More often than not, any friendship takes a toll now and then. On your life. On your nerves. On your relationship. But it doesn’t have to be a one way sacrifice.
As a you build friendships, it generally isn’t necessary to keep score. Those unbalanced taking relationships that drive you beyond the frenzy of sacrificial giving usually become loudly visible without any score keeping or record making. The friend who’s always calling for you to fix their latest craziness maybe in a pickle at the moment, but when she’s out of her pickle, she’ll be there for you. When you call and she isn’t there for you… that’s when you need to step back and rethink your relationship.
Is it really friendship?
At some point in every person’s life a crisis renders you practically helpless and in desperate need of a friend. When that friendship is offered and accepted, the reality of balance begins to play out. Some times, the play of balance becomes overladen with guilt. “I helped you out when you needed me,” might have sounded like a plea for a return of the help you were offered, but more often than not, when it comes, the price tag of the benefits you gained is revealed. Your friend gave you nothing, at least nothing that didn’t have strings attached.
Those strings negate the offering of benefits and become bartering tools of a business decision.
If I help you, you owe me. I own you.
Minding your boundaries will help to maintain your friendships. It’s okay to give, but sometimes you need to think about whether or not the gift you’re giving is yours to give.
Jodi and I had been friends for several years when I realized that she always seemed a little uptight when we were together. Her time was precious, because she spend most of her days helping out a neighbor who needed full time care. So, more often than not, our ‘get togethers’ were at her place. I’d bring in dinner or coffee and we’d chat between care taking ventures. Jodi seemed overwhelmed by small issues and I asked if I could help her. Together we walked through the budding Spring garden between her home and the neighbor’s.
Inside, the neighbor said, “I noticed you weren’t out weeding the garden like I requested. I guess I’ll have to hire someone else.”
She responded, “I’m sorry. I’ll get that done right after I make your dinner.”
We prepared a simple meal and visited for a moment, before going out to the garden. I helped Jodi weed the garden for about an hour. She didn’t complain, but we did discuss the neighbor’s demanding attitude. Jodi reminded me that she’d lost her mother a few years earlier and still felt guilty for not being there during those last days.
Jodi was allowing the neighbor to run all over her because she felt guilty about missing her mother’s last days. She and I discussed some new boundaries and how she could apply those boundaries.
The neighbor wasn’t intending to take advantage of Jodi, but Jodi wasn’t preventing damage to their friendship by allowing the neighbor’s actions to demand more of her than she was really able to give. Sometimes, even though a person really NEEDS what we can offer, we need to step back and see if it is really in the best interests of everyone involved to give so much.