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How To Patrol Your Own Borders - The Watchtower of Destruction: The Ferrett's Journal
January 25th, 2011
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How To Patrol Your Own Borders
My partners find it hard to trust me - not, ironically, because I’m untrustworthy, but because in my relationships I ask for one thing that apparently almost nobody’s good at. That request is this:

Ask me for what you want. I’ll tell you when you’re asking for too much.

Part of their reluctance to ask me for what they need is a quite understandable fear of being rejected - which is a possibility, of course, but not a probability. I usually want to give my friends what will make them happy, and the people I’m dating especially so, so most requests get met with a “Okay, let’s try that.”

But a larger part is that they’re terrified that they’re going to ask for too much, and I’ll give it to them out of some sense of obligation, and then I’ll grow to resentful and the relationship will collapse. I’ve run into that attitude a lot of times, and it’s always slightly insulting to me - like I won’t tell you when I’ve had enough? I’m good about patrolling my own borders - if I feel a friend is taking advantage of me, I’ll shut them down pretty damn quickly. Every action I take for my friends is voluntary, and I don’t spend a lot of time grumbling about what they made me do.

Yet a lot of folks are bad about that. They don’t really know how to stop others from sucking the life out of them. And they keep giving, and giving, until they explode in a fury of resentment that doesn’t end well... Which gets to be really tricky in relationships, whether you’re on either side of this imbalance.

So I’ve been thinking about how to patrol your own borders, to keep people from taking advantage of you. And I think it boils down to a couple of essential principles:

I Have No Illusions About My Friends.
For a lot of folks, part of the contract of “having a friend” is “I promise to not pay too much attention to your flaws.” Once you’re in the friend zone, sure, you’ve got problems - but a real friend doesn’t look too closely at the negatives. Your goal as a friend is to accentuate the positive, to defend your buddy when the time comes - because if you won’t stick up for your pals, who will? As such, you hear a lot of, “Sure, they’re needy, but they’re my buddy” - as though that excuses it.

Me? Some days I feel guilty about being so ruthless, but I catalogue every one of my friends’ weaknesses. C is really self-centered at times, and not particularly interested in my problems. R is an arrogant asshole - fun at parties, sure, but he’s going to run right over you unless you stand up for yourself. And Q has great intentions and a good insight into how I work, but is completely disorganized.

Why? Not because I enjoy it, but because I think part of patrolling your borders is not making excuses for your friends. My friends are all deeply flawed, as am I, as are people - and knowing exactly where they’re likely to fail me lets me know where I can rely on them. Arrogant asshole R is going to boss everyone around all day, but he’ll show up to help me move; flighty Q won’t. Whereas if I can nail Q down for a lunch date, she’ll be able to help me with my latest bout of neuroses - whereas R would never listen to me.

That doesn’t sound related to patrolling the borders, but it really is. Knowing where someone’s likely to venture over the boundaries helps me stay alert to where they’re likely to ask too much of me. And furthermore, since friends change with time just like all people do, it prevents the “Oh, he’s a great guy” syndrome, wherein someone was a great guy back in the 1990s but has now degenerated into a loser.

I know who my friends are. I love them. But I don’t cut them slack.

I Value Myself Enough To Say “No.”
Saying no is a scary thing, because effectively it’s saying, “I value my needs more than I value your needs right now.” It feels selfish, and by dictionary definition, it is. But that’s fine. If you’re in a relationship, any relationship, where someone’s needs come before yours all the time, then you’re probably in a very dysfunctional place. (And if you’re in a relationship where both of you would do anything for each other so this “My needs supplant yours” will all balance out in the end, well, you’re effectively arguing that your friend can judge with 100% accuracy what you need at any given time.)

It’s okay to tell people, “These are my needs - not wants, needs - and this is what I’ve gotta do right now. Sorry.” They may get boo-boo faced once in a while, but you know what? Real friends understand.

I Have Silly Needs, And That’s Okay.
You need things, and sometimes those needs seem silly to other people - and the trick is to learn when the “silly” things are vital.

For example, I’m an introvert - after a long weekend of dealing with people, I need to curl up and be alone to recharge. To an extrovert, that’s a stupid need, because an extrovert charges his batteries by social interaction, and an extrovert would go, “Stay home alone? That’s ludicrous? Come out with me!” And he would be completely wrong. That kind of get-out-there thinking would devastate me.

Part of learning to patrol your own borders is learning what you need to function. Note the emphasis on need - I’d like it if Gini wrapped me in snuggles 24/7, telling me every thirty seconds that she loves me and no other, but that’s the kind of thing that’s going to drain her. I’ve learned that I need her to be able to tell me she loves me when I ask her, which is more often than she’d probably like, but far far less than I’d want.

That understanding of what you need to function - as in, “the bare minimum” - can take years to understand. It’s okay. You’re a complex person. Treat yourself with the complexity you’d grant others.

I’m Okay Being Hated...
When someone says, “Holy God, you’re such a dick,” a lot of people have a panicked reaction: Someone called me a dick! They must be right. They wouldn’t call me names if it wasn’t true. And then, propelled by guilt to not be this way, they scramble to do anything to get people to like them again.

Whereas my reaction to being told that I’m selfish, or mean, or any other negative thing, is to examine it and go, “Hmm. I don’t think I am - but am I in error here? Lemme check.” And I look at the circumstances, and what I think is reasonable, and make a judgment call.

And if I decide that what I’ve done is okay, I’m fine with people being mad at me. People are often really irrational about what they want from other folks, and as such anger often is a way of saying, “You didn’t give me the unreasonable thing I wanted.” So it’s okay. You be mad. I might be sorry you want this thing, but that’s not my problem.

Which is not to say that I like being called a dick. But the fury means that it’s time to reevaluate what I’ve done, and go over it more carefully. Sometimes I’m being insensitive or unresponsive, and it’s time to change my behavior. Other times, it’s time to just go, “No, that’s not cool.”

And if someone keeps thinking I’m a jerk? Either they’re wrong or I am. I’ll reevaluate a number of times, and if it turns out they’re repeatedly thinking that badly of me, well, they probably shouldn’t be hanging around me anyway. (Though if a lot of different people I respect think I’m a jerk, it’s time for the equivalent of a full-body CAT scan.)

...But I Never Hate.
When someone asks me for something, I might express shock, but ideally I’ll never get mad. This isn’t personal; they may not even know how much what they’re asking me to do may inconvenience me. When I say “No,” I’m not refusing them because I’m a shitwad, I’m doing it because I just can’t afford to get round to this right now. Sorry. Try again later.

This is a request, and if you must reject it, then do so with the cold-eyed clarity of turning down a job applicant. It’s not gonna be pleasant, but explain why you’re unwilling to do it, lay out your case - and don’t waffle. Make it clear that this isn’t their chance to argue you back in, this is their rejection letter, and you’re explaining the reasons why you don’t think helping them is in either of your best interests right now. (Or, all right, your best interests.)

But don’t get snotty and go OMG HOW DARE YOU ASK. They had the right to ask; you have the right to turn them down. Both are okay.

Remember: Friends Do Favors....
Do I want to get up at four in the morning to pick up a friend whose car has broken down? Do I want to have a three-hour talk with someone to help dissect their most disastrous relationship? Do I want to lend my pal $400 to help him make his rent? Not really. But friends are there for you when you need them, and as a friend occasionally you’ll need to bite the bullet and just fuckin’ do it. For all my talk about patrolling borders, there are days where you’re gonna eat a big wad of suck to turn someone’s day from a disaster into a mostly-disaster. Deal with it.

(However, remember the old rule: never lend money you absolutely need to get back.)

...Occasionally. And Only If It’s Unexpected.
The third time I’m asked to rescue someone from a broken car, they’re going to have to get a more functioning vehicle. If I have to spend a three-hour talk with someone to dissect their disastrous relationship and it’s the exact same talk we had two weeks ago, well, they need to shit or get off the pot. And if my buddy’s $400 short repeatedly, then he needs to find a cheaper goddamned place to live or a better job.

Favors are to get friends out of the unexpected. When they’re repeatedly falling into traps of their own making, what they’re doing is screwing up their life and asking you to play safety net - which isn’t fair to you. If someone is inconveniencing you to fix the exact same problem repeatedly and they don’t seem to be making headway whenever you’re not catching them, it’s time to put on your “no” face.

This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/65174.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.

(57 shouts of denial | Tell me I'm full of it)

Comments
 
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 25th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Obviously, I don't know the particular relationships you're talking about, but I'm going to throw out an idea, anyway. In general, people think (or at least say) that friendships ought to be more or less equal, a two-way street. So if I unreservedly ask you for what I want, trusting that you'll tell me when it's too much, I'm impliedly inviting you to do the same. And perhaps I'm not as good at border patrol as you are.

-Alex
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From:moonshadow
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I feel much the same, particularly as it relates to your last point about favors. I don't mind doing many favors for my friends as long as they are also doing a lot for me. The bailing-out needs to be reciprocal.
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From:call_me_harmony
Date:January 25th, 2011 07:52 pm (UTC)
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This. Though I was pretty slow to learn that people who said no without really listening, or even said yes without wanting to take the time to listen to my reasonings were never going to understand me.
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From:gretchen_marie
Date:January 25th, 2011 02:58 pm (UTC)
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I've had similar conversations with at least one of my loves about trusting me to know (and verbalize) my own limits... so I've linked him to this so he can read what I mean, except written in much more coherent fashion.

I think it's harder for people who don't have their own Border Patrol firmly in place to understand how it works.

(thank you for sharing this)
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From:greybeta
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:13 pm (UTC)
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Sounds about right. I've been called an arrogant person before, but my response was simply, "I know what I want, do you?"

Of course, this is the same reason that I plan on never getting married. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to find someone as straightforward and blunt as I need them to be...
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From:atdt1991
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I more or less agree with all of this, though I do not put so much overt thought into it. As you said, each friend has their own places in which they can and cannot be relied upon, and I try to keep that in mind when I lean on people. If I bare my soul to my "will-help-you-move-but-I'm-not-a-softie" friend and he shits on it, well, I was an idiot for reaching out in that way to someone who has shown that he is not that kind of friend. The tricky thing is to do that without undue judgment - it is not my place to expect others to conform to my expectations, especially when they're the same person they've always been.

I also run into situations where my closest friends or a significant other do not trust me to tell them when to stop, even after I have proven that I have a line and I am very comfortable with being vocal about being trespassed upon. I don't really have a solution, there, except to remind them frequently that when they ask me whether I would do something they want, and I say yes, and then they waffle backwards, they are doing no one a favor.

When it comes to other people's problems, I try to remember to care without being personally invested beyond that care. They are an autonomous individual, and it is up to them to make their own decisions. I will pick someone up in an emergency or when it is convenient for me, I will listen to them talk about their problems, but they will have to accept that I may say "I already told you what my advice is on that. You haven't tried that yet, so it is still my advice." It is not my failure.

A lot of people get really bent out of shape when people dig a rut and continue to ask why they're going in circles. I do not. I just remember that their problem is not my problem (beyond my desire not to see them suffer), and that it is wrong of me to be unhappy when someone chooses not to follow my advice - which, after all, can still be the wrong advice. :D

It is their duty to hear my words and make their own choices, and in exchange, I expect others to respect me and my choices, and to understand that I don't love them any less if I choose my own path, good or bad.
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From:aiela
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
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except to remind them frequently that when they ask me whether I would do something they want, and I say yes, and then they waffle backwards, they are doing no one a favor.

Oh, man, if someone could teach lessons in training yourself out of doing this, I'd pay hundreds of dollars for it. I am SO guilty of it, and Dave calls me out on it EVERY SINGLE TIME, as he should, so that we can metaphorically beat it out of me.
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From:atdt1991
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I more or less agree with all of this, though I do not put so much overt thought into it. As you said, each friend has their own places in which they can and cannot be relied upon, and I try to keep that in mind when I lean on people. If I bare my soul to my "will-help-you-move-but-I'm-not-a-softie" friend and he shits on it, well, I was an idiot for reaching out in that way to someone who has shown that he is not that kind of friend. The tricky thing is to do that without undue judgment - it is not my place to expect others to conform to my expectations, especially when they're the same person they've always been.

I also run into situations where my closest friends or a significant other do not trust me to tell them when to stop, even after I have proven that I have a line and I am very comfortable with being vocal about being trespassed upon. I don't really have a solution, there, except to remind them frequently that when they ask me whether I would do something they want, and I say yes, and then they waffle backwards, they are doing no one a favor.

When it comes to other people's problems, I try to remember to care without being personally invested beyond that care. They are an autonomous individual, and it is up to them to make their own decisions. I will pick someone up in an emergency or when it is convenient for me, I will listen to them talk about their problems, but they will have to accept that I may say "I already told you what my advice is on that. You haven't tried that yet, so it is still my advice." It is not my failure.

A lot of people get really bent out of shape when people dig a rut and continue to ask why they're going in circles. I do not. I just remember that their problem is not my problem (beyond my desire not to see them suffer), and that it is wrong of me to be unhappy when someone chooses not to follow my advice - which, after all, can still be the wrong advice. :D

It is their duty to hear my words and make their own choices, and in exchange, I expect others to respect me and my choices, and to understand that I don't love them any less if I choose my own path, good or bad.
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From:terriaminute
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:33 pm (UTC)
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Yes. Every single point = me, too. Wow, I am glad you wrote this!
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From:alioth
Date:January 25th, 2011 03:58 pm (UTC)
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I Have No Illusions About My Friends.

I've been trying to explain this to people for a long time, but it only ever seems to make me look like an asshole.
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From:roniliquidity
Date:January 25th, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
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I have a really hard time with boundaries, which you probably already know. I was raised under the environment that if there's any conceivable way you can do what someone asks of you, you are morally obligated to do it. The best people will give you the shirt off their back. Ex: My Dad flew from Boston to Spain, back to Boston, then to Arizona and back, on his own dime, to pick up their friend's cat. The friend flew out there with two cats for a couple of months, had some health problems, and it was too tiring to bring them both back himself. (The kicker, the cat died 2 months later.)

I tend to give until I can not take it anymore, then I kind of snap. Unfortunately I tend to approach relationships the same way. This sucks, but I'll hold out a while longer. I feel like a terrible person if I draw a boundary, as in, I can offer help, but I don't. Rather than say no, I do it and increasingly complain about it, hoping the other person will realize they should stop asking. So when I can't take it any more I am very far past when I should have stopped, and then it makes me kind of mad. I genuinely don't know how to do it in a more functional way, and I think in the past it has made me prone to surrounding myself with people who take far more than most people would put up with. Events of the last couple of years made me realize how one sided some relationships were, and now I kind of swing to not giving help, to a few select people.

I'm trying to learn how to measure when something is too much. Even now though, I have a situation where a friend who is close to the same size gave me a bunch of clothes that either didn't fit her, or she didn't like. Now she is insisting I should go through my closet and give her clothes, but as I'm not the shopper she is, I don't really have any I don't wear. I am at a total loss how to handle this.

This probably goes into the who categorizing friend thing, there have to be tiers or I just wear out.
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From:sterling_raptor
Date:January 25th, 2011 04:51 pm (UTC)
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I run into a similar problem with people (they don't seem to believe me when I say something) and it invariably causes problems. One I thought was easy was, "Don't lie to me. I always find out somehow, and it hurts, and I will never trust you again."

So, "Do these jeans make me look fat?" "Yes."

"Do you want to date my husband?" "Yes, is it cool?" "If he's down." (But what always happens is, I get a BFF who suddenly is all over AJ and can only come over when I'm not at home...hmmmm.)

"Are you sure you want to date me exclusively?" "No, I still want to see other people." "Ok, do you want outfit help for your date on Friday?"

"If we are not in a closed poly unit, I won't have sex with you." "Ok, I'm cool with that....YOU SELFISH BITCH!" *blink blink*

"If you lie to me, or cheat on me, our relationship is over." "Gotcha...BUT SHE DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING TO ME! I LOVE YOU!" That actually makes it worse.

I freely admit, I have thought out long and hard what I am and am not comfortable with in all sorts of relationships and while I have no problem telling someone my needs and wants, I keep running into people who think they are going to be the magic exception to my "rules". I freely admit I don't understand it and it hurts. My boundaries are not crazy; I want the same thing most people do: Love, Honesty, Respect, Communication, etc. And it is TOTALLY a two way street.

I really liked the part about having "silly needs". Some of mine are indeed downright strange but they are needs. Like, inside jokes/reindeer games. I need them in relationships. AJ always solemnly hands me his quart of chocolate milk so I can open it and taste test it for poison. No, it isn't really poisoned but this way I get to taste it and it's fun!
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From:joreth
Date:February 11th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
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I have a whole rant that I pull out when I start dating someone new about how "when I ask you if I look fat in this, I really want an answer" (of course, I never ask that question, but that's not the point). I spend the first several months of a relationship reminding people that "fine" really means I'm fine and that I will absolutely tell you when I don't like something. I also constantly remind people that I'm not a mind reader, so if they say something, I will take them at their literal word and it'll be their own fault if they didn't mean it and end up unhappy with me.

For instance, I had a metamour once who absolutely could not assert herself when someone around her wanted something contrary, or if she even suspected they did. We went to a party one night, and I drove, and I told her to just tell me whenever she was ready to go because I was completely neutral about what time we left. Time passed, she looked more and more tired, but when I asked if she wanted to leave, she kept saying "no, that's OK". So we stayed. And stayed. And stayed. I'm a night person, so no matter what, I was definitely going to outlast her at that party. I got so irritated at her for not asserting her needs, that I flat out refused to leave until she was willing to tell me she wanted to leave.

We stayed through lunch. She missed class.
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From:cirqueducroquet
Date:January 25th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
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Hi! Teaa sent me a link to this post as it fit in perfectly with a conversation we were having yesterday. Very insightful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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From:theferrett
Date:January 26th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
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Glad I could help!
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From:apel
Date:January 25th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
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I wrote down a list of boundaries a couple of years ago. They were informed by work I've done in Codependents Anonymous. They have voluntary-donation-based meetings in many places in the US and around the world. There's more material about my thinking around boundaries.

Boundaries are incredibly powerful tools in relationships. In my experience changing my boundaries to be more appropriate was very painful but ultimately worth it. It's an ongoing work but it gets easier with time. I don't expect to ever have "perfect" boundaries and boundary-enforcing behaviors. These days the reason is that I'm discovering new heights of functioning, rather than have constant drama because of inappropriately set and enforced boundaries.

The flip side of this is that I don't feel safe around people who don't have good boundaries. If I find out that a friend did something for me and then complained to others about me asking, I'm going to be angry with them and set new boundaries. E.g the boundary that "either you agree to do X and not complain, or you tell me that you don't want to do X" is perfectly reasonable in my book. I cannot set boundaries for other people and I shouldn't have to. That's their job. They're the only person who has enough information to know where their boundaries need to be.
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From:finding_helena
Date:January 25th, 2011 08:07 pm (UTC)
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'E.g the boundary that "either you agree to do X and not complain, or you tell me that you don't want to do X" is perfectly reasonable in my book.'

Oh. I thought i was the only one who had that problem. I have that with my husband sometimes. I too think it's perfectly reasonable.
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From:darksunlight
Date:January 25th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
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I've always hated people who will ask me for something, and then be shocked when I say no. If you ask for something, I think you should always be prepared to get a no.

And, yeah, I understand.
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From:miintikwa
Date:January 25th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Friendship is a two-way street. If you (or any friend) were to say to me "I need you to ask for what you need and want," then I would expect you to do the same. Are you good about asking for what you need?

Related to the post: I often need reassurance after people ask me for things and I have to turn them down, for health or other reasons. But I still do it. I also sometimes go to events or places, knowing it is going to cost me in health/spoons, because it's WORTH IT for me to spend time with my friends. (And because I need to get out of the house. I am an extreme introvert, and I'd sit at home all day every day if I could.)

I have said to my BFF, more than once, "you are worth the spoons," and what I mean by that is "yes, doing this thing may cost me a day or two in bed, but I would rather be here, with you, than anywhere else."

I often wonder if extroverts realize how much effort it is for introverts to go and do stuff with them. Relatedly, I often wonder if healthy people realize how much of an effort it is for those of us with invisible disabilities to do things with them.

I'll stop rambling now. ;)
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From:jenx
Date:January 26th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC)
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I almost lost a good friend over these same issues - I have fibro, am a morning person, and an introvert. Once I distanced myself from her, she started paying more attention to what I was saying about how I was feeling on any given day. Now we can get together without her trying to guilt me into doing more than I'm able.
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From:jeffpalmatier
Date:January 26th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
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For a lot of folks, part of the contract of “having a friend” is “I promise to not pay too much attention to your flaws.”

For me, part of friendship is trying to be tolerant of each others' faults, perhaps more than other people since you are friends. But not deceiving yourself about the other person's faults, just not jumping down the other person's throat at the slightest provocation. However, the flip side to that is that if you want to start giving that person a hard time about their faults, you might find them telling you stuff about yourself that you don't want to hear.
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From:alexmegami
Date:January 26th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
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Out of curiosity, do these apply to your relationships as well?

I think my problem with #1 is that I will cut people slack for too long, or alternatively withdraw the closeness of friendship without explanation if I feel that their decisions are poor or making my life harder. This isn't exactly fair but I also don't often have the energy to deal with people's emotional trauma relating to that. This is probably related to the fact that I have trouble being hated. :P

Also, I have trouble asking people for what I want from them because it either feels like too much (regardless of whether that makes sense or not - e.g. I will dither on calling friends I haven't seen in a month because they're probably busy with school/life/whatever [even if they are always sure to tell me if they can't hang out]) or like what I want is twisting the knife somehow.

As you can probably guess, I'm really bad at breakups.

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From:theferrett
Date:January 26th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
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Which relationships? You mean non-poly? Yes.

I'm terrible at breakups because I always think I can fix it. I can stop giving favors, but I can't kick someone out, which is awful. I used to just be a dick until they left, which doesn't make me proud, but I gotta be honest about what I did.
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From:cislyn
Date:January 26th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
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I think all of these things make you sound like a fabulous friend, but I *love* people who know and enforce their own borders - very possibly because I have trouble sometimes with my own, and I love to learn by example. It's awesome and freeing to have a friend that you can believe when they say "just tell me what you want, and it'll be fine - you'll either get it, or not, but either way we're still ok." Most friends never get to the "tell me..." part, much less the meaning it part.

For what it's worth, I don't think any of this sounds cold at all, though I get how spelling it all out in detail could kind of feel that way. Introspection is good, especially when it's of the practical sort like this.
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From:bbwoof
Date:January 26th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
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Only 40 years old, and yet so wise... Your life must have been just full of painful lessons.
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From:theferrett
Date:January 26th, 2011 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Holy fuck yes. Every time someone calls me "competent," I'm all like, "Don't you realize that if I was really competent, I wouldn't have to codify this shit?"
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From:majellen
Date:January 27th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
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"I’m fine with people being mad at me"

I use this a lot at work. Granted, I work in a room full of moody four and five year olds, but I REALLY used it when I subbed in a middle school music position in Philly. Kids would tell me, "I hate you! YOU SUCK!" And I would tell them, "I understand that you feel that way. Unfortunately, you still have detention/a bad grade/whatever their problem was." Or, if they were particularly annoying, "My self-esteem is not based off of what a 12 year old thinks of me."

I like this entry. I wish I could say "no" more often. But I agree with most of what you say here and live a bunch of it. :)
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From:apostate_96
Date:January 27th, 2011 03:24 am (UTC)
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Good post!

One of the things I've learned from my wife is the idea of "enlightened self-interest." I like using that as a contrast for "selfish." "Selfish" to me means having no regard for anyone else's needs/wants/feelings/etc. However, "enlightened self-interest" means knowing when my needs are important, enough to turn down what someone else is asking for. It's not a lack of consideration of their needs/wants/feelings/etc. It's taking those into account in comparison to what you're needing at the time. If mine win out, then I feel OK about turning someone else down to take care of myself. The same holds true for doing favors for people, too.
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From:joreth
Date:February 11th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
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What he said!

This is me, exactly. I know my friends - their good and bad points, and I make no excuses for them. I will tell someone, honestly, what I think about them. Admitting that they have some flaw or negative trait does not mean I don't like them, it means that I see them. And I think it does no one any favors to hold illusions about the people we profess to care about. As my mother told me, to my humiliation, as a child, "would you rather I let you go out in public with bad breath, where all the other kids can make fun of you behind your back? Or would you rather I told you to go back in there and brush your teeth again?" It might hurt to hear, but it's better to hear from a friend, who wants the best for you, than to risk exposing yourself to the public, or people who don't like you, or people you depend on like your employer.

"Selfish" is doing for yourself at the expense of others - and making that a regular habit, or choosing your trivial want at the expense of others' non-trivial needs is bad. But sometimes choices have to be made and you can't make everyone happy, so a "selfish" decision might actually be for the greater good - which is to keep me functioning to I can be a better friend in the long run.

I like to tell people that I'm fine with people not liking me, as long as their reasons for not liking me are accurate. I have a problem with people thinking I am a cold-hearted person. I have no problem with people disliking me because I am a rational person, capable of making decisions based on utilitarian reasonings over emotional reasons. One is accurate, the other is not. That I am disliked for both is irrelevant.

I also like the way you phrased "favors are to get friends out of the unexpected". Making something a habit is not asking for a "favor", it's asking for an enabler or bucking responsibility. Shit happens, and our friends and family are our support network that allows us to get over the shit. That's one of mankind's greatest achievements - what we lack in fangs & claws, speed & strength, we make up for in cooperation and teamwork. But an individual who does not contribute back is not a team member, he's an anchor, dragging everyone else down with him. When you get tired from chasing that bison, I'll pick up the next leg of the relay. But if you manage to "trip" every single time we're out of food & need to go hunting, I'm gonna find me a better hunting partner.
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From:libidoergosum
Date:February 12th, 2011 03:09 am (UTC)
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it is tempting to say, just for spite that you're full of it, but I can't.

This is perhaps the most accurate analysis of maintaining a healthy understanding of relationships and the basis of how to NOT get trapped in codependency.

This deserves the highest compliment I can give: This was worth reading.
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