Have any of you had people you thought were friends treat you like you're an awful person when you objected to them treating you with disrespect? I think I'm starting to see a pattern in my life, but I'm not exactly sure how to figure out the details and how to deal with it.
I used to just be happy to be friends with anyone. I was horribly shy as a child and taught that I wasn't worth much. I grew up with the expectation that I would be nice, so nice that it translated to being a doormat sometimes. At times, I was just glad when people would talk to me. I put up with some pretty poor treatment from family, "friends" and romantic relationships. My family was so bad that they said that I was asking too much when I said how bad I felt that they didn't make or return phone calls even on Christmas or my birthday. Several pretty much got in touch when they thought it might benefit them. Then I started getting some pride in who I was and what I deserved, and I started accepting that it was OK for me to feel my own feelings and not want to be around people who hurt me. About a year ago, I finally broke with my family because it was too painful, and it's been a move I don't regret. My top criteria for a romantic relationship, if I ever have one again, has become "he treats me with respect."
I have sometimes been astonished at how some "friends" have treated me, telling me I'm their only friend who objects to the way they act, being openly contemptuous or even calling me names. It's happened enough that I can see a pattern in the friendships now: I meet someone, we hit it off and do things together, talk a lot and share support about what's going on in our lives, and I think we're close friends. Then suddenly, something happens that just astonishes me in the mistreatment, I object, and the person lashes out and makies every effort to make me feel that it's all my fault. In the past, I might have taken the blame and done whatever I could to maintain the friendship, but now I'd rather have my own self-respect and the safety of not having someone treat me poorly, so I stand up for myself.
If this was the only type of friendship I had, I would think it was all me. But it isn't. I have some good friends I've had for years. I have some less-close friends I've had for years. But I've had enough of these time bomb friendships that I know there's got to be something in the way I'm making friends or acting or something I'm not doing. I don't want this to keep happening, and I figure that life will keep bringing me this problem until I find a way to fix it. If it's the type of person I'm attracting, how do I spot these people coming?
I hope this sounds familiar to someone.
10-18-2008, 08:28 PM
Your life reads like mine. I have had a few of those friends, and I just had to cut them out because of the stress/anguish they were causing me. YOU DESERVE BETTER!!!!!
I will admit it takes a long time to foster a friendship that lasts. However, if you see patterns in people that you don't like then by all means drop them like a hot potato cake especially friends that are verbally demeaning or otherwise self righteous. Please for you mental health get rid of the garbage.
10-18-2008, 08:33 PM
There's always at least three sides to every story (and relationship), so it's unlikely that it's "all you," or "all them." Communication styles, expectations, experiences, they all make us like individual puzzle pieces. Finding someone you fit with, isn't always easy and sometimes the fit is temporary and there's nothing either of you could do about it.
What I've found for myself, is that if I am angry when I criticise someone for what I see as a lack of respect to me or our friendship - I tend to get a very defensive, angry and/or critical response. A lot of time, I've found what you'll sometimes hear called "the compliment sandwhich" to be very helpful. It's where you tell a person something you admire about them or value in your friendship, then tell them what is hurting you and end with a another positive statement or even a rephrasing of the first.
I'm not saying there's never a time for anger, or that every friendship can or should be saved. But I believe, that usually people fail in their support of their friends, not because they're being intentionally cruel or selfish, but because they're unaware of the person's needs. The longer it isn't talked about, the harder it can be to change that aspect of the relationship. But the less angry the discussion can be, the better both sides can hear and respond to the other persons concerns, feelings, and needs. But you're always going to run into some people and some relationships that are so toxic, you have no choice but end the relationship.
10-18-2008, 08:39 PM
I too have felt similar since I work with alot of women. What I have found is that friendships/relationships take alot of grace. I used to get offended easily and then someone once asked me.."would you rather be right or would you rather be successful"... There are many times when dealing with these situations that I have to ask myself are there enough good things about the relationship that warrant keeping it...If so, sometimes I have to be the one to give up first... Hope this helps.
10-18-2008, 09:42 PM
Oh boy do I know what you're talking about. I've had several, no strike that LOTS of these friends myself. I'd say about half of my friends I have befriended have been this way- toxic but don't seem that way at first then stick to you like glue causing drama until THEY cut YOU out of their life for doing or saying something little or something that you don't even know that "offended" them and I am no longer in touch with any of them myself. I had 3 "friends" last year that banded up against me and kicked me out of the group that I was trying to get away from in the first place lol. I get told all the time "You're so nice!" or "You're so sweet!". I was raised to believe that a lady is always at times lady like and nice and giving basically giving all of yourself until it drains you since that is what my mother did until very recently herself. Problem is I still can't spot these types of people myself either but am getting better at it. My big red flag is when someone is "friends" with someone then as soon as that someone leaves the room to go to the bathroom they instantly start talking about them for example. Just follow your gut feeling is all I can tell you too.
10-20-2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks. It's really hard to know what's reasonable or unreasonable to expect or want sometimes and then to communicate that. With some people, it's so easy. You just sync, and if there is a problem, you both know it is a misunderstanding and shrug it off once it comes into the open. I figure you're never going to always like someone 100 percent, so don't sweat the little stuff. But now I wonder if, with some people, allowing the little stuff makes them see me with contempt and figure I deserve poor treatment?
10-20-2008, 04:04 PM
As a person who has a tendency not to sweat the small stuff, I notice that people do tend to forget that I can be offended, because I'm not easily offended. I don't think they're intentionally taking advantage of me, or intentionally ignoring my feelings, but I've given them an impression that affects how they see me. They don't see themselves as using me as a doormat, they just don't consider the possibility that they might be overstepping some bounds, because I never set those boundaries.
I think, just like little kids, even adults test limits of their friendships, without even thinking about it. I'm sure I do it too, and don't even realize it. We determine what we can say and ask, by what they've let us say and as. If someone doesn't push back and tell us what's not ok to say and what's too much to ask, we assume it's "ok" with the person.
I think that not sweating the small stuff, doesn't necessarily mean ignoring behavior you don't care for. It also doesn't mean, getting angry (whether or not you say so) and holding it in, anyway. I think that open communication, means you set and negotiate the limits of the friendship in about equal ways. If someone is starting to take advantage, you don't let them. You can do it in a friendly way, even a funny way.... "what have you done for me lately," to a friend who asks for more than they give (in any way).
I think what happens, is that a person who is always giving in a friendship, and never taking - isn't being seen as a doormat, but they are seen as a safety net, a parent, a fairy god mother, a magical genie.... and when the genie suddenly says "your wishes are up," the person is at a loss and feels like the rug has been pulled from them without warning. Instead, I think boundaries have to be set early, and have to be fairly balanced (or you don't get a friendship, you get a mentor/mentee or parent/child or genie/lamp rubber relationship) and there are many people who don't know how to set boundaries, and there are also people who don't seem to recognize boundaries even when they're spelled out.
10-24-2008, 10:39 PM
Ohhhh, dear. I didn't think that anyone may view me as a genie, but you may be right. That isn't good. I try to take only when I need and then be appreciative of it. And I try to live deliberately, giving what I can and working to be a good person. I'm far from perfect, though, quite flawed. I figure people see that, but maybe they don't and then when I'm not in a big way, it shatters an illusion? I don't know. That seems hard to believe. I've had a history of trying to "rescue" men in relationships, one I've thankfully given up, but what about friendships? I've had friends tell me they don't know anyone "good enough" to set me up with, and I just brush it aside as flattery or a passing comment, but what if they really mean exactly that? I don't know what to think about that.
10-24-2008, 11:01 PM
Not to sound too much like a pop-psychologist, but sometimes the people we're attracted to as possible friends or romantic interests are simply "familiar," in the sense of "family-ar." In other words, they are like the people we grew up with, and that's subconsciously comfortable, even if it was a dysfunctional family. We know how to do that!
It may be that in your choice of friends, you're re-creating that situation in your family, in which it was all one-way. That it keeps happening over again seems like an indicator.
It could be that the people you need to cultivate are those whom you don't find very interesting at first! And that you should take it really slow with people you are "in sync" with... as though they are wearing a red "danger" sign.