Sunday, August 3, 2008

Figuring Out Friendship

It was over a year ago now, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a long time. When we first became friends, we saw each other quite frequently and would go walking on the Constitution Trail. In the winter we would walk around the mall. But she got serious with someone and they eventually got married. She was also trying to pay off some bills, so they both started working at night cleaning offices. When the bills were paid off, they decided they liked the income, so they kept working and then on the weekends jaunted off on trips.

Over the course of paying off bills and such, I called less and less because it seemed harder and harder to maneuver a way to get together. It just kind of happened over time that we didn't see each other. When I ran into her over a year ago, she said flatly, "My mother died and you didn't call."

I tried to apologize and explained that I didn't get the paper, that I hadn't known. Her face was stern. The question on my mind later was, "If you wanted to talk, why didn't you call me?"

I understand that she was hurt, but I wasn't sure how I was to know unless she or husband or someone called. I don't get the paper. I probably wouldn't look at the obituaries if I did. I definitely don't go online to look them up. I hadn't meant to be neglectful just as I'm sure she hadn't meant to neglect all the goings on in my life. But the blame was there.

Yesterday I got an email that set my teeth on edge. Again it was a blame kind of thing. I met a woman early this year from church. I had called and we had done something a handful of times. She quit coming to church but I still called a few times. The last time we were set to get together, I had called at the last minute. She didn't have anything going on. I hadn't had a very good day. I went to the restaurant and was waiting for her when she called to cancel. It seemed she had gotten a better offer.

I was hurt but it was nothing that couldn't be mended. But, I figured that since she had canceled I would wait and let her call to reschedule. It was a relatively new friendship and I didn't want to fall into the routine of being the only one to initiate. That was probably the end of April and I never heard from her until yesterday. And then I got the "You must be really angry since you haven't called." But she hadn't called either. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I emailed her back and pointed this out. I don't know where it leaves us.

In most relationships, there seems to be a person who is asked and a person who does the asking. I think it is rarely 50-50. But it does get tiresome to always be the asker.

The question I am pondering is "How do we take friendhsips as they are?" Some people are the initiators. But I don't know that the people on the other side of the friendship value it any less. Still, that is the trap I can fall into.

So, here are some questions for you that might shed some light on things for me:

  • Are you an initiator? If so, do you get your feelings hurt when others don't initiate with you?
  • If you aren't an initiator, how do you feel like you communicate value in a friendship?
  • What is one rule of thumb you have in making and keeping friends?
Sometimes I wish that we could go back to being children. I'm fascinated by how easily children can pick up friends. The girl they met in the McDonald's play space is quickly included in the list of friends. If you are not watching closely, they are making plans to meet again at the same time next week (even if they can't drive and don't have money) because they have formed a best friend club. And then there are boys with their pickup basketball games. To children it seems that all the world is a friend.

Maybe because we don't play on jungle gyms anymore, it is harder for adults to form those relationships. Yes, I know these aren't life long relationships, but still it seems an easier way to begin and has many more chances than our grownup renditions.



Joyful said...

Amy, I am an initiator all the way, but the Lord has also given me the gift of not being a grudge holder. I have gone through experiences very similar to yours, but I have decided that the other person cannot control my reactions and take over so much of my life by my being angry and holding me hostage in unwelcomed feelings. I have a choice. Although sometimes it hurts deeply and I long for someone else to initiate connection, I don't want to hold back and miss out on fun things that I can plan. It's hard.

Yesterday I saw a book in a Christian bookstore with the title something like, "Grown-Up Mean Girls" and I had to laugh. In some ways the "mean girls" are around at every age, but so are the "grace girls" and we have to try and be an example of Christ in our actions and reactions.

Praying for your friendship situation.
Have a good day,
Love & prayers,

Paula (SweetPea) said...

I am SO much the initiator and I've become tired of it. I no longer initiate anymore. I pretty much socialize with my family and Thursday ladies' group and many friends online. I have about four good friends at the church I use to attend. I've been gone for seven months. Though they'll deny it has anything to do with church, I feel otherwise. I have another "new" from whom I enjoy her company and I believe she enjoys mine. However, I have been the initiator the six or so times we've gotten together in the last seven months. She seems grateful when I email her to invite her to lunch but yet she never initiates it. It is VERY hard to understand and to read. I think with this "new" friend she really is very busy. She has an extremely busy job and she still has a teenager at home. She's single and I think maybe is set in a routine. I don't know. Maybe I am misreading her friendliness and she just "puts up" with me. I texted her a week and half ago when I got an out of office reply to my email inviting her to lunch two Sundays ago. I know she has her phone on her at ALL times and she's always texted me right back. She never texted me. She never emailed me when she got back to work...that part I understand as she is really busy but I can't understand the no text while she was on out of the office.

Yes, I get my feelings hurt easy. For the last year I've been going through a really bad trial...a very very painful time in my life. The two best friends that were strongholds in my life started to fall away last fall. The relationships are pretty non-existant. I would be more than happy and willing to email and say hi what's up but then I think, what's the point. I'm tired of being the "nice" and sensitive one always trying to make others feel needed/loved/wanted through friendship. I think there's also a lot of hurt there because I cannot believe they've jumped ship after all they know I've so painfully endured. It's even more than pain but also "drop jaw" I can't believe kind of thing.

I hope this gives you encouragement. I think ....I don't know what I think. People are very hard to understand. I think friendships are much like marriage. There is that one or two special ladies with whom we click...we have the same emotions or ways of communication that mesh together just like the right man and wife. Not all women are destined to be "tight" clicking friends but we have to trust the Lord to lead us to and provide that special friend(s).
In Him,