May 10, 2012 | relationships

Stopping Friends Becoming Foes

Friendships are a funny old game. I don’t think I’ve ever really been very good at them to be honest. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine decided to ‘break up’ with me, if you will, citing my truly sucky friendship skills. She was right, to be fair – I have not been the greatest amigo. It’s a sad loss, but one that has been rather sobering for me. While there’s nothing I can really do about the loss of that friendship, there’s still time for me to learn some lessons and buck up my ideas, so what have I learned?

I’m Selfish

Not in terms of material goods, I don’t really care about all that, but I am just very wrapped up in myself and what I’m doing. It’s not intentional. When I started this blog, four and a half years ago, with the intention of someday making a living from it, I knew it’d be a grind. And that’s what I do; hustle, hustle and grind, pretty much all day every day, to make this newly carved out career work. I love it, but I do it to the point that when I’m not working, I feel bad. Meeting up with friends, relaxing and having fun is all programmed in my head as stuff that will almost be to the detriment of what I’m trying to achieve. This, of course, I now realise, is bollocks. When I do take the time out to meet up with friends, I always come away feeling refreshed, renewed and happy. Lesson: I need to get out of my head and allow myself to spend time with friends.

Not Everyone Thinks Like Me

Should be a fairly obvious one really, but easily forgotten. For me, probably because of the above mentioned selfishness, I can go for ages without communication with friends and when we do eventually remember to text or go out, everything is just as it should be. But I need to remember that it’s not like that for everyone. Some friends require more, as they should. Obviously, when it crosses the line into them sucking the very lifeblood out of you, that’s a different issue, but being more engaged is not a bad thing and in the case of some friendships, is a must. Lesson: Must remove head from own ass.

I Hate the Phone

Seriously, considering I communicate for a living, I’m pretty crappy at it. I loathe having to pick up the phone and make a call, work, social or otherwise. I’m just not going to be the girl who will call you for hour long chats. I can’t do it. I’m getting better with texts, when I remember to send them. The monthly text and minute usage on my phone goes largely untouched whereas I usually always go over my internet allowance – that speaks volumes really. But again, gotta work on it – some friends need the phone call and it sure ain’t gonna kill me to make it. Lesson: Phones are not scary.

The Shell I’m In? I Gotta Step Out of It

I’m essentially quite a solitary person. I’ve never been the type to have ‘best friends’ who I must be with at all times. I have a few close friends and a lot of acquaintances. I am very happy in my own company. I don’t need to be around people all the time. Though I can now recognise that this is all well and good, however a few years ago, it lead me on a very slippery slope into some not so great times where I literally isolated myself from the world, refused to go out, wouldn’t answer my phone, had groceries delivered so I wouldn’t have to go out – the less human contact, where I’d actually have to try to explain what I was going through, the better. It didn’t occur to me at the time that these people may actually be concerned and want to help me, that I could even ask for help. My solitary nature makes me feel I have to carry it all on my own, but I’m realising now I have to step out of that and let people in. Lesson: Human contact is good!

In the couple of weeks since that friendship ended, I have reached out to friends more, touched base, sent random texts and met up with people. While it’s regrettable that a friendship had to end for me to get the point, I can only be thankful to that friend for teaching me the lesson.

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22 Comments

Jo (Dexterous Diva)

Bangs, I am shocked by this. Really. Ok so we havent been friends that long in the real world, just over a year? But we have spoken for a long time online and off before that. You are a brilliant friend. Loyal, thoughtful, generous. I know i can buzz you for a quick brainstorm or heads up, and I I know it doesnt matter if we havent spoken in weeks. To me, this is a brilliant friend. I have twins, endometriosis and run my own business and blog, so time when I am able to communicate with friends is less now than it was a few years ago. I go out less, I have less time to call and natter. I do make time now to hook up with people for a cuppa when I can to keep me from going totally insular and depressed, but life is so busy and we are all spinning many plates it is hard. It sounds to me like this friend “dumped” you because they were a little high maintenance? When I was doing my MA, alongside a full time senior design management role and a relationship, I have NO TIME whatsoever, and literally one evenign a week to see mates. Al lot of them hated this, and I lost a couple of really demanding ones. It turned out they relied on me, needed me. I just couldnt give all that energy. So, yes, I guess the poonts you write are good ones for us all, but you are a brilliant friend. Kick ass, bad ass, low maintenance, lovely, loyal, and just YOU. I love you. Thanks for being my friend. I will never dump you. πŸ™‚ xxxx

Sarah Mei

It is not our job to be a full time carer for our friends. The fact that we take interest and want to help improve their lives or just want their company is indication enough that we are active friends. For me, I suppose, a friend is someone who wants me in their life because I make them happy and demonstrates that.
You don’t have to call someone every day in order to get your Qualified Friend Certificate, just as long as they know that if they call, text or email you, you will be there wholeheartedly. That’s the deal. I totally get this blog post and I appreciate its honesty.
But just so you know, you are an OSSUM friend. You’ve helped me through the last few months, weird as they have been, running and not running. I was flailing a lot but your guidance was a bit anchor-like at times and my respect for you increased the more I took on the advice you so readily gave me. Twitter buddy/mentor/Mama Runner, you have become a Real Life Friend in the real world in real life circumstances and everything. And that is fab. Lubb you x

Lizzie Maitland

I am the first person to say I’m a fairly high maintenance friend. Repeated bouts of depression make me very isolated and so I tend to rely on a few close friends who I feel I can trust.
But recently I discovered that whilst you might think that you can trust some People, the truth of it is that it’s not always true. I recently lost a friend despite me being the one to permanently get in touch because I’m not married with kids and her “new best friend” does. The fact that she’s not a particularly nice person appears to be irrelevant. And whilst I was devastated by that loss I realised that the people you can rely on aren’t always who they appear to be. And if someone dumps you for being a crappy friend then they din’t deserve you in the first place. I see some of my friends once every two years but they are still among my closest friends and one of my first ports of call in an emergency. Being able to see or speak to someone doesn’t make them a good friend. It just makes them available.

Rhalou

You rocked up at my house with chocolate biscuits and a smile when I needed you the most, I’d say you were a pretty damn good friend Shebangalang xxx

Alex

It was very strange reading this, as I felt I was reading about myself!
I have to make an effort to meet up or ,god forbid, call my friends! However when I do I realize that it is always really good for me and the other person. I think this is because you can be yourself with them and they can too, with you and there’s no judging or criticizing; we accept each other as we are and support each other. Then I realize how wonderful this is as mostly in life we have to be more reserved and be ‘professional’ etc in our various life situations.
So even though I m not very good at keeping in contact my true friends accept this about me as I accept things about them.
It is a wonderful freedom I feel which makes friendship different from any other kind of relationship .
Great post. Your true friends won’t ‘give you up’.

Nora

I can’t comment on your crappiness or otherwise as a friend, but I think these are all really important points to remember. (And the fact you’re giving it so much thought seems like a good sign to me!) Even as someone who probably comes across as very sociable, I’m certainly guilty of some of these. And the phone thing is interesting – I used to phone friends for a chat all the time a few years ago, but now it just doesn’t happen (perhaps because I know what’s going on in general because of facebook?). But there is a minimum amount of effort required to maintain a friendship – and the chances are that different people are going to have different opinions on how much effort that is – even if they happen to be friends with each other. I think the important thing is trying to find a balance that works for both people and involves showing you care enough to make an effort, without one person dictating the terms of friendship. And showing up for the big moments in life, be they happy or sad – that’s really important to me.

Beth

I have the opposite problem to Lizzie. I think I might be losing friends because I am married with kid (just 1). Partly because of poor timing (relationships ending and struggling to conceive etc) leaving us in completely different places in our lives. I also worry that I share many of the faults in your post. I get too caught up in everything I have to do and forget to make sure I stay in contact with people. I say try not to be too hard on yourself. It sounds like a bit on an over-reaction on your friend’s part.

I am going to use this as a boot up the arse to myself though that I need to chase certain people a bit more – even if it is just by phone.

Kylie

Ok I am not the only weirdo who wont speak on the phone. I always ignore my mobile when it calls. I then brace oneself to call the person back when I am prepared. I am not shy, I just HATE talking on the phone, everyone I know seems to want to crap chat on this device for hours on end. You sound very similar to me when it comes to friendships

Laura

I’m pretty similar to you by the sounds of things – especially the phone thing. If you looked at my bill it would be my Mum and the Mr. Having to call new people at work used to give me palpitations and 8 years on it still makes me feel uneasy. I think it is good to recognise these traits in yourself and to sometimes challenge them, but also people have to realise that that is who you are and if your styles of friendship don’t fit then that is ok too.

Lucy Clemson

I feel as if this is written about me. Virtually every point you make is just how I feel. I work for myself and to keep my business successful, I’m glued to it for probably 14-18 hours a day. If I’m not there, the work doesn’t go away, it continues to mount up! I do find it incredibly hard just to find the time to meet up, or spend an hour on the phone (although that said, even if I did have the time, long phone calls are a pet hate!). If it’s how you pay the rent, then as a self-employed person, I don’t feel being heavily into your work is selfish. I’m very fortunate to have a large friendship group, whom I make every effort to stay in touch with regularly, even if it’s a quick text chat to let them know I’m thinking about them. Friendships take understanding from both sides to stay strong, and that includes understanding on your friend’s part that your self-made career is a demanding one. If they are true friends, they will understand. None of us are perfect but forgiving the other their flaws and sharing a mutual love and respect is king.

Hannah

I hate talking on the phone too. I don’t mind calling complete stangers but having a chat on the phone is so not be, I get paranoid there will be these awkward moments and it puts me right off. There are or course a few people I don’t have this problem with. But the majoirty of the time I just don’t like phone conversations.

Lex

I too have had a friend “break up” with me… It’s different from two people drifting apart. It can be brutal and harsh, not dissimilar to the end of a ‘romantic’ relationship! It left me soul searching, listing my bad points like you do here, Bangs.

Recognising your bad points/ down sides/ not so amazing aspects to your personality is part of becoming a better person. Some people will not like you, that’s a fact, but don’t question your integrity as a friend. A true friend (a lifelong one) will love you, warts n’all, no matter how selfish you are or how much you hate the phone. They’ll just love you. And that is what matters.

purplemum

Maintaining friendships is a tricky thing. I struggle to find time to look after my family, work on my blog, exercise, and have a social life. Sometimes it can feel like the thing that falls off the list.Good luck with making changes, even considering this stuff makes you a pretty cool person, its hard to admit we have been wrong.

Emz

The whole post I was saying me, me, me under my breath, but you know what I am an excellent friend and Im not ashamed to admit it, I am useless at the girly chats and I can waft away from people for months, years even for no particular reason – but the people who know they can call me a real friend know that even if they havent seen me for several years they can call me at 1am in the morning and whatever they need me to do up to and including donating a kidney its theirs. I blame the TV show Friends for this strange notion that the quality of your friendship is in direct proportion to the quantity of it – I suck at quantity I am introverted and have a severe tendancy to live in my head but quality ? I would walk into the gates of hell to bring a friend back. If people need the quantity bit they go elsewhere – you shouldnt dismiss the things a person brings to the table becasue of the things they dont x

Ayla

I commend you for admitting that you are totally wrapped up in yourself. That’s obvious. Since you have become this running guru you have become consumed in your own hype thanks to the odd bit of recognition here and there and a band of followers who seem to hang on to your every self indulgent word. I’m not surprised your friend ended the friendship. You have become far too self absorbed for your own good. I doubt the death of your friendship was just down to you not calling or texting.

Cate

And clearly the comment above was written by someone who thinks they are God’s gift presented to us, to deliver some self righteous rubbish. At least Bangs has the dignity to stand up and say she was wrong and probably could have acted differently. I could belittle you and I could say some nasty things on here, but evidently Ayla, the rest of us (the band of followers who have been lucky enough to have the support of Bangs) actually have the self respect to not say anything, if we can’t say anything nice or constructive. From your attitude, I’d consider yourself lucky to have any friends at all! So good luck with that.

Ayla

Keep stroking that ego Bangs fans.
Enjoy your evenings.

Selina

Reading this post is like looking inside of my head. This is exactly true of me, especially the bit about telephones! Friendship is a two-way thing, and while it may be true for this particular situation that regular contact is part of that friendship, so too is an understanding from the other person that not all of us thrive on constant contact and communication. My best friends know that as much as I love them, seeing them (or having to have long conversations on the phone with them) too often is utterly exhausting for me!

Ronke Ige (@RonkeIge)

I LOVE THIS POST. Juggling plates so don’t have time to right much else! x

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