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Friendship Rules and Myths

 

Occasionally, I am a terrible judge of character. I’m also a really good friend. If you need me, and I can help, I’ll be there. It doesn’t matter if it’s three in the morning, or if I just got out of the shower. If you need me, I’m there.

I have limits, like everyone does. I have boundaries that should be respected. For instance, if you text me at three in the morning, you should be bleeding on the side of the road. Or your husband just left you. Or your grandma died.

Important and bad things need to have happened. Otherwise, it’s rude, disrespectful, and selfish. It’s also disruptive of whatever sleep I’ve managed to get.

There are some other things I won’t tolerate, but let’s go with what’s listed above. Today, I’ve walked into the Twilight Zone, apparently. A once-friend I haven’t spoken to in years – because she abused my friendship, exploded spectacularly because I wasn’t available to her at all hours on the night, and unspeakably cruel – contacted me this morning.

As if nothing had happened between us. As if we were just two people who had fallen out of touch.

So…that’s awkward. Needless to say, that’s not something I’m going to indulge. However, I do feel like it’s apropos to repost something I wrote years back.

Let’s get this out of the way, shall we? If you don’t already know, my name’s Ali. I like coffee, sarcasm, humor, chocolate, Italian food, books, music, poetry, getting into trouble, high heels, orange-scented lotion, honesty, and laughter.

I do not like liars, drama queens/kings, self-centered behavior, immaturity, bullying, lack of integrity, small minds, unnecessary meanness, cruelty, red meat, people who fail to yield and use turn signals, the Boston Red Sox (I’m a Yankee fan), and math. Math IS the Devil’s arithmetic, and I firmly stand by that.

I believe that people above the age of twenty-five should know how to navigate a relationship with at least a modicum of maturity. Due to a series of unfortunate events, I’ve realized that this is not always true. And when it is not, shit happens. Bad shit. Shit that would make a great movie on Lifetime, and if Tori Spelling’s free, she could be the Crazy Friend Zombie out for blood, souls, and a good bit of drama that might make Shakespeare proud. If Shakespeare suddenly resurrects as a pathological nutjob, afflicted by a raging case of Munchausen’s syndrome, hailing from the planet Look at me! Look at me! (Yes, that’s a really long sentence. I’m tired and cranky. Shove off.) As for who would play me, I don’t know. Is Natalie Portman available?

So, let me just lay down a few very generic Friendship Rules.

  • Do not project. Do not accuse someone of ‘flipping out,’ if you are the one throwing a monumental fit. How can you tell if you are doing this? You send two incensed emails in a forty-eight hour time frame. The second one includes phrasing that would make the Cheshire cat say, “Oh, dear. Stay away from that one. She’s a little too mad for me.”
  • Hurling insults in response to a simple request is not going to get you the results you are looking for. If you call names, throw sand, steal my coffee, or try to guilt trip me, I will put you on the ferry Bugger Off – which takes you to the Isle of Misbehaved Friends. I don’t have endless patience, even though I am more patient than I should be.
  • If I say something like, “I am really busy. I can’t talk right now,” I do not expect you to text-stalk me. This is the adult(ish) version of repeating, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” on a three thousand mile road trip.

 Now, here are a few Friendship Myths.

  •  Friends should be at your disposal at all times. If you have a hang nail, a bug bite, a bad dream, or a gummy bear stuck to your shoe, it is acceptable to text message/email/call/send a fax/send a carrier pigeon with this information. Incessantly. NO. No. No. No. No. And no. Boundaries are there for a reason.
  • Guilt is an acceptable tactic, and it’s endearing. Again, NO. Guilt tripping someone, when you are in the wrong (clearly), isn’t mature. It’s not helpful. And it doesn’t make me want to hug puppies. Instead, it makes me want to ask how much crack you’ve ingested, have you recently hit your head, and why the hell are you allowed out of the mental ward?
  • Nothing, short of the world ending in a fiery blaze, is more important than you, your feelings, and responding to you. NO. You see, I have a life, responsibilities, and my own drama. If we have a good relationship, and you’re having a crisis, that’s an entirely different matter. If I don’t respond to you at the drop of a hat, because I am busy, dealing with my own crisis, out of town, with limited email access (and an even more limited amount of patience), I am not going to hop to it like one of Pavlov’s dogs. Not everything is about you. I know, I know – that’s entirely difficult to realize. And you might need therapy to slog through the implications.

 Alright, that’s it for now. I need more coffee. Or Johnny Depp. Does anyone have his number? *ahem* Feel free to share your own friendship rules and myths.

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  1. April 25, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Aaah, Ali. Good for you for setting boundaries and sticking to them.

    You realize your ex-friend may in fact be mentally ill. Borderline personality disorder is one possibility. So, she may not “get” that she was wrong in the past, or that you’re not ready to resume right where you left off, since SHE’S magnanomously (sp?)forgiven you.

    There are a lot of people like that in the world, and they make the greatest… characters in our fiction. Not so much in real life.

    Guilt tripping someone even when you’re in the right is ugly.

    • Ali
      April 26, 2011 at 7:39 am

      I’m not naturally good at it, so it’s been something I’ve had to work on.

      You know, I wondered that, myself. Also, I can never spell that word correctly, ever. You’re right about people like that making for great fiction.

      Guilt tripping is just wrong. It’s just manipulative and crappy. *shakes head*

  2. April 25, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    u crack me up! XD Pavlov! haha…nice one…your entries are sometimes the only thing in the day that puts a smile on my face. keep writing, can’t wait to read more. 🙂

    • Ali
      April 26, 2011 at 7:40 am

      I’m really glad that I make you laugh. And thank you for telling me that my writing makes you smile. That made *me* smile. 🙂

  3. April 25, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Good rules. I try to live by them myself. I’ll add my favorites (having learned these the hard way):

    1. Friends cannot “improve” you unless you ask them for help. They are not allowed to pick stray hairs from your shirt or tell you it’s time for a hair cut or point out you got the spray-on tan *thismuch* darker on one leg than the other. Not unless you ask.

    2. Friends do not have to go nutzo-crazy over any and all hobbies you take up, BUT they should be able to be happy that you are enjoying yourself. Sneering and sniping your way through any conversation about the hobby is unpleasant.

    3. Friends who have graduated from high school do not get to regress into teenaged behaviors. This means no social ostracizing and no “what do you think she meant by that?” conversations. I’m not passing anyone a note in class.

    You sound like you would make a reasonable friend, and I’d never call you at 3 a.m. for less than the apocalypse.

    • Ali
      April 26, 2011 at 7:42 am

      Excellent, excellent points. The “improve” one especially. I’ve had people try to pull that stuff with me, and it’s just mean.

      As far as hobbies, friends should support. Not snipe. Who needs that?

      Oh, man — high school behavior. Yeah, not pretty as a teenager, and not pretty as an adult. Avoid!

      Also, if there’s an apocalypse, definitely let me know. 😉

  4. April 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I am totally sharing this. I tried to summarize some of the same in my post “Are you a friend that needs losing?”:

    1) Always pointing out what could go wrong, when a friend shares some good news.
    2) Having such frequent and radical mood swings, that friends become reluctant to contact you by e-mail or phone because they are simply afraid of the possible reaction
    3) Only retaining the headlines when reading and watching the news, and then telling all your friends that the world is coming to an end.
    4) When friends try to comfort you through hard times, reacting with “it’s easy for YOU to say.”
    5) Saying in front of you friends, “It’s hard to find good friends these days. People are just unreliable.”
    6) Calling your friends and launching into a tirade about the story of your life without bothering to ask them if they have time or if this is not a good time.
    7) “Dumping”. Your conversations with your friends are basically your monologues complaining about economy, weather, your personal life, your job, etc.

    • Ali
      April 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

      Yay! Thanks for sharing this, Maria! And I love your list. Great points.

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