Reader Q & A: Should friends have open-door policies?

Published: May 8, 2008 | Last Updated: May 20, 2008 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading


Not sure how I will find this once I post it, but here is a
good question about women and friendship. If you are busy with
work/play/school/other responsibilities and have a totally different time and
life schedule, is it okay for a friend to drop by anytime without calling?

I have a friend/maybe had, that feels a friend should never
have to call ahead to visit. She says her door is always open. We had a blow-up
over that very issue. She was upset that she spent gas to come here and didn’t
get to be invited inside. I had left with someone, taking their transportation,
not my own, so she assumed (car is there-pets are there) that I must be home
and not answering.

I say, even if I had been, that is okay too, to not want
company unannounced. My apology and an offer to give her money for gas led to a
response that any friend would welcome me as I do them, open door. And she said
though I did say sorry to get on with my life and if I want to visit her I do
not need to call ahead.



Dear Anonymous,

You’re asking about whether it’s okay for friends to drop in
on one another. There’s no right or wrong: It depends on their relationship and how each friend feels
about it.

In your case, it sounds like you may have an out-of-sync
friendship. You seem to be on a fast-track, juggling multiple responsibilities;
your friend has enough spare time to take a cruise to your house not knowing
whether you’ll be there or not (even though the price of gas is nearly 4 bucks
a gallon!) One of you is a casual type and thinks it is perfectly okay to drop
in on a friend unannounced; the other would always call and expect to be called
if the situation were reversed.

What concerns me more than these differences is that your
friend is unwilling to accept the boundaries that make you feel comfortable,
and she doesn’t trust or believe you when you tell her something.

Seems like your communication problems ended in what must have been an uncomfortable blow-up.
These are your options: You can apologize when cooler heads prevail; you can make believe it never happened and
visit her to “patch up” the friendship, or you can let go of the friendship—if it feels toxic and makes you feel uncomfortable.

Whatever you decide to do, hopefully, this unpleasant experience has taught you something about yourself, about your friend, and about the complexities of friendships.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: Uncategorized

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:


    This post brings up a bit of an arguing point for me as well – I usually find myself in the position of your friend. I think I understand where she is coming from so I’ll try to explain it to you.

    I’ve realized over time, that for me this is a bit of a cultural dilemma. My family is from Argentina, and the pace of life is slower there. People have the habit of just stopping by, and if you don’t allow them in, it is assumed that you are either alloof or pretentious, or you’re not really friends. In general people have a very open attitude about their homes – you are always welcome. Even if people are busy, they will allow you in and go on with their regular lives.

    Now even though I know this is a bit of a cultural thing, I have american friends that feel the same way – that we tend to be very formal about friendships. Sometimes people from smaller towns balk at the fact that in the cities we are so bent up over time and our schedules. General in most american cities people are strict about things like calling, giving advance notice, allowing them to see if they’re busy or not, etc., and it’s the dominant protocol. However, realize that even though it’s the dominant protocol, this is not the universal protocol – or the way that everyone in the country or in the world thinks.

    I would counsel against immediately dumping people for such minor disagreements and at least try to talk to her first. Realize that your friend might not think like you, and to her it might be very disrespectful for you to act like you don’t have time for her.

    Be also wary that it is possible that your actions may come off as pretentious – I also have had friends that pretend to be busier than they are as a strange sort of status thing. To me it seems to be that it’s extremely important to constantly tell other people how busy you are. This shows you’re in demand, important, uber-involved. Frankly, I get annoyed when people feel the constant need to inform me of what’s on their plate – as I don’t feel the desire to constantly give them my to-do list. There is no need to be competitive about “who is more busy”, so try not to rattle off your to-do list while you talk to her.

    My advice is that you make sure she knows the friendship is important to you, but that you feel its a point of respect to call before coming over. You can definitely have your way without losing the friendship, unless she has a problem with negotiation. Also, try to think about it from her perspective – she might not think like you – so you might have to say something along these lines “I realize that this is not a very important thing to you, and you don’t think it’s a big deal, but to me it’s a point of respect to call before coming over. I know not everyone does this, and understand that you might have a hard time with it, but this doesnt mean that youre not a good friend – I just find timing important and want to be able to devote time to you when you do come over. I don’t want this disagreement to ruin our friendship but this is an important boundary for me, and good friends respect boundaries, so even if you dont see why its important – understand that its important to me” Most of all, be wary that not everyone does things like you do and try not to insinuate why she doesnt understand the protocol – as the protocol is not at all universal.

Leave a Reply