Ever had an email or chat conversation with a friend, talking about meeting up only to have the other disappear into thin air when you go into the details? And not because they suddenly decide they don’t want to see you, but just… I don’t know why. I wish I knew.
When I’m in a conversation with someone, I’m super focused on receiving what they’re sending. It’s a huge part of my job, and I was raised to be Interested and Accessible – you get the idea. I’m shocked and confused when someone suddenly drops off the radar. I just don’t understand. So I could have easily turned this post into an angry rant about how “some people” just “don’t understand” what “the right way” of communication is. Because I have plenty of experiences that made me so frustrated that I was this close to just giving up on the relationship because again it was me initiating contact after months of silence, making the decisions, setting the date for an (time and again) amazing, cool and fun date.
But after some crowd sourcing to get some great support on my side, I also heard from the other side. And what kind of journalist would I be (
hi boss, I didn’t type this during office hours) if I wouldn’t give the other side a chance to defend themselves?
The first reason for dropping the ball I heard was, “There is no time,” combined with some, “I don’t have the energy/breathing space,” and everything else you can fit underneath lack of space to maneuver interest and attention towards a friend. To me, this is still a bit of a smelly one. If you’ve been replying to me every other minute, how can you suddenly be out of time? On the other hand, how often have you started a conversation, had it last longer than expected and suddenly had to run or get back into that meeting or driven into a tunnel?
The second excuse made me a little sad: “I don’t want to bother you.” This came from a friend of a friend, who honestly believes she lost friends because she feels so incredibly awkward about initiating a conversation or asking for someone’s time. As a result, she pretty much never does it. We’re friends for a reason! Bug me! Because if we’re friends, I can also tell you, “Very little time right now, I’ll be back later,” without breaking anyone’s heart.
The third one gave me the chance to feel smug. “I just forget about it.” Oh, ha! I guess our friendship is that important to you! But before I could do a victory lap around the house, I realized that I’m not the friend that checks in every week either. That I’m kind of okay with not seeing people for a period of time and just because when I suddenly have a craving for friend-contact, that doesn’t mean the world should hop to my needs. So is this the friendship I deserve?
Of course it can be terribly frustrating to not have the security of free afternoons after school and meeting up at your friends’ place or your own whenever you like. This adult life gives everyone different working times, different responsibilities, and house mates that might not allow visitors. Is the frustration worth the friendship? In some cases, definitely.
So, which side are you on? And any reasons I missed? And for the record, “I was frolicking with unicorns,” doesn’t count. Real friends invite friends to come frolic.