We’ve done a lot of socializing and visiting during this long weekend and I’ve been thinking a lot about family and friends.
I feel like inevitably as we get older time and wisdom separates people in our lives onto either side of a line we draw for ourselves: the group of people we want to keep around, and on the other side the people who should really go somewhere else. Perhaps there is another third group–the holding cell group–of people who could go either way and we don’t know what to do with them yet. They’re on borrowed time.
One of my “friends” would be in my holding cell group. She’s been in that spot since we graduated from college. In high school, everything was pretty much an even playing field. You don’t pay attention to how someone was raised, their political ideology, their ambition, their boyfriend choices, or anything that would be an issue in adulthood. As we got older the differences were more apparent and I realized I had this friend who didn’t have the best manners, made a lot of stupid choices , was very negative, and basically annoyed the shit out of me on a regular basis. I knew I could keep her around or cut her off. But she had good qualities too: generally a good person, loyal, dependable, nice, she loved my kids. I guess I just always thought if she got x, y, and z together in her life, she’d be okay. She’d improve. There may be hope. So she’s been in the “holding cell” category for 15 years now.
The problem with this friend wasn’t exactly the fact that she was ill-mannered, poor at socializing, impregnated young by a loser and now your stereotypical fat single mother, but more of an issue of her oozing desperation and constantly being codependent, attaching herself to my social circles like a barnacle without any kind of reciprocity. I can put up with your loserhood because I’m generally a nice person, but can you be the one to text me once in a while? Can you be the one to invite us over? How about you be the one to initiate a playdate?
(Did I mention this so-called friend invited herself on our European vacation? And called her kid an asshole in front of people in Paris? Yeah, you can thank her for feeding the stereotypical American stereotype to the rest of the world.)
As I get older, I’m getting less patient with people who are shitty at being family members or friends. My definition of shitty is somebody who doesn’t reciprocate. Somebody who doesn’t make an effort. I’ve got some of those varieties in and out of the family.
I can’t stand the people who wait for me to extend an invitation.
I can’t stand people who take me for granted. Yes, I’m reliable and a good planner, but no, I don’t always want to plan everything.
I can’t stand people you won’t ever hear from unless you text, call, or reach out to them. I’m tired of checking in with you. How about you see how I’m doing for once?
I can’t stand users, disloyal people, inconsiderate people, etc. Thanks for coming to my Christmas gathering with my in-laws and family and crying hysterically the whole time over your custody issues with your loser ex. I’m glad instead of going to a therapist you used my family gathering as group therapy. And I’m sure my friends loved hearing you spew your negativity at my kids’ birthday parties all these years. Now that you’ve found a new group of friends and you’ve gotten your first boyfriend since George W. Bush I’m sure my friends and family will enjoy a much more relaxed atmosphere when we are celebrating birthdays.
At the same time I dislike codependence, neediness, and desperation. Inviting yourself to my family vacation and then basically relying on me to plan your itinerary is lame.
Any relationship is a two-way street. Relationships with my family, friends, colleagues, and even professionally when I’m working with somebody in politics or in some other capacity, it’s always a two-way street. Some people, however, have never learned this.
My patience has gotten thin the older I get in this area. I think I’m patient in a lot of other ways and continue to “mature” in that department as I “grow up,” but keeping around shitty people is not something I think is good for my boundaries. I just won’t have them around anymore. Invitations will stop, efforts will cease, and replacements will be found.
When you get older, friends become like everything else. I’m not going to buy shitty clothes anymore, I want quality, long-lasting, and comfortable classic pieces. I’m not buying cheap airline tickets anymore with 3 connections, it’s non-stop for me these days. I’m not going to settle for less when I know there is more in the world.
I certainly don’t need to waste time with people who don’t understand relationships are not a one-way road.