I’ve been ruminating a lot lately (the PMS is certainly helping) about the difficulties of relationships, and my own part in those difficulties.
I’ve given up on changing the dynamics with my mother, as she’s approaching eighty. With her, I just observe and take note. With my friends, however, I would like to improve things, but I am ill-equipped for confrontation. In the past I’ve sometimes held things in until I’ve erupted. Not a good strategy.
I think if these were romantic relationships, it would be a little easier, as the expectation would exist that the relationship needed to be worked on and is of such high value that the participants would be willing to do the work. In my experience, “mere” friendships crumble all too easily.
I have a female friend, a no-mo (meaning not-mom, and to be treasured), who I have a long history with, and who used to be quite emotionally supportive and kind-hearted. I suppose she was always a bit long-winded, but we used to have a good give and take. The dynamics and frequency of our exchanges underwent a rapid shift over the past few years as she entered into romantic relationships, but I got over that and accepted it.
What bothers me are the conversations that are left. They follow a predictable pattern. I talk for maybe five minutes about what it going on in my life, and she either responds with silence, indifference, or, on occasion, a lecture that has more to do with what is going on with her than with me. The rest of the conversation centers on her issues, which she could easily discuss for hours. I listen, and empathize, and give input, and then at about the fifty-minute mark have started saying I have to get off the phone. I can’t escape wondering what I am getting out of this friendship anymore.
Should I confront her? How? It’s hard for me to imagine how to word it so that she wouldn’t take offense. It’s occurred to me that she could be angry at me about something, but then I’m miffed that she’s being passive-aggressive about it.
I recently had a great conversation with another no-mo friend, and it put into stark relief how little I am getting out of the former friendship. On the other hand, the latter friend only calls every three months or so and then disappears. I’ve just accepted that’s how is is with her because I can’t figure out how to confront her on that one either.
Then there’s my roommate. From all appearances, he has an internet/ TV addiction, and/or a possible health issue that affects his energy levels. My fear is that he would respond to any voiced concern about this with the same reaction as the typical subject of the reality show Intervention. He also has become increasingly unable to tolerate conversation that doesn’t fit his immediate mood and/or interest level– not just with me but with others as well. He’ll just cut people off.
Should I be feeling compassionate? Try to intervene? Mind my own business? Feel angry that he’s an adult but occasionally acting more like an adolescent? Just tell him to move out?
He’s not only a friend (or has been) but a work colleague, so it’s delicate. I’m also waiting out my PMS and trying to determine what part in this dynamic my own adjustment to a roommate is playing.
In the meantime, I’m pouring it all out to this blog in place of an ear.