DAME’s Friendkeeper counsels a generous plan-maker about friends who never reciprocate and guides a newly single gal through the horrors of post-breakup social media.
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I have a respectable number of good friends, but sometimes I get the feeling that if I wasn’t the plan-making, keep-in-touch type, a lot of those friendships would fizzle. And it’s not that I think my friends don’t want to hang out with me, but somehow the onus of getting together falls squarely on my shoulders. I know my friends are busy, but who isn’t? What’s their deal? Are they too self-involved? Is it laziness? Do we not have the connection I think we have? How can I keep my friends without feeling resentful about always having to be the initiator?
One Is the Loneliest Number
The thing about your question is it’s relatively common and solvable, but the whole process of thinking about what’s wrong with you or what’s wrong with your friends is so exhausting we rarely get to the solution. I do think that certain people make more plans than others. Take me for example, everything seems like such an effort. I applaud you. My daughter has a friend and the mother is always contacting me about the girls spending an afternoon making crafts with Todd Oldham, or touring a historic house while tasting chocolate, or learning to draw with the cartoonists from the New Yorker. Me? I once emailed her that maybe the kids could go to the movies. I don’t know how she does it, but my kid wished that woman were her mother instead of lame old me. I digress. It’s a pain to make plans, and you do the heavy lifting. I think that gives your friends the very easy option of just having to say yes and show up. But it’s obviously not feeling great for you anymore, so let’s change things up. When a friend (who I ADORE) and I realized that we were getting together twice a year even though we live in the same city, because neither of us are planners, we came up with an idea. We set a lunch (because lunches are what we can manage) for the third Thursday of every month. It’s permanently on the schedule, which doesn’t mean it never gets changed or skipped, but it’s there and all we have to do is email early in the week and say, “Saks good?” And the other says, “Oy, my kid has coxsackie virus.” Or, “Perfect, and I’ll be drinking.” And we are done. It’s not on anyone’s shoulders to make the plan. So with your friends I would say, “Listen we’re all busy and if we don’t have a regular date I feel like we’ll never see each other.” Then just come up with a regular thing—Sunday dinner or whatever you like. If once a month is not enough or too much, change it. One of the things about adults is, unless they are in a rebel army, their schedules are fairly predictable.
I recently went through a disastrous breakup with a boyfriend, and I’m running into some psychologically sticky social media situations I could really use your help with. When our relationship ended, my ex and I unfriended each other on Instagram and Twitter, it seemed necessary. It took us a little bit longer to “break up” on Facebook, but eventually we did that too. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly masochistic though, I go down the rabbit hole of his feeds, to find out whether his life is better without me or, hopefully, not (I can’t help it). And even when I’m in a good place, he’ll sometimes pop up in my social media streams because I’m still friends with some of his friends and, of course, the ones we share—nothing throws me for a loop more than unexpectedly seeing his still-sexy face in my feed. How does someone dealing with a breakup protect herself (from herself even!)? Is unfollowing all ties (even friends of friends or mutual friends) advisable? Maybe just temporarily? Do you have any tips for resisting the dark pull of scouring an ex’s social media? Help!
Hurts So Good
Ouch. I’m so sorry about your disastrous breakup. Even good ones aren’t so great. What’s happening with you on social media is one of the crummy parts of this techno age we live in. It used to be that the worst that could happen after a breakup is you’d see your old boyfriend in the Laundromat with pink Hostess snowball on your nose. Now of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, not to mention the big G (that’s Google, of course). How do you resist it? I don’t know that you can. I think it’s kind of a lot to expect from yourself. All of your reactions are totally normal, and to try and stop yourself is just going to make you feel bad when you do succumb. My sense is that these things have to run their course. I always tell writer friends not to read their reviews; this finally worked for me when I read one titled JULIE KLAM IS THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. After that, I realized I could do without them. And I think, if every time you go down the rabbit hole you find yourself dirty and scraped, you’ll stop. In the meantime, try really hard to keep busy with other things. If you feel bored online, look at real estate or recipes. I find looking for an apartment can substitute other online addictions (and if you see anything good, please let me know). Or do you like clothes? Or shoes? Or baseball? I am sure you have other interests besides your ex, indulge them. But if you do find yourself peeking and feeling bad, know that it’s okay. It gets better, it ends, and in the meantime you can give yourself a break. BIG HUG.
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