Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lessons :: I'm the One Always Asking Friends to Hang Out...

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Anonymous asks:

"I have a fantastic group of friends and I am really lucky. However, I have a problem with them. My close friends never ask ME to hang out... I always have to ask them, otherwise we would never get together. While they're always enthusiastic to get together when I ask them, I feel like I'm bothering them because they never ask me first. These are really amazing friends otherwise, so I don't want to just make new ones. Should I stop asking until they ask me, or do I keep on being the one to make plans forever?"

I've been thinking about the answer to this question for a long time -- not because I don't know what to say, but because I have too much. I've felt this way many times about my own friends, and in our ultra-busy, on-the-go, jam-packed schedule society, it's all too common. We're busy, and sometimes making plans with friends is the last thing on our to-do list -- not because we don't care about them, but because we've been brainwashed to think that anything that isn't fun is more important than the things that are. This is completely normal, and it's utter bullshit. Just because something is common doesn't make it right, and unfortunately, many situations that we face are, well, fucked up.

It would be easier for me to answer with a "they're just not that into you" line and say that if they really cared about you, they would make plans no matter what. But I think that humans are more complicated than that, and I don't think that's ever really true, even in dating. And I think that friendships are a lot like romantic relationships, but without the sex. If you were dating someone and you were always the one asking him out and making the effort, how would you react? Would you talk to him about it and try to work it out? Would you move on and find someone else? Would you continue to call him and just deal? There would be a few different ways as to how to handle it, and the same goes for this.

But, no, I'm not going to tell you to just keep making the plans forever, or just sit there until they call you. You definitely have to do something. You're clearly not satisfied with these friendships because you felt the need to ask about the situation. Nothing is simply black and white, though, and there is usually a reason for everything, whether or not that reason is valid. Since I don't know all of the details, I want you to think about the following before deciding what to do.

Did they used to make more of an effort, and now they don't? If something changed, then something's up.

Are these friends clearly making plans with other people (ahem, Facebook check-ins and photos) but not you? Something's definitely up.

Have they always been this way? Maybe they're just not good planners. I have some friends that are good at making plans, and others that aren't. This is why it's nice to have a variety of people in your life for different purposes. I would suggest making new friends whether or not you decide to part with these ones. You don't have to replace your BFFs, but there's nothing wrong with having other people to hang out with, especially if these ones don't call you for awhile.

Why are these friends so amazing? I'm not doubting your judgment, but at the same time, it's easy to be blind when we're in love (or love our girls). Try to think objectively and why you're friends with them and why it's worth so much effort.

Have you talked to them about it? Sometimes we don't realize we're doing something shitty until someone points it out. We're all adults and should know how to treat our friends, but at the same time, we make mistakes -- over and over and over. You could take the concerned approach: 'I don't hear from you as often anymore. Are you okay?' You could make a joke about it: 'Hey, stranger! Long time no call!' You could be totally straightforward: 'Maybe it's all in my head, but I've been feeling neglected by you lately and I feel like I'm always the one making the plans. I'm sure you don't mean anything by it, but it hurts.' I wouldn't try to do this on a group outing (awkward!), but maybe you could get coffee with or call the friend you're closest to, or even shoot her an email. Some would say it's better to do this in person, but sometimes writing it out is easier.

Are you being realistic? Remember, we've grown up in the Disney and Sex and the City age. Just as we believed a knight in shining armor would pick us up on a white horse at 16 and carry us into the sunset to live happily ever -- we also believed that we would have three girlfriends who would get lunch with us every week, come over when we call crying in the middle of the night, always know the right words to say and send us flowers on Valentine's Day. To be honest with you, nothing in my life has been as perfect as I imagined, and no one has treated me exactly the way I wanted them to, ever. I have a wonderful life and I'm very blessed, and I've been able to achieve much of what was under my control. However, as my mom always tells me, we can't control others -- we can only control the way we react to their actions. I have high standards for friendship and I pride myself on this, which is why I don't have many friends. I don't have much patience or tolerance for mistakes or excuses. At the same time, we need to be realistic and understand that our friends won't always be what we want them to. They have their own problems, their own shit, their own lives to deal with. They may not always love us in the same way we love them.

Here's the bottom line: You need to do what you feel is right, and whatever you do, it needs to be something. If I were you, I would talk to them about it and see how they react, then go from there. If they make excuses or deny their actions, it might be time to move on. Either way, don't be shy and add some new friends to the mix. Good luck and hang in there, babe!

*Photo found here.
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