I imagine we have all been in situations where we felt disappointed in a friend for what she said, or didn’t say, or how she responded to something we said or did. The experience can leave you feeling unheard, unseen, misunderstood and in some cases questioning the entire friendship!
Sometimes it may be something small, like that time she suggested the dress you carefully selected looks like a night gown, and sometimes it is something that feels way bigger, like minimizing your relationship problems or not showing sympathy or support in a time of difficulty or need. All of these things can hurt, and make it seem like your friend is careless with both her words and your heart. Added to that it can be really difficult to broach the situation without seeming like a demanding drama queen!
So, what is a girl to do? For a start, know your audience. Everyone in our lives have strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes tact may be a weakness and your friend may think she is being helpful with her blunt remarks about your style? If it really bothers you, a quick reminder that you didn’t ask for her opinion should nip this type of bluntness in the bud. If your friend is single, she may not be in the best emotional space to listen and understand about your relationship problems, especially if she is envious and feels you should be grateful just to be in a relationship. (Note this is by no means all single people, not even most.) If she is suffering a tragedy such as a terminal illness, or the loss of a loved one, her perspective on “real problems” may have changed somewhat, and she may not realise that she is minimizing how you feel as she is too caught up in her grief.
Once you know your audience better, you will start to know which friends are the ones to turn to for certain things. I know I have friends in my circle that I can talk to, ones I can enjoy, ones I listen to, ones who’s advice I ponder and ones who I can rely on. They are all valuable and I do not expect any of them to be a jack of all trades. Keeping my expectations real has helped me not to be disappointed in people.
If you thought you knew your audience and had the same expectations as always, but your friend let you down, it may be time to stop and consider what has changed for your friend. In your need to get her to be there for you, did you neglect to be there for her? Is she ok? Is she struggling with something? It is always best to try and understand and the likeliest reason has nothing to do with you, but what is happening for her. If she was tired, irritable, not feeling well or stressed, she may have been hoping to have a fun time, and been a little resentful that you asked more of her than she had to give. Which is usually what it boils down to. The issue isn’t in what you have asked for, just that the person in question couldn’t give it to you.
The next thing to consider is – are you asking for something that you would give, instead of what your friend would? Think about all the ways your friend shows her love and concern. Her values. If she values honesty she may feel like the truth is always better, even if her delivery is blunt. What is her love language? Are you feeling let down because she didn't drop everything and rush to be by your side, even though she sent flowers? If that is the case, perhaps your language is time and hers is gifts? What is her communication style? Maybe she is direct, while you prefer people to sugar coat things? Are you upset that she didn’t call, although she did message to check in? If your communication preference is verbal and hers is written, that may be where the mismatch lies. It may seem simple if all you needed was a hug….. but if physical affection is uncomfortable for them, you may be asking too much from them.
Lastly you have to ask yourself, is what you are asking for reasonable? If you were in her position and her circumstances, would you have been able to offer whatever it was that you were asking for? Sometimes, without realizing it, we accidentally ask for too much because we fail to consider what other people have going on and that we are not the centre of any universe, least of all theirs.
Of course, the question remains, if you knew what you wanted to see or hear, why did you ask in the first place? We don’t get to dictate or control other people’s responses or reactions. We don’t have to take their advice or opinion on board. And if they can’t be there for you in the ways that you need, accept this and find people that can. You obviously know what you need from people to feel supported and cared for. That doesn’t mean everyone who doesn’t show you what you want to see doesn’t care, they just care in their own way.
If you know what you want to see, look in the right places to find it!
Your Best Friend ForNever