Tell me… how do you quit people?
Not the bad influence friends. Or the ones who periodically weed-whack their way through your life, destroying everything in their paths. Those are easy … well, at least the decision to delete their number from your cell phone should be easy (actual removal is a different problem, of course).
But what about someone who’s your friend? Someone who would be there if you needed them. Someone who knows your secrets. Someone who knows you just about as well as you know yourself. Someone that (maybe, just maybe) you’re secretly in love with?
How do you quit them?
Of course, it’s not that clear cut, either. The fact is that I’m mostly past the “in love” part. Due to my wildly, insanely high expectations, I’ve been let down enough that I’ve started the process of letting go. This, in turn, is helped by the fact that this friend tends to promise big, say all the right things, and then stumble on the follow through. She still is the person I confide in most and is utterly dear to me, but even I can recognize that I’m not a priority to her.
Of course, if I’m to be honest, I was expecting my friend to act like my girlfriend in all ways but the obvious girlfriend ways. I wanted her around (all the time), do stuff with me (all the time) and put me first (all the time). Isn’t that what friends are for?
But still – quitting her entirely? That’s what my therapist is suggesting. I knew she would — I almost didn’t bring it up because I knew this struggle would ensue.
I think I can keep the friendship; I’ve been here before, having a total crush on a friend who’s completely and obviously not interested (historically, these have always been straight friends… the fact this one is gay is an interesting twist). And I’ve always managed to work my way through it and find the light on the other side. Kept the friendship. Pushed my way through to a place where the friendship wasn’t some form of exquisite torture and in return I received the gift of a true, equal relationship.
I’ll just do the same thing this time around. Mold and manage my expectations into something that resembles reality — and what a normal “we’re just friends” friendship looks like.
I tell my therapist this; she’s not convinced. Thinks — and perhaps rightly so — that this friend takes advantage of me.
It’s true: our friendship is lopsided. It used to be that I absolutely went out of my way for her. I would wait around for her to show up to go out, make her dinner, buy her things just because I knew she’d like them. In return I usually got the attention I wanted — that’s all that I ever really wanted from her. But she would dole it out in a manner so frustrating to me … I wanted everything, she just wanted to be friends.
But since then, I’ve definitely gotten better and reeled things in. I’ve mostly dropped the puppy dog act (I was starting to get fleas, I think) and no longer make concessions for her. Of course, even with this progress, I still sometimes leave myself open to getting hurt by her. I’ll expect something that perhaps a friend shouldn’t expect and she’ll let me down. The most recent episode of this had me in tears.
And so, do I quit her?
No matter which path I choose, there will be grieving involved — either losing a friend entirely or losing the fantasy I’ve been trying desperately to enact in real life.
I have to admit, there is some temptation to the full-on quit — I see the world in such a black and white way that act would fit my world view: either I can have her entirely or not at all.
But the world is lonely enough without losing another friend, isn’t it?
It might not be the best decision I’ve ever made, but I’m guessing it won’t be the worst, either. The time between now and when I’m free of the crush will be challenging, but I know that the core friendship that we share — outside of my wild ideas — is worth saving.
So, no quitting. I’ll leave the option open, but for now? I’ll give it a go.
(postscript: no, I never told her I felt this way, but I never needed to — she made it clear from the beginning that she wanted nothing more than friendship from me and she’s in a serious relationship anyway)