Sorry about earlier, folks! I started this blog last Wednesday and set it to auto-publish on Sunday evening, but it was published before I completed it…anyway, here we go!
So, I’ve always been told that fear and love are the most powerful emotions. These two things can drive you to do things you would have never considered or make you tolerate things that you wouldn’t have otherwise tolerated. I think loneliness should be added to this group.
As you readers know, I grew up as an only child and an Army brat, so I’ve never really had powerful connections with other people, besides my mom and a couple of friends from childhood. That being said, since 2nd grade I have pursued friendships in an attempt to fend off the loneliness that came along with having no brothers and sisters and moving around every few years. Later in life, around 10th grade, I began searching for romantic companionship, and while over the years I have learned to maintain healthy boundaries with romantic partners (in my opinion), I recently realized that I do not maintain those same boundaries with friends. Part of this is my fault, obviously. I often open-up very quickly to friends and extend a great amount of trust. I often assume that telling people intimate information about me will make them feel more comfortable and they will want to be my friend, once they see that I have gone through struggles too, but more often than not they use that information as ammunition against me in the future.
I tolerate outrageous behavior from friends, that I would never tolerate from a romantic partner: flakiness, inconsistency, dishonesty, maliciousness, etc.
If I was dating a man and he exhibited these characteristics, I would never continue the relationship, but I have allowed “friends” to treat me this way for as long as I can remember. I’m 25 and just recently I had to “tighten my circle” as they say, after I realized that I was allowing people to blatantly disrespect me just so that I would be able to have “friends”.
All of this aside, I am writing this blog because I recently learned a lesson that I think may prove valuable to others that often go out of their way to seek companionship: Loneliness is a powerful emotion and platonic and romantic relationships are phenomenal, but trying to avoid loneliness is not a valid reason to allow someone to treat you like shit.
Of course, every relationship, no matter it’s nature, requires compromise and flexibility and you should never hold someone to a standard that you do not maintain yourself (i.e. if you always flake on events, you can’t expect others not to do the same), but that does not mean that you should have to put up with repeated instances of mean and malicious behavior, just so that you won’t be alone.
I don’t know why it took me so long to really take this to heart. I’ve heard the saying that you should be content being alone before you seek others to fill your time, and I thought I was doing just that, but after examining the relationships in my life more closely, I realized that I was allowing “friends” to treat me in ways that I would never, ever treat other people, just so that I didn’t have to go through life alone. And it turns out this was making me 100 times more unhappy than I would have been had I just accepted being alone and gone on living my life.
I have my faults: I gossip, I interrupt people, I dwell on things, and I can be very demanding of people I love, but I do consciously and continually put effort into the friendships I have, and once I realized people in those relationships were not willing to do the same for me, I knew it was time to cut those ties, tragic as it may be. Cutting ties with those that are mean to you or do not respect you does not mean you have to do the same to prove your point, you can abandon relationships without getting revenge. In my opinion however, it is absolutely necessary to hold your dignity (not your pride) above your urge for companionship.
Now, in my opinion, if you have a friend or acquaintance that has proven, through his or her actions, that they do not respect you, you could relegate them to a position in your life that works best for you. Not necessarily to take advantage of them, but to make sure that you guys are both investing the same amount of time and energy into the relationship. If you have that one guy or girl that doesn’t put effort into your friendship, but you both like opera or baseball or foreign films, then just include them in those events and make sure you are not allowing them to dominate your life in ways that they wouldn’t allow you to do the same. This is the best solution for me, because I have a really multi-faceted personality. I enjoy Korean culture, history, politics, learning languages, wine, cigars, fashion, fishing, etc. and I am aware that it is going to be impossible to find a friend (romantic or platonic) that also has such eclectic tastes, but rather than putting in an unrealistic amount of effort into one specific friendship and being disappointed when the other person is unwilling to do the same, perhaps it is better to have several friends that you can each relate to on a different level.
So, today’s questions:
What are your favorite activities to do by yourself? Do you think it’s best to have a lot of casual friends or one best friend? How old were you when you realized that other people couldn’t make you happy?