Never reach out. Worth saving?
October 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm #178869
Dear all, I know that my problem is very common, but it’s starting to bug me!
I have a friend who almost never reaches out to me. Like, 9 out of 10 times I have to be the initiator. I’m not usually bothered by that, but I also know that for example, in my case, if i don’t initiate conversation with you it means I don’t really care about you.
So I’m at loss here. It’s starting to bug me that I always have to initiate, but when I do my friend always replies quickly and with enthusiasm and the conversation can go on for 1-2 hours. But I’m sure that if I didn’t take the initiative I would hear from him after months, if ever. I’ve already talked to him about this issue many times. He said he’s happy to talk to me etc. The situation gets better for some time then he “disappears” again. Usually if someone never initiates contact with me I leave the “friendship” die off naturally, so to speak, because it takes two people to form a friendship. But in this particular case, with this friend, I simply care too much about him to let him go, and it hurts that he never takes the initiative, so much more in that at the beginning of our friendship *he* initiated as much as me if not more.
Is it a one-sided friendship? Should I just swallow my pride and keep initiating? It would be so nice hearing from my friend once in a while
October 23, 2016 at 2:16 pm #178870
Thanks for sharing! I’ve had friends in Korea who did this to me as well. I always initiated the conversation, where I was the one talking most of the time. Their explanation for it saying much was that they merely enjoyed being the listeners.
What I discovered too late, after a year of this behavior was that, they didn’t really care about me. Friends should reciprocate and reach out to each other, as in taking turns. When they didn’t reply or left the messages as read, and then after 7 texts later or even 2 weeks later, decided to reply, “oh how are you? Just read this!” And then don’t say anything more, I understood with help from others, that these are people you must let go.
I found myself being wasted energetically, and mentally. I don’t wish for you to go through what had been done to me. There’s nothing wrong with you. If anything, you’re trying too hard when friendships shouldn’t be that way. Hope this helps!
October 23, 2016 at 2:21 pm #178871
Another note to add, I often find myself yearning for a reply from my good friend, and well, there is ABSOLUTELY no excuse for people to not respond. People are on their phones 24/7. I understand people might not text back immediately until maybe the day or two after. It’s just pure etiquette.
The worst thing that’s happened is when I sent a message at the beginning of the year asking my friend to hang out, only to receive one at the end of the year saying, “oh I didn’t know you were leaving the country to go home. Take care and bye.” That says volumes. I overreached, and felt hurt in the end. It was a difficult pill to swallow. 🙁 you’ll be alright. Let that friendship go. Trust me.
October 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm #178877
Hi Laila ,
It’s very hard to tell in this case what’s on his mind but usually friendship is two way street abut have you asked him kindly ” Why don’t you initiate contact” ?.
“I enjoy talking to you ” was that the reply to that question or did you approach it differently ?
October 24, 2016 at 4:50 am #178890
It might be a case of their lives being full and complete. They like you, but don’t “need” you. The lack of effort might be a mix of them growing comfortable with the arrangement of you doing all the chasing up, and having a busy life? I don’t think they’re avoiding or just humouring you, they just have a comfortable life and you’re a pleasant accessory, not a necessity.
I wouldn’t do anything as extreme as letting the friendship go. They welcome your contact and are good company. It might just be part of who they are- like that friend who us always late, or always cancelling. If you feel they’re worth the effort, just accept that’s their personality.
October 24, 2016 at 7:17 am #178900
Juniper: I don’t think they’re avoiding or just humouring you, they just have a comfortable life and you’re a pleasant accessory, not a necessity
Ouch…that hurts, but I think you’re right.
And yes, I do feel it’s worth the effort because I gain so much from our conversations. I just feel sometimes that he keeps responding me out of courtesy though. It’s not a nice feeling at all, the more so because our bond has been strong in the past (or at least I felt that way, maybe even that has been one-sided)
October 24, 2016 at 5:42 am #178892
Some people don’t start conversations because they don’t particualry have anything they want to talk about or discuss – they get their info and answers for their questions elsewhere – books, google, imagination – and they have in them enough confidence to trust that the bond between them and the friend remains strong whether you keep in touch about the small things or not.
They still welcome conversation when another person initates it with them.
A lot of the times when I reached out to the people I really had nothing new to talk about were because I was afraid that our bond would fade otherwise. I was so fixated on keeping a friend, fixated on the idea that the friendship is all about how in-toutch and involved you are with the person… Those were sometimes some very panicy monolougues by me that would make the relation between me and a friend very weird. Just don’t go there x.x
I think the frequency of someone initiating a conversation doesn’t matter as much as the contents and the quality of it. Doesn’t matter who started it – you or him – if you are enjoying the conversation and he seems to, too – you’ve done a good job by starting it.
October 24, 2016 at 7:13 am #178899
Thank you all for your comments!
Nova Grata: A lot of the times when I reached out to the people I really had nothing new to talk about were because I was afraid that our bond would fade otherwise.
Nova Grata thanks for your comment, it was very helpful and well balanced.
I must admit that with this particular friend, I sometimes contact him (maybe too much? is once, twice a week too much?) out fear that out bond might get weaker, but mostly I do beacause I just want to know how he doing or I just have something to say to him.
Nova Grata: I think the frequency of someone initiating a conversation doesn’t matter as much as the contents and the quality of it. Doesn’t matter who started it
On this I disagree, because I know that in my case, if I don’t initiate conversation with someone it means I don’t really care about that person. With this particular friend, though, he’s always so nice, and he replies quickly and he’s often willing to talk for hours. But I don’t cross his mind in his daily life? That is sad. Always being the one to think of the other, to contact the other, makes you feel like you’re begging for a friendship, you know? It just makes me think he doesn’t really care about me or our “friendship”: it seems he could very well live his life without the thought of calling me crosses his mind ever again, if I don’t bother initiating. I usually call someone a friend if he/she takes the initiative sometimes.
And our “friendship” ( but is it?) isn’t even a superficial one. We’ve talked about our personal problems, he confided in me and the reverse… so it0s the first time in my life where I don’t really know where I stand in someone’s life. I mean, if I open up to someone like he did with me, I won’t let weeks (or months!) go by without al least texting you a “how are you?” every once in a while
It’s just that it’s becoming increasingly difficult initiate contact with someone who doesn’t bother. I even asked him if it bothers him my contacting him and he said no (of course) but he’s been very busy etc… (but let’s be honest, who isn’t busy??)
October 24, 2016 at 7:21 am #178901
Nosma: have you asked him kindly ” Why don’t you initiate contact” ?.
“I enjoy talking to you ” was that the reply to that question or did you approach it differently ?
I asked him kindly and not so kindly I’m afraid :-(- the standard response I get is that he’s been very busy lately(where lately means “in the last year or so” ….)
Just recently I asked him if he please could make an effort to initiate sometimes because it’s becoming increasantly difficult for me initiate all the time, and I feel like I’m disturbing him. And like many other times he said he would (but he doesn’t)
It’s so frustrating knowing that you’re just not in the priority list…
October 24, 2016 at 10:16 am #178904
If you have been contacting him once or twice a week, then you are not giving him time to “want ” to contact you back. He may not be able to handle more than one or two long conversations a month. Some more thoughts:
Do you ever see this man in real life?
Are you romantically interested in him?
Do you want to meet and do activities with him?
Is your friendship online or by phone only?
What do you want from him?
Do you want a deeper, in real life friendship or dating relationship with him?
Are you happy with the limited conversation type friendship or do you want more?
October 24, 2016 at 10:46 am #178906
Bubbles: If you have been contacting him once or twice a week, then you are not giving him time to “want ” to contact you back
I don’t know about other people, but if I consider someone a friend (friend-friend, not acquaitance) I tend to want to hear from them at least once a week, just to know how they’re doing. Maybe it’s just me? Is it too much? I don’t tend to consider someone a friend if we don’t talk at least once a week or every two weeks. Am I too strict?
And no, I’m not so happy with the limited conversations we now have. It used to be a more intimate and two-sided friendship before, and I miss that. I get that people can get bored of one another, but that just saddens me.
October 24, 2016 at 11:15 am #178907
Maybe it would help to find friends who want the same level of contact as you do. Are you going to answer my other questions? It might help us give you better advice. What I’m getting at with the questions is perhaps you want a romance and he only wants a ” phone conversation ” friendship. Perhaps you would like to meet up in real life yet he is fine with “phone only”.
October 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm #178910
I didn’t answer your question in order to not get “recognized”. Paranoid I know. Anyways, I don’t think that’s relevant. What I want from this friendship, like any other friendships that I have with other people, is to know that the other person cares about me and values our relationship. And let’s be honest, being reached out is a sure sign that the other thinks about you and wants to spend time with you. If he (almost never) does it, then how can I know that I’m not just a distraction? How can I know that I’m not bothering him when I text or call him? this friend is nice with everybody, so I have no way to know if, for xample, when I text him, what crosses his mind is “oh no, this person again…ugh”, but keeps the convo out of courtesy (he is a very polite person)
October 24, 2016 at 4:56 pm #178915
“What I want from this friendship, like any other friendships that I have with other people, is to know that the other person cares about me and values our relationship.” – – – “It’s so frustrating knowing that you’re just not in the priority list.”
I might be completely wrong about this and feel free to disagree, but maybe some of it will make sense – after all, you know yourself better – what I read in that sentence and the rest of your other posts is that you seem to be seeking a friend (or friends) that validates you.
Here’s a tough cracker: we’re not our friend’s kids, so it’s only natural that we are not their priorities. Some people are up to it – but defo not all people. He might be into a more casual friendship – he enjoys having conversations with you, obviously – so he sticks to that.
I mean, becoming a priority for someone maybe could be expecting a little too much – sure, this happens when someone is in love with you and the chemistry makes it hard to live otherwise – but I think people normally don’t otherwise really prioritize friends/other people to this extent at all – no matter how bedazzling and awesome of a person you are.
I have friends that are there to occasionally have a good time with – I have a handful and I get their updates whenever it is when I meet them – doesn’t matter if it is every 2 weeks or every 2 years. I don’t really worry about what they think of me (even though I used to!) and most possibly neither do they. And I’m happy.
October 25, 2016 at 8:19 am #178928
Nova Grata: what I read in that sentence and the rest of your other posts is that you seem to be seeking a friend (or friends) that validates you.
you’re right, but I also believe it’s all too natural to expect others (be it romantic interests or friends) to show signs of reciprocations. I just don’t seem able to involve myself in a one-sided friendship. Not only is chasing people down too much work at the end, but also you feel like you’re imposing your presence on the other.
What if the not initiating contact with me of my friend is a “hint” of stepping back that I’m not getting? I know that no one of you can know what my friend thinks, but it really hurts me whenever people I like don’t reciprocrate with actions
October 25, 2016 at 8:22 am #178929
October 25, 2016 at 9:02 am #178931
October 25, 2016 at 10:57 am #178932
Me I go! As I am not in the same emotional state as you are, I do not know what I would do if I would really be in your shoes. I would do something aggresive and irreversable, probably – and I would not be proud about it when I sober up!
Emotion aside – I’d simply choose to be so passionate towards something else than seeking approval from friends – something that doesn’t have to do with people – that just can’t let me down.
I don’t know if we really can expect people to carry that kind of responsibility – most people are so preoccupied with themselves and worring about their lives, choices, stuff that they will have very little time to prioritise their friends over everything – that is – unless that friend has something they desperately need (some need approval, some need money, some need a wingman etc).
The best friends and time I consider with those whom I don’t have to worry about accidentally setting someone off nor where I have to worry about if I’m good enough for this person or circle of people – the best I consider sometimes spending some casual time with people who have a healthy self-awareness and know how to have fun or relax – otherwise it’s just so stressful and that simply sucks the fun out friendship.
When someone suddenly would start demanding more attention and initiation from me – I’d feel a little bit uncomfortable as I like to decide on my own what I do with my time or whom I spend it with – you must know well how it makes you feel when someone tries to dictate or demand something from you – our initial response is “nope”.
When someone initiates a conversation with me and I happen to be online at that time – I usually stick around and see what they’ve got to say. It doesn’t bother me at all – if I have something else to do while someone is writing I normally just type them “I will go do x and y at the moment, I will come back and read what you wrote!”
When you feel like you want to talk to this person – just go initiate. Him not initiating could mean a thousand different things – least likely that he doesn’t “like you enough”. He just doesn’t need anything from you – no validation – maybe he just is a healthy, grown up person in that sense.
But I might be wrong, just some ideas x.x
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Nova Grata.
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by Nova Grata.
October 26, 2016 at 3:52 pm #178976
Nova Grata thank you so much for your replies, they’re so helpful and wise! I wish I could talk to you about all my personal problems 😛 (I’m joking)
Nova Grata: I’d simply choose to be so passionate towards something else than seeking approval from friends
But I am. I am passionate about something else other than this friend, I mean. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt me his not “needing” of me, like he used to in the beginning. It just hurts me that a person I care so much about can go weeks if not months without the need to shoot me a simple “how are you?”
Nova Grata: you must know well how it makes you feel when someone tries to dictate or demand something from you – our initial response is “nope”
I know! but for me it depends on how much I like the person. The more I like them the more willing I am to try to listen to their needs. In the case of my friend, he never seemed annoyed by my demanding his time and attentions, but he never followed through what he said
Nova Grata: He just doesn’t need anything from you – no validation – maybe he just is a healthy, grown up person in that sense.
Yeah, I get what you mean. The only times he consistently initiated conversation with me was when he needed moral support through a difficult time
So, Nova Grata, what do you think about this “friendship”? now that I’m re-reading what I wrote I notice all the neediness and insecurities in my words…
I don’t know…maybe it’s also a matter of gender, in that men don’t need the “constant” communication we women seem to need, and they have a less inclination to ask you how you are doing just for the fun of it…
October 26, 2016 at 4:35 pm #178977
I think it’s really not a difference between men and women (even though statistics might state otherwise (then again, consider cause and correlation)), I think it’s a difference of individuals – the need for constant communication – it’s not something we are born with, I think it’s something we kinda “pick up” from other people when we grow up. And it doesn’t have to remain this way – we can change (with a bit of insight and work) how we feel and what we think we “need”.
I used to feel the way you seem to – often wanted to keep a friendship alive just by having things to talk about and never let it end – right now I feel very different from that (and I think I am more relaxed now too).
There are a lot of men who are insecure too. They check up on friends or their significant others very often, maybe even become a little bit control-freaky and such, become very jealous when they see someone else getting attention from their objects of interests etc. Some say it’s a strong feeling of love but… I think that’s the toxic kind! Insecure people do those kinds of things and many other despicable things too – the same guy who demands loyalty and gets jealous really easily will go cheat without blinking an eye – because, when your own woman doesn’t fill your need of validation anymore, let’s make sure if other women do and prove the wife wrong!
Wanting someone to initiate conversation with you and being worried about it isn’t that bad as the cheating and jealousy, though! It’s all natural, we all feel these things. I just think that when this feeling starts taking us down and making our relations more complicated, it’s time to figure out what-is-what and why do we do the things we do…
As long as you enjoy his company and he yours – it’s a good friendship. Us working on our insecurities and stuff like that – it’s a part of life and finding it out in friendships and dynamics is the most natural thing. We live the life, struggle with something, and if it turns out to be too much work, we figure it out to keep living even better.
Even though getting validated by our friends makes us feel happy for those moments and motivates us to seek out more and more people or get closer and closer with the select few in order to initiate all those conversations, I think we can get an even greater experience out of our connections when we’re not worried about how we look, so much, and don’t do it for the sake of feeling relevant and loved – so we could just truly enjoy these people and our time together.
Take care o/
October 26, 2016 at 5:03 pm #178978
Thanks Nova Grata!
I get what you mean and you’re right. But I just want to balance thing out and shed light on the other side of the issue: I believe I speak also for many other people when I say that whenever I never initiated contact with someone was because not only didn’t I value the person, but also because I secretely hoped they stopped contacting me and getting the hint, although I always responded because I (think)I am a polite person.
I just think every relationship between people must be reciprocal, that’all. With time the lack of initiative on the other part makes you stop feel the desire to keep the friendship alive, and that is sad
October 27, 2016 at 7:39 am #178983
I was wondering – do you have any observations on how your friend communicates with his other friends? Are they always the ones to call him or does he actively initiate contact with (some of) them?
Much of what you say is true – I’ve been on both sides of the situation. I’ve also had friendships that I tried to slowly “fade away” from and one of the ways was not initiating contact myself. On the other hand there are many people who are simply not “initiators”, but are otherwise really happy to hear from you and spend time with you when you call them. My own sister never initiates contact with her friends, but when they do call her, she is enthusiastic and positive and they hang out and have a lot of fun, so she has people calling her all the time.
I believe if someone is not initiating contact, but when you call them, they are happy and enthusiastic to spend time with you, then everything is good – they are just not the initiator type of person.
But if they really don’t value your friendship and are trying to withdraw, there will be other signs as well – they will become “busy” much of the time and will often decline your invitations to hang out, many times they won’t answer the phone and will fail to call back later, because “something came up” and they “forgot”; they won’t always reply to messages and when they do, their replies will be short and unenthusiastic; your time together would feel awkward and boring, it would be like you have nothing to talk about… Look for these other signs and if it’s just the lack of initiation that bothers you, but otherwise everything is good, I think you don’t need to worry.
And a few words about being on the other side of the situation – what Nova said about demanding from people is true. I had a friend in high-school who was constantly upset with me for not being more involved in our friendship – she wanted me to call more and spend more time with her. Well… this definitely didn’t make me feel any warmer towards her, it actually made me feel annoyed. You see, I already spent as much time with her as I wanted and when she asked for more than that, I felt like I have to do it out of obligation, so that she wouldn’t get upset. That was no fun.
So I think in this case confrontation would be counter-productive. Maybe it would be cool if you’d mentioned only once in a positive, non-accusatory voice that you’d be really happy if your friend called you more, because you enjoy him so much and then leave it at that.
For me the right approach would be this: first check how he generally treats his other friends and whether there are any other signs that he might want to back off from you. If not initiating seems the only problem, then continue with the friendship as before, he’s just not an initiator.
But if there are other signs that he wants to withdraw, then it would be right to give him all the space that he needs. I would reduce greatly the frequency of calling and see how it goes. Also when we do speak (whether he called me or I did), I’d make sure not to appear upset and keep the positivity in our interactions. That way he won’t get “scared” to call me again if much time has passed, lol.
October 27, 2016 at 4:28 pm #178996
Hi Laila, I think we all know friends like this. The non initiators.
It appears there might be an elephant in the room that hasn’t been addressed so to speak. Are there deeper feelings or interest from your end? You mentioned you care about this guy but I wonder whether you maybe want more from the relationship? I don’t know your situation or his.
I think we’ve all been in the situation at some point where we have a “friend” but given the right circumstances or timing we might want more than they’re prepared to give.
October 28, 2016 at 7:07 am #179001
Thank you all for your replies!
James: I don’t want more out of this friendship other than how it used to be, meaning reciprocal 🙁 Maybe I have just to accept that people change and sometimes they can get tired of you. It never happened to me, but I must accept it can happen to others. I just will never understand how someone who initiated this friendship with me (the friend in question) can get tired of it in such a short time
Socialite: I know, I know about people who demand more than we are willing to give them, they’re just off-putting.
I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂
October 28, 2016 at 9:27 pm #179011
October 29, 2016 at 10:55 am #179033
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