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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

#TR30Days - "Unfriending" Pt. 1

Unfriending. What a weird word... on a funny note, it was the "Word of the Year" in 2009 according to some dictionary or other. I've tried to write this blog three times and I keep getting stuck at this word; because it feels so foreign to me.

UN-friend. Is that like a "do-over" or a relationship eraser?? That seems kinda crazy to me!

This comes up because of one of the bucket list points in my #TR30days bucket list.

Make a point of working on repairing a couple of key relationships that I let lapse over the last year UPDATE: Okay, so I made good progress with one & that's awesome... but with the other I can't help but wonder if some relationships just are better left ... I don't know for sure; but there was negative movement there rather than positive & that is somewhat disconcerting

The one I didn't make good progress with? Has been resolved... we came to the realization that we aren't, actually, friends. There wasn't a big fight or major issue; it was just a calm discussion in which we came to the understanding that we weren't - from a friend perspective - a good fit. There hadn't been a good enough 'screening' to see the ways we viewed the world, and how we treated other people. It's not one side's fault, or the other really - it's both.. we just saw each other for the people we WANTED the other to be, rather than who we really were. I wonder how often we do that with people on a personal level? I know it's a pretty commonplace thing in the workplace - we'll see a trait or skill-set or a personality that we want/need and focus on THAT to the exclusion of things like integration into the workplace culture, their developmental areas, etc... you know, the "Total Fit."

I'm a total sucker for Greek mythology, philosophers, and the "Old Thinkers." I'm a little awed by their knowledge & creativity, really - and so totally not above referencing their brilliance to make up for the lack of my own. ;) My understanding of friendship was really cemented back in High School when I first read Aristotle's Ethics - books 8 and 9 really hit it home for me. Genuine Friendship is one where you love/like another person for the sake of that other person. We're all pretty familiar with that concept... it's "good will." When you both display that good will? Well, that's friendship. Friendship is based on 1 of 3 things:

1) Goodness (Virtue)
2) Utility (Advantage)
3) Pleasure (Fun)

You can wish good things for the other in all three bases for friendship; but, 'wishing' or 'wanting' good for a "Friend" isn't the same as actively desiring and pursuing benefit for the other person for the sole sake of the other person ... regardless of what you get out of it or how it might benefit you. “Those who wish good things to their friends for the sake of the latter are friends most of all, because they do so because of their friends themselves, and not coincidentally” This is why Aristotle says that friendships based on categories 2 and 3? Are imperfect and don't last. Just because someone is fun or can help you get ahead? Doesn't exactly mean they're a friend; regardless of how fascinating they may be or enjoyable the times you spend together.

My "unfriend" and I? That's where we went off tracks, I think. For a time, I was completely distracted by my own life and really didn't give hers the amount of consideration she found it to be due (1) and as I listened to her discuss her benefits, her wants, her needs, her fabulosity, her talent, her ability to get others to do things for her, her age, her her her... I found myself quickly & truly turned off. I don't pick my friends based off of what they can do for me. I don't even really pick them based off what I think I can do for them - I see both of those as a naturally occurring by-product of a healthy relationship. I choose my true friends based off of who they are at their core: what they stand for, believe in, who they are in that moment and who they're trying to be. I look at things like their philanthropy, how they relate to people, how others feel around them over time, their ability to hold conversation, how the influence the world... or their little piece of it. Most of all, I look at how they treat other people; talk about them, support them, lift them up, etc... people who trash-talk others, are overly-critical of others rather than focusing on how to positively impact them or their own developmental needs? Have no place in my life. We all have our junk to deal with and goodness knows I'm no exception; but by and large, I guess what I'm saying is that I believe/I look for my friends to believe that we should maintain a focus on what we can do for our friends & not what they can do for us... or how much "fun" we have together.

So, back to the 'unfriending.' Was it a #fail? If the point of my 'bucket bullet' was to repair this relationship and instead it was ended... did I miss my mark completely? I pondered this a moment; and in the pondering I found my answer: I wasn't thinking about what life would be like without my 'unfriend' in it; in truth, I wasn't bothered by that at all. I wasn't sad or disappointed - because, at the end of the day, we're not well suited to each other. How do you repair or restore what never really should have been? You don't 'unfriend' your true friends... I think some friends you have to step away from for awhile; but you don't abandon. If ending an association is as easy as a 'clicking a button' on FB or through being completely turned off in a 5 minute phone conversation? Then, in
truth, the proper classification for that person may very well have been on the FB friends list - but more as a social & professional 'acquaintance.' So, while I'm not sure I'd go so far to say it's a #win; I'm not sure it's really a failure, either. Either way, I learned something and I guess that's a positive I can take away from this, right??

There's another take to the 'unfriending' that I'm interested in pursuing... the 'relationship eraser' was fascinating to me. Anyway, it'll hit the blogs tomorrow.

(1) though certainly more than she gave it credit for

(2) Week 1 Update Can Be Read By Clicking Here


  1. Wow, what a great blog! I've been in that situation, but never had someone actually discuss it calmly with me! I have been looking at your progress and am so proud of your hard work! I too am doing mine from not July so its 6/20-7/20 :) Keep us updated!

  2. Thanks, Belinda! Looks like we're just a day or so off from each other - glad we can cheer each other on in the process.

    When I started the conversation with her, I really planned on just acknowledging that maybe we were better off 'starting over' & seeing if rebuilding a solid friendship was possible ; but through the course of the conversation? It was so evident that we were mal-suited for one another from a friend perspective that there was really no point. And I think -or I'd like to- that when we give each other the opportunity to work through these things in conversations; both sides can feel 'peace' with the outcome.. maybe feeling less emotionally damaged moving forward? Dunno for sure, but I'd like to think so, anyway...