The Case of the One-Way Friendship

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The Case of the One-Way Friendship

Have you ever been part of a one-way friendship? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? I’m not one of these girls that has a huge circle of friends, so I try to keep the ones I have close. When you’re the one putting all the effort into the friendship though, it can be both draining and upsetting. I’m not saying friends who act like this don’t like you…I don’t think that’s the case most of the time. I’m a sensitive soul, so even though I know it’s probably nothing personal, I always take the lack of motivation on their part personally. When I was younger, I poured myself into these friendships and often found myself brokenhearted because it wasn’t being reciprocated. As I’ve gotten older, I still get upset, but I try my best to slow my emotions down and look at things more rationally. That can be hard to do though when you wear your emotions on your sleeve.

One thing I ask myself when I feel like I’m the only one trying is, “Is it me?” “Am I overreacting and being too sensitive?” “Am I overthinking things (the answer to that question is almost always yes…I overthink everything)?” “Have I done something to upset my friend?” Before I let my mind get ahead of me, I try to calm down and take an adult approach to the problem. When one of my children or a student at school is upset about an issue with a friend, I ask them these questions immediately. It took me a while to realize that I needed to ask myself the same questions in my 30s. Sometimes it’s just easier to blame the other person when really I’m the one in the wrong.

Another question I make myself think about is, “Are we on different pages?” It often feels like I’m the only one trying because I’m trying to force someone to feel the same way I do. I’ve mentioned before that when I try and become friends with someone, I want an immediate best friend. In this phase of life, meeting a new mom friend is hard, much less meeting one who doesn’t already have a tight-knit circle of friends. I had to realize that even though I may consider someone a best friend, they may not think of me that way. That was a hard pill to swallow, and when I came to that realization, it hurt a lot more than it should have. Someone may not feel the need to text every day to keep in contact like I do. I can’t let myself be devastated if the day goes by and I haven’t heard from them. I feel like I’m back in high school playing hard to get with a guy…I don’t want to be the first one making contact every single time. I don’t want to be the one always arranging playdates and girls’ nights. When I stop trying though and it isn’t reciprocated, it hurts so badly, even though it shouldn’t.

Everyone isn’t going to consider me as their best friend, and I need to be okay with that.

As a wife, mom, and teacher, sometimes I have to just look at things realistically and know that life is keeping a friendship lopsided or apart. Life is so busy with children, so I can’t expect everyone to drop their plans or make time for me. I know I can’t afford that luxury for others most of the time. I very often need to remind myself of this when I’m feeling slighted by a friend. Family comes first, so that’s just part of being in a friendship as an adult.

Lastly, another thing I find myself asking is “Is it worth it, or is it time to just move on?” I only ask myself this when I’ve exhausted all of my other options and still feel that I’m the only one making an effort. Sometimes, friendships just fizzle out. I’ve learned that that’s okay. Not everyone is supposed to be a lifelong friend. I feel that some people enter your life when you really need them, and some leave your life when you don’t. I’m not saying I should stop being friends with this person cold turkey. I could never act like someone doesn’t exist anymore. I’m just saying that I stop letting the friendship eat away at me. If they don’t want to take the friendship deeper, despite everything I’ve said/tried to do, that’s okay. We can still be friends, and I’ll be there when they need me, but I’m not going to lose sleep worrying about it. I’m not going to overanalyze every text, call, or ignored invitation I give. Some people just want surface level friendships, and once I realized this, it was a bit freeing. I can do that if that’s what they want. In time, if they want a closer bond, I’ll let them lead the way. You can’t force it if it’s not there.

I know at 33 years of age, I’m probably really late to the ballgame with my realizations in the case of the one-way friendship. Some friendships come so easily and naturally that I never worry about these things. Some I want so desperately that I obsess over these things. And some just don’t run deep enough to spend my time focusing on these things. As Tennessee Williams once said, “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. You described me to a tee! I’m almost twice your age and I still get my feelings hurt about friendships. Thanks for putting my feelings into words. Learning to back off, or let a friendship go, is hard! What I have finally figured out is to be true to myself while also being gentle with myself and my feelings.

  2. I love this article!! I literally feel as though I wrote this myself…almost eerily so, . LOL but seriously, really great ideas for work arounds to those pesky “overthoughts” (I made it up, it’s catchy..) that so many of us tend to have. I know bc I’ve had to use them too. But that’s mom life. What can ya do? Lol

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