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Blablabla drama blabla...

It is time to bore you with something serious again, because spewing bitterness and judgement towards people I disagree with is just too much fun. Also, it would be nice to hear what you think, even though that might make you part of the group mentioned above. That's not a problem for me though. Ha ha!

This is today's topic: when you are an adult, is it still necessary and normal to "break up" with friends, high-school style? You know, heated verbal exchange deteriorates into pseudo-hidden insults, those turning into real insults, turning into demonstrative "cutting off": "I am done with you", "Never contact me again.", "If I receive one more letter like this, I will etc. etc." I am somewhat ashamed I had exchanges like this in my life, although more than that I'm just sad it happened the way it did. I'd like to believe it wasn't my "fault" or that at least my participation was minimal as far as the childish behavior goes, but of course, I can't say that for sure. I don't like to be insulted. I don't welcome it with particular gratitude and oftentimes it will inspire me to insult back. Yeah.

I haven't been "cut off" a whole lot in my life, I think the total count remains somewhere around 3 times or under and I myself remember doing it to someone else only once in my life, but even then it was more self defense than a spiteful decision. Still, I think about those broken relationships (none of them romantic) again and again, wondering if there was something that could've been done to prevent the eventual catastrophe. I've retraced my steps over and over and the only - very obvious - conclusion I repeatedly come to is, that I could have NOT said some things I did say and most likely I'd still be "friends" with those people today, only the friendship would be conditioned by the things that I still think and see and object to, just that I'd never bring them up. So the next question is always: Would I want that? Would I trade the break-up for a "lesser" friendship? I don't know. Most of the time I think I wouldn't, but then there's always the self-doubt, of course.

There are two things (well more, but I don't want to scare you off) I believe, when it comes to friendships or relationships in general. One is, that you have to be able to be honest and speak your mind, even if you know the other side might not "like" to hear it - obviously this goes the other way too, you have to be ready to hear things you don't like without immediately giving up and running away screaming. The other is, that you should be able to end a friendship on civil terms, or at least, SEEK to end the friendship on civil terms. So to answer my own question, I think high-school drama should stay in high-school. Ideally. I realize my opinions are based on the fact that I generally believe in honesty, I believe in love (as in caritas) and I believe that friendships that require major compromise on both are not friendships and ultimately not worth my time.

In a certain sense I was raised to avoid conflict at all cost, mostly my own cost - meaning I should rather cut back on my own expectations in a relationship than confront the person, because well, one, my expectations have a very high chance of being selfish and two, the person will get their feelings hurt and hurting people is bad, so again, I was probably being selfish. I really fell on my nose with that one when I was just entering adult life and realized through the years, that you do have to negotiate a relationship by maintaining your standards, because otherwise you will be walked all over like a doormat and if that's not enough of bad consequence, you will also be perpetually filled with resentment and bitterness that you won't be able to hide nor contain and all your stoic endurance of injustice will not get you the saint status but poison your ability for joy and self-respect.

So. Given these conclusions I have been honest with my friends when I felt some things they did or said or believed were seriously compromising the livelyhood of our relationship. To skip further euphemisms... for example if I feel I am being used more than I am being appreciated I will tell you. If I feel the "topic" of our friendship has changed rather suddenly (maybe we used to tell each other personal things very openly and all of a sudden it's just about the weather), I will say so. If I feel you are very obviously fooling yourself in a situation in your life, I will tell you - I will try to do everything I can to be gentle and to let you know that I am aware I most likely don't have the whole picture, but I WILL tell you. I will, because in those cases, NOT telling feels like lying and also, because I would expect the same from you. I don't need friends, who are always nice to me and never show me their true thoughts out of fear they would hurt my feelings. I have benefitted greatly from friends, family and even acquaintances, who have been honest with me, even though maybe at the time I was very hurt or even mad. Now I'm not saying you have to agree with everything I'm saying, not at all. It just has to be possible to talk about it, maybe work it out and reconcile or worst case, say goodbye in a (more or less) mature manner.

Whatever I had said in the different cases, was met with complete disbelief (that I would dare saying something), total denial and then rage. Maybe I'm just full of myself, but really, it is not very convincing in showing me that indeed I am way off. If you can't give me one or two simple and sensible reasons why I am wrong, but instead you gasp and tell me I am ugly and my feet stink, then, uh, maybe I might have a point somewhere. And this is where it shows whether we really can be friends, I suppose. It is perfectly reasonable, when confronted, one would not want to talk about something they are going through or something that's painful or they're ashamed of, but I feel you gotta be able to say that. If the friendship is worth something, you have to be able to just say: "This is hurtful." or "I don't have the strenght to discuss it" or something of that sort without blaming. Otherwise I can't shake the feeling that at the end of the day, the former friends were actually thankful I gave them the opportunity to break it all off and make me look like the asshole.

Ok, so I am upset about being cut off. I am just trying to figure out if it has to be that way or if there is something I have to change or could have done. I don't like knowing there are people out there I cannot talk to again, even if I don't necessarily want to, but I don't like that I can't. It feels silly. And childish. And unnecessary.

Posted at 06:02 PM on January 28, 2006
Comments

I have nothing useful to say in response to your very thoughtful and insightful post except 'Who the heck cut you off ? ... lemme at 'em! How dare they!!'

Posted by Leah at January 28, 2006 11:03 PM

I don't have patience for friendships like this. My good friends, with whom I've weathered many storms, can expect honesty from me. We may get upset, but we get over it. We always do. I suspect if it were a very serious spat, things would be different. I do have many acquaintances however, that will not get much soul-bearing from me because I just don't have the will or desire to be anything more than a casual acquaintance with them.

Being cut off from a friendship that was at one time a good one, requires a period of mourning. Ugh. I hate that sort of thing. Everyone goes through it, and some people cope better than others. I usually dwell...for a little while at least.

Posted by PattyL at January 29, 2006 10:49 AM

This post was inspired by going through some old photos that brought up good memories and then i realized i would never see those people again, because someone decided we were no longer friends or something of that sort. I haven't recently been cut off, I just think about it a lot. Too much, probably.

Posted by dinka at January 29, 2006 12:19 PM

Sunch an interesting topic...I think in my life I have been the one cutting people off, mainly...and it's linked to my extreme sensistivty , of which I am conscious, and to the fact that these people have let me down to a pretty high degree. Frienships are a lot about expectations, aren't they? Expectations which need to be fulfilled. Promises that are renewed, a little bit like in a couple...I can understand mistakes and temporary blues, but when people only take without never giving back, then I switch off. I wish I have had the strenght to explain these people exactly why I wasn't interested in continuing our friendship. Today I think I'd be able to, but in the past I have not always been so open about my feelings.

On the other hand, I have seldom been cut off!!!

Posted by Clo at January 30, 2006 7:10 AM

I donĀ“t think you think too much about friendship and being cut off. While looking through old photographs etc. I sometimes "dive into thoughts" like you describe (very well by the way). Friendship means the same to me. Being honest is most important, there is no alternative to it. Being cut off is terrible but being just "nice" like a casual acquaintance is even worse as far as real friendship is concerned. By the way, I have noticed that my good friends all have got a good sense of humour. That seems to be very important, too.

Posted by Ingrid at February 1, 2006 4:11 PM