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Frustrated with one-way friendship


bungalo
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It's been a long time since I've posted here...this site was a great resource for me when I was nursing a couple of broken hearts!  

I have a friend that I met 3 and half years ago, at a funeral/memorial service of all places.  We are both middle aged married guys.  We hit it off talking at this celebration of life.  We have a huge passion for music in common.  listening, playing, writing and performing.   After the service, we exchanged numbers, and I called him, and we struck up a friendship centering mostly around going to open mic nights.  We also would go to each other's houses and play music, and take in the occasional concert/live event. 

About two years down the road, I noticed that I was always the one extending invitations.  After stewing about this for several months, I brought it up to him, and he claimed it was a "blind spot" of his, not to invite me to do things.  To me it seems like a no-brainer, if you have a friend, you ask them to do stuff.  After I brought this up, he said he would try to do better.  I believe since this conversation there has been one maybe two half assed texts from him along the lines of,  "you going.?" (referring to an open mic). 

My wife and I have invited him and his wife over, they claim to be too busy.  Interestingly, he and his wife are really good about sending cards for birthdays, holidays, and a very nice condolence card when my mother died.  But nothing has improved.  I also get a real sense that he doesn't pay attention when I speak, and he very regularly ignores texts and links I send, while I feel I am very attentive and responsive when he sends texts and links.

This weekend I am not engaging with him, it just hurts too much.  What kind of friend never says, "hey let's go get lunch/a drink, etc.?"  I can point to the pandemic a little, but this behavior pattern was in place way before the pandemic.  I honestly know he's a good guy, but very lazy, and it is not sitting well with me.

Edited by bungalo
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He's not lazy.  He just doesn't care as much as you do.  He doesn't want to be your friend to the extent you want to be his.  He's not lazy when he feels like doing something like sending a card.  He doesn't want to go to the trouble and effort of making plans with you.  If that's not ok with you stop engaging with him.

I have a similar situation right now -just heard from a long time on and off again friend for the first time in at least 3 years out of the blue with a whole catch up email - I was tempted not to respond at all.  I didn't like that she went MIA.  But I did, shared some stuff but wrote that I'd prefer to catch up by phone and to let me know what works for her.  I'm not holding my breath.  

Spend your time and energy on people who reciprocate with plans since that is important to you.

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Thanks Batya and Wiseman.  I did pull back starting this weekend. I guess what throws me is, this guy loves to text and email alot!...it's just that it's pretty much what HE wants to talk about. Easy to assume that he's a good friend..but it's ONE WAY for the most part; his interests, wheelhouse, etc.  Sorry about your MIA friend.  I've had that happen as well.  About 5 years ago I noticed that my oldest friend, whom I've known since 8th grade would never initiate contact with me. I called him on it, and it actually worked. Now he is much better at contacting and reciprocal communication.

Edited by bungalo
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Texting and emailing is easier.  It's at his convenience.  I have a friend from 7th grade -we're now in our mid 50s- we lost touch for about 8 years- her doing - she was one of those "I'm a married mom, no time for single people" - fine.  But you know I looked past it when we got back in touch (yes I called her when I became a married mom). 

We'd talk on the phone regularly until it became clear that no matter how minor the interruption - her neighbor who stopped by at random countless times a day, her daughter texting her about lunch food options on her own, the cleaning lady showing up - she'd say she had to go or during a 10 minute call she'd have to put me on hold if her daughter randomly texted. 

So I stopped calling and only texted -I'm kind of sensitive to that level of interruption especially if I'm in the middle of sharing a fun story, etc.  Now we only text.  In fact she said to me one day on text we should do a phone call so I texted her shortly after if it was a good time - nope.  She never tried to reschedule. 

Oh and she is pretty flaky about plans when I'm in town.  point is - I balance this annoyance against the 43 years of friendship, the myriad of times she's been there for us in so many ways, how open we can be with each other, how much fun we have chatting and the support we give each other.  Many would view what I wrote as dealbreakers.  That's ok. 

By contrast if I meet someone new via a Faceobok group and they express interest in meeting -I view it with suspicion because of all the flakiness.  I give one or two chances unless it's a true emergency.  Then buh bye.  I've had one to two hour phone calls with at least half a dozen people the last few years including those who made specific plans to meet me -then flaked.  So yes to a 43 year friendship, no to a couple of month pen pal sort of thing ending in flakiness.  

It's so individual -so you asking for input -we all bring our individual perspectives. 

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59 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

 

Spend your time and energy on people who reciprocate with plans since that is important to you.

I've had so called fair weather friends. They come and go. They make time for the people who are a priority in their lives. 

 My best advice is don't take it personally and move on. Don't jump hoops to maintain this friendship. If he wanted to, he would. 

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I still have hope, and I do think that changing the dynamic can sometimes produce positive results.  I honestly believe that he thinks of himself as a "good friend," but he's clueless.  I know many people in all age groups who have major communication and relationship problems.  Quite a few of them bend over backwards for their spouses, significant others, but their friends apparently don't merit anything close to even a modest effort.  Friendships require maintenance and I honestly think a giant chunk of people don't bother.

I hear you Batya on your friend of 43 years.  If you look at the whole mix, it's worthwhile.  My friend of nearly 50 years will flake on me at times.  He even thought I was still married to a certain wife whom I had divorced many years prior in one conversation! 

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1 hour ago, bungalo said:

What kind of friend never says, "hey let's go get lunch/a drink, etc.?

Kind that takes you for granted?

There are people who are like that. He knows that you are always gona be there for him, invite him to do stuff, call, message, so why bother? Friendship, like any relationship, is a two way street. If you dont feel appreciated and respected, what is the point? Dont overextend. He doesnt want to see you and claims he is busy? OK, dont make plans with him. If he sends email or message to ask how youve been, answer and you can ask him next time the same. But dont go overboard for somebody who wont return that back. And dont take "lazy" as an excuse, he is perfectly capable to pick up a phone or message and call you to hang out. When I started doing "reciprocity" and not overextending even for long time friends, I can tell you that Ive been much happier with quality of my friendships. There is no reason to bend over backwards over anybody who cant even pick up a phone and ask how youve been doing.

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Your friend doesn't want to be your friend at the same level you expect.  Even though he may describe himself as a friend, he really is merely an acquaintance to you.  He's not willing to put forth the effort nor give the friendship the same type of enthusiasm you have.  You're showing more interest in him than he cares to give you. 

He wants boundaries with you.  He and his wife send you greeting cards for various occasions and very sad events such as when your mother passed away (I'm sorry).  However, it's his limits with you and his wife.

I know it's not an excuse but if you're single and he's married, he is busier because his wife takes priority over her husband's friends.  He's not single with as much time, focus and energy as you have as a single man.  I know married people make time for friends but compared to single people, married people have less time because obviously, their time and energy goes towards their spouse first and then friends after that.  In your friend's case, you're not that important to him so do likewise, leave him alone and don't bother.

I've been on both sides of the fence.  I've been the type of friend who had more initiative and enthusiasm to keep the friendship afloat.  I've also been on the other end of the spectrum where I wasn't interested in some friends because I enjoy being with my husband.  I enjoy doing ordinary things with him such as accompanying him on errands, having game night after dinner (cards or board games) and taking chilly evening walks together while looking at Christmas lights in our suburban neighborhood.  It doesn't have to be date night or a night on the town.  I just like being with him.  My needs are met so I don't need a lot of friends to keep me busy and entertained.  I have friends whom I see on a regular basis but I don't crave them because I'm perfectly content with my life as is.  Perhaps your friend and his wife are in this category. 

You have the type of friend who has less than lukewarm feelings towards you.  Once you accept the reality of how he is, it's easier to become numb and drop him. 

Friends require time and energy to nurture, cultivate and maintain the friendship.  You don't want to do all the initiating and giving while he lets you do all the work.  It's unfair and you'll grow tired of this lopsided friendship.  Your friendship lacks balance.  He doesn't sound like an ideal friend. 

Don't do anything.  Back off and give him all the time and space he wants and needs.  Either he'll come around and start initiating or responding to your texts and links or both of you will drift apart and fade away which is universal. 

Friends will waft in and out of your life.  Some are temporary friends and others  are keepers.  You will determine who deserves to be in your life and who needs to exit your life.

Edited by Cherylyn
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I know single people who have very little time to spend with friends for a variety of reasons - work - volunteer commitments, caring for parents or siblings - and married people who have plenty of time and people who use busy excuses ranging from marital responsibilities to pet responsibilities - I wouldn’t generalize.

With rare exception.  Yes a pregnant mom on bed rest with a 22 month old and a puppy - someone who just posted on my mom group - isn’t going to reciprocate making plans. 

so also consider that many close friends don’t prioritize doing in person activities.  I’m very close with people I haven’t seen in years.  I’ve had casual friends where we meet for a specific activity. Like certain “mom” friends. Often it’s geography and now it’s also Covid but you find someone who likes to make plans reciprocally.  That’s your standard and it’s fine. But it’s not his for whatever reason. 
 

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Yeah we are both married and he & his wife are retired, they retired early. So my wife and I are still working, but (eye roll) he's just sooooo busy. Like I mentioned before he's  in this habit of texting or emailing alot, usually, every day, but it's generally all about him and his interests, there is never an invitation involved or any kind of planning to get together on his end. It felt weird but several times this weekend he texted me about how he was fixing his plumbing problem in his bathroom, and I just didn't acknowledge his texts, I just told him I wasn't feeling well (truth), and didn't engage. It felt slightly passive-aggressive on my part but I can't tell you how many times I have sent him heartfelt things that have gone completely ignored.

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This is one of those life moments where I'd remind myself that my experience is likely entirely different then the next person.  You have certain expectations of a friendship, he has differing.

If this makes this relationship feel inequitable to you, then you find another friend that's a better fit.

Good for you that you mentioned it to him.  But as you've discovered, his expectation remains different than yours.  It doesn't make him a bad guy.  Just a guy who has a different idea of what friendships look like.

But from what you further describe, he isn't a good listener as well and it's all about him.  Rather than thinking you aren't worthy of his friendship or he's not interested, consider the fact that you are looking for something entirely different.  He may not fit what you are looking for.  Waiting for him to change isn't wise.  He has shown you who he is and what he has to offer.   Based on the facts you get to decide if it's worth investing any more effort in.

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Not to sound like a big whiner, but it's been my experience that the older you get the harder it is to make new friends. I wouldn't have invested so much if I wasn't getting something good out of being friends with the guy,  it's not black and white, but it is definitely lopsided in terms of only one guy doing the actual setting up of face-to-face time. I'm definitely not initiating anymore. Thing is I don't think he'll notice I feel weird about not responding but maybe I shouldn't respond anymore either.

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51 minutes ago, bungalo said:

Not to sound like a big whiner, but it's been my experience that the older you get the harder it is to make new friends. I wouldn't have invested so much if I wasn't getting something good out of being friends with the guy,  it's not black and white, but it is definitely lopsided in terms of only one guy doing the actual setting up of face-to-face time. I'm definitely not initiating anymore. Thing is I don't think he'll notice I feel weird about not responding but maybe I shouldn't respond anymore either.

Not to hurt your feelings but you do sound like a big whiner. I'm smiling as I write this because you obviously see it, too.

You are not a kid. You are married. You do have other people in your life. 

It's almost like single people saying "all the good ones are taken" 

No. they are not. The world is full of people, places and opportunities. As we get older we should get better at determining what works for us and what doesn't and responding accordingly.

As @DancingFool suggests, it's not one or the other to be passive or to go scorched earth on the guy..

You are basically drinking poison..  being made and hurt and expecting your buddy to die.  Meanwhile he is focused on his own life.

When I was young my dad said to me, when you're so worried about what someone else is doing, that's a signal you don't have enough going on in your own life.

This guy is not hurting you.  You are choosing to take his nature as a slight against you. And if you continue to tell him and see no change, that makes you the toxic one.

Look at your own interests and get involved in those activities to make new friends. Hang with your wife doing what you enjoy together.  Put more effort into your other friends and family...  

He's not the last man on earth.  

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1 hour ago, bungalo said:

Not to sound like a big whiner, but it's been my experience that the older you get the harder it is to make new friends. I wouldn't have invested so much if I wasn't getting something good out of being friends with the guy,  it's not black and white, but it is definitely lopsided in terms of only one guy doing the actual setting up of face-to-face time. I'm definitely not initiating anymore. Thing is I don't think he'll notice I feel weird about not responding but maybe I shouldn't respond anymore either.

Yes it can be harder. I'm 55.  Married at 42 and became a mom at 42.  My older friends had tons of luck meeting new people through volunteering backstage for community theater productions, joining cycling groups, and learning how to swing dance.

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I think you expect way too much out of this DUDE.  He's a dude.  They are horrendous at inviting people out.  He's not your boyfriend.  He's your friend.  There is always a ring leader of the group, and that is the person that brings everyone together.  Your friend is a friend who is not good about sending out invites.  And btw, it's his wife sending out holidays cards, not him.  He's a dude.  Either you like him or you don't.  But don't put your beliefs on how he should be on him.  And it's not a statement of him on your friendship.  Almost 99% to 100% of all men I know are horrible planners, including my husband.

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Yes I do agree with you. Like I said earlier it's not black and white and this guy is Relentless with sending me stuff he wants me to read via text with links but the one-way train pisses me off he's been seriously ill three times in his life, had cancer twice. And yes I do realize his wife is sending out the cards. That being said not all guys are horrible planners I'll agree that some are I'm pretty damn good at it I just don't expect to do all the work in a friendship & I shouldn't have to and that's why I'm pulling back just getting things off my chest on this forum, thank you.

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Expects you to read like how? Does he call you up and quiz you about it later?

When people send me texts or links, if it interests me, I'll read it. If it doesn't I won't. If I don't have time at the moment, I'll read it eventually if I remember. If they ask about it, I'll be honest on whether I read it or not. I've never had a friend get upset about it. Majority of the time, people are sharing because they think it might interest you and not because they expect anything from you.

My point is that I'm not sure whether he expects you to read everything or whether you are creating that expectation on yourself by yourself.

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Ok, I'm going to close out this thread in a bit here. As I mentioned before, it's nuanced. We are both musicians and performers, (albeit part-time) so we share a lot of content via Youtube, etc, And he presents himself as this really close friend, calls me brother, etc.  Point is, it has just gotten to be this myopic thing where he hardly ever reacts/responds to my texts and shoots text after text at me. In other words, the interaction on his part is minimal. I think someone earlier on ENA hit it on the head, we just have different concept of friendship.  So thanks folks.

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I'm sorry your friend disappoints you.  I've found that when you lower your expectations of others, you'll hurt less and you'll grow more numb to universal human nature.  In an ideal world, we prefer mutual respect, consideration and lockstep dynamics.  Unfortunately, in many cases, one person will have more enthusiasm and interest which won't be reciprocated.  That's life.

Your retired friend is "soooo busy."  He has his excuses as does his wife whether it's legitimate or not.  It's his life and his marriage which is no one's business. 

His habit of one-sided communication is reminiscent of people whom I know in my life!  This range refers to some friends, the majority of my relatives and in-laws. 

People LOVE to talk about themselves regardless of modes of communication.  It's human nature.  Regarding his lack of initiating invitations or planning get togethers, he doesn't have the desire and he lacks interest.  You can't force it nor expect him or others to be the type of ideal friend you prefer otherwise you'll be forever disappointed by the human race. 

His drivel regarding his updating you on home projects such as repairing his plumbing and other inane topics, is rather disrespectful and rude.  He doesn't care about you. 

Google "emotional intelligence" because it means he lacks empathy.  Often times, people don't know the true definition of emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence means to feel for others, to place yourself in their shoes and to treat them as if they matter; not dismiss them as if they don't matter much.  Often times, the term "emotional intelligence" is used incorrectly.  Emotional intelligence means to be mindful of other people's feelings and to treat them the way you wish to be treated.  It's all about respect.  There is no other way to accurately describe emotional intelligence. 

It's fine to be passive aggressive on your part by not acknowledging your friend's news regarding his home improvement tasks and projects.  He treats you as if you're a pen pal.  His ignoring your heartfelt overtures screams lack of empathy which is the same exact definition as lacking emotional intelligence. 

As mentioned previously, there is no friendship here.  He's an acquaintance at best as are you to him.  No more, no less.  Either accept this acquaintance type relationship or drift apart and fade away.

There is truth to finding it harder to make new friends as you get older because most people who are not very young, are established with their friends once they're settled and comfortable.  However, I've met a lot of very genuinely kind friends through my church, volunteering community and sports groups.  Friends are hard to find but "birds of a feather flock together."  If you want to make friends and be with friends similar to you, you have to go where they are because they won't come to you.  Perhaps there's MeetUps in your local community.

Like you, I've had friends where I did the majority if not all the initiating whether in person get togethers, texts, emails, phone chats, gift giving, all of it.  One of them was actually a cousin whom I was very close to as a child.  Due to her poor choices in life such as choosing the wrong husband, having kids with him and going crazy with her frenetically paced miserable life, she didn't have brain space for me.  She was chronically drained and resigned.  She even went so far as to be cruel towards me because she was frustrated and miserable.  It was time for me to let go which I did.  I understood and our cousin-ship eventually fizzled which was bound to happen sooner or later.  Often times, no one is to blame because life happens.  Not every friendship was meant to endure.  Friends come and go. 

This guy will not change for you.  Treat him the same as he treats you.  Since he's nonchalant towards you, you do likewise.  Develop apathy towards him and grow numb.  Become unemotional towards him because emotion and high expectations will cloud your judgement.  You can still graciously accept his wife's cards but you don't have to do anything in return.  If the subject comes up, say or text a quick, "Thank you" and that's it.  No harm, no foul. 

I've learned to follow other people's cues.  If they put forth the effort for me in any way, I respond kindly and do likewise.  If they're rather cool, indifferent and apathetic, I'm frosty towards them.  I don't over do it otherwise I'll feel unappreciated and deflated again.  Don't set yourself up for disrespect and disappointment.  Be above it.  You're doing the right thing by distancing yourself from this friend of yours.  Treat him as if he's less than an acquaintance and you'll grow thicker skin.  You won't be offended anymore once you accept that most people on this Earth are very reminiscent of your friend. 

Concentrate and focus on your own life, develop your own interests (hobbies, sports 'n fitness, getting healthy), outings with your wife and in many cases socialize with other married couples and find other married couples to do things with.  You can go that route, too.  Many times individual friendships can branch out from couples type friends. 

I agree, you both have different concepts and definitions of friendship.  Don't consider him a friend anymore.  Become more dismissive just as he is towards you and then this dynamic will be more fair and balanced.  You can't change him so make this dynamic balanced by doing LESS.  Back off and remain cool.  I've been this way for years and this new stance really does work.  Remember, follow other people's cues always and you will be fine. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As someone probably pretty close to this friend in temperment, minus the regular texting. It's not a lack of care/concern its a lot about being very involved with other things and thinking that others are too. A text or mail is low pressure, and doesn't demand that others spend time doing your thing. Another element is wanting to respect distance and not crowd someone. Throw in a dash of having organized things only to have many flake out at the last minute, it makes one leery of asking all friends to do things.

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35 minutes ago, Coily said:

As someone probably pretty close to this friend in temperament, minus the regular texting. It's not a lack of care/concern its a lot about being very involved with other things and thinking that others are too. A text or mail is low pressure, and doesn't demand that others spend time doing your thing. Another element is wanting to respect distance and not crowd someone. Throw in a dash of having organized things only to have many flake out at the last minute, it makes one leery of asking all friends to do things.

Even though no one wants to say it, it really is a lack of care and concern.  There is no fancy way of saying it.  It's indifference and apathy.  Of course, everyone is very busy or most people are.  However, if both parties don't share mutual interest, activity, response, initiation, motivation and enthusiasm, the friendship eventually dies.  If you want distance, I'll give you all the distance you want and then some.  One of the friends will walk away.  Hence, friends will be reduced to acquaintance status.  It's a perfectly normal result. 

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