I have this friend… This is a friend that I truly care about. Every so often, I get the silent treatment from her, usually after I have said something that doesn’t entirely agree with her.
You know how you have friends who you just agree with no matter what they say? I think of them as fairly casual friends and they are people that if you don’t just agree with them, an argument ensues. Your role in the friendship is to take “their side.” I am okay with that but I don’t consider them to be close friends. It’s not that I don’t care about them, it’s just that my role doesn’t feel very genuine. Plus, I rarely discuss my own concerns with them. The fact is, most times this type of friend will respond to your issues with their own opinion, with which you are expected to agree.
Come to think of it, why do I consider those people friends? Well, we probably have other things in common or something.
But then there are friends that you really care about, that you think are worth more than a pat agreement. These are the friends that you are willing to say, usually in a gentle way, “have you considered this other perspective?” And sometimes, you’re even more direct and say something like, “Don’t you think maybe you’re over-reacting?” Not because you want to start an argument or insist that they agree with you, but because you care enough to give them that other perspective. Maybe you’re wrong but maybe it’s worth thinking about.
This is a friend that I care about. She’s going through some difficult things but from my perspective, she tends to react very predictably to the situation. I try to be supportive but I am also willing to say once in a while, “What about if you look at it like this?” Sometimes she agrees, sometimes she thinks I’m funny, sometimes I get the silent treatment.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I should always agree. is that more supportive? It’s just that that feels so phony. I appreciate it when my friends call me on my bullshit. It’s not like they are that direct, but they point out when I’m feeling sorry for myself or I’m stuck in seeing something from one direction. Not everyone wants that, I get that. But it feels very all or nothing. A not very genuine constant agreement or risking losing the friendship by being seen as not supportive.
But maybe I should move this friend into that “always agree” category. It’s hard to know. So far, eventually she returns and we never mention whatever was going on. I have tried a couple times and asked whether I said something that upset her. No, she always says, she was just busy. Maybe she was but it feels like a pattern to me. I would very much prefer that she just tell me if I say something stupid, if she feels something I’ve said is hurtful or whatever. I don’t intentionally hurt people and if something I’m doing or saying is causing her pain, I’d rather not do it.
Is there something in between? Can you not say something that disagrees with your friend’s perspective without feeling like you are just constantly patting them on the back? Would it be better to just ignore those things? Not say anything at all? It seems that being a good friend is harder than I thought. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.