On reciprocity, and how it doesn’t seem to happen as often as it should.

At the risk of sounding like an arrogant asshole (but if the shoe fits…), I’m pretty good at making friends.  I can think of maybe three times in my life when I’ve really wanted to be friends with someone and they, for whatever reason, weren’t feeling it.

The more common social problem I experience is when someone seems very eager to befriend me and I, for whatever reason, am not feeling it.  Over the past few months, two people in particular have been aggressively pursuing a friendship with me, and I just haven’t been able to muster an equal amount of zeal for them.  Believe me, I’ve felt pretty fucking guilty about it.  It’s not that I’m a snob; I don’t think I’m better than these people or more interesting or more likable.  In fact, on a purely cerebral level I can tick off all the boxes on the list of characteristics that I usually value in people.  By all rational accounts, I should totally adore these people.  But for whatever reason, I just couldn’t, and I felt horrible about that.

Enter Other Person.  I met Other Person a few months back and was instantly friend-smitten.  I wanted to be their BFF.  I wanted to spend all my spare time with them.  I wanted us to hold hands and skip off into the sunset.  It was instant.  It was magnetic.

Well, for me it was.  For them…not so much.  At first I chalked it up to personality quirks (“Oh, they’re just not as demonstrative as I am!”), but eventually I realized: karma, my friends, it is a bitch.  The shoe’s on the other foot now, innit?  I felt like a little puppy that’d just gotten the smackdown from an adult dog: hurt, confused, bewildered.  “But… but… I don’t understand!  How can you not love me?  Don’t you realize that when you met me you struck friend gold?  I’m loving, loyal, thoughtful, generous, caring, reliable, smart, funny, adventurous, and fun.  I’m patient and compassionate and understanding about your flaws; honest and open and apologetic about mine.  I will never judge, betray, or intentionally hurt you.  I see you, I get you, and I certainly treat you a hell of a lot better than your other ‘friends’ do.  WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???”  (I told you I was an arrogant asshole!)  But no dice.  No matter how hard I tried, Other Person just doesn’t give a shit like I do.

So recently I was hanging out with Other Person and it occurred to me that I need to put on my big-girl pants and behave like an adult.  Sure, it would be awesome if there was some cosmic rule that you could never feel drawn to someone who isn’t equally drawn to you, but that’s not real life.  In real life there are adages like, “If you love something, you let it go,” which is another way of saying, “Look, most of what or whom you love in life probably won’t love you back, so quit being a Clingy McDesperaton and let everyone and everything do what they want and go where they will.  That way, if someone or something sticks around, you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” which is yet another way of saying, “Hey, you can’t win ’em all.”  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m letting Other Person go, and I’m trying not to get my feelings hurt by the fact that they clearly don’t appreciate me at my full value, because maybe they can’t help it exactly like how I couldn’t help it with the first two people I told you about.   It isn’t my fault; it isn’t their fault; they just don’t connect to me like I connect to them.  Maybe the cosmos is sadistic or maybe I remind them of their abusive gym teacher or maybe they just don’t dig on curly hair.  Whatever the case, I need to respect the disconnect and move on.

Having said that, the OTHER thing I learned from this experience is that maybe I need to stop running from the guilt I feel about the first two people, turn around, and really face them.  If Other Person was being blind to the friend-gold they were passing up in me, maybe I’m being blind to the friend-gold I’m passing up in these people, right?  So I started spending more time with them recently, really focusing on all the good things I admire about them, and you know what?  They’re actually pretty great!  I don’t know if we’ll be holding hands and skipping off into the sunset together, but we’ll at least be sitting in the grass watching a few sunsets together for sure.

So there’s that.  Life lessons at 32 years old that I should’ve learned at, like, 12 years old.  Ah, well.  Better late than never.

EDIT: This whole blog entry reminds me of this song:

Ah, Bjork, you have a song for every situation.

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