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Disappointed in people sometimes?
August 6, 2008 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Disappointed in people sometimes?

I've been trying to figure this out for a while since it pops up here and there particularly on my pet peeves of calling someone back or social activities/issues.

When people don't act how I think they would act in situation, I become disappointed or frustrated.

Take two examples tonight.

One, I invite one of my friends (a good friend, not just a casual fiend) that I haven't seen since I came back from vacation to a movie on Saturday. He sends me a message back, being a pain in the ass, saying he really doesn't like going on opening weekends to movies. I was like it's A) at Tinseltown (a theatre no one in Houston goes to, lol) and B) it's not freaking Batman Begins. there will be seats. Then he's got issues with the matinee being cheaper. It's $6.25 vs $4 (matinee). Give me a break.

Second, I've been calling my next door neighbor twice for monday and tuesday and he ignores me phone calls on monday and then says he'll "call me back" because he's talking to someone on tuesday and never does (the third phone call he picked up on tuesday).

I have a relatively small network of friends, so it upsets me when things like this happen. I am trying to make other friends, yet most of the small circle of my current friends are 10+ years in the making. It's hard to not have preference for them even if my meetup.com meetings go well in the future.

I wonder am I wrong for expecting people to be decent friends and human beings? I expect friends you haven't seen in a week to not be a pain in the ass when you want to see movies with them. I expect friends to CALL YOU BACK when you call twice or three times. Jesus. Is this too much to ask?

Or is this part of the whole I need to be happier on my own deal? People shouldn't influence me so much, blah blah blah?

- jumbo
posted by jumbotron08 to Human Relations (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have learned that if you expect your friends to act the way you would act, you will always be disappointed. If on the other hand, you don't worry about it, you will be happier and you will always have friends because people like to be around happy people. That being said, if a friend is doing something that really bothers you, you can always sit down with them face to face and talk about why it bothers you. Just remember that that could cost you or change the dynamic of the friendship.
posted by robtf3 at 7:24 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's kind of unclear what you're asking and rather chatfilter-y, sorry.

Are you asking whether your expectations are inappropriate, or why all of your friends are jerks? It is unclear what you're looking for, since you specify that you will prioritize your long-term friends who you don't think treat you well over new people you meet.
posted by arnicae at 7:25 PM on August 6, 2008


I wonder am I wrong for expecting people to be decent friends and human beings? I expect friends you haven't seen in a week to not be a pain in the ass when you want to see movies with them. I expect friends to CALL YOU BACK when you call twice or three times. Jesus. Is this too much to ask?

Do you really think that not getting back to someone right away or having a differing preference for when to see a movie means that their being bad friends? You were only gone a week...most people are busy enough to make that a pretty meaningless length of time.

It's ok to be annoyed when people don't do things the way you think they should be done, but it's very counterproductive to hold onto it. Your friends are people, they have preferences and quirks (as do you) and it might just be that they feel secure enough in their friendship with you to voice their preferences. I think you might be taking it all a bit too personally, and misinterpreting your feelings of disappointment into some sort of insult on their part. My advice is just to learn how to relax and let petty disappointments go.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:26 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Your friend is broke and too embarrassed to tell you.
posted by orthogonality at 7:28 PM on August 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I hear you, in part because I know I act like your friends sometimes. But a lot of that has to do with being introverted and having a touch of social anxiety, so it's not that I don't want to be with or talk to YOU, it's that I sometimes just don't want to go out or talk to anybody. And other times I can't blame that; I'm just a jerk.

And I hear you in part because I have pain in the ass friends like that too.

The thing that gets me, and I'm trying not to be too chatfiltery ("Ya know what REALLY bugs me? Let me tell ya...") because it's related, is when friends are late. When we agree to meet somewhere at 7:00, so I'm getting ready to go at 5:30 and leaving my house promptly at 6:00 (because it takes a long time to get lots of places that I go with my friends) and it turns out they're just starting to think about getting ready to go sometime after 6, when I've been diligently meeting my end of the deal for AN HOUR ALREADY. Do they really think their lounge-around-the-house time is more important than mine? It so irks me. But some of my friends are just like that and I've learned that there is nothing I can do to change them. So, rather than be mad, or change my own habits (I still arrive on time), I just accept it. If they were stealing money from me or swatting my cats with flyswatters or something, then we'd have something to argue over.

I have friends who are VERY irked by the behavior you describe, and when I watch them tirade over it, I can see that it just isn't fruitful. If they're your genuine friends, you should accept each others' issues. I bet you have some, too. :)
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:35 PM on August 6, 2008


And ANOTHER thing that gets me, that has gotten me my entire adult life, is the "I don't want to drive all the way out there" whine. When I have a gathering at my house in the suburbs, and my city friends think my house might as well be in Outer Mongolia, when in actuality it's less than a mile off the main highway, 20 miles from the city, which translates to 20 goddamn minutes in the car, and anyway, I commute to the city ALL THE TIME for work. Snotty city people.

OK. My point is that this behavior really disappointed me for a long time. For a while I went through a phase where I decided that I wouldn't go to their parties if they wouldn't come to mine. That resulted in nobody going to anybody's parties. Then I went through a phase where I decided that I'd go to EVERYONE'S events, regardless of what or where they were, in an attempt to make the event-givers feel realllly really small, because they never attend my events. That didn't result in much, except I got out of the house more.

I'm happiest when I accept that people are bitches. Your circle of friends, over time, will subscribe to the theory of survival of the fittest. Your strongest friends will thrive in your circle, and the weaker ones that over time just don't hold up will fall off your radar. Just don't worry about it. Keep doing what you do. Friends evolve (and devolve) naturally.
posted by iguanapolitico at 7:43 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this behavior out of character for them? It's hard to tell from what you've written.

I'm going to agree with LightFantastic here - just because your friend had different preferences about when to see a movie doesn't make him a bad person. Where's your willingness to compromise? "Okay, how about next weekend, after it's been out for a bit?"

Taking offense because someone doesn't call you back the very next day is a little strange - people have stuff going on. I'm not trying to excuse not calling back at all.


iguanapolitico wrotei:
and it turns out they're just starting to think about getting ready to go sometime after 6, when I've been diligently meeting my end of the deal for AN HOUR ALREADY. Do they really think their lounge-around-the-house time is more important than mine?

Well, in some subconscious sense, maybe - because I'll bet you they don't show up an hour late for work all the time. They do it because they know you'll suck it up. I don't have time for "friends" who will casually waste an hour of my time because they think "meet at 7" means "sometime before 9." Now, I and most of my friends travel by public transit, so we're all pretty tolerant of the slight issues that can come with it, so it's not like I'm cutting anybody off for being late once in a while - but habitual extreme lateness? Yeah, no patience or time for that myself.
posted by canine epigram at 7:50 PM on August 6, 2008


I'm often disappointed. But what are the options? To not have friends. I try to be forgiving, and to know where the dealbreaker is for me. If they break the deal, so be it. Most don't. They're just not as good friends I would want them to be, and that's really my issue, not theirs.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:01 PM on August 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Friendship has no obligations.
Friendship has no expectations.
Friendship is based on respect.
Friendship has compassion.
Friendship is responsible.
Friendship is always kind.

All else is just fear. Fear is full of conditions. In every relationship there are two halves. You are only responsible for your half. You can never truly know what the other half feels, or believes. Yet, we naturally try to be responsible for the other half as well. We try to project our view of the relationship upon them. We get into a war of control.

If you can avoid this need for control and its corresponding selfishness, you can migrate away from the fear and more toward the love that friendship brings. Take care of yourself. Be who you would want others to have you be and I think you will feel it returned.
posted by netbros at 8:32 PM on August 6, 2008 [15 favorites]


This reminds me of a couple of long lost social idioms- that one "gives a party" and "pays a visit". If you look at life like that, it makes things much easier.

An invitation is just that: 1. To ask for the presence or participation of: invite friends to dinner; invite writers to a conference.
2. To request formally: invited us to be seated.
3. To welcome; encourage: invite questions from the audience.
4. To tend to bring on; provoke: “Divisions at home would invite dangers from abroad” (John Jay).
5. To entice; tempt.


It almost sounds like you view invitations like an invoice- you owe me this, unless you have a really good excuse.
posted by gjc at 8:40 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I say this as someone who also gets annoyed when friends don't call me back, but my sense is that you feel that you never do anything that is considered disappointing/irritating/bothersome. It would help your balance in the First Universal Karmic Bank to give people a break, so they will be inclined to give you a break when it is your turn. I mean, is wanting to go to a cheaper movie a big deal in the grand scheme of things? Like that one book said, don't sweat the small stuff.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2008


1. Fire some friends. Really. There was a time in my life I felt very bad. Later, after I moved to NYC, I decided to "fire" some friends. Best decision in my life.

2. Read this book. I guess you can find it for a few bugs on abebooks.com
posted by yoyo_nyc at 9:08 PM on August 6, 2008


your two examples showcase how you have unrealistic expectations of other people's time not how two people have been terrible friends to you. i'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're under 25.

have you tried to see it from your friends' sides? imagine if they posted a question about the same events you describe and how advice would go on that.

"my friend was only out of town for a week and then she came back and demanded i go see a movie with her right then. she didn't care that i don't like to see movies right when they open and she ignored my attempts to try to save a couple dollars. is this someone i should keep around?"

"my neighbor and this person i hang out with some times has called me three times in the last 24 hours. i've been really busy and said i'd call them back, but if i don't in the next 12 hours i'm going to have another 4 messages from them. how can you tell a friend you like them but that they are smothering you with their demands on your time?"

i would bet that both sets of responses would include "your friend sounds clingy/codependent/unable to see the forest for the trees".
posted by nadawi at 9:23 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


>Is this too much to ask?

Shit yeah.

Or rather: it may not be too much to ask but it's certainly too much to get all wound up over.

Life is squishy and there aren't solid 'friend rules' that you can subscribe to without just causing yourself (and possibly others nearby) angst. I sort of suspect Orthogonality may be right in your one movie case, but then there's any number of other reasons which could account for your lack of ideal-movie-watching-partner.
posted by pompomtom at 9:31 PM on August 6, 2008


Your friends aren't doing anything seriously jerklike. You're setting yourself up for a huge amount of unhappiness if you think people are jerks when they do normal human things like get busy or have preferences that are slightly different from your own. And your mindset encourages the very behavior you hate so much--the more sensitive and bitter you are, the less likely someone will be to accept your invitation or return your phone call.
posted by PatoPata at 9:33 PM on August 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you're getting disappointed over nothing, personally. I used to be the same way so I can understand where you're coming from, but no one is treating you badly. Your friend's reaction to the movie situation, for example, should not be taken as a slight against you. I know what theater you're talking about, even, since I grew up in Houston, and he might be acting a little irrationally to not want to go there on an opening night, but some people just have weird hang ups like that. You have nothing to gain by taking it personally. Plus, there are a million other reasons he might have reacted that way: he really can't afford to go (which is much more reasonable than you seem to think; $6.25 for a movie is a lot for some people as bad as things are right now, and it's over 50% more than the matinee price), or he doesn't want to see that particular movie that much, or he doesn't feel like seeing any movie at all, or he's an introvert, etc. None of those things make him a bad friend, or have anything to do with you.

Or he might have made other plans before he knew you were going to be around and thinks you'd be hurt if he didn't change the plans to accommodate you -- which, honestly, judging from this post, I wouldn't be surprised if he felt he needed to tiptoe around like that. When you get disappointed in your friends for little things, or take things that have nothing to do with you personally, your friends do notice and they will keep things from you that they wouldn't normally, just so they don't have to deal with the fall-out for acting like normal human beings. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy to think your friends are horrible people who are dishonest about their motives.

If you want help getting over this sort of thing, you could get Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It will help you sort out why your thoughts are irrational, and what psychological purpose the thoughts fulfill for you that you keep thinking them even though they're untrue. Once you recognize those things, this will be much easier on you.
posted by Nattie at 10:10 PM on August 6, 2008


the more sensitive and bitter you are, the less likely someone will be to accept your invitation or return your phone call.

When you get disappointed in your friends for little things, or take things that have nothing to do with you personally, your friends do notice and they will keep things from you that they wouldn't normally, just so they don't have to deal with the fall-out for acting like normal human beings.

I can't recommend these two comments highly enough. Even if your friend didn't want to see the movie because he just didn't want to see the movie and preferred sitting on his dusty eating chips that night, it does not make him a bad friend or disrespectful of the friendship. Heck, with my friends--especially my closest friends--they can call me up the night we have something planned and say, "you know, it's raining, I just want to snuggle with the cats tonight." And I'll say, "hey, that's cool. Another time." Because in my opinion, that's how the best friendships roll.

And we will do it another time, because it's a lot nicer to make plans with a friend when you don't feel like you're obligated to "make up" a past missed date or do everything pretty much the way someone else has planned it or risk their getting testy. This is something I had to learn the hard way, ruining several friendships in my youth because of it.
posted by tyrantkitty at 10:34 PM on August 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


After I'd gone to reading a book for a few hours, I'd immediately calmed down about this. Both cases, infact. I can't quite explain it. To everyone that has replied, thank you. To the person that suggested cognitive behavioral therapy, I've tried that but I haven't given it a good try if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I'll just have these moods where I get irritated at the world and it's very weird. Fear not though, I have 80 books on the subject. Feeling Good and Rational thinking (Albert Ellis).
posted by jumbotron08 at 10:48 PM on August 6, 2008


I think you've had a lot of good answers here and I think your latest reply reflects that you have a handle on what your feeling.

For me, whether friends' behavior is objectively "bad" or just rubs me the wrong way (as people noted, perhaps not wanting to go the movies or drive to the suburbs isn't bad, but lying or blowing you off when getting a better offer may be, etc), it will mostly make mefeel unhappy to get worked up about it. The best thing I've done when friends have qualities that annoy me is to just accept that they are that way and don't expect much from them in that department. It's very hard to do at first, but it really works wonders if you can lower your expectations

For example, I have had friends that:

are chronically late
tend to bail on commitments
are gossip-y
etc. etc.

That said, what I've also done is let go of some friends who had qualities I found I couldn't accept. I had to do this recently with someone who constantly made me a very low priority (and guess, what she probably hasn't noticed yet!). For a while I just resolved to never expect her to come through, but I found that made me bitter and sad, so I just let her go.
posted by Pax at 6:21 AM on August 7, 2008


Maybe your neighbor isn't calling you back because he's afraid of what you're going to demand he do this time?? Where I come from, when two friends get together there is some back and forth discussion of where to go and what to do. If I had a friend who insisted we go to a certain movie at a certain theater at a certain time and got upset if I tried to discuss it, I'd be furious.
posted by hazyjane at 9:17 AM on August 7, 2008


short version: Pax is on target.

long version: eh, I deleted it.
posted by bitterkitten at 11:59 AM on August 7, 2008


My wife tells me that I have a lot of rules. For instance, the volume on the TV has to be set at this very particular level -- not to loud, not too quiet; I must stay until the end of the end credits at a movie; I won't eat anything with mayonnaise on it.

Now, you can call me childish or eccentric (or worse), but my quirks have nothing to do with how much I love my wife or my friends. And even if they're things I should get over -- and even if they seem really trivial to other people -- they are important to me. For instance, if I don't stay for the entire movie (including the end credits), it's not a fun experience for me. And if I eat mayonnaise, I feel sick to my stomach.

Now imagine some friend invites me over and serves me something with mayo in it. If I don't eat it, does that mean I don't care about my friend? No, I care deeply about my friend. I just hate mayonnaise. Someone who likes mayo -- or someone who doesn't but can tolerate it -- might think I'm being spiteful. I'm not. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I don't eat mayonnaise because I hate mayonnaise.

Now, because I'm made the way I am (literal minded), I used to think that people understood this. It never occurred to me that someone might interpret "I don't like mayonnaise" as "I don't like you." As I matured, I grew to understand it. So now, though I still don't eat the mayo, I say things like, "Oh, thank you so much for making that for me. I hope this doesn't offend you, but..." I do what I can to make sure my friends know that my quirks are just quirks, not insults. But even before I did this, they weren't insults.

If a friend made it really clear to me that she'd worked all day to make me a dish with mayo in it, I might try to get over my nausea and down some of it. I've pushed myself more and more this way as I've gotten older. But, again, this has more to do with trying to counter people's interpretations than with what's going on inside me. Inside me, I've always been a guy who loves his friends -- and who is a bit of a nut.

Do your friends show you in other ways that they care for you?
posted by grumblebee at 12:56 PM on August 7, 2008


One thing I hold onto is the idea that good relationships make you smile, bad relationships don't. If you're not happy, stop grasping at straws. Life is too short.
posted by philosophistry at 2:38 PM on August 7, 2008


I've been calling my next door neighbor twice for monday and tuesday and he ignores me phone calls on monday and then says he'll "call me back" because he's talking to someone on tuesday and never does (the third phone call he picked up on tuesday).

You don´t say what the relationship with the neighbor is like, but I´m presuming this is a ¨friends¨ sort of thing. Someone behaving this way about calling me would make me feel stressed out and annoyed that they were calling so often, I would feel that they were being very clingy and distance myself from them.
posted by yohko at 11:54 AM on August 10, 2008


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