Modified CC image – original via Flickr user Вεη
I never cease to be amused when others call me wise and/or mature. I’m in fact pretty socially awkward and about as far from a people person as you can get, but I have rare moments of clarity when I can understand someone’s motivations by dint of being removed and impartial.
Without going into too many details, one friendship circle has recently been rocked by the equivalent of the BP oil spill. Sudden, devastating, things-may-never-be-the-same-again. This is strange for me, because I have never really experienced much in the way of overt friend conflict. (Some covert conflict, yes, leading me to keep my distance from the people in question. But out and out fights/arguments/strife? Nope.)
T says it’s because I’m a coward who hates conflict and does anything possible to avoid it. (Harsh, but true.)
I think it would be more accurate to say it’s because of the nature of my relationships, however.
It’s true that I tend to be a people pleaser. It’s also true that while I do have friends I can get deep and existential with, by and large our friendships are generally pretty easy going and fun. We may occasionally debate issues, but not in a personal or bitter way. Also, I’d like to think my friends are GOOD TYPES, as a rule, which makes getting along far easier than not. Although surely that’s true for most people?
It’s hard to keep making an effort when you think another party isn’t pulling their weight. But sometimes, when we’re hurting, we withdraw. We push people away when we most need them. It’s counterintuitive, I know. I’m not sure why we do this (I’ve done it myself, and I suppose it’s a petty test, really. Push them away and see if they will push back; do they care enough to keep trying?) – only I fear in this case it’s gone much too far.
Friendship seemed a lot easier back in high school. As life gets more complicated, so too do relationships. How do you handle it when dear friends are making terrible decisions? How about when they KNOW they’re making stupid choices, but continue to do so nonetheless? Do you offer support without judgement? Do you offer unsolicited advice? Is there a point at which you throw your hands up and step back from it all? What is helping, vs what is judging, vs what is enabling? My understanding of human psychology only goes so far.