Friendships Take Effort – by both parties

I was at another site where this letter was published.

A few people actually opined at the other site that friendships do not take effort, because really great friendships are effortless, that if you are putting in effort, something is wrong.

What a bunch of crap that is.

I can see how that view might be true in the “honeymoon” phase of a new friendship, where you feel you’ve just met someone who really “gets” you, and they are a pleasure to be around, but sure enough, as time marches on, the euphoria of the newness of it all will wear off, and you will begin to notice flaws with your new friend. Your new friend may begin to do or say things that hurt or offend you.

Once a friendship (or marriage) begins to age, it will take SOME effort to maintain and keep going, especially if there are disagreements.

Here’s the letter and response:

Ask Amy: Keeping adult friendships alive takes effort

DEAR AMY: I had a huge fight with my best friend of 10 years. She called me phony, among other hurtful things. She says she doesn’t care to have a friend like me because I don’t reach out to her enough and that I make no effort to make plans with her. I agree we haven’t seen each other often enough. But Amy, she doesn’t ask me to make plans either, which is why I am so thrown off by this.

This is the third time we’ve had this argument and have stopped talking for weeks each time. I feel horrible because she accuses me of not being there for her without giving me any hint that she needs me. She now says she is done with me. She has hurt me, and I don’t know if I should contact her. Should I forgive her and try to repair this friendship, or let it die? — Sad Friend

DEAR SAD: I shared your question with Julie Klam, author of “Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without” (2012, Riverhead).

Klam responded, “I think you owe it to yourself and your best friend of 10 years to have a conversation. If that’s too difficult, you should write a letter. She is accusing you of neglecting her and you are naturally feeling defensive.

“If for a moment you can drop your defensiveness and describe how you imagine she feels, you might be able to work things out rather than abandon each other.

“If she’s open to it, make a monthly plan that you can both stick to, so there is always a date on the books. As adults, our lives are so packed with family, work, life obligations that our friendships can tend to fall by the wayside, but you both need to make the effort together or it isn’t going to work. If she isn’t responsive, at least you’ll know you’ve tried.”
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Related post at this blog:

Friendships – Are You The One Always Making the Plans or Initiating the Phone Calls?

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Please be sure to read the most important post at this blog:
A Warning About The Friendship Blog – Toxic – Unfriendly Bullied Bullies Trolls Dr Irene S Levine

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Friendships – Are You The One Always Making the Plans or Initiating the Phone Calls

Are you in one of those friendships where you are normally the one who initiates phone calls, e-mails, and get togethers?

Do you sometimes feel as though you’re putting more effort into the relationship than your friend, and does this either annoy you a lot or hurt your feelings, or both, or make you feel used or taken for granted?

Realize that it’s up to you to make these feelings known to your friend, or nothing will change.

Don’t assume your friend will realize on her own how you feel and adjust her behavior accordingly. Don’t be afraid of how your friend may react when you tell her how her lack of effort bothers you, and yes, she may get angry or tell you she feels hurt. That’s fine should that happen.

It’s better to openly air these grievances with your friend than to keep bottling up the negative emotions, because as it is right now, you are in a sham of a friendship and not the real thing, unless your friend picks up the slack and starts contributing equally.

As psychologists Cloud and Townsend advise, you should not bear most or all of the responsibilities in a friendship, or in keeping one alive.

Here is what they say about the issue, and I think most women need to focus on points number three and seven on this list, above all the others:

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Remember the Marsha-Tammy friendship [that was mentioned previously, where Marsha did all the work in the friendship; Tammy never planned their days out, nor Did Tammy ever initiate phone calls, which really upset Marsha]?

One friend doing all the work and the other coasting illustrates the compliant / nonresponsive conflict. One party feels frustrated and resentful; the other wonders what the problem is. Marsha sensed that the friendship wasn’t as important to Tammy as it was to her.

Let’s analyze the situation:

1. What are the symptoms?
Marsha feels depressed, resentful, and unimportant. Tammy, however, may feel guilty or overwhelmed by her friend’s needs and demands.

2. What are the roots?
Marsha always feared that if she didn’t control her important attachments by doing all the work, she’d be abandoned. …

3. What is the boundary conflict?
There could be two boundary conflicts here. First, Marsha takes on too much responsibility for the friendship. She’s not letting her friend bear her own load…

Second, Tammy doesn’t take enough responsibility for the friendship. She knows that Marsha will come up with activities from which she can pick and choose. Why work when someone else will?

4. Who needs to take ownership?
Marsha needs to take responsibility for making it too easy for Tammy to do nothing. She sees that her attempts to plan, call, and do all the work are disguised attempts to control love.

5. What do they need?
Both women need support from other friends. They can’t look objectively at this problem without a relationship or two of unconditional love around them.

6. How do they begin?
Marsha practice setting limits with supportive friends. She realizes that she will still have friendships in which each friend carries her own weight if she and Tammy break off their friendship.

7. How do they set boundaries?
Marsha tells Tammy about her feelings and informs her that she will need to take equal responsibility for their friendship in the future.

In other words, after Marsha calls, she won’t call again unless Tammy does.

Marsha hopes Tammy will miss her and begin calling.

If worst comes to worst and the friendship atrophies due to Tammy’s unresponsiveness, Marsha has gained something. She’s learned it wasn’t a mutual connection in the first place. Now she can grieve, get over it, and move on to real friends.

8. What happens next?
The mini-crisis changes the character of the friendship permanently. It either exposes it for a nonrelationship – or it provides soil for the rebuilding of a better one.

(by Cloud and Townsend)

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Please be sure to read the most important post at this blog:
A Warning About The Friendship Blog – Toxic – Unfriendly Bullied Bullies Trolls Dr Irene S Levine