August 05, 2015

When Friends Get Too Needy


The other day I checked my phone and found a message from a friend waiting for me.  And soon more messages appeared.   They were all some variation of my friend's frustration and disappointment in me not responding to a Facebook invite she had created just two days before.

My internet had gone out prior to her invite so I never knew about it.  I could not get on Facebook or any other website for several days. When I explained this to my friend she relented. But I began to have doubts about whether-or-not our friendship was healthy.

Why would a friend think that I was purposely avoiding her, especially after we had already agreed via phone to attend the exact event she decided to create a Facebook page about?  Something didn't add up.

The first thing I did was check if there was something I might have done to cause the confusion.  But after speaking to a mentor about the issue it was clear that the problem was not with me.

My friend and I did go to the event and had a good time but I still felt uneasy.  Trust had been broken.  My friend was doubting me friendship and care for her.  Why?

Any relationship in life takes time to build. Friendships are a very special blend of trust, respect, and wisdom.  When any of these three elements are missing, friendships can become sour.  How far things sour depends on how well both sides of a friendship can recognize the issue and resolve it with kindness.

But what happens if a friend simply doesn't see the problem?  What happens if a friend becomes too needy and reliant upon you for emotional stability?

It can be that a friend is now envious of your accomplishments or opportunities.  It could be a friend is not willing to look at their personal issues of low self-esteem.  It could be that a friend is not turning to the Lord as their source of fulfillment. Or perhaps you are at a new stage of life and your friend is not comfortable with the changes happening in you.

I think its important to recognize that friends are not meant to be 24 hour personal counselors.  If a friend is constantly dumping all their drama and frustration on you, then its time to seriously consider stepping away from the relationship for a bit. 

Friends who become nags, easily offended, or "clingy" are all signs of trouble in a friendship.

The difficult thing is to know whether-or-not you should maintain it.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  • If I continue my friendship with so-and-so would she continue to act this way?
  • Do I feel encouraged or drained after spending time with this friend?
  • Am I hesitant when I see a text or email message waiting for me from this friend?
  • Is this friend happy to listen to me or is it always about her life issues?
  • Have I failed to set up boundaries in this friendship and can I still do so?
Returning to my story, my friend and I talked about the incident.  I learned that she was having major troubles with her family, in particular with her mother, and felt stressed and unappreciated.  

I reassured my friend that I would not abuse her the way her mother did.  But I also realized that I now had to be more mindful of my actions toward this friend.  I don't mind being someone others can lean on from time-to-time. But I also see the potential for her neediness to grow and for me to feel drained. 

We both have friends who run in the same circles so it was to our advantage to talk things out.  And I made a point of stating that good friends exercise mercy and forgiveness.  I also stressed that its okay and healthy for us to have other friendships too, which I do. 

A new set of boundaries have to be put up so that we can both enjoy each other's company, encourage each other, and yet respect our individual time and emotions.  Part of that is letting my friend know when I am and am not available to chat.  
  • Having a phone does not mean that I will always be able to message her.
  • Just because I have internet access does not mean I will be checking Facebook every day.
  • If I am unavailable once-in-a-while to communicate it does not mean I am angry or rejecting her.
Might there be some boundaries you need to look at with a friend?  Could you be part of the problem? If your friend is needy is there something you can do to encourage them to pursue a healthy friendship?

May the Lord encourage you and lead you in your friendships!

~ Sincerity

" Wounds from a sincere friend is better than many 
kisses from an enemy."

~ Proverbs 27:6

April 28, 2015

True Love and The Friend Zone


Life has been busy this year.  God is stretching me in many areas of my life.  And its only April!
One of the more emotional areas of growth has been the ever morphing relationships with my guy friends.  One in particular.

These guy friends and I have been doing a lot together for about four-ish years.  Of course I have more friend girls then friend guys but the point I want to make is that these men have been in my same social circles for a significant amount of time.

We all had many game nights, movie nights, lunches after church and all manner of excursions.  It has been a lot of fun.  And then, all-of-a-sudden... something changed.  

I suppose I should have gotten the hint that all was not well when my friend gals and my guy friends' friend gals stopped attending excursions, frequently hitting the "Maybe" button on Facebook invites if they responded at all.

These guy friends always showed up to anything I planned or attended and soon began inviting me to their excursions too, along with my friend gals of course.  But it soon became apparent to me that the gals were backing out on purpose and no matter how I asked them they would kindly give some version of, " I am too busy."

It was during one lunch after church that I made a final decision.  As usual an invite was sent out with a string of "Maybe" responders.  I decided to attend hoping that would encourage others to do the same.  But it did not.

That day I was the only gal that showed up to the lunch.  And after an hour or two I prepared to leave.  As I did so every man in the room stood up and I turned around to say goodnight.  That was the moment I felt like Snow White with the Seven Dwarfs.  Not that any of the guys were small in stature and that's not to say that there is anything wrong with being short.  Nor were there exactly seven guys.

Basically I felt like the Belle of the ball.  My guy friends were looking at me in a way that made me feel beautiful and appreciated and I remember wondering why no other gals decided to arrive.

But I worried that my guy friends were getting the wrong impression about why I was the only gal spending time with them.  So I began declining events when no friend gals joined in.  It was not long after this decision that one of my guy friends asked to speak with me after a church service.

And only moments after finding a quiet corner he expressed his deeper feelings for me.  I, for the most part, did an excellent job of not letting me jaw drop to the floor.  This guy friend took me by complete surprise.  I never thought he felt anything but friendship for me.  And the fact that he took the initiative to tell me in person, not even by smartphone, really impressed me.

He made it clear that he wanted to move our friendship to one of dating with the purpose of getting to know each other better.  And I was touched and impressed by his willingness to be rejected.  That took guts and it took trust in God.  A mentor later told me that it also showed the level of trust he felt with me. So I agreed to give us both a chance and see where God might lead us.

Several months and several dates later he is still interested in moving forward.  But my feelings for him remain that of friendship and nothing more.  And so a few trusted mentors have encouraged me to have " the talk" with him sooner rather than later.  It isn't fair to continue a dating relationship if I know my feelings for him will not change.  We are both desiring a spouse and so letting this relationship go can free us to find the right match.

It is no fun to be the one suffering love-sickness and it is no fun to be the one who has to dash the hopes of something more.  Why is it that men and women can fall in love with someone who doesn't reciprocate?

Can I ask you to please join me in praying over this situation?  I need God's guidance. 

As for the other guy friends, several are still around.  A few have definitely shunned me which causes me to wonder if more than one friend wanted to ask me out. Those individuals have not even showed up at church anymore.  *sigh*  I suppose its a blessing I was not hoping for more than friendship with those men.

I Corinthians 13:4-8a
" Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs....
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails..."

Painting: "A Difference of Opinion" by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema