Putting The Lopsided Friendship to the Test

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Hi, Whit,

Here is the issue that I’ve seen happening more and more. Organizing get-togethers with friends seems to fall to me so that if I don’t do it, getting together won’t happen. It’s starting to make me feel taken for granted and wondering whether my friends care enough about me to suggest a time and place to meet so that we can enjoy each other’s company.  Occasionally, I get email or texts or even less often a call, but no one ever initiates these gatherings except me. I’m starting to feel like I have friends without benefits. What do you think I should do?

Friend without Benefits

Dear Friend:

Sometimes imagining the worst that can happen can help you handle what most likely will happen.  In your case, the worst that can happen seems to be that if you don’t initiate contact with your friends, you will never see or hear from these people again. In all probability you would, but even if you never did, you will have gained essential information about the nature and extent of your “friendships” with this group of acquaintances. 

In order for you to find out how they really feel about you, you need to stop contacting them to see what happens. Just tell yourself, no matter how apprehensive you feel about cutting them off, that you need to know where you stand.  You might not hear from anyone for a while, but I suspect that when you don’t do what you usually do, at least one of the members of the group will fill the vacuum.

The price you have to be willing to pay is the loss of the friendship of people who really weren’t friends in the first place. But what you have to gain is the opportunity to find real friends who value you and really want to be with you. In addition, you gain the self-respect that comes from standing up for yourself, even when lying low is safer. The upside to that is priceless.

 



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4 COMMENTS

  1. I think you need to take into account that what people do (or don’t do) doesn’t always reflect how they feel. I know that I personally don’t do a very good job of reaching out to friends, even though I think about them a lot and miss them when we don’t see each other. It’s just that I am always so focused on just getting through the week, that when the weekend comes, once again I haven’t made any plans, and I sit home feeling foolish. I’m not saying it’s up to other people to compensate for my delinquency in setting up my social calendar, just that someone shouldn’t assume their friends don’t care about them if they don’t reach out to them. Whether you want to accept friendship on those terms is another question.

    • That could be true, Only. In this person’s case, s/he feels unappreciated as a friend. The advice I gave was a way to see if that’s an accurate read. People will tell you what they believe by how they behave

  2. I agree. It is very easy to imagine the worst thing happening even when it is far from likely. However, maintaining friendships can be a difficult and arduous task, but it is worth it in the end.

    • Thanks for your viewpoint, Tyler. How do you know whether it’s worth it or not to maintain friendships until you know whether what you have is really worthy of the name. The problem for the LW is that she feels that she isn’t being treated like a real friend, which is why she isn’t sure whether it’s worth it.

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