Searching For Balance

I am struggling with patience. And not the kind where I want time to go on and hurry up. The kind involving people. And I hate that! I think the quality of relationships and if you’re being remembered and thought of ebbs and flows. I definitely think there are times when you have more friends than others. There are times when you are rocking the social world and times where you are on your own path, chugging along, with very few people waving flags and cheering you on. Sometimes the people you are used to depending on, the people you would bend over backwards for, just aren’t there. Sometimes it’s really overwhelming and I feel wronged by the entire world. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it’s not. For the last few weeks I’ve been feeling like it’s true.

And I hate it.

Because I wish I didn’t care and that it didn’t matter. I wish people didn’t have the ability to make me cry into my pillow, I wish that give and take was always equal, I wish that I didn’t hate to say No so much and that maybe saying No more would protect me from hurt feelings like a brick wall, but it probably wouldn’t.

And it’s probably my own fault. I have expectations for people that end up being high. I keep my expectations for myself really high, so when I don’t get the same in return it feels like a slap in the face. In my ideal world, the people close to you work just as hard to make you feel important as you do to make them feel like you’ve got them. For the most part I feel like this is how it works, but then I’m reminded that it probably doesn’t happen exactly that way. Their are holes in the safety net and sometimes you slip through and land on the floor.

People are selfish and I don’t like it. It makes me feel pressured to be selfish too, to not care as much as I do, to push people away and start building that wall and start saying no a lot more. But that’s not who I am or who I want to be. I want to be giving and enthusiastic, I want to be open to adventure and willing to jump on a plane or car or train for the people I love.

How do I become comfortable giving of myself without being disappointed when the same doesn’t bounce back to me? Is that even something I should be doing? Lowering my expectations of others is not easy, but maybe it’s the only way that I can dodge hurt feelings and let downs. But what does that mean in the long run? And am I even capable of doing it? And then there is my ultimate worry : what if I’m constantly asking too much of people? I know that I bust my ass to make it clear that people are appreciated, but maybe I’m abnormal in my expectations of others. And that scares me. It’s hard to really assert myself and say, “No. You don’t get it. I really need you,” after someone has dropped the ball. Feeling like someone is doing something out of pure obligation is the worst. Nobody wants to beg someone else to hang out with them, or keep in touch, or sacrifice a bit of their time.

I’m looking for balance and I’m not sure it actually exists.

32 thoughts on “Searching For Balance”

    1. That is an awesome article alloallo! I’d never thought it out that way.

      My way of dealing with the situation you described Lauren, is to just take a little vacation from that person. Like a week. I almost always find that someone who is annoying me will seem nice again if I’ve had a week or two break from them.

      Or – and I hate that this sounds new agey – but focus on yourself. My mantra often is – I can’t control them but I can control how I *react* to them. And now I will be off over here gazing at my navel . . .

      1. this is exactly what im attempting. totally. its very much… “what can i do to make tgis better, knowing that i cant change them.” im just tired of feeling like crap and having to swallow it.

  1. I think I’ve come to the point where I realize not all friendships are mutual. And that they can still be valuable just the same.

    Some of my care hasn’t been reciprocated by friends. And it’s been hurtful in all the ways you describe- making me want to shut down, stop trying, build up walls. After years caring for these same people and being hurt by them over and over, cycling through wanting nothing to do with them, I’ve reached a sort of understanding with myself. I continue to care for them and put myself on the line for them- but with clearer expectations of how they’re going to respond. I’m aware. I know better than to call some of these friends when I’m in trouble or to expect these friends to listen, comfort, care for me the way I do them.

    But I’m friends with them just the same. And I offer them that comfort and care out of a different kind of friendship. Not the mutual kind- but with an awareness that I’m helping them for nothing more than the pure opportunity to help someone.

    1. THIS. Oh goodness, so much this.

      I’m the type of gal that makes social get-togethers happen (have horn, will toot) and it took me a loooooooong time to realize and appreciate that not everyone has that outlook. And that’s ok. I need my chill, laid-back friends. But, I can’t expect that they will send me a birthday card or call me up to get a cup of coffee or remember our anniversary. They still love me.

      So, I think its a process of cutting everyone (including ourselves!) a break. That being said, outright rudeness is never acceptable and if someone really is giving you the cold shoulder, their loss. For serious, their loss. Lauren, you’re totally awesome, fun, up for an adventure and willing to do the inside work. And those, my dear, are the makings of an excellent friend. Their loss.

      1. This actually is an amazing way to look at it. It’s not about people forgetting about you, or not wanting to spend time with you … it’s about them missing out on awesome. That actually just lifted me out a tiny bit from my sore spot.

        1. Maybe it’s my gloriously self-inflated princess buffer but I think I’m a decently fun person to hang out with and reasonably flexible, so if you disagree and/or are unnecessarily difficult to nail down, pfft, don’t need you.

          As a side note, I place the blame for my highly evolved sense of self-worth on my parents who nicknamed me “Princess” at six weeks old. Own the princess, live the princess.

          1. I really like this conversation – I think it hits on many of the points that I would have said if I could have been FIRST in repying to this particular blog 🙂 there are different categories for friends, some that pick up after 3 months and are perfect and lovely and know us despite the time – and there are ebbs and flows of people not REALIZING our awesomeness – haha! so pfft!

          2. (this is in response to claire, but I can’t hit reply anymore sigh…)

            So basically… as our life moves forward we have to de-classify certain people. Sometimes they fall to the side and aren’t the people you wanted them to be anymore, and realizing that is just part of it all. That’s super disappointing to me, and I can’t help but take that personally because it means they have a lot less room in their life for me. It’s really hard for me to go backwards in relationships ESPECIALLY when it’s not mutual.

            Heart, knife, etc.

          3. Replying to Lauren… I think what makes it easier for me to wrap my head around it all and dismiss the disappointment, is seeing disrespect to my time and friendship and whatever as a demonstration as someone needing to grow.

            Which- in addition to being a lousily written sentence- sounds pompous, I guess. But what I mean is that it takes a special immaturity to not know how to treat people or what makes a person valuable. The way you treat your friends, Lauren, is valuable. Someone who doesn’t respect that is just flat out immature in relationships.

            The happy side to that is that, yes, I’ve seen friends who have treated me like crap come around again. And also, I’ve been that crappy friend who’s learned a thing or two about friendship and tried to mend her ways.

            When people are not valuing what you are giving them- it doesn’t mean that what you’re giving them is not valuable. It means they’re not wise enough to recognize the value.

            Their poor choices aren’t a reflection on you. They’re a reflection on them.

          4. But also. Just the other day I was whining about people giving me unsolicited advice. And that’s what I’m doing here. When I meant to be commiserating and supporting. Sorry.


  2. “There are times when you are rocking the social world and times where you are on your own path, chugging along…”
    I love how you said this, and that you said it at all. I often thought I was a little odd, maybe not capable of “true” friendships because sometimes I can just disconnect from them for myself. I pride myself on always being there for my friends though, even if we’re not checking in every day or even every week. I have some great friends that understand this relationship and we’re closer because of it.

    Then again, I’ve had people in my life who expect it to be all them. I’m supposed to ask them about their day and listen, not chime in. I talk THEM off of ledges and encourage them. And I’ve done that for people, for longer than I should have. But now I realize you know when someone will do the same for you, and if they won’t, then it’s ok to cut them out of your life. I did that with a few people last year and couldn’t be happier.

    1. Yes. Oh how I appreciate the people in my lifes who I can not speak to for a month and then have the greatest catch up convos with. Those people deserve gold stars.

      I think we all disconnect sometimes, we all dive into our hole and need to work on our own life stuff. People get busy, things pop up, etc.
      But what i’m talking about is somehow on a deeper level, I’m not sure how to put it in words.

      1. I know what you mean – it’s the difference between knowing that a friend is busy but still loves and cares for you and feeling like you’re on the thing that they keep pushing down their to do list because they don’t care anymore.

  3. I think about this a lot lately too. Something that helped me think about it was an article that Becca linked to on Stumble & Leap. It’s full of great snippets but it mentioned “investing” in friends and that hit home for me. There are several of the “we-were-friends-since-kindergarten-but-if-we-met-now-we-wouldnt-be” people around me and while I enjoy those friendships, I choose not to put a lot of energy investing in them. The people who I know will be around for 10 years and make my life BETTER, those are who I put energy into. Here’s Becca’s post and the article:

  4. Oh, I feel you there. Please don’t be sad and most of all, do not let people or the world change you.
    All those things are what make you great and you should not start being less kind because the world is or seems to be so.
    And people show their friendship in all kinds of ways that are not always the same… comes to mind the hurt of those people that did not come to our wedding because they just did not plan for it , that kind of thing. But like Liz said, their loss.
    Just keep on being you, kind, noble, fun, adventurous you.

  5. I say always be there for the people you care with no expectations, just for your own way of being and for your self satisfaction and personal growth.
    Give to the people you love without expecting anything in return and you will never be or feel deceived.
    Everybody that loves you will be there for you no matter what and they will show it. In very different ways but they will.

    Now, family is a whole different story. That’s real love right there. You can count in all of us for help, support, a shoulder, a laugh, soul food and, of course, a world of love!

    Love you. Admire you.


    1. I WISH that were true about family. And sometimes, family is the greatest. But you and I both know that family drops the ball, and sometimes family doesn’t care like they should, or treat you like they should, or have our backs like they should. And as much as I would LOVE to say that no matter what – in the end they come through, it’s also untrue. And you and I have both seen this. Large family gatherings, like Weddings, are an amazing opportunity to see the truth about those who really do have your back. And I was definitely surprised by what I saw. In both wonderful and disappointing ways.

      1. I know what you mean about this one for sure – families are wonderful and know us in a very very unique way that cannot be taken away – but we are all human and fallable and sometimes – which I have seen in my life and the live of my friends – they drop the ball bigtime when it matters most. But its like what lauren said – we are still able to see the wonderful alongside the disappointing

    2. No, family does not get an excemption just because they are family. From the wedding I learned that some people, while family, simply did not care about the event and showed little to no effort of wanting to be a part of it. I felt like I had to drag some people to even RSVP! While at the same time, others put more thought and effort than we ever expected. and for that effort during a super important day in my life, I will always attempt to pay back. On the other end, with the people who made that day harder than it should have been, it’s not that easy.

  6. I tend to over-categorize things, but sometimes categories are helpful for situations like this. I have friendships that are one-sided in that I’m usually the one helping/initiating/listening/caring/remembering; some that feel very mutual in those ways; and, theoretically, others that are oppositely one-sided. However, very few (if any…) of my relationships actually fit into that last category – probably because I’ve got a pretty strong caretaker-type personality and I am fairly private. I think it helps to have appropriate expectations for the friendship; also, though, to not feel guilty at all for letting relationships go if they aren’t good for you anymore. A friend who used to pour out her life problems to me for hours each week (and ask for rides and money and more), but never returned a text if I needed a quick favor, is someone with whom I have decided to limit my time and energy. Disappointing, but – like others have said – their loss 😉

  7. Sorry, this comment got really long! … but so much of what you said resonates with me. Especially this:
    “I have expectations for people that end up being high. I keep my expectations for myself really high, so when I don’t get the same in return it feels like a slap in the face. In my ideal world, the people close to you work just as hard to make you feel important as you do to make them feel like you’ve got them. For the most part I feel like this is how it works, but then I’m reminded that it probably doesn’t happen exactly that way.”

    This used to make me so angry. SO FREAKING ANGRY. I used to basically have two categories of friends: people I loved to pieces, would prioritise highly in my life and do anything for … and everyone else. And when I didn’t get that back, I felt used, I felt disregarded, I felt unimportant to them. I felt like the friendships didn’t matter to them like they mattered to me, and it HURT.

    …and I don’t feel like this any more. I am not sure how it happened, but I know one big thing changed. I started letting friendships go. Not all of them by any means – but I started looking at how people treated *me*, not just when we first met and became friends but over a long period of time. As a result, I no longer have people in my life who treat me badly. I just don’t. I actively, consciously, let those friendships go. Sometimes it took me a really long time to make the decision to do that, but over the last 5 years or so, I have gotten gradually better at it, and now I am proud to say that I don’t have toxic friends in my life. I still have friends who make mistakes – of course, we all make mistakes – but only friends who I can talk to about what’s happened and say “hey, this hurt” or “please don’t do this”. People who wouldn’t be able to handle an honest conversation like that? Nope. Not my friends.

    And the other (possibly more relevant) part was that I accepted that friendships change and people take very different life paths. Sometimes you just don’t have that much in common with someone any more – not just in terms of interests, but in terms of *values*… and when there’s a values disjunct between you, it’s hard to keep a friendship close. But you can have distant friends. You can have friends you don’t see that often. If you only put in the same kind of effort that they do, it stops you from feeling like you put in all the effort, and they don’t, and it’s uneven and so unfair because they’re supposed to care… I am glad that I have some friends who don’t take up heaps of my time and energy, and some friends who do – because the friends that do are people I value very highly (and people who value me highly and treat me with love and respect) and the friends that don’t, while good friends… well, we’re just not that close any more. And that’s ok, I think.

  8. It’s a tough, but I’ve learned (like Eliza said above) that some friendships do change. It’s not because of anything I’ve done but just because people change. Sometimes people grow apart even though it’s not always mutual. It’s really hard to be the person who gets left behind in any relationship.

    But I think there’s a difference between friendships with people who are going through their own thing so that your relationship with them ebbs and flows and may not always be mutual, and “friendships” with people who just take from you without giving back. There *has* to be mutuality in any relationship for it to be healthy. I’m not saying that everything has to be absolutely equal but both people need to be getting something from the relationship. If a “friend” is just taking from you without also nurturing the friendship in anyway, then it’s a toxic relationship and you need to step away from it, however hard that is.

    One thing I did a few years ago was to test some friendships by not reaching out to my friends all the time to organise things or see how they were. I wanted to see whether they ever reached out to me … and some of them didn’t. At all. Heart. Knife. But I let it go – I decided that I didn’t want people in my life who didn’t make space for me in theirs.

    Tough lessons to learn, especially because they’re usually learned the hard way, but I feel like now I have a group of friends who really do love and support me. Some of them are people that I might not speak to for months but I know that if I needed them, they’d be there in a heart beat. Others are friends who hear all the daily nitty gritty, the ups and downs, the whining about work or my husband or the weather and they still come back for more (and vice versa).

  9. So, this is going to sound weird, but one of my New Year goals is to to be more selfish. Not in a, “It’s my way of the highway, bitches!!!” kind of way. But in more of a, “No, I can’t do that, because that action/event/request will have a negative impact on me” kind of way. Basically, being more upfront about my limitations, so as not to a) promise too much to anyone, and b) make me resent that person for something that is not their fault.

    I’m finding it’s hard to do, because women are taught to please and say “yes”. But for my own sanity, I know it’s something I have to do. And I do hope in the end it will actually make my relationships stronger with my family and friends.

  10. Ohhhh I know what you mean here. I really do. It’s happened to me so many times, and every time it does, I feel like I lose a little bit of my ability to trust people. (That’s my own problem, though, not anyone else’s.)

    What I’ve learned is that every friendship and relationship happened between me and the other person at a time when we really needed each other. Either we bonded over a particular hobby or situation or just really needed a solid friendship for a few years, but in the end, we both gave and received what we needed at that time. The people we’re continuously friends with will always have a place in our lives, and vice versa, but other people just sort of drift away, and it’s SAD, but it’s part of life.

    It does suck, though. It’s such a hurtful feeling to know we’ve been left behind or unfriended on Facebook (hate when that happens!) by people we used to be close with. Or to know that we’re not worth someone else’s time, especially when we’ve reached out or made sacrifices for friends. Nothing makes that any easier. But it helps us be better people, I think, when we’ve had an experience that’s given us the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what happened or what we can do differently next time.

  11. Oh man. i have SO much to say on this topic that I want to wait until our next date night. But the short of it is that it sucks coming to the realization that you are a better friend to some people than they are to you. I def came to that and had to decide who was worth keeping in my life and who wasnt. Some friends are worth the effort and some just arent. I still have certain friends that I decided to keep in my life who I feel I care about and am there for them more than they are for me. Even some who i see treat our other friends better than they do me. BUT. It is what it is. Ive made peace with it. I guess there are certain friends that are worth having in your life, even if it is half ass, rather than not having them at all. And there are others that you just flat out dont need in your life anymore. Esp if theyve showed that they dont need you. Its all part of growing up I think. And finding your other half and experiencing what its really like to have someone really truly care for you. What a true friend is like.

  12. Personally, I’ll admit I’ve always been terrible about reaching out to people. And for what it’s worth, I can say that sometimes people’s radio silences aren’t malicious–they can just come from a nasty cocktail of insecurities (“Oh, I’m probably annoying them… I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say… I should just let them go about their business.”). I like the “relationship maturity” phrasing of it from earlier in the comments up there.

    But! Obviously every situation is different. And feeling unappreciated is the freakin’ worst. So you’ve inspired a random internet person to try and put aside lame fear stuff and be better about maintaining her own friendships. 🙂

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