Last week, I spoke about changing friendships and going with the flow, so this week I wanted to talk about it a bit more, with an example to help explain what I mean. Let me start by saying I am known to be a creature of habit. I take comfort in knowing that I catch up with a certain friend for lunch on a Monday, or that I always play bingo with another for example. I like the inbuilt nature of it, and the security in knowing time together is secured and never far away.
I don’t consider myself inflexible, but I must say, as part of this blog I have definitely realised I don’t cope well with change, and am trying to be better at accepting that friendships do change, as do routines. If someone can’t make one catch up for some reason it isn’t an issue, and although disappointing if we discuss the issue and confirm our next plans I usually stay comfortable.
What I really struggle with is when things change and we do not discuss it. I am not BLAMING my friends for this. I have been every bit as guilty of changing things without a discussion as they have. We all do it sometimes, perhaps without even realising or thinking about how it affects the other person or the message it sends them.
What I mean is, if I play Bingo with Jane each second Wednesday, and I invite her as usual, and she tells me she is going with Jean instead, I might feel really upset and hurt over this, as trivial as that sounds. If she tells me Jean also loves bingo and she thought we could all go, I may reluctantly accept this change. If she tells me Jean usually plays on a Friday somewhere else, but it was cancelled this week so she asked to go with Jane this week, I will be understanding although hurt that I was not invited or consulted. If she has changed jobs or locations or something that would lead me to believe there was some cause for this change outside of me, I will handle it better. But if she just tells me she is already going with Jean, with no further conversation, I will be a bit blindsided.
In these situations, I never know if I should ask for more information, or express my feelings, or if they will be minimized. After all it is probable that Jane and I have never discussed the commitment in our arrangement or the monogamy as such. We’ve just always gone together. Will I seem petty to feel hurt if she chooses another friend over me?
I am the type of person, who, although hates confrontation would rather discuss future plans. Will Jane and Jean always go together now, or is this just one time? Can I include myself in their plans? Have I upset Jane in some way to make her exclude me? Why did Jane schedule time with Jean in time that already ‘belonged’ to me? These conversations can be fruitful, although awkward and with reassurance given and received can leave everybody feeling safe and comfortable again. They can also go the other direction, causing you to argue, and for Jane to point out that I don’t own her for example, or Bingo and she can and will go with whomever she chooses at the time. Sometimes this causes rifts that never heal.
What I am learning to do is go with the flow of the changing winds. Using the above example, I would no longer advise initiating a big conversation about it, instead just finding someone else to go with and allowing the change instead of struggling against it. Next time I would ask Jane again, and if she was still going with Jean, I would smile and tell her “Ok, I might take Rose again, maybe we will see you there.” (Maybe you wont take Rose again. There is no law that says you must take the same person every time, maybe you will ask someone else.)
The point is, if you find someone else, you will be less upset and dwelling over it. The chances are, in the above example, Jane didn’t mean to upset me. She simply wanted to go with Jean instead. It doesn’t need to mean our friendship is over, just that it has changed a little to a more casual nature. It is my job to take care of me. Not Jane’s. If I stop going to Bingo, I am more likely to dwell on it and over think it and blame myself, and the same is true if I go alone, with the added insult of watching Jane and Jean have fun without me. If I simply take it at face value, and find someone else to go with, my friendship with Jean stays unscathed, as does my self esteem.
When the wind changes direction, don’t waste too much time fighting it and asking why, just change with it as best you can and the current will catch you up much quicker. I know from experience that this isn’t easy, but if you take it personally, the only person struggling will be you. People change and grow, so do friendships. Change can be painful but it is ultimately positive.
Your Best Friend ForNever