Saturday, February 17, 2007

What do you do?

You had a friend. A sweet, loyal and reliable friend. A very appealing personality. A heart of gold etc....Circumstances threw you together for a while and you became close.

But there was a problem.

As you got to know her better, you noticed that she seemed unable to win people's respect. You were constantly finding her in situations where someone was being disrespectful to her or making fun of her. And not only did she always fail to put a stop to it or react with any dignity, she wouldn't even realize she was being insulted. It would all just go over her head.

You were never sure what to call it. A weird, exaggerated form of innocence? An inability to believe that anyone actually meant it when they used her or said something harsh and out of line to her? Try as you did, you just couldn't understand or appreciate her ability to keep giving people the benefit of the doubt who simply did not deserve it.

Your initial response was to get very protective of her. You became the champion of her cause. Always telling people off for being mean to her. Always making her point when she failed to make it for herself. You got into a lot of fights with a lot of people on her account. At one point - you were ready to fight with your partner in life because you didn't like the way he spoke to her. You kept hounding him and made him feel so guilty that he was forced to apologize to her.

At one point, in a fit of temper, your partner then stated the opinion that she was just dumb and she set herself up for these things etc....You were furious with him for saying it. Probably because deep down inside it was what you thought too and you hated yourself for it.

Then you started to get impatient with her. She irritated you. You can never stand it when people don't stick up for themselves. Soon, all your conversations degenerated into you lecturing her, telling her how you think she should protect herself etc...

Eventually, the relationship became so stressful, you decided to put some distance between the two of you. And you did. Gradually and - you hoped - gently, you disengaged. You made yourself less and less available until things got to the point where the two of you simply lost touch.

A few months later on Valentine's Day, you receive an email from her. A very touching note about how much she misses you, that she's going through hard times and needs a friend etc...

You feel bad for her. But the thing is, you have no wish to get engaged with her again. The relationship had reached a point where it had become a burden you were glad to get rid of. You keep telling yourself that compassion alone is not enough to sustain a friendship.That you don't have anything in common. Your partner finds her irritating and a bore. So do your friends - the people you spend most of your time with. You don't want to have to impose her on all of them again. You don't want to deal with the stress of forcing them to accept her and treat her the way you feel she should demand to be treated but doesn't.

You finally admit to yourself that you don't think she is intellectually your equal and that you don't like being around people you feel yourself talking down to. It makes you dislike yourself.

What do you do? Give in to your sense of duty and loyalty? Reach out to her and try very hard to change your perception of her?

Or keep your distance because you don't want to deal with all the negative feelings being around her generates in you? Would you even be able - feeling as you do about her - to give her the emotional support we all need when life isn't being kind to us? Could you be a good friend to her? Even if you could, being around her is so GRIM for you. So you ask yourself is it selfish and wrong to think friendship should be a teeny, weeny bit of FUN?

So what do you do?

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16 Comments:

Blogger Rain said...

Hi Lou,

My first mind reaction was to be there for her ...but , i know when u do sth out of duty as in not from ur heart , it's meaningless and it won't be satisfying.

2/17/2007 01:38:00 AM  
Blogger Twosret said...

stay away I say. That is what I would do.

2/17/2007 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger GC said...

Friendships built on sympathy and a sense of duty will not survive. Unless its sole purpose is to make one feel good about himself

2/17/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger roora said...

Hi loulou,
I would help her out. Some one emails you after she lost contact, this means that she is really in need. You can help her out and support her... she doesnt have to be your friend, actucally your friends' opinion about her is a bit cruel. Maybe she is not smart enough in how to deal with people. But again that is not a good reason for people to deal with her in harsh way.

Help her out.. Lecture her in your nice way .. help her to stand up for herself. I know that you might already tried that before. But you can never know.. Maybe you would have a positive effect. And it would be be cauause of you and you would of help her.

2/17/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger doshar said...

deciding to be friends with someone or not is not something you can just do on will...it either happens or not... on the other hand being friendly and supportive is something else.

I feel for her really.. because I have seen several examples of such people in real life... and actually I know that alot of it is inherent... part of who you are is there by breeding and environment adaptation, but a big part is there in the first place... by nature... some people are just naturally hard, gentle, generous, stingy etc. and being not smart is something I think she has no hand in. someone can be so smart and witty, make fun of someone like her... and then have kids just like her... how would they feel when people make fun of them?

the way other people deal with her remind me of kindergarden, when the kids pick on others that "do not fit", as we grow and mature, we should be able to realize that the real criteria for judgemet, should be their inherent goodness, and actions.

I see people all the time really nice and friendly with a total Ahole, becuase he is charming and witty etc. even if he has awful ethics... again reminds of school kids.

the thing is.... when people find someone who lets say is different, being rejected.. they kind of follow their lead.. but if you are respected, and are kind to someone like her, respectful... maybe by example someone else would not be so eager to shun her. you can help open the viscous circle she is in.

It might not be too easy... but going the extra mile to help someone in need, whether friends or not, will always be rewarded by God. She needs you... reached out to you... I think if you ignore that you would not feel too good either, so call her... we Rabbena Yewaffak ISA

2/17/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

I feel for her, especially since she's going through such a hard time, but I'm not sure engaging with her again is a good idea. GC is right, friendships built solely on sympathy never work. And you don't want to spend your entire time lecturing her.

I had a friend like that. The only reason we disengaged was because she moved to another country. Forget the lecturing...I used to YELL at her all the time.

Having said that, if she had a problem, I'd be there for her. I may not necessarily want to bring her around my friends and probably won't be as close to her anymore, but I'd find a section in my life for her I suppose. Even if it's a private coffee moment. She may not have to be your friend, buy maybe an acquaintance.

Tough spot you're in Loulou.

2/17/2007 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Although she may be a sweet person she also sounds like an energy vampire. Someone who will just take and take and take until you have nothing left to give. What do you get out of the friendship? Anything? Some people are toxic to us and only bring us down. You have to find that line for yourself and decide how far you are willing to go.

2/17/2007 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger Puppy said...

LouLou,

i think the letter should be answered. She definitely need help and least a shoulder to cry on. You can reply her back or call as it was said above. I don’t think you can change person by lecturing unless she will truly understand that her behavior is wrong. What she was replying to you when you were trying to open her eyes on reality?

She wrote a letter and asked for “help” why don’t you see what is wrong with her, she was your friend after all, may be you can help her. You can leave anytime you want, its not good to leave such letter (I don’t know what was really inside) without reply.

Good luck and do what your heart tells and what you think is right. She was good friend to you and what others think it doesn’t matter.

All the best

Puppy.

2/17/2007 11:04:00 PM  
Blogger SaRaH said...

My advice is just stay away.. from the situation you will only be able to be there for her for a while and then pull back again.. You tried once and it did not work out.. Stay away period this time to at least avoid hurting her twice..

2/18/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Everything's Eventual said...

Hi Lou,

I've been reading your blog for a while, and enjoying it. This is my first time to comment though, so allow me to express my opinion :)

I think you can maintain a different sort of friendship with her, a distant friendship where you check in with each other every while and help her out. There are so many different types of friendships that can be maintained outside our usual understanding of what a typical friendship should be like.

Besides...I think you should never turn down someone who's asking for your help, because what goes around eventually does come around.

2/18/2007 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Herlock Sholmes said...

Friendship built on sympathy is not enough, ever

2/20/2007 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Will E. said...

Allow me if I may. You describe her as a:

"A sweet, loyal and reliable friend. A very appealing personality. A heart of gold "

And you say that you realized that she wasn't able to win people's respect. But I think she won yours judging by those few lines I quoted above..

Here's what happened, you got closer cause of certain circumstances at a certain time, right? ..so now you need to ask yourself, was this closeness real?

If the closeness wasn't real then people have opened your eyes to who she was and that you were close because of a time of need.

If the closeness was real then you let people affect your own view, lose respect for her and see her through their eyes not yours.

The fact that you can't stand her not standing up for herself says more about you than her. When you accept a friend you accept them for who they are not for who they could be or who you want them to be.. maybe your standards have changed and you can't accept her anymore ..or maybe you just feel that other people's approval is important.. In the end it's just a matter of priorities really.. sometimes our friends need us most when the whole world is against us, but sometimes friendship isn't worth standing up against the whole world..

She's her own person, you can't fight her battles, you just have to accept that she chooses not to fight hers the same way that you do.. so maybe that's what irritated you cause you had to fight the whole world for her and you felt just how it was to be on the other side..

It's always hard to see our friends be something we can't stand, but is the friendship worth the trouble?

My advice would be to evaluate your friendship and your reasons for getting irritated with her. What's more important to you really and what's the time you had with her worth..

I apologize for making this longer than it should be.. I did not mean to lecture, all this is speculation on my side..

2/24/2007 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger H.O.P.E said...

Hi Loulou,

I have a friend just like that. She's actually one of my closest friends but her passiveness to the way ppl treat her has gotten on my nerves in more ways than one. She's one of the most loyal and kind ppl I know with the biggest heart. I hate the way men use her and throw her out and the way she allows ppl to blatantly insult her. I've talked to her, argued with her, screamed at her..done it ALL and yet nothing. Then I came to the conclusion that this is her, this is who she is and she's not going to change. So I can either continue to be the shoulder she cries on when the world is screwing her over, or leave her to vent for herself.

So I decided to be there for her, coz in some odd way..I know I'll need her too :)

Moral; is do what u feel is right for u and ur situation as long as ur satisfied with ur decision :)

Good luck!

2/24/2007 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Safa said...

I think if you have a friend who is a drain on you, but you can handle it...go ahead with it. But when it starts to affect you, and your family, your friends? No way! If you aren't up to the stress of it, and the demands of it, it's better to just back off. Again, do what you think is right and works for you, you are under no obligation....

2/25/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Zed said...

Lou-

Been thinking about this ever since you posted it. I don't know what I'd do. On the one hand, she has expressly asked for your support. On the other hand, friendship based on pity is no friendship at all. I'm not sure what I would do....

2/26/2007 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger Brent said...

In psychology there is this idea of codependence, a condition whereby we feel overly responsible for the condition and destiny of other people to the point that we become drained and stressed in the relationship. You have the right not to associate with people whom you feel aren't up to your standards, but if the issue in your relationship is with you and not her then don't be afraid to see that and act upon it and take responsibility for it. People are often needy and imperfect -- doesn't mean you have to save them but it might be possible to find common ground without losing feeling like she is a burden or that she is your responsibility.

3/03/2007 03:51:00 AM  

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