MFP and I have pretty consistently practiced direct communication in our relationship, and it has served us well. This means talking about issues — good and bad — as soon as we are able to do so. If we can’t talk face to face, we send a text message, or an email, or something — but the direct communication is there.
Maybe she says something that hurts my feelings. Maybe I’m worried that she took my actions to mean something other than I intended. Maybe she went out of her way to help me with a task I’m doing. Maybe I lent an ear when she needed one. In all of these situations, we communicate!
“You hurt my feelings when you said that. You probably didn’t mean to, and I recognize that –so I’m letting you know how I was affected.” Then we talk about it.
“I’m worried that you thought I meant X when I did Y, and I really meant Z — I’m sorry if I worried you.” Then we talk about it.
“You didn’t have to help me, and I know you’re busy — thank you. It meant a lot.” Then we talk about it.
“I’m glad you were there to listen; I just needed to vent. Thanks. I hope I didn’t overload you!” Then we talk about it.
I mention this, because it’s a very distinct contrast to a lot of other people I know — or people I used to know. Apparently a particular someone held on to their issues with me for several months, and only brought things up after I sent a message bringing up a few issues I had; they also only brought them up to tell me how full of shit I was, how fucked up my behavior had been, how horrible a person I was, and that it was good that we already had gone our separate ways.
Would have been great to know that I had done something to offend back when there was anything I could have done about it — but apparently avoiding the topic when we were around each other, acting nice and sweet like everything was cool, and then much later telling me that I’m the one to blame for not talking about it, and not being a mind-reader… apparently that’s what I’ve got to deal with.
I guess this is a good example illustrating of one of my dad’s theories: he calls it “The Principle of Least Interest.” No, it’s not about loans and finances! See, he figures that in any relationship or interaction between two people or entities, one of the two is less interested in maintaining that relationship than the other. That person is the one in control.
For instance, an employee at an entry-level fast food job is much more interested in keeping that job — and the paycheck it provides — than the company is in keeping that particular employee. The company has control. Since the employee wants the paycheck, they are more likely to put effort into doing things exactly the way the company wants, and the company can fire the employee and find another one. Or one friend who has an open schedule and wants to hang out with another friend who has entertaining things planned all week — the one with the packed schedule may also want to hang out, but the one who is bored is more interested in making something happen. The busy friend has control. The bored friend is limited by what the busy friend will do to adjust their schedule, unless the busy friend decides that it’s really important to hang out… then Busy becomes more interested than Bored, and Bored gains control.
In my case, the person I once called a friend has declared zero interest. It happens sometimes, and sometimes it’s clear that won’t change. The only real option at that point is for me to match that with my own declaration of no interest — because that’s the only control I can take back. It hurts, and it affects other people too — MFP knows this person, and several other folks are mutual acquaintances too. There may be unexpected fallout from this, but I’ll have to deal with that as it comes. Right now, blocking on Facebook and walking away are the things I have to do for my own physical and mental health. Gotta take care of me first, before giving anything to others.