Last week, I asked my Instagram followers to participate in a couple of polls (that feature is so handy). The first poll asked “in a friendship, are you the person who gives more or gives less?” and the second poll asked “if you give more, do you ever get passive aggressive or do you accept it for what it is?” Lastly, I asked people who identified that they tend to give less to provide a short explanation as to why. I was surprised by the results, and you might be, too.
46 people said that they are the “give more” friend.
4 people said that they knowingly give less. FOUR. CUATRO. Wow.
30 people admitted that they sometimes get bothered or become passive aggressive because they are constantly giving less, and 16 people say they accept the way it is.
What do these results tell us? To me, they say a few things; one is that we probably all think we give more, more than we actually do. Secondly, it is likely that two individuals in a friendship BOTH think they are the one giving more and the other is giving less. An inconclusive yet probably hunch I have, is that we either need to demand more from our friends, or demand better from ourselves.
Side note: I’ve experienced a variety of friendships; I think it’s safe to say more than most. Brief peek into my life: I moved about 9 times before high school even started, again during high school, once when I went to college, and then I joined the Army and moved 5 times within 3 years (3 states and 1 different country), and now the moving has only increased along with the traveling. I’ve had more than my fair share of shitty friendships that only seemed to drain me, the friendships that I’ve struggled to hang on to with everything and still lost, the friendships that mean more to me than most things in life that I have managed to hang on to, the friendships that are everything during one season of life but then become obsolete, the friendships that only feel real for a minute, the fun friendships, the one-sided friendships, I could go on FOREVER. I’m thankful. I vow to never let a friendship make me bitter, but instead to learn from each person. (And I want to share it with you!)
To address my first and second concern (we probably all think we give more than we actually do and TWO people in a friendship might BOTH feel that they are giving more): out of the 46 of us, some of us might actually be giving more consistently, but others are likely overestimating their efforts. Imagine: think about the friendship or time that you consistently felt you give more in. Remember how irritated, let down, or upset you’d get at constant unrequited effort. Maybe you started to take a little longer to respond to that friend, or ignored them, bailed on them, made sassy remarks, or whatever it was. What if that person opened up to you and shared their feelings, told you that THEY felt vulnerable, that they felt they were giving more only to get less back, and that any passive aggressive behavior they displayed was caused by that (to which you responded with your own). Friendship can often be like a teeter totter. One gives less and the other gives more, but if one friend is left on the ground for too long then it’s no fun anymore, and so begins the hurt feelings. It has to be a balance, but sometimes miscommunication, bad timing, personality, or bad communication gets in the way.
Now, about demanding more from ourselves or our friends, sometimes we do get stuck in friendships that don’t serve our lives anymore. The first common mistake we’re all guilty of is leading someone on. Think of the time you friend zoned that guy who was really into you. It’s the same thing. We keep “filler friends” in our lives for a few different reasons, maybe we think having more friends will add value to our lives, maybe we want to appear more popular, maybe we like the attention, whatever it is. It’s okay to have a lot of friends, but it’s our responsibility to gauge what effort those friendships require. I have friends who I know I should speak to every week in order to maintain our relationship, some once per month and some it doesn’t matter the length or distance. BUT, if we have a friend who is consistently checking up on us, doing nice things for us, always there when we need them, etc, and we aren’t doing the same for them, either step it up or let them go. My advice, if you love or care for them, is to step it up. I’ve said it before and I will continue to say it: friendships are everything.
If you’re the friend who is always getting less effort. DEMAND MORE. Don’t allow your friendships to drain you. They should be mutually beneficial. Just as you provide value to their lives, they should provide value to yours. Marriages and partnerships are difficult, friendships should be easier. If you settle for less than you deserve now, this will inevitably translate into other parts of your life. I, for one, do not want to teach my children to accept less than they deserve just as I don’t like seeing when a friend or family member does so. Love yourself more than that. I don’t mean to say that you should cut this friend off, but to say that you HAVE to do the hard thing: be vulnerable. Communicate.
Friendship is something that I feel strongly about. I can’t stand when people alienate themselves on purpose and close themselves off to friendships. It doesn’t make me angry but it makes me sad. I’ve been there. I want better for you, for myself, for all of us.
To conclude this blog post, here are some quotes and bible verses that hit me in the feels:
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”
Provers 18:24 NIV “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a true friend sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 13:20 NIV “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
“I believe in angels. The kind that heaven sends. I’m surrounded by angels and I call them my best friends.” -Pamela Daranjo
“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” ― Muhammad Ali
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen
YES, ALRIGHT, I ADMIT IT… I’m sappy as *&%$. I love my friends and I will keep striving to be better for them. Thank you for reading!