Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ask Angie: Why am I the one who always has to call?

This new year I really want to focus on keeping people in my life who support me and getting rid of those who don't. For instance, with one of my "friends" - I am always the one to call her, always the one to set up plans, etc. Whenever I have a problem, she's the person I turn to. However, she never calls me and I hear weeks later from her that she was having a hard time. What should I do?

You have a couple options:

1. Quit keeping score and just enjoy her friendship. I am assuming that you do enjoy the time you spend with her after you have initiated the contact. Sure, there's a little bruise to the ego and some hurt feelings that this girl doesn't want to wear half of your best friend necklace pendant or crimp hair together before the football game, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good relationship. You now understand what she is willing to put into the friendship. She is willing to be there, to listen, to hang out and have a great time - just not to initiate all that. So when you feel like calling her - call her. If you don't, don't. But you have to stop keeping score. Continuing to keep score will only drive you crazy and you'll miss out on the good times you can have with her.

2. Let the friendship fade away - If the fact that she doesn't initiate contact or activities really drives you up a wall to the point you can't even enjoy your time together then you may need to just throw this fish back into the ocean. I don't think this means a long drawn out - you should have been a better friend - conversation. It just means you stop calling. If your analysis is correct then, by definition, the friendship will end because you will no longer be driving the train that was making it happen. And that's okay.

I truly believe we cannot convince people to change - we can only change our reactions to them. Sure, you could have a Dr. Phil conversation with this friend about how you need for her to call more and she may try and do that for a while. But it's likely she'll fall back into her old habits and you will be hurt again. It is what it is. She is who she is. You can enjoy it or let it go, but I am not sure you could change your friend into someone else.

In fact, my guess is that her lack of initiation is the flip side of some qualities that drew you to her in the first place: spontaneity, living in the moment, no drama. It's not fair to want her to continue to be all those things and not take the other stuff with it. No one's perfect and all of my friends overlook some pretty hefty imperfections in favor of my better qualities. So I am lobbying for option 1 - give her a break, patch up your wounded feelings and enjoy the ride. In fact, why don't you give her a call right now?