Monday, April 12, 2010

dear elizabeth

Per request, I am doing a "dear abbey" type post for a friend who has come to me for advice. Please feel free to read and input your own advice in the comments section!

Dear Elizabeth-

I have always been the kind of person who treasures "few" close friends than many aquaintences. I also believe that friendships require both friends making effort. Having moved around to several different states over the years, I've learned that you really learn who your friends are when it takes a little bit more effort than running into each other in your daily grind (work, church, etc).

I have a friend here in Nevada who I will call Sue. We've been good friends since I moved here almost 3 years ago. We have a lot in common and enjoy hanging out. But since she has a kid and I am unmarried, anytime we hang out outside of work I go up to her house, which is about a 30 minute drive (no big deal, really). We watch movies, go places with her kid, etc. She has been to my house once: for a work party I hosted. Again, not really a big deal: the point is that we get to hang out and it's easier for me to go there with her being married with a kid.

The issue? I am very actively involved in a softball team. The game times are not always convenient but I've had about 20 games in the past 6 months and about a third of them were on a Saturday night (aka not a work night). Sue has not made any efforts to come and see me play, even though she knows how much it would mean to me for her to be there. I guess I just feel like it would be nice for her to make the effort, even if it means staying up later than her normal bedtime, straying from her normal routine, or making the 30-45 minute drive to come.

I have always been the one to drive to see her, hang out at her house because it was more convienient for her, etc. And I don't feel like it's unreasonable to expect that she makes the effort to come to watch me play sometime. She calls me one of her best friends, yet, when it comes to stuff that is important to me, I feel like she could care less.

Is it normal to assume that a close friend would do everything she could, even if it meant breaking her routine or staying up past her bedtime, to come to something that is important to me? Or am I being totally selfish?


driving alone on a two way street

Dear Driving Alone,

I can certainly understand why you are a little upset! It definitely isn't unreasonable for you to want her to visit you every now and then. Friendship should definitely be a two-way street. 

That said, friendship is also about communication, so I have a question for you: 

have you asked her out for ice cream or lunch (near her home) and tried communicating your frustration to her? If not, that would be my first step of advice. I would encourage you to tell her that you really value her friendship and love spending time with her, but that it hurts you that she is unwilling to come to anything that is important to you. One thing that may be hindering her that may be helpful to bring up is her child. Tell her that it's OKAY!! if she brings her child with her to games or even to some hang out events (obviously not if you're going to go out for a drink, but if you're having a movie night and don't mind her child going to bed early on your bed, this may be a good opportunity.)

If this fails, I would slowly distance yourself from the relationship. Here is the key here: don't ever tell her you're disappointed in her as a friend and that's why you're hanging out less. But if she knows you would appreciate her coming/driving to your home and games and important events and still doesn't, even if you've made her child feel welcome as well, it may be time to hang out a little less often. Because friendship is a two-way street, don't stop hanging out with her, but it's not unreasonable to hang out less and be less willing to drive so far.

Also, even suggest meeting her halfway for lunch, or for a child-appropriate movie (I'm unsure of her child's age so I'm guessing here.) Hopefully she will understand that you really appreciate and love her as a friend, but need her input and participation as well.

Don't forget how important communication and love is to a friendship. Definitely, if you haven't already, try talking to her about your feelings. If she truly is a good friend, she'll be willing to hear you out, and probably to drive every now and then.

Good luck!!


1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Just a couple thoughts from someone on the other side:

I totally agree that friendship is a two-way street, but that may mean different things at different stages and to different people. It sounds to me like Sue is pretty busy: working full-time (since you mentioned work several times, I'm guessing she works with you), running a household, nurturing her marriage, and caring for her child. The fact that she has made time to invite you over and include you in her life seems to me to be pretty significant. I have three small children and even though I stay home with them, I can tell you that family time (evenings and weekends) are pretty protected. My friends are important to me, but our family comes first.

That being said, I do think that attending a softball game is a good family activity and you should let her know how much you would appreciate it if she could come to one game. Encourage her to bring her family.

Another thing to consider is whether you are overlooking other ways that Sue contributes to your friendship. Since she is at a place in her life where her time for friends is really limited, she may be expressing her love for you in other ways. You are at a point in your life (it seems) when you have a lot more free time, so the primary way you show your friends you care is by giving them of your time. There are lots of ways to build into a friendship. . . thoughtful gestures, kind words, praying for each other, etc.

Since you really value Sue's friendship, try to give her as much grace and understanding as possible. There are a lot of demands on a woman in her position and your gracious, unconditional love may be a huge blessing to her.