I’ve always considered myself as a good friend, pledging by the Golden Rule. However, it frustrates me at times when friends who I think of as friends, do not act as friends.
Take for example, AT.
Last year, she helped orchestrate a nice surprise birthday party for me, cooking half a dozen dishes at her house. In a few months time, we became good friends, and she even accompanied me to our company outing in Chingjing Farm.
However, it’s been awhile since I saw her last. Simply put, she merely disappeared. The last I heard of her, she started dating a Malaysian dude, and any news from her is limited from what I can see when she updates her Facebook page.
Of course, it’s not as if I haven’t been trying — I’ve called, SMSed, and emailed her, indicating my willingness to meet. In return, she hasn’t been as vigilant in returning my calls, taking days at a time before she even contacts me back.
My belief is, when people value your friendship, they call you back fast, and if not immediately, soon. When people appreciate you, they make an effort to keep in touch and make you feel as if you’re important in their life.
Take for example my friend Mary. Despite being married to her husband and job, she sometimes drops in a call saying “Hi!” Regardless on whether she’s busy, she does returns calls and makes plans to meet up once in a blue moon.
On the other hand, people who are willing to lose you are more careless on how they treat you. AT in this case invites me out once in a blue moon, but for some reason, asks me out at the very last minute.
Last Saturday, she called me for a dinner and movie if I had the time. Unfortunately, she asked me around noon, making me feel as if I’m just her panakip butas (buffer). How would you feel if a person asked you out in the last minute? Call me sensitive, but it often makes me feel as if you’ve asked everybody else, and when you couldn’t find anyone to join you, you asked me.
Admittedly, I do that sometimes too, especially with people am not too particularly keep to hang out with, but wouldn’t want to be the bad guy in breaking contact too obviously.
My former best friend MC calls it creating a problem to chase people away. When you want to break up with someone, you don’t tell them on the get go, making you feel like a jerk, and her feeling that you’re an asshole. Instead, you make life with you inconvenient and unbearable, doing things on purpose to piss them off. Then, in a bit of fury, the other person breaks off with you, and you can wash your hands of the blame.
I see this with SimpleGuy who unfortunately made plans last week to meet me on the weekend, and then texts me on Saturday noon, for Saturday afternoon! I really wanted to go but unfortunately, have already made plans and had to decline. I hate last minute invites. Not only do you put us in an awkward position in turning you down, but it also signals some disrespect for other people’s time.
Sure, I’m all for being spontaneous and doing things on a whim. However, am also a firm believer that when a person wants to see you, they want to ensure that you’re indeed free to see them, and one best way to make sure is to ask way ahead of time so the other person can block their calendars for you!
All these make me reconsider how my relationships are faring these days. I do want to keep my friendship with AT, even more so that I want to keep the momentum going with SimpleGuy, but they surely make it so hard for me to do so! At best, it seems that my friendship with AT has now been relegated to being mere acquaintances, and SimpleGuy to a mere friendship instead of a friends-plus. For a person who is able to differentiate between real friends and acquaintances, I find this sad, but really find it difficult to treat people so importantly if they themselves don’t offer you the same respect.
Friendships or any type of relationships take two to tango. Life is already hard when people don’t pull their own slack especially in such busy times. It’s about pushing and pulling, giving and taking. If I call you, you call me at times too. If I treat you for dinner, you treat me for dinner at times as well. Relationships are all about balance, and not about one giving too much, while the other merely taking.
I wish I don’t care too much about the technicalities of friendships, but it suits me better when I can categorize the people I know at their proper place. Friends are friends and acquaintances are acquaintances. If your friends are treating you as mere acquaintances, then why give them the right and pleasure to be treated as close friends?
So back to step 1 again, aiyo. At the very least, I console myself into thinking that at least, my time is best spent worrying about where I’m going and how I want to live my life, instead of asking whether there’s something wrong with me because the other isn’t appreciating me as much as I deserve to be treated. Sure, it may sound cold and heartless, but hey, who has the time to worry about the status of relationships?
When people consider you as important, it’s not just talk — they actually do treat you as an important part of their lives. And if their words and actions don’t match, you stop and think which one holds more weight, and which one you need to believe in more.
When you start asking yourself whether somebody cares for you, then that’s the beginning of the end. If a person does care, trust me, actions will indeed match words, and you know what, you won’t even worry about whether they care for you or not, because you already know that they do. You won’t need to ask your friends or your shrink. They’ll let you know loud and clear and show you that they care.
And why would they do that?
Because they care that you know that you are special, and loved, and that you are important. And that’s the truth.