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08 April 2010 @ 09:14 am
New standards  
Done some soul searching recently, and have added a new rule to my list of lofty friendship standards.

2 of 3 of these things should be met:
1. Curious about me
2. Initiates some of the time (communication, adventure, whatever)
3. Responsive to me

I've been very tolerant of the absence of these things in some of my dwindled and disappeared friendships, excusing it as the earmark of socially inept people who just need to learn how to play nice with others. I excuse a lot in people who are fundamentally interesting to me. Now, I begin to think that it is not necessarily social ineptness, but rather poorly communicated indifference.

My time, energy and space is for people who want me around and who are willing to do more than not say No sometimes to let me know that. I think it will be a good rule for me. I briefly wondered if this would be unfair to shy people, and then I realized I have lots of very shy friends who are very good about letting me know they want me around.

I feel better when I can come up with something to change in myself to help prevent some small bit of future heartache. It might not ultimately matter or make a difference, but just the act of defining some boundaries or rules makes me feel calmer and more like I have a handle on things. Heh.
Cantakerous troubadoursonder on April 8th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
I should return to investing my time in transposing your daily tao posts into lyrics from heavy metal songs.

Which is part of my overall thesis that metal is WISE.
vaxhacker on April 8th, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
In the sense of on-line relationships, like the whole drama often found over LJ, FB, or whatever, this is particularly important to remember from both directions, IMHO. It's been hard sometimes for me to not misinterpret a lack of comments or interaction as a lack of personal interest, until I realize how many of my friends' posts I've read with interest and yet never took the time to say anything to them, either. If I was interested, curious, grateful for reading what they had to say, but didn't feel I had anything meaningful to contribute, how would they know? Sometimes the friendly thing is to still drop by and say hi anyway, and I feel bad about not recognizing that in myself much of the time.
Beththepresident on April 10th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
thanks for dropping by and saying Hi today btw :-)
Kburgunder on April 10th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
2 of 2
Usually, the advice I give to friends who are interested in someone who has no idea what they want is to stand clear, let them figure it out on their own at a distance, because people who don't know what they want, in my experience, can be very emotionally dangerous people. They're often willing to play along with a lot of things for the experience of it while the people who care about them become more invested and take their complacence as a sign of reciprocation. That describes these 2 romantic relationships pretty well that I've been pondering. I've been failing to take my own advice. Heh. I think Disney's Alice has a song about that...

I guess at the core what I'm thinking is ... yes, people need experience to know what they do and don't like, but I'm getting a little risk averse about being the experience and having the crushing outcome of that experience being that I'm something they don't like.

I can't control much of that, and I don't plan to live my life hiding in a closet, but what's on my mind is ... when is it healthy for me to walk away. When is it healthy for me to not engage in the first place. Both men expressed doubt early on in their interactions with me, and both also expressed a "but maybe" that gave me hope. From there, it was their actions (or inaction) rather than their words that did most of the communicating. Which I excused. And that's the thing I think I can improve on a little for my own sake.

Wow. That got wordy. And I'm not entirely sure I made a point. Heh.

Hi, how are you? :>
Kburgunder on April 10th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
1 of 2
I've thought a lot about this comment over the last few days, feeling first defensive, and then knowing that when I do, it's time to really sit down and think about it.

When I said "dwindled and disappeared", I don't think I chose that phrase very well. I was thinking of friendships that I've lost recently where, lacking any effort on my side, nothing happened. In these particular friendships, either 0 or 1 of the above qualifications were ever met from the time I met them. And often that 1 would be the token effort made after I'd pointed out that I was noticing what looked to me like indifference. It's easier for me to lose interest and move on when these kind of people are acquaintances moving towards friendship, and much more difficult when I'm attracted to them. I've often said that I have better luck choosing friends than lovers, and I'm beginning to suspect that this is a core part of why. There are some things for which I should be a little less tolerant in the beginning of a potential romantic relationship or friendship. Someone who is kind and fun and doesn't know what they want and doesn't dislike me enough to make the effort to say No thanks ... it's happened twice in two years with romantic partners, once in increasingly obvious ways with a friend I became close to in the last year, and there are one or two more I invest a lot of energy in right now that I suspect are also like this. Charismatic, geeky, entertaining, fun people who are all somewhat crippled by various social ineptitude be it shyness, lack of confidence, anxiety, etc. In one case, more and more of my friends were crying out against one of them for his rudeness and selfishness and I was making a lot of excuses for him before he finally did something unethical and I became suddenly very decisive.

For people who've met 2 of 3 of the above at any point in my life, however briefly, I try to cut almost infinite slack for lack of time, lack of energy, etc. I've spoken maybe a collective 20 words to a few of my favourite friends from my Kansas or Ragnarok days in the last decade, and would still sit down to tea with them in a heart beat. I'm such a fiercely loyal person that it wouldn't occur to me to not check in or say Hi to people from time to time when I'm not wrapped up in my own drama.

Which brings me to the other thing I've been thinking about a lot. Part of my long standing tolerance for this kind of behaviour is that I'm extremely self-conscious of my own social ineptitude. When I'm stressed out or focus on a lot of problem solving, I can disappear for awhile, become horrible about committing my time, etc. I'm moody, and that can also dictate how frequently or infrequently I schedule social engagements, or how well I engage. I've always felt bad about this, but it's also a part of who I've always been - the only thing I've really changed is, I commit less so I flake out less. I'm not sure it makes me significantly less flakey. :/ So I feel like I owe everyone who puts up with my BS a lot of slack as far as social ineptitude goes.

I don't know. What do you think? Is someone who never initiated, rarely responded to calls, emails or texts, and who never asked me anything about myself beyond whether I'd read a book or not, listened to a song or not ... is that more likely social ineptitude or indifference or just a way of engaging that I personally take as indifference but am willing to excuse as social ineptness? I guess that's not a lot of information to go on ... I know both of the men who have fallen into this category for me in the last 2 years also do tend to feel like they don't have anything meaningful to contribute a lot of the time, and when they do contribute, it's generally very worth listening to. In both cases, I learned a lot of patience as I waited for them to decide what they wanted or what they might have to say (patience has been a long time coming for me ... I've been amused beyond words in the last year when people have commented on how patient I am! If they only knew! For that alone, these relationships were well worth it), and in both cases I found myself pressuring them for information before they were ready to volunteer. Definitely my behaviour has been less than ideal.
vaxhacker on April 10th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: 1 of 2

Very insightful, and I think I can identify because I find myself doing a lot of the same things and was just as much calling myself on it as anything else. But really it's tough to say how much is social ineptitude and how much is a fundamental flaw in reading too much or too little in what we see with the sort of "drive-by" communications offered by the current round of blog/fb/mud/etc interactive media, which still involves a lot of reading and not a lot of interacting.

Maybe I'm overly prone to hanging on to friendships with people I've never really met and don't really know, but have the illusion of that; maybe that's a class of casual acquaintence which is ok to maintain with the acknowledgement that that's what it is.

But I think I need to keep reminding myself that investing real face time with friends, and taking the initiative to take them to lunch or drop by for a chat or whatever needs to be done a lot more than my introverted personality likes to come out of its shell to do (as opposed to clicking a mouse on a "like" button, thinking to myself that I'm happy for them and what they did in their life, and feeling like I just communicated with them about it and expressed my feelings with them and... really, no, all that interaction and caring and sharing happened in my own head and they didn't see any of it).

But I know there are times I've tried to reach out to people I thought were closer friends who never initiated, rarely called back, and I defend them and all the things they're probably busy with and how sure I am that they're thinking of me if only they had a moment to spare... and maybe I'm just giving a bit too much of the benefit of the doubt there?

But then when I start to get upset I ask myself how much I've really tried to engage the other person lately or invite them to something, and been a bit uncomfortable with the anwer.

So I don't know that I have any brilliant answers, but I can really identify with the problem :)

Kburgunder on April 10th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
p.s. You are absolute quality. I love that when you see that I might not be being as open-minded or open-hearted as I could be, you always call me in on it. I love that about you. I'm still thinking about what you've said, and questioning this recent decision to make sure I'm making a decision that isn't just selfish and self-protective.
Beththepresident on April 10th, 2010 05:41 am (UTC)
"My time, energy and space is for people who want me around and who are willing to do more than not say No sometimes to let me know that."

that is a very brave and excellent way to look at friendship. :-) I've had to kind of let go of some because regardless of how long we'd been friends, they just didn't make me feel good about myself anymore. I think quality vs. quantity is very important.
Kburgunder on April 10th, 2010 03:29 pm (UTC)

I'll take 1 of quality over 10 of meh any day!

Thank you for being one (of so many) of quality :)
mind_bleach on April 11th, 2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
the blanks
I have done a lot of soul searching on this topic since we talked ever so briefly about it. I have come such people exist due partially to the culture we live in and because the lack of further tangible reward.
Case in point I recently heard a story from a. woman who's grandma live in a house with no running water or electricity. She was super active in her community. But she was never bombard with media that made you feel like your village was bigger. No Paris Hilton, no war, her only news she ever got was from the man on the boat who delivered her mail. She had no phone so her family couldn't call to tell her about a giant earth quake in some other part of the world. Her community was small she made real investments in people, after all your neighbors could save your life. But her "village" was small it made sense to get to know those around you show interest. You would have real friends.
Not some group of people interacting on a tv that some how fills that void in people of today to connect. Those people in that box do not know you and yet they run your life because of the enegery you spend on them.
Point two is my "Pavlof's dog" type, and these are the person you're talking about. They go through the motions that make you feel like you are becoming their friend but without that constant positive reinforcement you realize you are just status to them. They live for social networking site so they can have tangible evidence that you "like" their "status".
These are the most dangerous people a type of psychic vampire that drains you of all your energy. They make you feel as if they care they say all the right words for a while. But then you start to notice, "how are you?" Makes them frustrated. They can't take your response. They lack interest in what you have to say.
A real friend cares about you, good bad or indifferent. They will be there for you in times of joy and crisis.
A wise man once said "I had a cactus once, I took care of it the best I could, it died, doed that mean I'm less nurturing than the desert" I'm that cactus... You need to understand where I come from and get to know me if you want me to flourish, not just say look I have a cactus.
I'm sorry for any one in a relationship with one of these "fake friends" you will get no emotional support and your spirit will be drained. Try to connect with these people and you will come to the conclusion its a dead hole. Throw all the kindness and care its way you want, these people are victims and are the same as feeding a pet rock.