This reminds me very much of the Five Geek Social Fallacies
. I try to keep that very close to mind when making friendship choices, and I think you've added quite a lot to that philosophy.
Five Geek Social Fallacies is a great piece. I'm happy to add anything to that!
Oh, I like the part about the $20. It's very true.
Thanks for putting so much thought into this. I missed the posts this is in reference to. But yes, I think we have the right to choose our friends. I can't imagine when one couldn't.
It's more a matter of someone asking "why do I end up with such shitty friends all the time?" and trying to address how to make that stop.
I haven't had that problem with people who drink a lot, just with people who drink a lot and do drugs.
But the people I drink fairly heavily with and fairly anti-drug and we weed out the drug mootches fairly quickly.
That said it may be a cultural thing. Most of my friends are from the UK or Ireland where fairly heavy drinking is much more of a "norm" than it is in America and because of that people know how to drink heavily so it's a different experience than hanging out with heavy drinkers in America.
I've been told many times that I'm the only American most of them has met who actually knows how to drink heavily. And to some extent I think that's true. When I see other Americans here on vacation and see the way they drink it's in huge contrast to the UK/Ireland drinking model.
I'd love to see you write up "how to drink heavily."
Having grown up in an abusive, alcoholic environment, I became a classic enabler.
Funny thing, recognizing that fact does not mean it's "fixed"; it's constant work, effort and struggle and I still don't have it figured out.
I'm trying to extricate myself and my social circle from a (recent) casual "friendship" with as little drama as possible right now because allowing it to continue will lead him on and will continue to make social gatherings uncomfortable for my friends.
Act like a drunken drama queen, invading people's space/boundaries, telling tall tales/grand baldface lies once, shame on you. Twice because I felt sorry for you and want to "help", shame on me. Three times, what kind of dumbass does that make me?
This is why I haven't dated since my last relationship ended (two years ago?) and have no desire to any time soon. I have issues choosing a suitable partner (rather than make the "same" mistake over and over, I swing too far the other way and still end up with flat side of the bell curve) and I don't need the drama.
Instead, I'm building my own life, working on my own stuff and surrounding myself with worthy friends and chosen family.
I'm good with that.
I admire the way you are working on your own life. You're doing some amazing things.
This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you for writing it all out so clearly. I've learned these lessons intellectually, but I still find it very difficult to say "no". I saved this to my hard drive with the URL for the post so that I can re-read it and use it to bolster my resolve when I have to say no. :) And maybe I can pass this along to someone who's just learning these lessons and help speed up the process for them a little bit. :)
I am pondering how to deal with a friend-of-friends so noxious that I would rather avoid the lot to avoid the person, because pouring a drink on her head would merely add to her litany of slights.
That's really tough. Do they actually like her?
I wish I'd read this in high school.
Oh, and been smart enough to pay attention to it in high school, which is a totally different thing.
Yeah, the ability to actually use the information is probably a sign that you don't need it. Sad as that is.
I like this list a lot.
I think I'm mostly in your instinctive category, but it was well-timed for some thinking I've been doing about one particular relationship that has been radically different that way. Since I don't usually have that level of drama, it's been hard to figure out how to address it. So this gives me some food for thought.
I do think #7
is bang on the money - you have to respect yourself. And if stepping up and saying "no, I actually do need to be treated this way" (allowing for human failures and slippage; change takes time) torpedoes the relationship then - that's what needed to happen.
I do wonder - don't feel obligated to answer random internet questions - how you reconcile that with some of the things Ferrett has written about that you two went through with him needing reassurance and all that. What made you decide the drama was worth it in that case? (And clearly, it worked out.) I've had the experience of it working out, and then I've had the experience of it not. I'm still not sure what the early signs are. I'd like to know if you have a clue, if you care to comment. :)
It was really, really hard. But the thing about our relationship is that we liked each other so very much that neither of us could stand to lose the underlying friendship. And it was a combination of me saying I wouldn't put up with it anymore and him saying that he wouldn't put up with MY shit anymore that made us struggle to get past the problems.
Hmm. In spite of heeding all your clearly stated caveats and calls for self-examination, I find myself really disagreeing with this:
2. If your idea of fun is heavy drinking, drug use, or engaging in law defiant behavior, the friends you will find in that lifestyle are likely to treat you with the same regard as they have for social convention.
I really, really don't think that follows. Some of the most law-abiding, tee-totalling people I know despise everything about what I think, believe, and am, and my experience of people who enjoy "alternative lifestyles" is that they're much more likely to be loyal to each other in the way that marginalised people often are. Saying "there's nothing wrong with this lifestyle, but you need to watch your back with them more than with others" is a line of rhetoric of which I'm very wary.
Also, this just seems like a false dichotomy:
Now, lots of people who enjoy partying are hardworking, honest folk who pay their rent, hold down jobs, and limit their party activities to responsible hours. But there is also a certain faction of this group who are wastrels, ready to suck the life and cash out of anyone who will allow it.
Surely that's true of any lifestyle or group? Surely plenty of people who pay rent, hold down jobs, and limit their party activities to responsible hours have plenty of room in which to be shitty people? I just fundamentally chafe against how normative this is -- and seems so very much at odds with everything else you've written in this post, which is so focused on honest individual self-assessment.
I agree with pretty much everything else, but this just rubbed me the wrong way.
Cannot speak to [Bad username: zoethe's] intent, of course, but I think there might be an important distinction between people who *happen to* drink heavily/use drugs/break a law or two in the course of most good times and people who *can't* have fun unless any or all of the above are going on. The former is a lifestyle choice, and I'd say that the proportions of awesome to asshole are about the same there as in any other group. The latter is symptomatic of a problem, I think.
That said, "social convention" depends on who you talk to. Most of my harder-partying friends have a lot of regard for social convention, just not the same social convention my parents would use.
"Everyone has the right to live as they like. I respect their right to live as they choose. But that doesn't mean I have to tolerate it in my life. I also have a right to choose."
This, o so very much.
What I have heard, many times in my adult life is, "Who are you to judge?" and my answer is, "I am the one who is living my life, and who has to judge what is best for me." It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can say that and abide by the consequences -- who wants to look like the big mean, or the wuss, or the prude, when you're twenty? -- but eventually, for my own safety and sanity I had to learn how to do so.
I may come back to this, but, while it all resonates and makes sense, one of the things you wrote that really resonates is:
"A remarkable number of people who find themselves continually entangled in drama are the impetus behind much of that drama. Always start within when making change. Maybe, in your heart of hearts, you thrive on drama. Maybe when there isn't enough drama in your life, you get bored. Part of the reason some people are always attracted to the "bad ones" is that they feel more alive and unique when surrounded by upheaval. Look at yourself honestly, or ask a trusted friend. Then decide what you want to do about it."
I am drawn to dramatic people, being on the edges of drama. These days I do it by reading snark communities, or the blogs of people who are dramatic. I have one seriously crazy-making friend, and I limit my interactions with him. That's my compromise between what I'm drawn to, and what I know is good for me.
Self-knowledge is essential. So is the ability to believe the first thing I quoted of yours, and to be able to say to someone else, "You can keep doing the things you're doing, but not around me/not in my space. Take your choice."
I've found that the drama stuff is less and less attractive to me because it's so negative and draining. Congrats on finding a good compromise.
I just have to say that this list, especially the portions that I can identify with, is awesome. I can only wish it was around, or some of the points, had occurred to me 10 years or so ago.
I have nothing constructive to add, just a thank you!
2011-02-10 05:21 pm (UTC)
The comments here are really really good, too. I shall have to add this one to my memories.
A little bit of weird autobiography here: I was raised to be useful. I was not The Beautiful One, or The Smart One, or The Boy... the message I got was that if I was useful, I was allowed to have a little (just a little) space on the planet. I suspect that happens to girls in large families more than boys, but I know a few men who grew up in the same role.
For people like us, finding a Drama Queen to support reinforces our childhood lessons, and is a safe, familiar role to play. Stepping out of that role, saying, "I have a right to exist, and a right to be treated decently," is terrifying, and we're always haunted by the voices that say, "Who are you to even ask, much less demand, that sort of treatment?"
And yet, it's essential for one's sanity, I think. And to be able to say, "My house/my space/my body/my spirit, my rules" -- and I think that "house" in this case actually incorporates all of those, but I want to be explicit -- is terrifying: it goes against everything we grew up knowing was true. but it's important.
(It's also important not to flip too far the other way. I know of -- and people close to me know directly -- one person whose memories can never be challenged on anything; even if the evidence proves otherwise. I think that's extending one's space too far.)
2011-02-10 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: continued thinking
The "never challenge" friend is not someone with good boundaries; that's someone who has a whole different kind of crazy.
Oh, I am so sharing this. *grins*
But that's okay. Because it's the kind of privilege that comes from within, and it has little or nothing to do with material wealth or social standing. It has to do with making active choices about the kind of person you want to be and the kind of life you want to lead. Because even if you don't have two dimes to rub together, you can still choose the kind of people who you wish to befriend.
If anything, not having social standing or money gives you more freedom of association. Professionals and politicians often are compelled to spend time networking, a society wife might need to entertain her husbands guests to maintain their standing, etc.
I would hesitant to call it privilege, personally. As you point out, all people have an equal opportunity to choose and the consequences of not associating are mostly born by the individual made by the choice. (Unless perhaps one is of the mind that community participation is obligation of the individual.)
Privilege is a word that's used when people try to make choices. It's treated as a bad word. Rather than argue about it, I'm choosing to embrace it.
. I'm struggling with some mental health issues right now and I recently had to walk away from my best friend/it's complicated because, while I love him, he had become my biggest trigger and it was making both of us unhappy. It took me longer to do it than it should have because I felt like I'd be abandoning him. I still feel that way because it's only been a week. The way it ended up happening is less than ideal, and I want to call him and explain why I'm doing it, but I know if I do I may not be strong enough to cut him off again.
However, I've felt more stable this week than I have for any consecutive span of time in quite a while. Just this fact makes me sad, because I miss him all the time and I feel like I'm hurting him (and possibly losing him forever) by doing what I need to do for myself right now. I feel incredibly selfish. It sucks.
You will never be able to explain in a way that isn't just an invitation for argument, so you are wise not to try. But you are doing the right thing to get yourself healthy. Good job.
I agree with every bit that you have written. Of course I've always tried to follow these rules in my life. I like my drama to be on a screen or stage : )
The best place for it, definitely!
This is a very insightful essay, with much to recommend it. I'd have a few comments though:
"And some of the comments led to questions about whether having high standards for the relationships in which one engages isn't a form of privilege, or somehow elitist."
...Seriously? I mean, I suppose you could argue object permanence is a privilege, too, but it's starting to cheapen the term a little. Of course, I despise the term, so I suppose I shouldn't complain. :P
Honestly, life should not be about witholding judgment. We should try to make our judgment as objective as possible, try to question the assumptions that underlie it, and try to not confuse our own judgment of someone with what is best for society. But not judging things is silly.
I mean, hell, if we took non-judgmentalism and non-elitism in the other direction, women (and men) should never say no to protected sex. Or unprotected sex. After all, who are we to judge whether they're clean or not? And no one's going to say THAT would be reasonable.
It's always OK to say no to people. That may carry consequences, of course, but it's always OK. #2
- I'm not sure its a question of social convention. I think its a question of responsibility. People who engage in the behaviors you mentioned are trying as hard as they can to avoid some for a while. But the people who do it as a break from responsibility will be inherently more reliable than the people who are doing it as a lifestyle. People who do ANY recreational activity as a lifestyle will be less reliable.
There's another point about the sometimes-excessive accepting tendencies within fandoms that you seem to be mixing in here. I'm not sure it's strictly helpful. bradhicks has commented on it frequently enough - because fandoms are often ostracized, they accept the ostracized and refuse to ostracize among themselves. Except there are people who damn well should be ostracized, and stretching fandom to accomodate them isn't wise or healthy. #7
- This seems like the kernel of an excellent essay on the difference between being a bitch/asshole/jerk/epithet-of-choice and being an assertive, strong, self-possessed and independent creature-of-choice. Which would be great reading.
The use of the word privilege hearkens to the comments that led to this post, so it's a little confusing to people who have a better understanding of the word, but for some people the idea that you are allowed to make judgment calls is pretty radical.#2
was definitely the hardest to write, and I don't think I really got it 100% right, I admit.
I'll have to consider expanding #7
I'm not sure why or when "having STANDARDS" somehow became a bad thing to be criticized as "elitist" or worse.
Bill Maher mentioned in a recent show that research shows that American kids have higher self esteem compared to ______ (didn't get that part, but will look it up and report). His point was that American kids fall way behind in educational accomplishments to kids in other countries, but by dayum, at least they can feel good about themselves for no good reason! "No child left behind" turned into dumbing down the standards so that just trying was good enough, nevermind if you actually got an A or finished anything: it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Somehow, having standards in anything got distorted into something negative to be eschewed.
Anyway, your post about choosing your own standards for your life/relationships got me off on this, hopefully related, tangent about how we accept less all around, and now it's become a national, not just personal, problem.
I think you are absolutely right, and that it's a problem because people are pressured to not have standards.
I really like what you've written here. I think there is a big difference between being judgemental and having healthy boundaries. I welcome all kinds of people with open arms, but what I won't tolerate is behavior that is harmful or unsafe. I also have to make the judgement of what is harmful or unsafe, according to my own needs and so forth. I get to do that - just like everyone else.
It *is* a form of judging to say, "I don't want to associate with X behavior." It's a different form of judging than saying, "No one should be allowed to engage in X behavior," but it's still a judgment call. And that's what gets people tripped up. Because we all want to be very egalitarian and accepting, people try to manipulate us by accusations of judging, against which we feel the need to defend ourselves.
For people with a strong set of eternal rules, this can be disregarded; for those without, it can drag them into places they don't really want to go.
I love this. I LOVE this. I have been living by this for years, and the elitism accusation is one I'm pretty familiar with at this point (my response is always: hey, I don't have to be friends with people I don't like. WHY IS THAT SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND.)
Thanks for writing this. I'm bookmarking it so I can send it to people in the future who need an explanation of this kind of thinking.
The elitism thing just baffles me, but it's a way inflicting guilt, so it works. Good on you for recognizing the manipulation that's involved.
you aren't required to like everybody
and i especially like #6
7 is hard for a lot of people.
In fact - do you mind if I post a link to this on Facebook?
Because my family is over there and I don't connect them to over here, I've put it as a note on my Facebook and would prefer you linked to that. Thanks!
"Users are hard to escape. They will do everything in their power to keep you at their beck and call. They will tell you that you are an awful, selfish person. They will talk smack about you to other friends. They will give you ultimatums."
This is so true!
And the rest of the essay is excellent! I feel I should tape it to my bathroom mirror and read it every morning.
Its like you ripped open my head and settled inside of it for a while, made a little nest and hung out.
With less ripping and bleeding, more wisdom of course.
Yes. This is why I have few outside of family I choose to spend my time with. When I was much younger I made disastrous friendship choices and that's left me permanently elitist, as well as cautious.
I feel very lucky that we've found such a great group of friends. But I also feel that we've worked hard to cultivate that group. It's nice.