Sunday, July 29, 2007

Failed Friendship?

Why don't people you choose to tell your most recent unpleasant encounter with humanity, even if it was over the proverbial hangnail, simply refrain from telling you it isn't so bad or from setting in motion a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition concerning the event or -- worst of all! -- from suggesting that the other person might have been right?

We all encounter rudeness or perceived slights. We may be right or we may be wrong. But when we choose to tell someone we know, we usually presume that there is some friendship and that we will receive some expression of support.

Yesterday I went to get a haircut. Toward the end of my cut, someone came in and said he needed a tiny trim on one side. Next thing I know, with nothing more than "excuse me a minute," my barber is cutting the other guy for five minutes!

His new assistant, a woman who is not really very good at this, won't cut my hair unless I move to "her" chair.

Whose the customer here? Who is paying? I got up and left -- not before giving both a piece of my mind and not a red cent.

Enter the friends. One wasn't there. Ring, ring, ring.

A second first said "oh," then tried to calm me down, then asked me how this had happened. Not one word that might suggest that I, the aggrieved person, was in need of comfort. When I said I'd rather not discuss the details and explained how I felt and how inadequate the response, suddenly I was cast in the role of "bad guy" and I had to put up with tears.

The third person tried to explain the barber's actions and said the event had no importance and -- again -- took offense at my suggestion that these were not responses of a friend.

Coincidentally, or perhaps to soothe my aggrieved soul, I went to see My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami), a delightful French film I heartily recommend. Like the protagonist, I do not make friends easily, but unlike him, I think I do understand the demands of friendship -- especially when a friend is in need.

When you feel hurt by others, rightly or wrongly, isn't it the duty of a loyal friend to express solidarity without questions asked?


Anne said...

From the Arabs, "A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart. Chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping. And with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."

Geneviève said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cecilieaux said...

Geneviève's comment is fine from the perspective of a lousy friend. But what about from the perspective of the person who has to endure such a friend? A friendship can't be a one-way street, in which one takes advantage and the other forgives without limit.

Anne said...

"When you feel hurt by others, rightly or wrongly, isn't it the duty of a loyal friend to express solidarity without questions asked?"

To a deeper level, this concept applies to friendship even over severe upsets, ...whether the test applies to friends or family. Some might think love is blind..or deliberately blind, but friendship is that which steps beyond one's self (& blood in family) and maintains that "solidarity" with eyes wide open.

Geneviève said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie Pippert said...

It has a term: empathic failure.

People hear venting and for some reason? Feel the need to fix it, always.

Ironically, I was going to blog about this today, after some stuff yesterday.

Come say hi later, I'll add in your situation as well.

In short, sympathy is in short supply these days for some reason.

I'm sorry.

Had you called me? I'd have said, "Wow, how frustrating!" I'd have listened.

I hope. :)

Man or woman, out of curiosity?

thailandchani said...

I think I would have responded similarly to Julie. I'd acknowledge your frustration but wouldn't (most likely) have much discussion about the specifics beyond listening.

After all, it is not the circumstances as much as the feelings involved. We can honor and acknowledge the feelings without having an opinion on the circumstances.

Make sense?

As for unconditional support, no. I can be your friend.. and as such, wouldn't support something I believe is a major mistake.. or something I disagreed with morally or ethically.

But then... I don't think that's what you're talking about here.




jen said...

i think forgiving your friend's failures is essential. but calling me on my bullshit should i be acting irrational is just as important. it might not feel supportive in the moment, but the sum remains. a true friend can hold both and allow you to still feel loved.

and god knows sometimes we all need an ego smackdown should our heads become to full of the finite.