Posted by fxckfeelings on February 3, 2014Share This Post
Outside of the cold world of Facebook, friendships are not just about liking and/or disliking. They can also be good or bad for you and necessary or unnecessary for the real-life social network you’re trying to exist in. So don’t pass up on learning valuable lessons from friendships, be they strongly moved by feelings of kinship or personal dislike. You’ll discover how to be a good friendship manager as well as a good friend. And hopefully you’ll friend fxckfeelings.com on Facebook.
How do I treat friends who are selfish and self-absorbed? I know I can be self-absorbed, in fact I am right now, but I’m at the point where I just don’t know what to do or say anymore. One friend constantly complains about her life and when I try to help her, she just makes excuses and goes on complaining without ever asking how I am. She lives to have people feel sorry for her. Another is completely oblivious to other people, so when she does things that are hurtful, she doesn’t understand why so I end up just dropping the issue because I feel like there’s no point. I love them, but I feel like I just can’t anymore. I also feel like maybe I should be “killing them with kindness,” because I’ve always felt kindness was the answer, but now I’m out.
Unless they hire you as a tennis coach, personal trainer, or plastic surgeon, your job with friends isn’t to change or improve them, but accept them. That’s why there’s no pay and more time spent at bars than gyms.
Accepting them doesn’t require you to continue as friends, but it does mean that, whatever you decide, you take the whole package. If you find all your current friends basically unacceptable, you may gently dump them and take some time to catch up with your other friends, Netflix and books, while you take a more selective approach in finding new human companions.
Before debating with yourself whether your friends are self-absorbed, whiney, or insensitive, ask yourself what you require from them. Mentally compose a job description in terms of a basic level of give and take, safety, and affection, staying aware of your standards regardless of how strongly you’re attracted. That way, if they tend to ignore you and are better at receiving than giving, you know the problem isn’t their character flaws, it’s your flawed compromise in choosing them.
If you’ve felt taken advantage of by the selfishness of friends you loved or supported, learn from the experience; friendship isn’t just about how friendly you feel or even how mutually friendly two people feel, but about the natural capacity of the other person to act like a friend and fit well with your strengths and weaknesses. Your bad experience is teaching you how to identify your needs and values and make better choices next time.
Don’t let your attachment to flawed friends prevent you from letting them go if you really can’t accept them, because trying to change friends is the surest way to stir up serious conflict, no matter how well meant your intentions. If your friendship is more important than the flaws, learn to shut up about them and work around them. If not, move on.
Wait until you’ve forgotten petty annoyances before you decide whether your friends are worth keeping. Then, whatever you decide, you’ll either come away with a better definition of what you require in your friends, a better acceptance of the friends you have, or both.
Either way, you’ll likely end up with a bunch of improved additions, both to your circle of friends and your Netflix queue.
“My friends sometimes seem annoyingly self-centered and un-giving, but I will look carefully at the bigger picture of give and take before I decide whether the friendship isn’t good for me or whether it’s just frustrating. Learning what I require in a friendship and being selective in my friendships is more important than the pain of conflict and potential loss.”
My husband is a nice, tolerant guy and I respect him for that, especially since I’m not always the easiest person in the world to get along with, and that he doesn’t easily get bent out of shape is one of the reasons we get along so well. Still, he’s got one childhood friend I wish he wasn’t so tolerant of. The guy is loud and always asking intrusive questions that put my nerves on edge, plus he takes advantage of my husband’s generosity to a degree I find unacceptable, to say the least. There’s no way I want to have this guy as a friend of our family, but I know my husband grew up with him and believes he’s harmless. My goal is to figure out what to do with a friend I don’t want to be friends with, or even in the same room with.
When hanging out with someone you intensely dislike makes you feel helpless, it’s easy to forget the good reasons you’re enduring their company or the options you have in the long run. You obviously know why you put up with your husband’s deadbeat friend and it hasn’t changed your affection or respect for your husband. His obnoxiousness, however, makes it hard for you to remember why you or anyone else would suffer his company on purpose.
Luckily, you also haven’t turned your resentment of your husband’s friend into conflict of the “if you care about me and you know I can’t stand him, why do you put me through this” variety. That’s the kind of conflict you lose, even if you get your husband to do what you want, because it often causes lingering resentment and/or too much compliance. You want a partner, not an assistant who’s keeping his real thoughts to himself.
Instead of pondering the mystery of their friendship or the unpleasantness of the deadbeat’s company, think of positive ways to minimize the damage. Encourage your husband to schedule a regular time-with-the-guys activity during which he doesn’t have to worry about whom you like or what you think. Create your own schedule that will take you out of the house, or at least out of the room, whenever his friend comes over for indefinite hang-outs. Just being organized and creating scheduled activities for your family will usually give you the control you need.
If you feel your husband is exposing himself to dangerous exploitation, don’t be afraid to say something, just don’t undercut your credibility by expressing anger or resentment. Instead, ask your husband to consider his standards for being a good friend and taking responsibility for the well-being of his friends and urge him to get input from others. Instead of trying to prove that the friend you don’t like is an asshole, help your husband to protect himself, regardless of his feelings or yours.
Of course, you may feel sad at not being able to share strongly-held, negative feelings with the husband you are otherwise comfortable sharing everything else with. That, however, is the essence of marriage, which is knowing when sharing is a bad idea and it’s better to suck up the frustration of keeping things to yourself. You know why you’re married and you firmly believe in the value of a good partnership, and that’s what matters, no matter how annoying your husband’s friend is.
“I’d be a lot happier if my husband were to drop his obnoxious friend, but I respect his right to make his own decisions and, as long as it doesn’t endanger our family, my goal is to give him breathing room. It may feel annoying or demeaning, but I have no doubt our relationship is worth the frustration.”
More advice from Dr. Lastname