April 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm #201845dreaming715Participant
You hear this all the time: “Strong Social Connections Linked to Better Health” or “The Importance of Social Circles”… I’ve been trying for what feels like years now to stay better connected to my family and friends and sometimes I feel like I actually want to give up. I’m in therapy right now and this is a huge thing we’re currently working through.
You would think my family and friends are the BUSIEST people in the world. They can never find time to talk on the phone or meet-up. I also think I do most of the initiating.
For example: I live about 3 hours from home and I haven’t seen my dad since Christmas. I have talked to him ONCE on the phone in the past 4 months and it was because I called home and specifically asked to talk to him. We’ve talked about this multiple times, but he just says he’s “so busy with work.”
Another example: I live in the same city as my best friend. I mentioned getting dinner or brunch soon. She said we should plan something, so I asked if she could get brunch this weekend. She said, “This weekend is a little busy. I’m going to my grandma’s on Saturday and my boyfriend and I are going shopping on Sunday.”
If I didn’t initiate plans with my friends, we would literally only see each other once or twice a year. I’m feeling a little resentful because I feel taken for granted as a friend (they only contact me when they need someone to vent to or they need me to attend something for them, like their birthday party).
I know there isn’t an easy answer for this, but I’ve found myself starting to withdraw. I don’t know if I see the point in sustaining relationships where I always have to initiate contact anymore. I also often fantasize about moving to the other side of the country and “starting over.” I kind of just want to get away from all of these people because I often feel lonely and hurt.
Can anyone relate?April 11, 2018 at 1:09 pm #201857MarkParticipant
I totally relate. Ways of staying connected is to have a standing get together, e.g. monthly dinners over each other’s place. Have it on fixed, specific date(s) and time. This way it’ll be on everyone’s calendar ahead of time.
When “friends” blow you off for someone else consistently, they are telling you that you are not their priority.
I believe in being direct, especially when something is bothering you. Tell your dad and those people in your life how you are feeling. “Dad/Best Friend, I really miss seeing you. You are very important in my life. I like to make it a priority to make sure that we get together on a regular basis (every week/month.. whatever). When I try to arrange something, you don’t seem to make time for me. I find myself wanting to withdraw from our relationship. Can we do something about this?”
They may still behave the same but at least you did what you could in communicating explicitly about what is going on with you.
MarkApril 11, 2018 at 2:07 pm #201863dreaming715Participant
Mark: Thank you for your response! Your example “script” was very helpful and extremely similar to the one my therapist gave me. I actually did say this exact thing to my step mom and my dad. They just seemed confused (like they honestly had a hard time understanding why it was a big deal to only talk to their daughter on the phone a few times per year). They said, “Yeah, we’ll make an effort to contact you more.” On Easter my dad texted me saying he hoped my boyfriend and I were having a nice day… but that was a text. I just don’t understand why it’s so difficult to CALL me. Also on my birthday they will usually send a card in the mail (which is very nice), but there again they don’t CALL me. They send a text saying, “We know you probably have birthday plans today and didn’t want to bother you! Happy Birthday from us all at home!”
My therapist said if I want to talk to them on the phone once per month, I’ll have to make it very clear and say- “Will you please CALL me on the third Sunday of every month so we can keep in closer contact and keep our contact initiation fair?”
I’ve thought about this a lot and I’m afraid to even ask them because 1) I honestly feel like a burden & 2) I fear we’ll do really well the first couple of months and then I’ll get my hopes up and it’ll go back to “Sorry we didn’t call, we’re just really busy right now, let’s talk next month… and then next month never happens.” 🙁April 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm #201875MarkParticipant
Yes we all want to be wanted. Having them call YOU rather than you having to call them would be nicer. I get that. I also want connection so I call the people I want to be in my life rather than sitting by the phone.
If you don’t ask for what you want then you probably won’t get it. It sounds like this is a lot more than staying in touch. It is your relationship with your parents and self esteem.
Keep communicating especially the way your therapist recommended. Make your request and communication specific, e.g. I would want a call rather than a text on the 3rd Sunday of every month. (You may even want to text them a reminder on that day or day before).
MarkApril 11, 2018 at 4:53 pm #201897AireneParticipant
I can relate to this completely, on both sides of the fence, being the initiator and the non-initiator.
For the people I truly, really care about, I get a lot of happiness in letting them know I’m thinking of them, without a thought as to whether they will initiate any contact, or have, or whether I have done it 5,000 times. I try to remember birthdays, but don’t always. I try to throw out a hello – by text, email, funny card – if it’s been awhile since we’ve talked, because I want them to know I’m thinking of them. Or if I see something that makes me think of them, I will snap a picture and send it to them. I don’t think it’s the who did what as much as the message you are trying to convey.
We live in a time with so many ways available to connect with people. I personally do not like the phone. The connection is often marginal at best, and cuts out at sometimes the most critical time. I find myself saying – alot – “could you say that again?” “What did you say?” “I thought you said….”. I will chat for a few minutes, but would much prefer text, email or even getting together. I love a good chat with a friend over a cup of coffee, but an hour is plenty for me. People do have busy lives. That doesn’t mean they can’t find 5 minutes to call or connect – but that is by your guidebook, not theirs.
If it helps you feel better, I can count on one hand the number of times my dad and sister have contacted me in any way shape or form in the past 5 years! It’s irritating, for sure, but I do accept that this is how they are – it’s nothing personal toward me. They are like this with everyone!
If you are sensing people are avoiding initiating contact with only you, then that is something to reflect on and consider why, and what you can do to change that. If you are sensing they do not initiate contact with anyone, then that is something that is part of who they are, and you can reflect on ways to accept that characteristic about them.
You say you are afraid to ask them to schedule an initiated phone call because you feel like a burden and you fear they will revert back to their old ways. I think you are accurate in how that would play out. Imagine if someone said to you that they thought you were initiating too much contact, that they would prefer you only contact them once every six months – it might go against your natural instinct, and that would be hard to change. It is the same concept for people who don’t initiate…it’s not part of their make-up, and would be hard to change.