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The recipe for messin' with me

It's probably not the best idea I've ever had, to post the One True Way to put me into obsessive mental spinning about things I don't understand, but I guess I like to live on the edge. Are you ready? Here it is. To completely mess my mind up:

Disappear from my life very gradually, with no explanation, acting all the while as if you're not really disappearing. If I try to make plans with you, don't say no, you're not interested. Say that you're really busy, but imply that you still want to talk to me and be available in the future. Make it obvious that you're not really interested in hanging out, through your many actions that lead away from ever seeing me, but make it look like you are interested, so that you can get away with never making any explanations about what happened.

This is what happened about five years ago, when my friend Niko moved out of town. At the time she left, we were on good terms, as far as I know, and we would get together about once a month. She cracked me up, and we talked a lot about both painting and relationships. She only moved about an hour's drive away, and the last time I saw her was when I went to her new place with our other friend Delia, and Zane, who was about 18 months old then. The visit seemed fine--at least, I was not aware of anything awkward when I left. After that, I occasionally got email from her, but whenever I would offer to drive to visit her or invite her to visit us, she would typically reply to the email, but delete the part where I had mentioned getting together, and vaguely comment about being busy or wanting to spend time with her family. After several rounds of that, I gave up on asking. Then I was reluctant to ask whether there was a problem, because I didn't want to put her into the position of saying she definitely did not care to see me. It was the Schrodinger's Cat of a friendship ending or not--if I didn't ask, then I could imagine she hadn't decided one way or the other.

I think the cat is dead now. Through a completely unlikely portion of the grapevine, James got a clue that Niko might be back in town. I looked in the phone book. Her not-so-common name was in it. The phone book was from 2006. So not only did she move back here and not tell us about it, but she moved back in *2006.* Checking this year's phone book shows that she's still here.

So, uh... Qu'est-ce que le frack? I have a mad urge to send a real, old-fashioned letter to her new address, possibly in a package containing the three paintings of hers that I still own, but I almost definitely won't. In my lifetime this type of steath withdrawal has been perpetrated on me by one Wendy, one Todd, and one Niko, and not knowing *why* just makes me nuts.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2007 04:53 am (UTC)
That sucks! But try to remind yourself that you're too pretty for this shit, and be glad you don't have to deal with any drama or headgames as a result of their absence. *hugs!*
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:38 pm (UTC)
Well, thanks! I think I need to design my very own "I'm too pretty for this shit" icon. *g*
Aug. 25th, 2007 12:17 pm (UTC)
That's awful, I'm sorry! It's so hard to not take it personally, but I'm willing to bet this is has everything to do with her and nothing to do with you - sad consolation for a friendship ending, I know :(
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks... It's weird to be completely certain that it's ended without knowing what happened, but I'm not going to pursue trying to figure it out. In the last few years I've met some seriously fabulous new people, craft group included, and I would rather put my energy into spending time with them than trying to figure out stuff that happened in her head five years ago.
Aug. 25th, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
One thought is that people are weird. I've never understood some of the folks I've had relationships of one sort or the other over the years. I put it down as just their nature and let it go. Adjusting my own connection with them appropriately.

Unsurprisingly, some of the arty ones are some of the weirder ones. Again with the nature of the beast thing.

Still it sucks. Good thoughts from Huskerland.
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
It's true, some people are simply weird, and that is that.
Aug. 25th, 2007 02:20 pm (UTC)
That's a fantastic icon.

This has also happened to me and it really sucks. I feel for you. Closure is trickier to obtain in those kind of WTF situations.

Aug. 25th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you, both for understanding and for giving me some icon love. ;)

(We should really go on a beverage-hunting expedition one of these days, and invite sweetpea0304 and skoolgrrl, both lovely and fabulous.)
Aug. 26th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC)
Word! That sounds bueno. Is sweetpea0304 = Elizabeth?
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
Yep! Sweetpea is Elizabeth. Her user info page is hilarious, due to having been composed after a few hours of three tiny women drinking an entire bottle of tequila. I think, in retrospect, that *half* of the bottle would have been plenty... *g*
Aug. 25th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
That's a crappy situation, yes. Instead of passively letting it make you nuts, take assertive (not aggressive, not confrontational) action.

Contact Niko and simply, say, ask her out to lunch. No need to mention her withdrawal or your valid WTFitude about it. Just old acquaintances catching up.

That puts the ball in her court: if she accepts and you two get together, her withdrawal will come up in the natural course of conversation; she'll probably initiate it. If she says a flat no, you have the high ground to ask "Why not?" If she doesn't respond at all, you still have the high ground to accept that you gave her a good-faith offer that she refused, and you move on and forward to other and newer friends, etc.
Aug. 25th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
And yeah, like you I HAAAAAATE "drama." Have had enough of it to know when to act, do nothing, or walk away. (Poly can really hone drama-avoidance skills, can't it?)
Aug. 25th, 2007 03:31 pm (UTC)
You want me to be MATURE?!!! What kind of wholesome, mentally healthy granola-encrusted hippie psychobabble is THAT?!!!


(Thinking about it...)
Aug. 25th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
;{) Hey, you've visited the Northwest. It's in the water here. You're not allowed to reside in Seattle until you get a Hug License at the DMV.
Aug. 25th, 2007 03:55 pm (UTC)
It's usually a bit of laziness and a lot of cowardice, I think. They might have decided the gains they thought they had from you weren't worth the maintenance, prioritised you last, but then felt bad about it and so found it easier to vaguely drift away rather than outright cut you out.

It's certainly cruel and demeaning. It's like they want the upside of negligence without any of the costs.

I note there are of course many possible explanations that don't require evil or even neglect. But if I had to bet, in the circumstances you describe, I'd be betting on laziness and cowardice.

Was Niko particularly confrontation-averse?
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC)
Was Niko particularly confrontation-averse?

I would have predicted from her general behavior that she would be direct about expressing herself if she had problems with someone, but I never saw her choosing to end a friendship with anyone else, so I could have gotten that completely wrong.
Aug. 27th, 2007 07:09 am (UTC)
Hmm. Yeah. People are weird. 8-/
Aug. 25th, 2007 05:08 pm (UTC)
I'm going to be the devil's advocate for a minute here. I can tell that you all are rational people who demand clear closure and to know where they stand with respect to people. I totally respect that.

But is there a possibility that Niko's behavior might be caused by something else? Is she depressed and unable to commit one way or another to anything social? Is she going through a tough time otherwise and doesn't want to share it? Or is it possible that she is communicating with you, but your styles difer so much that you don't recognize what she's trying to say?

I've heard over and over from people that romantic relationships, when they end, usually require closure. That friendships, when they end, they just naturally fade away or recede and one should let them do that. But what is supposed to happen when one person wants to maintain the friendship and the other one doesn't? What if Niko just doesn't know that she's supposed to step up and provide this closure or explanation of what happened?

What if she comes from a culture where this kind of confrontation is severely frowned upon, and the correct thing to do is to be unfailingly polite, but let your actions speak for themselves?

Anyway... just some thoughts. I've been in that situation before, where someone requires closure from me, and I've sincerely not known what to do. Any specific communication on my part, to help them understand, would have been insincere or made up on the spot - the truth was a lot more vague and a lot more drawn-out and longer-standing than that.
Aug. 26th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
What if she comes from a culture where this kind of confrontation is severely frowned upon, and the correct thing to do is to be unfailingly polite, but let your actions speak for themselves?

Reason number one that I will never live in England, because as far as I can tell they value politeness over straight communication over there and I just cannot take it. (This from someone whose best friend from college is British.)

I'm in the camp of ask her a straight question, and take what you get. Of course, I'm likely to shrug stuff like that off as 'growing apart' so it's not as emotionally triggering a situation for me...

Just don't make it mean anything about you, okay? You are fabulous just like you are, whether she wants to be your friend or not.
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
I will never live in England, because as far as I can tell they value politeness over straight communication over there and I just cannot take it.

Don't forget Minnesota Nice, where people get stop talking to friends who forgot a dinner engagement -- but they're too polite to bring it up. D'oh!

On the other hand, politeness can sure beat some of the self-absorbed people I've known, who can talk about general subjects or themselves but never seem to think about you except as an audience.

re: closure
I hate not having closure too (though it's gotten a lot easier since I started taking antidepressants). Clearly this woman doesn't want to be friends any more, preferring to let you go rather than try to resolve any issues she might have had. Good riddance, I say -- that's not what a real friend does. Real friendships need a little maintenance occasionally, but people get through it.

Doesn't mean it doesn't suck, though.
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:31 pm (UTC)
I agree that she doesn't want to be friends, and had pretty much accepted that before learning that she was back in town. The information that she moved back here without contacting us is basically the sound of the door slamming behind her, so I think I'm going to leave it alone--why put more energy into pursuing the matter?
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:25 pm (UTC)
But is there a possibility that Niko's behavior might be caused by something else? Is she depressed and unable to commit one way or another to anything social? Is she going through a tough time otherwise and doesn't want to share it? Or is it possible that she is communicating with you, but your styles difer so much that you don't recognize what she's trying to say?

I wouldn't know about her current mental state. She wasn't depressed when she moved, but she moved there mostly to be closer to her boyfriend, so it's possible that if that didn't work out, she could have felt like it would be easier to start over with new friends than to explain it to her old friends. I feel like it probably didn't work out, since he didn't seem likely to move away from his location and she's back in town, but I don't know for a fact that they broke up or that her relationship situation had anything to do with her thought process about me.

I'd known her for about four years before she moved, so it's very hard for me to imagine that she wouldn't have some *reason* for deciding to avoid me, as opposed to vaguely fading away from being interested, but I've obviously missed something about the way she works, so...
Aug. 26th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
I agree with markbourne.
I'd drop her a line or call and just say something like "I heard you were back in town and would like to catch up" and take it from there ...
I am very much someone requiring closure, and I hate people drifting away from me ...
Aug. 26th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)
I could almost see myself calling her if it hadn't been so many years already, but she's been back at least since 2006, so I think I'm going to live with the mystery of it all. I hardly have enough time for my real friends, these days!
Aug. 27th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the reason this is getting to you so badly is because you are taking it personally. It's possible that her distance is not necessarily a rejection of you, and has more to do with her.

Friends come and go, this is something I've learned over the years. I've had wonderful relationships with women with whom I worked, who I didn't see or talk to again after one of us moved to a different job. I lost touch with one of my best friends shortly after we went to Pennsic together back in 1992 - don't really know why, but we lost touch and moved on. It's sad, yes, but then I try to remember all the other friends I have now and it just feels like natural attrition, I guess.

I read once that a secret to not going crazy was to never take anything personally. Now, I take pretty much everything personally (which explains a lot, doesn't it?), but I would heartily suggest that you follow that advice as much as possible.
Aug. 28th, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC)
"Never take anything personally." I'm sorry, what language is that? ;)

I don't see how I could avoid taking this thing personally, but since it had been pretty clear that she wasn't interested for a few years before my discovery, recently, that she was back in town, it doesn't sting that much. The whole thing just solidified when I knew that she had been living here again for a while without telling me. Until then, I could think of it as if she had simply been absorbed into her new life; now, it's clearly a choice she's made. I can't believe there wasn't a reason she made that choice, but I had mostly moved on from her before learning that she was back, so I'm not too worked up about it.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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