When you’ve been Disappointed by Friends

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In a relationship, how is one to know when they should “keep trying” or walk away? I’m not talking about a marriage, though similar discussion points could certainly apply, but those optional relationships in our lives. Friends…people that have been in your life and have wronged you, or those that you’ve wanted more in your life, but it becomes apparent that they just don’t care.

In the past 3 years, I’ve typed out a dozen posts on this topic through blinding tears, but have never posted them, for the sole reason that I don’t want anyone that I’m referring to, to think that I’m badgering them or throwing them under the bus. I’ve never been able to figure out how to be vague enough to share my story to help others, but not make those involved feel bad. It’s never my design to make anyone feel bad…maybe I’ll wish calamity to befall on them such as a flat tire, bad hair day, or thoughts of T.P.ing their home, but never an intention to hurt their hearts. That’s the worst kind of pain there is, and I can’t even wish that upon those that have hurt me. I know that I have a choice in how I feel, but I also know that it’s not ever as simple as flipping a switch.

Yesterday on Instagram, I shared this quote:

When people treat you like they dont care believe them quote

I didn’t share this because I’m having a rough day, quote the opposite. I’m actually feeling pretty good these days when it comes to friends, and this quite doesn’t cut me like a dagger as it might have had I read it another time in the past year or two or three or seven. Strangely, drama with friends is not new to me, and I blame that mostly on the fact that I care. too. much. I love people, I truly do, I love to hear stories, and ask deep questions about their childhood and siblings and like to hear so much more than surface conversation. Also, I want to be best friends with everyone, and I’ve realized the limitations in this way of thinking: I’ll surely be disappointed, or disappoint.  So I am constantly trying to figure out how to navigate this in my life. I want to love, I want to care, but not everyone has the same capacity to reciprocate, and that stings. Plus, I can’t quite possibly keep up with being best friends with 500 people.

On one hand, I get it! I’m a crazy passionate person about so many things. I think people are overwhelmed by me. I’ve got this blog that I post stuff on, people ask me “how I do it all” because it appears I’ve got it all under control, but I’m a firm believer in letting EVERYONE know that I don’t have it figured out, I’ve got pain, too, and we are all trying to navigate this crazy life adventure in our own unique ways with the experiences and demeanors that we’ve been given. I’ve wanted to share my pain so badly, to help others who might struggle know they are not alone, but each time I typed out a story, I thought of certain faces possibly reading it, and I just couldn’t. If I KNEW that everyone reading didn’t know anyone in my life, I totally would!

You see, I’m quite an optimistic person. I LOVE life! I’ve got amazing parents, blessed to grow up in a faith that is truly my foundation, have fabulous brothers.  I have rich relationships, a great marriage, happy healthy children, who am I to complain about such a trivial thing as friends? Especially when I have been blessed with some really great friends in my life?

Friends have always meant so much to me. Growing up without a sister, my friends became my sisters, I’m all in, I invest. I want to know the good and the bad in my friends lives. But I’ve found that most of my friends don’t have the same need in friends as I do, because they have sisters or a mom that they talk to daily. Even before my mom passed away, we didn’t have that kind of relationship. Ours was tricky for me.

So already, my friendship needs are often skewed. I’m an over sharer by nature (hello blog spilling life stories!) AND don’t have a mom/sisters to spill to, and many women I’ve found don’t have equal needs, so it leaves me feeling deflated.

{I should mention that I do have some pretty awesome sisters in law, and some spectacular friends, so this topic really gets me into a rabbit hole, because I hate that those awesome people would ever feel bad.}

BUT, that’s not exactly what this quote is about.

It’s about trying over and over and over with someone, who just keeps giving you nothing, or very little, to where it’s clear…

or is it?

Am I just interpreting them wrong?

Should I cut them some slack?

Forgive?

Give them another chance?

I’m so grateful for the conversations and exchanges I have had from those of you out there that are willing to share. It helps me to know that the words I’ve shared have helped you in a small way. And in turn, your words help ME!

Here is what I wrote under the yellow quote above that I shared on Instagram:

I’ve definitely spent way too much time and emotional energy on this very topic, in my life. Only so much we can do, right? Though I’ve wanted to write all about it, and share with others (because I know I’m not alone) it gets tricky to publicize my private life with the public, because it’s not just about me. So feel free to send me an email if you want to hear all about it, ha ha! Grateful for the many people in my life that care, it can be a challenge to turn off the focus from the few that don’t.

I had quite a few people private message me, email me, and comment below their similar struggles.

This private message resonated with me: I’ve always had a Pollyanna type view of the world that all people have the best of intentions, and I am learning as an adult that is not always the case.

Yes! Pollyanna, me too!  I wore the rose colored glasses for so long…

Another friend on instagram said:

It’s hard to not feel hurt when you are putting yourself out there, and getting nothing back.

This is exactly what I’ve thought, many times over. 

I even got a phone call from a dear friend (lets call her Zelda) that I’ve known for years, and we had an interesting discussion. I reminded her of something she said to me YEARS ago (that she had forgotten). There was a girl that we both knew (we shall call her Sally), who seemed to be quite outgoing to everyone else, but there was a clear coldness when she got around me. I barely knew her, I had hardly had a conversation with her, I wanted to kill her with kindness so she could see that I wasn’t so bad…I tried…it didn’t work. Though her personality kinda clashed with mine in my mind, I hated that she didn’t like me…it didn’t hurt so much as I just wanted to know what it was that I was doing, to repel her! My friend Zelda told me she assumed Sally was threatened by the fact that Zelda and I were close, and blah blah blah. I said, “I just want to ask her what it is that I’m doing, if I knew, I could adjust!” Zelda said to me (and I think of it all the time) “Kristen, it’s not socially acceptable to tell people you don’t like them!” (She didn’t even remember those nuggets she said to me years ago)

But why not??? Our conversation continued, and Zelda said to me on the phone today as we tried to figure this out, “when we were dating, we had to tell a boy we were breaking up with, why it wasn’t working, we should be able to do that with friends.”

But nope, it’s not socially acceptable.

I’ve tried it in the past…ask what it is I’m doing, mention my suspicions that I care more than them, and it’s always met with an asurity that it’s all in my head. But really, it isn’t…or is it?

That’s what we all battle daily is NOT KNOWING.

I’d like to make it socially acceptable. I can totally handle it. Just TELL ME, if I am rubbing you the wrong way, and I’ll back off. I can handle it!!

Check Yes or No.

But the likelihood is that we will never know. We will continue to play an array of guessing games with countless people throughout our lives.

We can either be depressed by that, or accept it.

I’ve mostly come to the acceptance phase. At some point, I had to pull those heavy metaphorical rocks out of my backpack for those that I’ve felt hurt by, and show civility and even kindness so that it won’t canker my soul. I don’t need that.  {I’ve definitely been known to give the cold shoulder, but I didn’t like that person…so I’ve tried to nip that}

Because I have such a wide circle of friendships, in many different areas of my life, this tends to come up on a regular basis, and I’ve learned to accept that it’s part of my struggle in life.

AND, I don’t mesh with everyone, either. We have to all be ok with that.

It’s definitely changed my personality in a way that I wish it didn’t. I’m guarded at times, I feel awkward, I worry what others are thinking.

“They” said that in your 40’s those things don’t bother so much, so I’m pretty excited to turn 40 in 2 years, because I’m sure it will magically resolve itself!

Anyway…I hope this helps someone. I think we can all try a little harder to be a little kinder.

If you are on the flip side, and say it’s not “natural” for you to extend yourself to a friend who does for you, you can treat it just like any challenge, make goals to be better.

I feel deeply in all aspects of life. I get hurt easily, but I love easily, and I never want to give that up, so I’ve got to accept it.

painted wall mural in new orleans

–Kristen Joy

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I’ve alluded to this in a few posts in the past:

Don’t ever let anyone Dim your GLOW

Sensitivity