Monday, June 16, 2014

My One-Sided Friendship

Today I came to the realization that I am engaged in a one-sided friendship. I've known for quite some time that there was something different about my relationship with this friend. For whatever reason today was the day the puzzle pieces fit together. A light bulb went off in my head.

Every other friendship I have is reciprocal. I'm not talking about a sense of Even Steven or Tit for Tat. I’m not talking you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back. I'm not even saying what comes around goes around.

But all of my other friends and I enjoy some sort of mixture of giving and receiving. We might be giving and receiving different things because of the talents we bring to the table. When one person is going through a crisis the other one is giving more. But there is a basic friendship circle happening between these people and myself.

This is true of my casual and my deeper friendships.

If you are wondering or worried that the one--sided friend I am talking about is you, then I'm here to say that it probably isn't you. Mathematics alone makes this extremely unlikely.

If you are a perfect stranger who is reading my blog, then you can rest assured that you are not the one-sided friend. In order to fit that description, we would need to actually be friends.

Lets say we are friends. Just the very idea that you are reading this and going over our friendship in your mind pretty much rules you out. The friend I am talking about either doesn't like to do this type of thinking or isn't capable of it.

I am not going to say if the one-sided friend is a man or a woman. I am not going to say how long I've known this friend. Or whether this is a face-to-face friendship, an exclusively Facebook friendship, or a combination.

I'm not going to say if the friend is related to me by blood, if I initiated the friendship or they did. If they live in proximity to me or far away.

I'm also not saying if they are married or single, are childless, pregnant or with many children or one child. Whether they have a few friends or many.

I'm not telling whether this writing is about one -person or is actually a combination of people I've been friends with over the years. Whether it is literal or allegorical.

But let's say it's about a very specific person. In that case, I'm not going to go into details about the nature of this one sided friendship. It would be a great deal of trouble for me to do that.

First I would have to think of some specific incidents underscoring our one-sided friendship. Then, in order to disguise the identity of the one-sided friend, I would need to change all of the details.

I thought seriously about doing that. For a little while, I really got into changing the real details to things that never happened. Mythically beautiful summers on the Cape. Pledging for the same sorority and only one of us getting in.

I was going to name the friend Lilliana.

In the end, I just decided to scrap the idea of fleshing the story out.

I have some clarity now that I didn't have before. I began to think deeply about the one sided friendship while I was on the subway. I do some of my best thinking there. The one thing I will say unequivocally is that the one-sided friend is all about the one-sided friend.

I assumed earlier that the one-sided friend didn't like me much. I thought the friendship would die on the vine. For whatever reason, this did not happen. Like cats, this friendship seems to have nine lives. It appears that the one-sided friend likes our one-sided friendship.

I'm not going to talk to the one-sided friend about our friendship. I'm not going to talk to the one-sided friend's friends about the one sided friend either.

Here is what I decided to do about the one-sided friend.

I'm not going to end the one-sided friendship. I am not going to deepen the one-sided friendship. I am not going to initiate anything with the friend. I'm not going to ignore the one-sided friend's overtures.

I'm going to keep on being the one-sided friend's friend. Say what you want about my friend. The friend is very interesting. The fact that this is a one-sided friendship doesn't change that.

In addition, the one-sided friend could probably use a friend like me.

I have decided to make some rules. I don't want to get into a pattern with one-sided friendships. I believe that one one-sided friend is enough. Quite possibly one one-sided friend is more than enough. That remains to be seen.

If I make a new friend and realize after a time that this too is a one sided friendship, then I will cross that bridge when I come to it. But one of them will have to go. Which one, under what criteria, and the mechanics of it will have to be determined. I'm not going to worry about it now.

I can afford unlimited numbers of reciprocal, more or less healthy friendships but only one one-sided friend.

This is how I plan to manage my one-sided friendship. I'm going to cultivate an attitude of no expectations. I'm going to accept the friend for the person they are. I'm going to practice a state of non-attachment to what friendship is about with other friends, and the very definition of friendship. Because I've agreed to have this one one-sided friend, I'm not comparing them to my better friends.

I'm going to see how it goes. Like many things, it is a grand experiment. It might work out and I may learn a few things in the process.

On the other hand, I'm no Buddhist. I'm saying that right out of the starting gate. In a day, a week, a month or a year, I could be singing a very different tune. In which case, the number of one-sided friendships will be zero.

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