel like I get more from my friends than they get from me, so I’m constantly trying to give more.

I go out of my way for my friends. I call, I write, I make the effort. My friends know that there’s very little that I wouldn’t do for them and that they can call me at four in the morning and I’ll get in my car in my pajamas to be with them if they need me. I want to be the kind of friend that there’s never a doubt about. I want to be the kind of friend who can always be counted on, no matter what. I think I do a pretty good job of being that for the people I love.

I met up with someone the other day who, when I first met her a couple of years ago, seemed like she would be a good friend. We have a lot of common interests and drives, we appreciated each other’s sense of humor, we had a mutal respect. It is turning out, though, that we are really, deeply incompatable. There is something about what is essentially “me” that doesn’t fit with what is essentially “her”.

Whenever we spend time together, I come away feeling like less of myself. I drive home from wherever we’ve met going over everything I said for anything that could have been taken in ways other than how I meant them. I wonder if I’ve done or said anything that would anger, intimidate or annoy her. I scour the encounter for signs that she might like me a little more this time than she did last time, and I’m not sure she ever does. In short, I leave her feeling insecure and pathetic.

This is really not what friendships are about; at least, not for me. I think it might be best to let our tenuous grip on friendship just slip quietly into disconnectedness.  I’m not sure she’ll mind.

I don’t not like her – I just don’t like me when I’m around her.

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6 Comments

Filed under Friends, Questions, Worries and Anxieties

6 responses to “Not What Friends are For

  1. Organic Mama

    First of all, we can’t ever know what is going on in someone else’s head. I was there that evening and I don’t think you said or did ANYTHING that can be construed as anything but friendly and respectful. While I care for this other person, I do not fool myself that she doesn’t grapple with some significant issues, not the least being a serious button for anyone who comes across as very confident, very assured and content with life the way it is. THe boundaries of you are solid and secure, and I think that confidence threatens her somehow. I think it’s safe to say that given how you feel when you encounter her, you should not see her. Life is too short.

  2. Ragazza

    You said it all especially in that very last line! It’s funny I should read this now because I have recently said something of this nature to the guy I am now dating, only it goes something like this, “I like the way I feel about myself when I am with you.”

    Anyway, great blog. Thanks for sharing.

    I think I’ll try that obituary thing.

  3. Afraid I can’t help you with this one.

    Does this count as delurking???

  4. The first thing in being a good friend is being true to yourself while being the good friend. In other words, if you can’t be YOU, then the friendship is really not a friendship at all. That’s why we have acquaintences and friends. Two different entities that fulfill different parts of our lives. True friends need no “edit button”. Free speaking is key.

    I have “friends” who I often leave thinking the exact same things you did…”I shouldn’t have said that, I should have worded that differently.” This is normal, but the person on the other end of that really isn’t a friend if you need to think those things.

    I’m with Organic Mama, life is too short.

  5. Well isn’t that interesting? I wonder if you can articulate why you feel this way around her. I know some people like this too. I always wonder if it’s about me or about them.

  6. I had a friend like this once –> we were very close until something just happened, and after that I found it very hard to be with her. I didn’t know what it was or why, but eventually our friendship just drifted into oblivion because everytime we were together I felt hostile. The sad part was letting go – how can you break up with a friend?

    Also – thanks for your advice about teaching. And my brother didn’t like the dog too much! (He only had one bite).

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