Do you experience a hierarchy of affection for your friends?
March 3, 2013 8:13 AM Subscribe
If you suspect your friend likes you more than you like them, should you still be friends with them?
posted by anonymous to human relations (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Being out of college and in an environment where it’s a lot harder to make friends has made me think long and hard about the nature of my friendships. The ones that are less substantial, in particular.
I have a few college friends I’ve kept in touch with since graduating. All of them are pleasant people, but I don’t experience the same level of fun and excitement as I do when I’m hanging out with my closest friends. I feel that the reason I like them is because they like me, and that makes me feel good about myself. But when I think about the fact that I personally feel that I could take them or leave them, that makes me question whether I’m being a good friend, or even a friend at all. For example, I had a friend over the other day to watch a movie, and while it was nice seeing her and talking to her, I felt that I could have easily had as nice a night just hanging out by myself.
Another one of my friends is someone who doesn’t like to talk about herself—not in a low self-esteem sort of way, though. To me, she seems very self-assured, and she’s really interested in what’s going on in her friends’ lives and what they have to say. She’s even admitted that she doesn’t like to talk about herself. For me, this trait is nice because I really enjoy having someone to rant to when I need it and a person who is so invested in the goings-on of my life. However, it feels wrong that a majority of our conversations focus on me. She does ask me for advice sometimes, so I like to think that I give during our conversations, rather than just take. But again, I feel guilty, because she seems to like me more than I like her. I rarely set up dates to talk, because she seems to be the one who always sets them up. If she didn’t do this, I don’t know if I would take that initiative.
On the flip side of this, however, I wonder if for some people, I am the “nice but not great” friend of theirs. And I’m torn, because I don’t want to be in that position, so for a split second I’m determined to never again call my best friend from high school who never calls me. (Our friendship is like the one I described above, except the roles are reversed, and when I think of myself in that role, I feel uncomfortable.)
But then I waver, because I think of how much fun we have whenever we’re together. Until now, I always thought the frustration of being the one to make plans for hanging out was outweighed by the joy I experience when we’re together. I'm shy and introverted, and I don't make friends easily, so I'm loathe to let a deep friendship like that go, even if it means I have to work to stay in touch with this person.
I guess, in the end, I’m wondering this: Should I maintain a friendship if the levels of emotional investment are different? I’m asking from both points of view, here. Am I devaluing myself for wanting to continue to be friends with someone whom I love hanging out with, but who doesn’t initiate contact? Likewise, am I taking advantage of the friends who seem to get more out of our interactions than I do? If so, how should I handle the "break up" process? I don't feel that I have reason enough to stop being friends with them, besides the fact that I don't have that warm-and-fuzzy-BFF feeling when we're together.