Okay Dopers, need your advice on…etiquette, I guess you’d call it. Here goes:
So the other evening, my boyfriend* and I were talking about keeping in touch with our friends (and each other) over the summer holiday. Being supremely lazy, he can hardly bestir himself to write or e-mail a friend more than once a month, and argues that it’s not even worth writing if nothing’s happening (as often happens, or rather not-happens, during holidays). Furthermore, just writing about your life (“Oh, last week I did this and that…”) smacks of egotism. If someone never writes, they’re either too busy, or just sitting around doing nothing–which would hardly make for interesting letters.
Now, in my view, a friend isn’t just someone whose company you enjoy if you happen to meet; they’re someone you’re so incredibly fond of that often you just can’t help but call them up or drop them a line or invite them over. You might also find them a terribly fascinating person and want to know what they’ve been up to. So if someone never writes, I might conclude that a) they’re not really interested in me, and b) they think I don’t particularly care about them.
So am I being an unreasonable, overeager crazy-stalker-psycho in thinking that my friends don’t like me if they don’t regularly contact me? Is he not putting much effort into maintaining friendships? Junior advice columnists, what do you do when your friends are away?
You’re learning about general differences between men and women. I would suspect that I’m at least twice your age, but we go through this often. Ms. D_Odds and daughter will regale each other about intricate details of their mundane day. I, however, let the door close behind me when I leave the office, and don’t talk about my day, my coworkers or anything else that happened and isn’t appearing on the local news.
So, either search long and hard for the guy who is chatty, emotionally outgoing yet still straight, or accept that why we’ll drone on about intricate details on sports, fishing, computers or other items which we may be fascinated with, we’re often smart enough not to share that with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about the subject.
This could just be personal difference, too. I’m terrible at keeping up friendships, but my husband is still friends with people he went to grade school with. People are out of sight, out of mind for me, mostly, and if they treat me the same way, who am I to complain? I love email, though - so easy to touch base with people semi-regularly, without all the hassle of writing a letter and mailing it, and I’m not much of a phone caller.
So, short answer, neither of you are right or wrong, but don’t think too badly of your friends that don’t email you constantly. Keep in touch with them if you like, and assume that if they haven’t told you to piss off, they’re okay with it.
I send birthday cards and Christmas cards and anniversary cards to my friends who are far away. Not just a pre-sentimentalized greeting card signed “Love, Pod,” but notes sayin’ how I’m doing and stuff and inquiring into the Relevant Details in their life. Major life events (getting engaged, conceiving a child, graduating, changing jobs, getting a puppy, etc.) warrant an e-mail, which triggers a flurry of back-and-forth e-mails lasting about a week, until we’re all caught up. As for calling people, I’m just not a chatting-on-the-phone person, so I rarely call anyone but my Mom.
For friends who are close enough to visit, well, then get together regularly. But I assume that long-distance friends have their own fascinating friends who are close to them and keeping them pleasantly occupied, without me having to phone them up every week.
Pay no attention to these people. Or, rather, pay attention when they say they have a different style of communicating and you shouldn’t take it personally.
But I have to say I prefer your definition :“Now, in my view, a friend isn’t just someone whose company you enjoy if you happen to meet; they’re someone you’re so incredibly fond of that often you just can’t help but call them up or drop them a line or invite them over. You might also find them a terribly fascinating person and want to know what they’ve been up to.”
Exactly. I don’t understand this “I won’t say anything till I have something to say” thing…what…until you need to write “Mutant zombies hoards are on the rampage and will be in your area, Friday, around sixish. Love, Fred” you don’t write anything at all? Sheesh. The point of friends…and lovers…is you take pleasure in each other. So you take pleasure in communicating with each other.
I dunno…don’t take it personally if other people have different ways of communicating. But don’t think you’re being clingy either. They’re just missing out
This is a sensitive topic for me. I have a couple of Real-Life friends that I haven’t talked to in months. I made efforts to get in contact with them, and they didn’t reciprocate, so I don’t consider them my friends anymore.
I have friends that I only see or talk to sporadically due to distance or schedules, but we still make some effort to see each other at least every few months if possible, and try to talk to each other every few weeks.
If you’re not going to make the effort to know what’s going on in my life, then why should I feel obligated to call you a friend? You’re not. You’re not around for my joys or concerns. You don’t ask me for help and I don’t ask you for help. You don’t celebrate with me, I don’t celebrate with you…well then, we’re not friends. We’re just friendly acquaintances.
That’s pretty much the dividing line for me - if there’s no reciprocity, I don’t bother with the friendship either. My closest friend and I can go months without seeing each other; we’ll usually email once every week or so. But she always responds when I email her, and vice versa. If I sent off emails every week and never got a response, I’d just stop sending them.
One note, if you have his email address: Even if he doesn’t particularly say anything back, doesn’t mean he isn’t interested to hear how you’re doing.
If you feel like something interesting happened, mail it off to him. Well…assuming it’s a couple grades above
“Yah, and then I was talking with Liz–this is while I was still dying my hair and all–and she said, ‘Like, wow!’ So I was like, ‘Yep’ Then we laughed. I mean, it was funny at the time but. Well you had to be there I guess. But my hair is this really cool blue now. Think you’ll like it. My hairdresser recommended it. Said it’s a lot cheaper than what I’d been using and not have me bald when I’m like 80. So I switched and it’s a lot brighter too, so I like it.
Ooh, my cat just jumped up. Think I should dye her too? She’d be cool green–course would probably scratch me up just trying. Yeah, she’s looking at me funny now.
But you’re doing well?”
then you should be okay. Otherwise our brains melt (or we just shut them off if we encounter the verbal version of this.) Just one of those things.