Being disappointed by a friend has nothing to do with an occasional last minute cancellation of plans, and it also has nothing to do with how to dump an old friend. This time, I’m digging deeper into the expectations we set for our friends.
Like you, I’ve made and lost plenty of friends in my lifetime. The older and (hopefully) wiser I get, the more I try to figure out what I’m supposed to learn in each instance. I’ve often believed that if my personal. give and take scale was imbalanced, I would likely feel taken for granted. And I also think about what I can do to be a better friend.
I am fortunate because I have friends from virtually all aspects of my existence. I have my dad to thank for my ability to make (and keep) friends, and it’s been helpful for me to recognize that I have different expectations of the friendships I’ve made, depending upon the connection.
This is a lengthy lead-in to the topic at hand, and it’s something I’ve been struggling with of late. I have been let down by certain friendships, and I’m smart enough to recognize that I have some personal accountability in this struggle. Whether I’ve placed unreasonable expectations upon these few friends, and whether or not I’ve communicated my expectations to them is of the utmost importance. I think I’m responsible for both my own expectations and my lack of communication. Okay, now what? How do I handle my feelings of disappointment by somebody close to my heart?
First, I probably should accept what I’m feeling and acknowledge why I’m feeling it. If “Friend A” said she’d pay me back the $100 she borrowed and is now avoiding me, I am likely to feel foolish for believing her, or mad at myself for loaning money to her in the first place. And perhaps I’m also feeling betrayed because this wasn’t the first time she’s disappointed me.
Second, I probably should think about whether I need to talk it out. Will it be more beneficial to have a face-to-face conversation with “Friend A” about the situation, or should I consider this a $100 lesson and simply delete her from my contacts?
Third, I probably should take a serious look at my expectations. Did I truly believe “Friend A” was going to pay me back, or was I simply hoping that she would do so? And did I communicate those expectations to her in a direct and specific manner?
Fourth, I probably should figure out the life lesson in this situation and then create a future boundary for myself. This one’s easy: no more loaning money to friends. Ever.
Obviously, not all situations are as cut-and-dried as the money-loaning incident, and not all friendships can simply be deleted from your contact list. If the relationship is worth preserving, take the time to do what you can to fix it. Or ask a Mediator for help. (Just sayin’ . . .)
I’m sorry about the experience with your friend. There’s also the friend who you’ve known since your twenties, and you’ve both changed and grown apart.
I have been let down by so many, but when I look back I realize that it was a one-sided friendship to start with for most of them. Which falls under your third point on expectations. The curse of being a giver!