May 2019
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LJI topic 2, that one friend: when is it over? my 5 criteria for continued friendship investment


icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

I've always been the thrifty type: can't throw it out if there might still be some good in it! I'm like this with people to an often-detrimental extreme. I have a very hard time giving up and mostly can't manage to do it unless the other person already has. I was thinking about this tendency recently and asked myself "if I had no memory of this person before this year, would I put effort into connecting with them?" and realized that for one friend in particular the answer is "hell no." Then I tried to remember the last time there was a long stretch of them being a nourishing friend for me and realized that it had been years. I'm pretty sure they started thinking of me as "someone they used to be friends with" a long time ago -- while I was still trying to be their friend.

I might have more good people in my life if I hadn't spent so much time and energy trying to resurrect this friendship. I need a better cut-off point where I don't let literal years go by of me waiting for them to start being my friend in earnest. But what should the limit be? I know people go through hard times and I don't want to end a friendship because someone went through a period of low energy. I also don't want to continue one where the other person doesn't actually bother. I need criteria for me continuing to invest, and I need to actually and honestly evaluate where I am spending my energy. So tonight I am creating criteria:
1) nourishment: interacting with them is net-positive at least half of the time. (net-positive means I leave an interaction more nourished than drained).
2) shared effort: they put forth at least 1/3rd of the total effort for us to connect (I'm willing to adjust to meet them).
3) fair expectations: they don't expect me to do more than half of the emotional labor or more than half of the logistics labor.
4) building together: we have shared goals, and I can see actual evidence of this in their behavior and in where they devote their resources.
5) evidence of care: they take action to show that they care about my feelings and (without prompting) express a desire to help meet my needs.
If none of these criteria are true for more than three months, I should discuss this with the person and if nothing can be done to improve the situation, I should take a break from the person.

If I had used these criteria to evaluate my relationship with this one friend, I would have recognized that the relationship showed
1) lack of nourishment: it almost always was way more draining than nourishing.
2) lack of effort: they did less than 1/3rd of the total effort to connect us, probably less than 1/4th.
3) unfair expectations: they expected me to do way more than half and expected me to accommodate all their needs while they didn't do anything for mine.
4) minuscule building together: I saw very little evidence that they cared about what mattered to me.
5) no evidence of care: they never checked in about how their actions affected me, reacted defensively every time I tried to discuss it, and showed absolute disinterest in helping to meet my needs.

In contrast, my three closest people at the moment share these qualities:
1) nourishment: time together is net-positive way more than half of the time.
2) shared effort: they do way more than a third of connecting us (one of them actually does more than me on a fairly regular basis!).
3) fair expectations: they don't expect me to do more than half, and they offer to take half of the burden (or even more sometimes!) if they can.
4) building together: they show they care about community, justice, self-education, etc by hosting gathers with me, participating in protests, learning new things, etc.
5) evidence of care: they check in about how their actions affect me, and they offer to help me in whatever ways they can. They try to accommodate my communication needs and express appreciation when I move outside of my comfort zone for them.

I have to learn to accept when someone is not interested in investing in me, and I have to learn to stop pouring effort into them. I only have so much and I can't build good connections if I spend all my energy on people who do not want to create a positive feedback loop with me (wanting it to magically exist without them working for it doesn't count as 'wanting to create').

This one friend I'm talking about is someone who is in my top-five most-loved human beings of my entire 33+ years. I really wanted to be able to be connected with them. But I cannot. I will accept this and allow them to recede into my past, as I have receded into theirs.

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Comments
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murielle ══╣╠══
Over the course of my life I have often tried to remain friends with people who just weren't there anymore. As I've grown older my tolerance for putting up with this has shrunk. While I doubt I will ever have a list of expectations for friendships, I do have an instinct for what works, and what doesn't. Bottom line? It takes two.

Well thought out.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
thank you for the compliment! I wish I had the instinct, but I doubt I'll ever get that as I'm a bit too literal and concrete of a thinker.
dmousey ══╣╠══
My shrink is still trying to teach me to do thks, as well as boundary issues.

It's good you made a list. I hope your friend comes around. Hugs and peace~~~D
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
Best luck with the boundary work, I know it can be a massively overwhelming task!

thanks!
pic#124969441
webgirluk ══╣pic#124969441╠══
This is a wonderful entry and I agree with your thoughts on the investment criteria as they ring true for me as well. It's hard when we wish to invest in a friendship and the other person chooses not to as much and often as you said, it's hard to know at what point you don't consider them an actual friend anymore. There's a couple of people in my life whom I've known for years, used to be fairly close to but in one case, we haven't chatted personally in as long as three years and with another, it's been well over a year. It's hard to define someone as a friend when they're not active anymore and you don't know how they perceive the relationship. In a way, I tend to think, the longer the duration of closeness, the longer it can wait whilst still being often a mutual caring bond of sorts. So I'd be more likely to classify a person I'd chatted to every week for 15 years but went quiet the past five years a friend still, over someone who chatted weekly for two months and haven't heard from now for six months. I find it hard to give up on friends, too even when they have behaved poorly towards me.
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
I understand that concept of stronger the relationship is initially, the more strain the relationship can endure. Time doesn't form a good function of that for me because I tend to build closeness very fast in a short period of time, but level of closeness does work there.

I feel you on the difficulty of giving up.
vulnerable
kehlen ══╣vulnerable╠══
This resonates with me as well.

I have to learn to accept when someone is not interested in investing in me, and I have to learn to stop pouring effort into them.
True, and also difficult for me, because, like dmousey, I have boundary issues.

I have to understand what my criteria are, and also possibly push through my fear of stating as much directly to the person. Right now I prefer, well, not prefer, I do, fade away from them without saying so. But it feels more honest and healthy to communicate, when I feel that we are falling apart. It is something to work on.
honesty
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
I'm glad it resonated for you. It is hard indeed to confront directly. I think the thing that pushes me the most is that I feel personally wounded when someone has an issue with me that they don't tell me about, so I feel very guilty doing it to others. I don't like feeling guilty so I tell them as soon as I can, usually. It gets more complicated when more than me and the other person are involved though, or when there is some sort of danger complicating it -- that's when it can be almost impossible for me.
xlovebecomesher ══╣╠══
I have a hard time letting go of friends even when I know I should so I relate to this.
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
*nods* it's a hard thing to do!
alphaloria ══╣╠══
It's healthy to set these kinds of expectations on friendships, and re-evaluate them when those expectations aren't being met. I've lately been on the other side of this - being the person not investing as much in my connections to people. I'm actively working on fixing that though.
honesty
belenen ══╣honesty╠══
That's awesome that you're working on it. I love the process of making things better and always want to work it out if the other person will do their share. I hope your friends respond positively and you all get nourishing connection from it.
halfshellvenus ══╣╠══
The death of a friendship is so sad, especially someone you've loved so much for so long.

I'm pretty sure they started thinking of me as "someone they used to be friends with" a long time ago -- while I was still trying to be their friend.
I've been through this before myself, and for so many of the same reasons. Trying to get past their potential busy-ness or hard times and not abandon them for being "unfun" or less giving... but in fact, they just aren't interested in maintaining the friendship. From the outside, this usually looks the same, and you can "benefit of the doubt" yourself into oblivion.

At the same time, I want to make sure not to go the route of my oldest sibling: "This sister relationship. What am _I_ getting out of it?" I told her that if I looked at all my relationships that way, I'd be missing out on a lot of life.

There has to, somewhere, be a middle ground...
analytical
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
*nods* they are one of the three people I have loved most in the world. It was really painful.

Hm, my problem is always that I forget to ask myself what I am getting out of it. I can't really imagine that being so extreme as to be a problem causing me to miss out. Usually I miss out because I am pouring myself into too many things and getting too little back.
suesniffsglue ══╣╠══
I love your opening and, as always, I love reading these posts of yours. I never know exactly what to call them; they're sort of like a user manual for yourself, and I think that's so cool. It's something I would really benefit from sitting down and doing myself.
voltaic
belenen ══╣voltaic╠══
it is indeed part of my usermanual! http://belenen.livejournal.com/tag/care%20and%20feeding%20of%20belenens *grins* I recommend it!
unmowngrass ══╣╠══
I like the idea of objective criteria, but I am still a bit confused over "building together".
garrulous
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
Well, it's not something that is generally applicable I think, just relevant to me because I want to be close with people who are helping to make a better world.
mamas_minion ══╣╠══
Wonderful entry. A list like that could be helpful, it would probably help me to avoid some of the toxic situations I have wound up end.
effervescent
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
I hope that you are able to create something like this to help avoid toxic situations - I can imagine what you mean.

Thank you for the compliment!
esvoljtab ══╣╠══
I'm so genuinely sad about the loss you've had to go through with this, but I am also genuinely happy for you in the newfound freedom of letting go. I know how hard that can be.
progressing
belenen ══╣progressing╠══
thank you *love*
banana_galaxy ══╣╠══
I'm someone who tends to want to hold on to friendships that aren't working longer than the other person. I liked your recipe here. Maybe I should start looking at some of my relationships this way, too.
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
Glad you liked it! I hope you are able to find your best way of letting go when it is time.
n3m3sis43 ══╣╠══
These are really good criteria. I've found myself thinking about boundaries a lot lately and this post really resonated with me. Congratulations on making choices that are healthy for you. I'm sorry you lost a friend in the process, but I'm glad you have others that are better for you. :)
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you, and I am glad it resonated *hearts*
zimtkeks ══╣╠══
It is so hard to realize this about someone you care so much about. Much respect for facing the facts!

I will also add this post to my memories, because I think those are really good criteria.
I'd only change one thing: If one of them isn't met for a longer period of time (and not due to some problem the person revealed to me and which is going to end in the foreseeable future), I should either talk to them about it or let them go.

Thank you for this post!
writing
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you!

*nods* that makes sense. For me, I always want to talk about it first because I like to feel like I have done all I can.
bewize ══╣╠══
Love this entry! It was a good take on the topic and had some really useful information in it.

(My unasked for advice is that its hard to read the print on your screen. If you can change the color of the type to something lighter, it would be much easier. Thanks!)
confused
belenen ══╣confused╠══
lighter as in less dark, closer to white? I'm confused because to me it looks like the print is maybe not dark enough against the medium-light background. Can you explain in a little more detail? I do want to make it easier to read. Would it make it easier to read if I made the background darker?
bewize ══╣╠══
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.