Birthday blues - issues with a specific friend. Am I being unreasonable?
posted by dubious_dude to Human Relations (37 answers total)
Here goes. Today's my birthday - happy birthday to me! I wish I could be looking forward to it, but unfortunately, at this moment, my thoughts are being derailed by a specific friend of mine. Hence, the need to greet the green ;)
It's a complicated friendship, so I'm going to try and simplify things. This friend of mine (let's call her Amber) has been my friend since we first met at college. Amber's a very sweet person, easy to talk to, and incredibly fun to hang out with (when we do hang out). That's why I haven't written her off yet, but I'm just at my wit's end. Time spent trying to talk to her has not succeeded. To further complicate this situation, Amber is a survivor of domestic violence (relationship), and still is struggling with her own issues. I was one of the friends who was there for her during that rough patch of her life.
She's currently a senior in her last semester of school. From time to time, she asks me for help with her grammar (on her papers), and sometimes I type some paragraphs/sentences while she signs the words to me (we're both Deaf) and I type them for her. She's smart, but she struggles with writing from time to time. I know "doing her paper" is wrong, but I do it from time to time, and have been doing it for approximately two years. Last December, she took me to an Italian restaurant to return all the favors, which was sufficient for me.
Over the past years, a few friends told me some things that Amber told them about me (saying things like I'm annoying, she's sick of some traits, etc.), and I have confronted Amber about this, and we were able to solve the issues every time.
However, there's a big thing about our friendship that's bothering me. I feel like I'm doing all the work here. Yes, Amber texts me pretty much on a daily basis, we see each other from time to time, and I incredibly enjoy her company--and she seems to enjoy mine too. However, she can come across as somewhat cold, especially on text (not seeming to want to get together; not responding to texts when I ask if she can meet up), and just generally seems aloof. She's very busy those days, however, with her sorority, internship, job, school, and so forth, so I understand that and try not to feel hurt if she ignores me.
Last year, for my birthday, she was unable to spend my birthday day with me, due to doing homework or some sort (can't recall the details) so we agreed to have a dinner outgoing the following Friday (along with some other friends). Wednesday rolled around, we saw each other in person, Amber said Friday was definitely on. Friday struck, my friends and I ended up waiting for Amber to come to the shuttle stop for fifteen minutes. She finally texted me saying, "oh, the rain ruined my mood and I don't feel well." It was completely last minute, with no advance notice. She did not offer to make up in any way. I felt very hurt about this, but decided to put it aside and enjoy my dinner with the friends who went with me. I talked it over with Amber afterwards, and she was a bit defensive. We agreed to have pizza on Monday, and I brought the pizza (baked it), cake, and we ended up having a short celebration, but she was in a hurry. It wasn't the best birthday, and to this day, it still eats at me.
This year, for my birthday, last week, I asked Amber if we could do Starbuck's for a while on my birthday, then dinner the following Friday (as it's a Tuesday birthday, I certainly understand my friends are all busy with school). Sounded good to her, and she said she would let me know about coffee. Last night, at an event at the college, I asked her if coffee was on and if she wanted to join me and other friends (hopefully) to dinner on my birthday day (tonight). She said no, she had a lot of homework to do. When asked if Friday was still on, she hesitated for a split second (I could see it in her eyes) then said, yes, it's still on. I felt like she was acting very aloof and somewhat cold - no apology, no empathy, whatever. It was a bad day for her (not that it's an excuse), and was for me as well, so I may have taken her reaction the wrong way, but it still rubbed me the wrong way - I felt like she wasn't even showing any apology or not acknowledging that my birthday is important to me, and that I really wanted to see her. She did say I could stop by at her house for a few minutes later after my dinner with friends, though, so that may be a compromise. Who knows if she'll even stick to that; she can be flaky. It hurt because I spent so much time helping her with her papers; I even stayed up until 2am helping her with her take-home test, because she was incredibly stressed with Greek Week, and was struggling with the content of the exam, and I wanted to help her feel better. I feel like I have given all that time and dedication and care, and she can't even be there on my special day. Am I being unreasonable?
It still really is bothering me and churning at my gut. Last semester, her partner invited me to her surprise dinner, and she also invited me to her birthday day dinner. I feel it's a bit unfair that I celebrated her birthday twice, but she doesn't seem to be making any effort to celebrate my birthday. I get that Tuesday may be the wrong timing, but I am just not feeling any commitment or caring on her end. I know if I tell her how I feel, she will become defensive, try to invalidate my feelings (something along the lines of: don't feel hurt/don't take it personally/I'm just really busy/it's a rough semester for me), and she will also view me as over sensitive. I have made some mistakes myself in the friendship, and have sometimes been a bit needy. I'm trying to improve, and many say I have improved over the years.
So. This was really long-winded, I know... if you've made it to this point, kudos :) It's a bit hard for me at this point because: a) I don't have many other friends, so she's really important and valuable to me, for many reasons; b) the Deaf community is so small, and it's hard to branch out and make new friends; and c) again, I really value her friendship. I've had lingering feelings she was just using me (with papers), but she has emphasized repeatedly that she wasn't using me.
I know MetaFilter isn't necessarily somewhere I can expect advice or help with 'soap opera' friendships, but in this situation, I just can't think straight anymore. It's wearing me out, all the waffling on her end, and mixed signals, and failed attempts to work it out. I don't know if it's me, if I'm being unreasonable/holding high expectations, or if it's just her, or whatever. Cooler heads prevail better, and I've seen plenty of good advice here on the Green :) I love Amber as a friend deeply, but I'm starting to wonder where this is going.
Any insight for this birthday boy would be much appreciated. Yep, happy 26th to me.