Tag Archives: friendships

Self respect

17 Nov

I just walked away from my best friend for over a year. I did it because it became a matter of self respect. The relationship had turned toxic and one sided, and a while back I promised myself to try harder not to put up with such things.

I don’t want to go into the particulars of what happened, but suffice to say he was extremely needy, whiny, and manipulative. I tried to be the best friend possible. I tried to help him with his problems, or at least listen. All I got in return was more complaining. No matter what the topic of conversation, it would inevitably turn back to him and his problems. Despite all the effort I put into the relationship, if we hit a bump or had an argument he would automatically assume it was over, that I was leaving him, and make subtle hints at suicide. He had no confidence in me as a friend, regardless of everything I tried to do to be a good one.

And so I’ve said goodbye, blocked communications, and cut him out of my life. It sucks. Losing friends always sucks, but I’m trying to keep perspective on what I’m actually losing. When I weigh everything I see that I’m actually gaining something rather than losing; self respect.

Toxic relationships do nothing but drain you. It turns into a case of sunk costs. The main argument I have with myself when considering cutting someone out of my life is “Well I’ve already put this much time and energy into the person. I’d hate to lose it all.” But it’s already lost. The hard part is finally realizing and accepting that. The best thing you can do is just move on.

I’ve always had a difficult time with friendships. At just shy of 25 I’m still trying to figure out what constitutes a good friendship, what’s realistic, and what I should expect. Earlier in the year I deleted my facebook. I did so for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I realized that almost nobody on there was actually my friend. I wagered that I would never hear from them again if I got rid of my profile and the hollow interactions that pass as friendship. I was right.

And so now I’m effectively friendless again. I say “effectively” because I still have my girlfriend and about three people I talk to now and then (but rarely see), yet I don’t have anybody to hang out with. You know what? I’m ok with that. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize that zero is still higher than any negative number. I’m better off with no relationships than having relationships where the other person takes advantage of me. Walking away is never easy, but I take solace in that I’m starting to learn to respect myself.

Human relationships are fragile

14 Aug

This idea occurred to me years ago when I went through some bad break ups (losing girlfriends and best friends as I grew up) and I wrote it down in the physical diary I had at the time. I naively hoped that I was wrong and that time would show me that some relationships are indestructible. Well in the several years that have passed since I first wrote about this, my little experiment has shown me that my original conclusion was right: No matter how strong you think your relationship with somebody is, or how sturdy the foundation, it can all be washed away in seconds.

In my experience, every major relationship I’ve had has fallen apart. First, my best friend growing up: We spent almost every day together since the fourth grade. We practically lived at each other’s houses. We both had two sets of parents, mine and his. Everywhere we went we were together. Slowly he grew colder and into an asshole, and then one day towards the end of senior year in high school we had a fight. Poof! My relationship with my best friend for 8 years was over.

My first major girlfriend, dated about 1.5 years. Things slowly deteriorated then one day we got into a fight and poof, everything was over. (It’s been several years and we’ve since then started talking again from time to time, but we’re nowhere near as close anymore)

My second major girlfriend, dated almost 3 years. Her family was a second family to me and we practically lived together. Things also slowly deteriorated towards the end then one night about a month before I graduated college she packed all her things out of my apartment and left. We got back together briefly, but officially broke it off for good right after my graduation ceremony. I gave her a hug goodbye, thanked her for a great three years of my life, and drove off to a new state where I knew nobody. We still talked for a bit, but then got into a heated IM conversation and I’ve since been completely cut out of her life after 3 years of being each other’s closest confidants. A few words, mere pixels on a screen, and everything was undone.

Lastly, my best friends from college. One I talk to now and then, the other hardly at all. The later left me to sit in his basement all day while he fucked his girlfriend after I had driven 700 miles to see him. After I told him I probably wouldn’t be living at his house in D.C. while he was away and I looked for a job he hasn’t put forth the effort to contact me. He doesn’t even message me once in a while to say “hi, how’s it going”. Just one bad day and suddenly the past 3 years of college don’t mean much? (To the other friend’s credit, he does put forth the effort to keep in touch)

I realize writing this that a couple of the relationships I’ve recounted fell apart slowly, but all of them have a distinct moment when I knew everything I had built up over the course of past years was undone. I don’t know why, but I guess I have this naive notion that history means something. Like if you have a history with someone, especially if it spans years, that you should be able to have some sort of relationship no matter how bad you fight; after all, everything you’ve been through together has to count for something? Right?

I guess not if it can all vanish in seconds. This whole thing just leads me feeling very jaded. Am I doomed to go from one relationship/friendship to another, each time hoping “maybe this time it will last!” only to end up alone and broken? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yet I don’t see any other option! It’s either keep trying and keep getting burned, or just give up on any hope of finding a lasting friendship.

I distinctly remember pondering this years ago. I remember lamenting that what I really want were friends as loyal as medieval housecarls. I picked housecarls at the time after reading romanticized historical fictions about them and how they wouldn’t abandon their leader even in the face of certain death. It wasn’t that I wanted to be a leader and have a lot of friends, it was just that I admired and desired the loyalty the housecarls embodied. As silly as it might sound, I always thought of myself as a housecarl to my closest friends. I would do anything for them. If they were in trouble, I’d drop everything and rush to help them. It didn’t matter if doing so would cost me a school suspension, my job, my car, or even my life in the most extreme circumstances. I would walk through hell for them. (And I even had the swords and armor to complete the whole housecarl thing ^_^ )

I know that sounds extreme, but I had this intense love and loyalty I wanted so desperately to give; and wanted returned equally as strong. It was the latter that always disappointed me. I’ve never met anyone else who was willing to go as far for me as I was for them. It drove me crazy! I was keenly aware that my flavor of intense ancient style loyalty was rare. I would look at my friends and think “Can’t you grasp what I am offering you!?!? How many of your other friends would give their lives for you?” It was a borderline death wish. There was this period in high school, while other guys were fantasizing about women, I fantasized about dying big dramatic deaths defending my friends. Crazy, I know. I just always wanted the trust and loyalty I’d imagine two old war buddies would have after saving each other’s lives numerous times.

I’m starting to doubt that type of relationship exists outside of the war veteran context. Even if it does, I’d imagine it’d take time to develop, but how much time? I’ve had multiple people with whom I’ve been very close, often several years at a stretch; yet still no housecarl loyalty. Am I chasing a fairy tale? Should I just conclude that deeply loyal and trusting friendships that stand the test of time are beyond me grasp? Should I resign myself to never expecting much from any relationship/friendship since I’ve always eventually been disappointed in the end? It just seems that whenever I think I’ve built a relationship that is rock solid, a few words can undo it in seconds…