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.