It Ain’t All About You – Communication Issues with Friends 2

It Ain’t All About You – Communication Issues with Friends

My friendships with a couple of long-term friends are in an inactive phase, either because we are no longer physically located near each other or because we’re in a different phase in our lives so that the things that brought us together – a job, children, hanging out at the same places – is no longer providing glue for the relationship. We just grew apart It happens.

This distance doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t still care for them.  I do and so I try to be in touch on a regular basis.

With some friends this is managed easily.  A phone call every couple of months or so, an annual lunch date, a touch-base birthday or holiday card.  With others, it is quite difficult to connect.  They are the ones to whom this blogpost is written.

I email.  I don’t get a reply.   I leave a phone message.  I don’t get a return message.  I leave another email and/or another phone message.  Nothing.  I send a card or book or article.  I don’t get a thank you or acknowledgment.

One friend I finally reached  when I used the old ring code we used to use when we were dodging bill collectors or boyfriends. 

“Did you get my other messages?” I asked.
“Well, yes,” she replied.
“And you didn’t call me?”
“Well, no.  I’ve been a little down and just didn’t feel like I’d be good company. Blah, blah, blah.”

We talked about the “blah, blah, blah” for a few minutes. And then I pushed back.

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe I needed help?  That maybe I needed to talk to you?  When I reached out, more than once, in more than one way, it never occurred to you that I might need you to respond?”
“Well, no, it didn’t.”

I exploded (a little bit). ‘IT AIN’T ALL ABOUT YOU!” I exclaimed in a tone of voice just short of a scream.

“Oh.  It never occurred to me that you might need to talk; I thought you were just checking in on me.”
Harrumph,” I uttered.
“Don’t give up on me,” she asked.
“Even though you’d given up on me?”

I won’t give up on her but I’m telling you, it is so exasperating.  It’s so easy for us to get so caught up in our own drama, day-to-day lives, that we can’t see an SOS.

She’s not the only one, she’s just the second one of my friends I finally got to come up out of her funk/life issues for a minute and engage in dialogue.  My long lost friend Etta, well, I don’t know what planet she’s on.  I just know I’m not a part of it.  While the friendship has effectively been let go, my feelings haven’t.  (She would be my longest friend aside from my sister.)

These are people I used to hang-tight with.  One harkens back to high school. Another lived next door to me; we were compadres through our pregnancies and through our children’s daycare years.  She knows my first husband when few people do.  She knows some secrets.

Oh, well.  Some friendships survive a lifetime, others are severed along the way.  The severances are usually clear.  They did something or you did something and now the friendship is kaput!  But the slow-leaking ones that have no precipitating event that would cause them to dissolve those are puzzling.

I say to you, my sisters (and brothers), if your friend reaches out to you, you might want to reach back, because sometimes, it ain’t all about you!

If you like this post, you might also like:
Year of the Friends
You’re Not My Effin Friend

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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2 thoughts on “It Ain’t All About You – Communication Issues with Friends

  • Lilly

    That is such a good post. I am guilty of this at the moment. I have tended to withdraw away from people rather than reaching out. It’s selfish, no other way to look at it. Thanks for the nudge. And I know 2010 is going to be a great year!

  • Candelaria

    We all have need for down time and to pull inwards – no doubt about it.  But if a friend emails, calls and sends you a letter via postal mail, it might just mean they need to talk!
    Thanks for commenting.