This is the second post in our Tough Cookies series where we address friends who make friendship hard. Last time Sally wrote about The Demanding Friend. This time . . .
It’s 10:15. You’ve been waiting at the park for 15 minutes past. You text your friend who was supposed to meet you. She texts back, “I thought 11. Getting ready now.”
It’s happened before. You thought you were clear. You’re left waiting thinking of all you could be getting done at home.
You wonder if your friend is just unaware of time.
You also wonder if you’re unaware of how unclear you are.
You’re on the beach and your friend starts doing yoga in full swing. After reps of Downward Dog and Warrior, you start wondering how to point out the strange glances she’s drawing. You’re wondering if she cares as much as you do.
Is she just blissfully unaware?
You’re traveling abroad and find yourself at a ruin in Italy where all bathroom stalls are out of toilet paper. Your Type A friend always carries a roll. When you try to break her away from the group to privately ask for her stash of tp, she cheerfully pulls it out and hands you five squares. When you ask for the whole roll, she pushes you over the top by loudly demanding, “Just tell me how much you need?”
What do we do with unaware friends?
When do we share that their unawareness is bothering us?
Many of the unaware things we do (crunching ice, interrupting, popping our gum, monologuing, etc.), while annoying don’t necessarily mean the friendship is over. We just need to evaluate how important the annoying things are… to us and to our friendship.
Every friend will do something that shows they’re not as aware of the things we care about. We do it, too.
This doesn’t mean we have a doomed friendship. But if we’re honest, we will admit to ourselves and God that their unawareness bothers us. Pretending we’re not bugged only means our denial will spill out in “unintentional” hinting, which then becomes our unawareness bugging others.
We always need to admit it to ourselves.
Sometimes we need to share it with our friends.
So when do we bring it up?
Try using these questions to process:
- How much and how badly does their unawareness bother me? Is it keeping me from loving them well?
- Could your friend say of you, “She really lets me be me, even though I know we disagree or she doesn’t like it when I ….”? In other words, are you a safe person?
- Is your friend safe? When you want to bring up something that bothers you, how do they respond? Are they glad you noticed and shared? Are they insulted? Do they receive your observation with interest or curiosity or are they threatened and hurt? This will indicate how honest they really want you to be with them.
- It helps to think of the four seasons friends as the best to begin those honest conversations that start with, “When you do x, I end up feeling embarrassed or annoyed…”
Let’s say you’ve figure out your friend is
- truly annoying you by being unaware and this is keeping you from loving well.
- a four seasons friend, open to hearing your input.
So how to your bring it up?
First, draw back into your memory of when YOU were that unaware friend, the one who didn’t know you didn’t know. Remember how blissful it felt to be unaware, for a moment. Remember how ashamed you could feel when someone alerted you to your ignorance without bathing it in understanding?
This is our first lesson: If you’re going to let an unaware friend know, enlighten them kindly.
Think of how you like to learn you have spinach in your teeth. I don’t want to learn this from my bathroom mirror after hours on the town with my girlfriend. I want to be told, discreetly, ASAP.
Direct approach: “Hey, you’ve got spinach in your front teeth. This one (tap your own tooth in a mirror so your friend isn’t digging around in her mouth for five minutes).”
Indirect approach: “I think you have something in your teeth, you want my mirror?”
Friendship works because our friends see the exceptional qualities in our souls that no one else can offer them. These are often the flipsides of the things that bother us. So anytime you’re about to wallow in your friend’s unawareness think of the reason she’s like that. My always-late friend, for instance, is never annoyed when I’m late. My yoga loving friend is someone I could never embarrass I’m public. Your tp rationing friend is…. someone who….
well, that might be worth bringing up.