~Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Predictive Neglect

I knew it would happen. I told N and she dismissed my complaint when I brought it up last week. Last Friday, E's longtime crush was dumped by his girlfriend. He called E to renew the friendship and she took him back without so much as an apology for not talking to her during his entire relationship.

"I understand," she told me. "It's not appropriate for guys and girls to be friends when one is seeing somebody."

"Uh, yes it is. And whomever I date better get comfortable with the fact I have a lot of guy friends. Otherwise, he's on the curb, not my friends. I've known them a lot longer and they have never left me."

"Well we hung out only one-on-one, never in a group. You can't do that when both aren't single."

"Yes you can."

And we agreed to disagree.

So when the boy came back, not only did she not admonish him for being a crap friend for the last six months, but also she declared, "I want Saturday nights!"

When he called her on Tuesday, she jumped up and down before answering the phone. I don't jump up and down when my friends call. She's still in love with him. She's still in love with him after two years during which she declared her love for him, got rejected, then watched him get into a relationship with someone else, and then not speak to her for six months.

E was always a flighty friend when she was in love with him. She would hang out with us around his schedule, always checking her phone to see if he had called, and then would cut the night short to go hang out with him when he did. When he didn't call, which was more often than not, every conversation revolved around him.

I saw it happening again when she jumped up and down (in an elevator no less, scaring the mud out of me) when he called. Within two days, every conversation was about him again. I saw it and N thought I was being paranoid.

Saturday evening E calls. She was supposed to hang out with him (remember, she immediately declared Saturday nights) and-- shocker, shocker-- he didn't call. What made her think things would be different in time?

She wanted advice. I gave it to her and then changed it to what she wanted to hear. She called him and then called me back; his phone was off.

"Now I don't have any plans tonight. What are you doing?"

Here we go again, revolving around his schedule. "I was going to watch my movies that came in the mail this week."

"Do you mind some company?"


So she came over and we drank my bottle of wine and ate the dinner I cooked. By nine o'clock she was putting her shoes on to leave; I knew it was to call him again.

Sure enough, that's exactly what she did. I'm back to being the interim entertainment when he's not available. She didn't financially chip in, or offer to return the gesture, or even thank me for providing the evening.

But I'm a friend. And a friend is supposed to be there during the hard times. A friend wouldn't think twice about it. But here I am, irritated I see the old patterns again.

When I asked N what do we do when she drops us and he neglects her again, she said, "We will pick her back up; it's our job."

And I will.

It looks like I've already started.

But it's not fair.


Two Drink Girl said...

I don't know. I think maybe if she spends a week or two not being able to hang out with him, AND not being able to hang out with you, it will force her to stay home and think about her choices.

I'm not saying dump her as a friend, just don't be available when she wants you to be her second choice.

Sure, if things go bad again, pick her back up and be there for her. But don't make it easy for her to use you.

Bluesoup said...

I think not being free when she calls you as her second option is a way forward. You're still there for her but not just at her whim. I go on about Pavlos' Dog a lot but she's only learning that you'll accept thiskinda treatment from her... same as this guy has learnt that he can piss about with her.

pinkjellybaby said...

i kinda agree with blue and kind of not. just remember that it's hard when you have feelings for someone....requited or not.
maybe a couple of times of not being around when he's ditched her, might make her think, as long as you're there when it crashes down around her

jedimerc said...

I have had plenty of people I thought were friends only be around because it was convenient or useful... for some, it has been ok because I enjoy the friend's company, but for others, it really drives a wedge into what was thought to be a friendship... now, I dismiss them altogether unless they want to be around just for the sake of being around. They will either want to stay friends... or not.

Phil said...

I'm respectfully disagreee with TwoDrink and Bluesoup.

I like your approach. She's got to work it out for herself. If turns up for a movie night - great. If she leaves early - fine.

You can't force someone to think about their choices. That smacks of social engineering and I guarentee her response will be "Fuck You"

I would recommend giving her a 5 minute window to bitch/moan/whale/ discuss the latest Crush news and then ding ding, no more for that evening.

You're not her parent, teacher or therapist but her friend.

Friends give you the space to go off the reservation sometimes and work it out yourself.

You're a good friend and are acting like one.

James said...

I'll not presume to add any more advice, but just to say you sound like a wonderful friend.

Miss Natalie said...

ohhh, beenthere done that. I Nlost many male friends because BF at the time didnt want me to see them (this post is good timeing for me - same gy as yesterday).

I think the only reason why people should see their friends of the opposite sex is to remove temptation.

Some people are so weak.

I'll like you (once again) i will not agree with what my friends do, i give my feedback and then i'll be there to pick up the peices

Indiana said...

Friendships never are fair, they are simply about being friends.

And while seh can't see her behaviour, and see him for the jerk he is, all you can be, all you can do is help pick up the pieces.

Sarah said...

TDG- Is that being a friend though by punishing someone? That's what I keep thinking about. My friends have never punished me.

Blue Soup- Eh, I'm torn on the whole thing. I feel possessive and whiny that

Pinky- Maybe that's my problem. I have never had unrequited feelings for years over one person. First of all, I would never wait that long to tell them, and secondly I would move on as quickly as I could once I knew he wasn't interested. I don't understand the entire situation.

Jedimerc- Yeah, I'm big on not forcing people to do things. I guess this will just play out naturally.

Phil- But am I being a good friend by even being irritated? Because I am.

James- Thank you, although I don't feel like one right now.

Natalie- Ah, if only we lived closer!

Indiana- I think you're right. Dammit! ;)

Anonymous said...

Well you know honestly I have been there. Perhaps not unrequited love, but the whole going on and on about a certain relationship even after we broke up. I knew I was being obnoxious about it, but I couldn't help it because although my friends have moved on from my pain I hadn't. I needed them to be a friend and be there for me, even if sometimes that was only to my face. Eventually time passed and I got over it, and was able to return the favor. Heck even to this day my friends might do something that urks the hell out of me, but as a friend I am obligated to do 1 of 2 things.. confront them on it or get the hell over it.

So what is it going to be for you? Is this something you feel you need to confront and put your feelings out there on the table (not necessarily about her unrequited love but about how she treats you), or are you going to ignore it and eventually get the hell over it?

Good friends don't always have to love our actions, or be completely in love with us as people all the time.. but they do need to provide good friendship while getting what you need in the friendship too. Remember someday you might need 80% and she may only be getting 20% to meet your friendship needs.

Jen said...

I have been in this situation. I think you are doing the right thing. It sucks to be the second choice but a good friend sticks by....although there is always a limit as to what you should put up with.

Phil said...

It's totaly cool to be irritated. That's why blogs were invented!

londongirl said...

We have instigated a "five minute whinge" rule. Someone has five minutes to moan about their life traumas and that's it. It's usually quite entertaining trying to get it all out in that time.

But I have to say, she sounds like she's a little confused about her priorities here...

M said...

no, it's not fair - you're right. But she might to the same for you one day. I've done that more than a few times - telling the truth in black and white and it does no good. Not everyone can take advice - only the rare person can. I'm more a 'be optimistic with' and then cry with later while picking up the tab. It happens.

As for E and the guy. I don't know whether they are "friends" exactly if she's in love with him. It's probably not appropriate for guys and girls who are 'more than friends' to be 'acting like friends' when there is a boyfriend/girlfriend involved. I would sooo be wary of the 'you say you're friends but actually you have a crush on them' thing if I was involved with someone who wanted to spend all their time with their friend of another gender.

general_boy said...

*sigh*. No, not fair... but I guess it's something you do for a freind. If it goes on ad infinitum and the deal seems entirely one-way, maybe it's time to re-assess. On the whole "partner having freinds of the opposite sex" caper, I think it's fine when you all know each other and it's open. If that's not the case, and the freind seems "permanantly available", it would be fair to ask why. My two cents :)

adventure boy said...

Sounds like your friend has withdrawal syndrome, like a druggie or an alcoholic.
It's tough to be a friend in these situations.

I believe however that the whinge rule should apply.

I also believe one's friends ought to know when they're over-stepping reasonable limits of whinging and abuse. After all they're thinking individuals. Supposedly.

In my world, had someone behaved like your friend did, I would not have dumped them as a friend. But I would have told them that it disappoints me to see such a thinking and intelligent individual waste his/her life like this over something which clearly is not worth it. I would also have said that I am disappointed that he/she does not take my advice more seriously.

Bluesoup said...

I just wnt to clrify thatI am not for one moment suggesting that yuo ditch her as a friend! I am not that harsh. But it's shit when a friend makes it so obvious that you are all second fiddle to him. I mean, sure we are all guilty of it during the honeymoon period (I have done it, bet yuo have to) but repeated "offending". Get me? I just think that next time it happens, if you're seeing an old neighbour or writing a work report that means she can't come over to you instead it might just make her realise that life would go on without her and perhaps she ought to be a little more respectful.

Of course, when he does the inevitable and shits all over her you guys have to be there for her because that is what friendship is all about. When Beardy and I go up shit creek again I will turn to my friends same as last time. (Mind you, this time I did email them all saying that I know I am a fool for getting involved again and I shall bother them no more about him... so far that has worked, I have just ranted on my blog instead :P ) xx

kate said...

that is completely not fair and so like a lot of girls i know. i think you should sit her down and let her know about herself. it's not fair.

good luck.

Sarah said...

Angel Girl- You're right. I just need to get the hell over it.

Jen- Second choice. Meh. Story of my life. It's the right thing to do though.

Phil- Nay, that's why ANONYMOUS blogs were invented!

LondonGirl- I agree with you. I think she does have her priorities mixed up. But then again I've never had a long term pine over someone. Next time we're out, I'm going to instate the 5 minute rule.

M- But does it matter that it's completely one-sided? He doesn't have feelings for her at all. He told her that.

General Boy- So you think because he knew she had feelings for him, it was okay for him not to talk to her at all during his entire relationship?

Adventure Boy- I'm going to try out this 5 minute rule on Friday and see how it goes :)

Blue Soup- I've done it before. But there is no honeymoon period in this case. She's making herself perpetually available to a guy that doesn't like her back! I feel a little guilty about whining to her that I'm not important enough in her life, seems a little self-inflated of me.

Kate- This is something that I'm going to have to communicate with her if things don't get better. Ugh, it will be our first fight :(

ms said...

I'm or the Billy Crystal school of thought when it comes to male/female friends. The sex gets in the way (when it doesn't then that's fine but that's rare) - and in this case the sex is already out there - even if it's just one of them who thinks it.

Her 'friend' thoughts are soooo not just platonic and if he's told her no then he's probably aware of her crush and just using her to make himself feel better when things don't go right with the ladies in his life. Eek, now that I think of it..they're not friends on both sides of the equation (probably, I mean I don't know them so I've just made all this stuff up. haha)

M said...

eek, sorry that was me

Sarah said...

Mez- I buy that. It sounds like neither one is being a friend.

general_boy said...

So you think because he knew she had feelings for him, it was okay for him not to talk to her at all during his entire relationship?

No, not at all. I can't say whether he just handled the situation poorly ( trying to do the right thing by his new partner ), or is trying to have his cake and eat it. From your description I'm leaning toward the latter... :)


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