My friend didn't call me after my wisdom teeth surgery.
May 16, 2014 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I just had a wisdom teeth surgery yesterday and my best friend didn't even call or text me yesterday to check up on me. I've been telling her the whole week that my surgery was yesterday morning and all she said was "ouchie" and sending me a bunch of funny emoticons. She never really said anything comforting. I know it sounds immature but we're college students and I couldn't help but thinking that she doesn't care about me anymore now that we both have just graduated. Am I thinking too much? Is it unreasonable for me to be upset that she hasn't checked up on me at all? What should I do?
posted by missybitsy to Human Relations (57 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry, but yes, you're being unreasonable. Wisdom tooth surgery is not a very big deal for a lot of people. She might have thought you were sleeping, or couldn't talk on the phone, or maybe she was busy doing something else. But she's your best friend. She likes you and cares about you. Let this go.

I'd also think about loosening up on your ideas of how people need to prove they care about you. As you get older your friends are going to get more and more wrapped up in their own increasingly complicated lives and if you don't adjust your expectations you're going to be disappointed over and over and over.
posted by something something at 6:56 AM on May 16, 2014 [157 favorites]

In my experience, there's not really an expectation of tons of support around wisdom teeth removal. When I was in college, the extent of it was probably along the lines of your emoticons and texts, and maybe a "haha, look at you, you chipmunk" when friends finally saw the person.

She still cares about you. It takes a lot more effort to stay in touch and remain close after college, especially if one or both of you are moving away. I'm terrible at keeping in touch with my friends, but one thing I've learned is that if you want to talk to someone, you have to be the one to reach out sometimes. Waiting for someone to call is not a fun way to go about things in a lot of different situations.

Give her a call. Tell her how puffy your cheeks are. Make plans for the weekend.
posted by papayaninja at 6:57 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is it unreasonable for me to be upset that she hasn't checked up on me at all?

No. This is disappointing.
I'm guessing comfort and care were part of the terms of this friendship. Does she provide any other value to your life that would help in our consideration?

What should I do?

I think it's time for chat.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:58 AM on May 16, 2014

Did you have general anaesthesia? I was a weepy mess after my surgery. You may be feeling you emotions more strongly than you normally would. To me, your friend's behavior seems, well, friendly - nothing to worry about.

If you want more from her, call her. Or just take solace in your own good company.
posted by mai at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2014 [32 favorites]

Everyone has different needs and wants when they feel lousy -- you obviously like to be checked up on, but some people (and maybe your friend is one of them) prefer to be left alone.

Everyone has different experiences with illness, injury, and surgery. For example, my wisdom teeth surgery was literally the littlest thing ever -- despite the fact that two were impacted and had to be cut out, I was munching on a cheeseburger the very next day -- but I know other people that couldn't eat for days afterward. Because my experience was so easy, I do tend to roll my eyes at people whinging about such a minor procedure, and have to forcibly remind myself that many other people had a tougher time that I did.

Everyone expresses love and affection differently. You may demonstrate yours by checking in on people in times of need, but your friend may prefer another method.

This is all to say that yes, I do think you're been unreasonable. Everyone is different, and it's unfair to expect others to show you how much they love you by acting in a very specific way. If you can't be on board with how your friend handles these situations, you should probably not be friends - but just to be clear, that your issue, not hers.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 7:00 AM on May 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

Am I thinking too much? Is it unreasonable for me to be upset that she hasn't checked up on me at all? What should I do?

Well, what did you ask her for? If you told her you were very nervous and wanted her to check in, then yes, you have a reason to be upset.

But it doesn't sound like you did. It sounds like you mentioned the surgery and expected her to have the same expectations you did around it (namely: that wisdom tooth removal is hard and unpleasant, and the appropriate response would be following up with you afterwards).

The thing about illness/surgery is that different people have different expectations about what they want other people to do. Some people feel like illness/minor surgery is a big deal, and want to have people check in on them, bring them smoothies, and generally be nurturing towards them. Other people (and I'm personally among them) actively dislike being bothered while sick/indisposed, and want to be left alone to die in peace. Or feel like illness is a weakness and don't want people to know about it.

It sounds like you're the first type of person, and that's totally fine -- but your friend may be the second kind of person.

In the future, if you want someone to check on you, ask them ahead of time to do this. I bet your friend would have been happy to bring over a smoothie (or whatever) if you had explained that you were worried about the surgery and asked her to do this.

Also, seconding mai -- even twilight anesthesia can really mess you up afterwards.

Also, feel better!
posted by pie ninja at 7:01 AM on May 16, 2014 [22 favorites]

When I had my wisdom teeth out, I had zero expectation that anybody would check up on me, and as I recall nobody in particular did. It's not like it's the kind of major surgery where you're fixing a fatal condition and might not make it through the night, you know?
posted by Andrhia at 7:10 AM on May 16, 2014 [8 favorites]

One thing I've learned fairly recently, at my ripe old age, that I desperately wish I'd taken to heart earlier: ask people directly for what you need. Communicate your expectations. We always have hypothetical expectations, and after they reside in us for long enough, they become ACTUAL expectations, and we become disappointed when people don't live up to them. But the only way to make SURE they're met is to articulate them, awkward and unnecessary though it may seem.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:19 AM on May 16, 2014 [66 favorites]

Did you ask her to check up on you after surgery? If you didn't, this one might be on you for assuming she'd check up. Right after graduation tends to be a hectic time (moving out of dorms/apartments into new places or back home, freaking out about starting a "real" job, etc).

But yea....wisdom teeth removal's pretty routine now. The only friends who bothered to check up on me after my surgery wanted to see what I was like high on Vicodin...
posted by astapasta24 at 7:19 AM on May 16, 2014

You say you spent the whole week before the surgery telling her about it. It could be that she figured you were asking for morale support during that week to deal with your anxiety about the procedure and she did not pick up that you were warning her that you wanted caretaking after the procedure. Now that the procedure is done she may be figuring that you are no longer anxious about it and can just pop a painkiller to deal with the pain so don't need anything from her.

If my friend told me more than once that she was having a procedure I would assume that she was looking for pre-surgical support, not post surgical. I'd try to reassure her that she would be fine and that she had a good dentist and this kind of thing. I wouldn't realise she was looking for aftercare unless she made a specific request to get it.

If there is a mismatch between the caretaking you want and the caretaking you are getting you may want to do a reality check as to how much caretaking other adults in your circle expect to receive. It may be that you are looking for the kind of caretaking that a ten-year-old might expect to get from her mother rather than the kind of caretaking that a twenty-four year old can expect to get from any one of their old university friends. This is not to say that you are wrong to want that kind of caretaking. It's just an idiosyncracy like if you want to go out dancing or not. But if you want more nurturing than average than you need to find a more than average caretaker the same way you might need to get a dancing partner.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:21 AM on May 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

When I had my wisdom teeth out, I walked a mile home alone and got McDonald's on the way. Even my mother didn't call me, nor did my girlfriend (whom I subsequently married).

I was 100% OK with this.

It's perfectly reasonable for you to want to get a call, and it's perfectly reasonable for your friend not to call you. As you grow older, you may find (as I have) that life's easier when you take people where they are--meaning, while you may be reasonable to want a call, people have different perspectives and you shouldn't get upset if they don't do what you want, particularly if you don't tell them explicitly.

Also, if you've already graduated, keep in mind that people move on. I have no idea whether that's at play here, but keep it in mind.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:22 AM on May 16, 2014 [9 favorites]

Some people are very emotional and extroverted when it comes to expressing concern about others. (OMG! Are you ok? Do you need anything? Keep me posted!) Others are not. If your friend doesn't have that personality, there's nothing you can do about it.
posted by Melismata at 7:24 AM on May 16, 2014

It sounds almost like you were setting up an internal test for her, as a conscious or subconscious way of judging how much she cares for you. The problem with this kind of thing is that she doesn't know what you're testing her on, so to speak. Do you have a lot of anxiety about your friendship and about drifting apart from her in general? It sounds like you might be insecure about her friendship and, whether you're consciously aware of it or not, are looking for indicators that she's not being as attentive as she could be.

I only bring this dynamic up because it's a thing I have totally done in the throes of anxiety, and wasn't entirely aware I was doing it until I saw the dynamic described on metafilter. The only way around it is to clearly communicate your needs, instead of setting them up as puzzles for other people to decipher.
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:27 AM on May 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

You say you just graduated? Graduation is more stressful than having wisdom teeth removed for a lot of people. Maybe she's involved with her own transitions.

I do disagree with the people who are saying you were supposed to "communicate your needs" better. That's like saying before your birthday that if your partner doesn't buy you a present it's your fault because you didn't "communicate your need" for a birthday present. There are some reasonable expectations for the behavior of people close to you that you should not have to communicate directly, and showing concern for you when you've had a medical procedure is one of them.

However, I agree with those who say that wisdom teeth extractions, especially given your age group, falls on the border of this. You could say at some point that you were disappointed that she didn't call afterward just to say hi, how are you.
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:32 AM on May 16, 2014

To many people, all you did was go to the dentist because they don't really know what wisdom tooth extraction is like, or their experience has been "out for two hours and then back at work".

But also, adult friendships are not the quasi-romances that adolescent friendships are. The rules and boundaries are different and people just don't have the time or inner bandwidth to live up each other's noses anymore.

If you're thinking about calling her up and ripping her a new one about this, understand that that's not how adults maintain friendships. You do not get to scold people into acting like you want. If this is an unforgivable breach to you, then you need to adjust your boundaries accordingly as far as your involvement with her, but also if this is an unforgivable breach to you, you are going to have some rough, painful years ahead of you.

There's also the fact that not everything is about you. She might be busy. She might be dental-phobic. If she's normally an obsessive follow-upper, maybe she wasn't able to do that this time for reasons you'd know about if you hadn't been so focused on your own stuff.

Adult friendships operate better with a generous amount of leeway rather than rigid tests and hurdles. If it's your anxiety making this such a big deal, that may be something you need to address through your own channels.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:34 AM on May 16, 2014 [20 favorites]

If your friend has already had wisdom teeth out, she may think you don't feel up to phone or texting.

Ditto if she knows someone who went through this and they were too miserable to communicate for a day or so.

If you're down and out for a few days, maybe she figures you're not going to be up for whatever she is doing, or hearing about it.

She may think that it would be mean to tell you about all the fun she is having without you.

Maybe she's an extravert and since Friend A (you) is busy/laid up, Friend B is a better bet for excitement.

Maybe she doesn't know what to say to someone who isn't fully healthy.

None of this matters, because other people are not mind readers. They have no idea what you want unless you tell them. If you want some sympathy or entertainment, contact her and say so. Also, maybe it's an ask / guess communication error.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 7:37 AM on May 16, 2014

It has taken me a long time - decades - to realize that I should offer this type of support. I don't know how I have always been so clueless. Even when I know I should offer support, I don't always know what exactly to do - call? bring food? send a text? gift card? flowers? I'm trying to get better. I've learned the best by example - seeing how other people can be supportive and trying to emulate them but it does not come naturally nor was it something that was demonstrated to me growing up. I think I do have other strengths in friendship - I believe that I am not easily offended by my friends actions or inactions or opinions and always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. So I don't think I am a bad friend overall and am trying to always be a better friend. I'm at least 20 years older than your friend and I am sure I was much worse of a friend 20 years ago.
posted by RoadScholar at 7:38 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

At any point, did you do or say anything that indicated that you wanted her to check up on you?

It sounds like she just didn't think that having your wisdom teeth out was a big deal that required her to check up on you and make sure you were okay. It's not a fun time to have them out, but it's not some huge surgery where people are going to want updates to know that you made it out okay.

Shrug it off and let go of being upset. Send her a text letting her know how it went.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:41 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Be aware she may not even realise what wisdom teeth surgery entails, I just thought it was like a dentist visit for a filing until I googled it second ago and I'm 45.
posted by wwax at 7:43 AM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was full of mood swings just after I had my wisdom teeth out. I didn't have general, just an iv of happy drugs, and was like a tired toddler for the next day or so. All emotions were intense. Give yourself another day or so for the drugs and trauma to wear off, then try asking for you need. Maybe invite her for an ice cream pyjama party :)
posted by platypus of the universe at 7:47 AM on May 16, 2014

"Ouchie" and emoticons sounds like a pretty normal response to news of wisdom tooth surgery. It's a routine procedure and not many people these days find it scary or misery-inducing: they're a little groggy and numb afterwards but fine within a day or two. My surgery was not a big deal at all, and if a friend of mine was going through the same thing, I'd ask how it went, but sympathy or offering comfort wouldn't cross my mind.

If you had told her that you were terrified of the surgery, or that you were in pain during/afterwards, then it would have been jerky of her not to express some sort of empathy. But if you just said "I'm having my wisdom teeth out this week," she probably thought you were just sharing news.

And it's somewhat odd to jump to the conclusion that she no longer cares about you based on this one incident. Is this part of a larger pattern?
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:54 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

You are thinking too much.
posted by dozo at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would never call someone on the day they'd had surgery. I would give them at least 24 hours to recover from their anesthesia and get their bearings. And if the person I was expecting to hear from was going through a major upheaval in her own life, like graduating from college, I wouldn't expect to hear from her for a few days.

If you're worried about maintaining your friendship, don't wait for her. Be proactive and make sure your lines of communication stay open by texting her or calling her.
posted by gladly at 8:04 AM on May 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

It's entirely possible that she had a super-easy time with her wisdom teeth and doesn't realize what you've been through. Yeah, I'd probably be a little hurt right in the moment if I were you, but I'd also probably try to give her the benefit of the doubt for a while.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:10 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I had my wisdom teeth out (probably around the same age- I was 21), I had general anesthesia, so I needed a ride home. My boyfriend and my mom came along. I really, really needed the ride...I couldn't even form a sentence. I remember desperately wanting a drink of water and just making pathetic cup pantomimes. But other than the ride, I didn't expect anyone to really do anything. I didn't have a great experience but still didn't think it was really a big deal, partially because it's so common. Just call your friend or invite her over if you want to see her, and tell her you need a little TLC.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2014

Also, yes to what others have said - many people prefer to give friends a little space to rest during these times.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2014

She never really said anything comforting. I know it sounds immature but we're college students and I couldn't help but thinking that she doesn't care about me anymore now that we both have just graduated.

As others have said, maybe she didn't think you needed comforting? Because I've been telling her the whole week that my surgery was yesterday morning is not the same thing as saying "I'm anxious about this surgery."

As far as whether things have changed - is this a change in the way things would have been when you were both students? If so, how does the amount of face time you had then compare to now? Relationships change when your physical proximity changes. Some of that is inevitable, some is that people are different in how they handle remote relationships.

If this is more about your anxiety about how the relationship has changed post-college then try to examine and address that rather than making it about this once incident.
posted by phearlez at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only reason people checked up on me after mine was I made some weirdly hilarious tweets before the nitrous and halcyon took me completely under.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:13 AM on May 16, 2014

Thanks for everyone's feedback so far. I did express how nervous I was before the surgery and still no words of support
posted by missybitsy at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I did express how nervous I was before the surgery and still no words of support

Again, though, everyone is different. Simply saying that you're nervous isn't sufficient to then expect someone to check up on you after surgery or to provide support. Some people, and perhaps your friend, prefer to be left alone to decompress after something nerve-wracking and stressful. People tend to treat others as they'd want to be treated, which could explain your friend's behavior.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 8:27 AM on May 16, 2014 [10 favorites]

Is it unreasonable for me to be upset that she hasn't checked up on me at all?

Yes. You have unusual requirements that you don't express but expect other people to follow.

I did express how nervous I was before the surgery and still no words of support

So, you're dropping hints? Is that they way you want to have friendships, where everyone is expected to interpret what you want? That's a good way to not have friends, because that shit is exhausting.

And let me guess, the majority of this communication has been text? That is not the medium for expecting replies in a certain timeframe, or for people to read between lines. Texting is for brief plan-making, arranging meetings and quick jokes.
posted by spaltavian at 8:30 AM on May 16, 2014 [27 favorites]

I would be hurt if my best friend didn't check up on me after something like this. But I would try really hard not to read anything into it. She's probably busy and will talk to you soon.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:38 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's perfectly acceptable to contact your friend and tell her that you need some comforting. The fact that she hasn't contacted you doesn't mean that she doesn't want to be caring and supportive, she just doesn't know that you need it right now.
posted by inertia at 8:49 AM on May 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

I like a lot of fuss to be made over me when I am ailing. It's just the way I am. I grew up expecting that anyone who loved anyone would make a lot of fuss over them, and taking every lack of fuss as evidence of lack of love. I have since learned the hard and painful way that not everyone is the same, and the best way to get what you need is to ask for it.

So, there's "Whoa, I am having my wisdom teeth out in two days! I am super nervous about this!" But that only says how you're feeling, it says nothing about what you want. If you want the kind of comforting I want in these circumstances, you have to say "Whoa, I am having my wisdom teeth out in two days! I am super nervous about this! Can you text me that day and make sure I'm ok, and maybe bring me some soup or some ice cream or something?" That also leaves room for her to say "I can text you, sure, but I actually have a really full day that day and I'm not sure I'll be able to stop by in person," or whatever.

It is absolutely OK to want what you want. That doesn't make you needy or clingy or anything. But expecting it to materialize without being explicitly asked for is a short road to a lot of resentment and hurt.
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2014 [10 favorites]

I do disagree with the people who are saying you were supposed to "communicate your needs" better. That's like saying before your birthday that if your partner doesn't buy you a present it's your fault because you didn't "communicate your need" for a birthday present. There are some reasonable expectations for the behavior of people close to you that you should not have to communicate directly, and showing concern for you when you've had a medical procedure is one of them.

This is actually exactly why people need to communicate their needs. What is a reasonable expectation to you may be unreasonable for me. I've had lots of medical procedures and issues and my friends always want to do stuff for me - drive me around, get me medicine, make me special food, drive a half hour in the middle of the night just to bring me things - and to be honest with you? I hate it. I prefer to ask for what I need and I detest being coddled or even helped, especially when I am sick. If I need it, I'll ask. If I don't, I won't. If I ask and you're busy, I will be upset if you modify your plans for me just because I am sick. I don't mind much if you ask how I am, but I don't really desire that from my friends.

And I know that is just me, but it's possible your friend is like this too. She might be doing what she prefers.

It is good to make expectations or desires known. It's especially good because if people do not meet your explicitly expressed needs, you have solid evidence that something is up - this person will not meet that particular need - and you can adjust your relationship accordingly.

I think the only place where these "reasonable expectations" hold is in a romantic, serious partnership - mostly because these expectations are discussed and negotiated at length in that which is most intimate of relationships. Friends, like Lyn Never said above, should not be up your nose all the time after high school. You take what you get with a friend. Best friendships that are about support and reliance and expectations and needs and constant communication after the age of, say, 22 are just too codependent, at least in my experience. It might behoove you to set out to make more varied friends that meet different roles in your life as you embark on adulthood. I hope this does not sound too harsh, and I wish you the best for an easy and speedy recovery.
posted by sockermom at 9:25 AM on May 16, 2014 [17 favorites]

I think people are piling on a little bit here. You talked about it for a week, you expressed your nervousness, hopefully your best friend knows you well enough to guess that you're the type of person who would appreciate a certain level of emotional support. You weren't demanding any kind of instrumental support, you simply wish she had offered some comforting words and a more genuine level of concern.

Now, I do think that as you get older, your expectations for these kinds of responses is going to become more and more difficult to fulfill. I agree with others above who have suggested that in non-romantic relationships, this kind of unspoken expectation is not necessarily fair or realistic. (it's not necessarily fair or realistic even in the context of the relationship, depending!) However, regarding this specific friend, I don't think I would say anything to her or take it personally, but I would just note it, put it in the context of her past behavior, and lower my expectations for the future. Also, just lower your expectations for everyone. If you're the type of person who is just a generally sensitive, thoughtful, concerned person, like you worry about people being left out or not included, or that they got offended over this or that... yeah. It's great you're like that but very few people are. It's better to be pleasantly surprised by thoughtful and empathetic behavior than constantly disappointed that people aren't living up to your standards.
posted by leedly at 9:48 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sure, it would be great if those around us could anticipate our needs and be there for us in exactly the ways we want them to. But, save for some happy coincidences, that generally doesn't happen automatically no matter how much people care for one another. If you have needs that are important for others to meet, communicate them clearly. Don't assume, don't drop hints, don't hope that they notice, don't create tests of their commitment to you - communicate your needs clearly and directly.

If you want a call or text after getting teeth pulled, ask for that. Also be prepared for others to have lots of things going on in their own lives that may prevent them from being fully engaged with what's going on with you. This is how adult friendships and relationships work.

I think that you should just put this behind you and see it as a learning experience for the future so that you go forward with a better approach to getting the support you want. You may also want to examine why your response to this is thinking that this is a sign that she doesn't care about you anymore. That's extreme.
posted by quince at 10:00 AM on May 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

I guess I'm like your friend. Half of everyone I know has had wisdom tooth extraction, and most of them either got over it super-quickly, or didn't want to talk at all. It's no big deal in my circle of people. I check in when someone has a larger procedure (birth, lumpectomy/mastectomy, gall bladder surgery) of course, but well after it's over and I know my friend is alert and can talk.

If a friend said "hey, can you call me at noon on Thursday to make sure I got home okay from the dentist?" I'd call. But if I'm not needed to drive you home, I'm just going to assume 1) you're okay enough to go home yourself and 2) if not, someone else is driving you home and will keep an eye on you until you're up and about.

I think TV/Film builds unrealistic expectations of female friendship, where everyone can ditch work to take care of a friend in need, and that grown-up sleepovers and full-weekend TV binging happens on the regular, where grown women are all "i love yooooou my best bestie bff!!" and "hug party!" all of the time. Real world friendship post-college doesn't happen that way.
posted by kimberussell at 10:04 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I got my wisdom teeth removed, I wanted nothing more but to be left alone in my misery. My boyfriend at the time came to visit me - and while that was sweet, I just wanted him to give me some time to recover. Because of that, I tend to assume that other people need space when they get their wisdom teeth removed. Some people recover very well, and others spend two weeks looking and feeling like they got socked in the jaw.

So consider that your friend may have though she'd just be annoying you, when you needed time to heal. She may have a different set of assumptions, about what people want when they're recovering from a medical procedure. If she's never been an asshole to you before, there's no reason to think she's trying to be an asshole now.
posted by Coatlicue at 10:08 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

if someone is not delivering in the way you would like and you don't like the idea of directly communicating your needs then it might help to lower your expectations. that way people won't disappoint you as often.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

That's like saying before your birthday that if your partner doesn't buy you a present it's your fault because you didn't "communicate your need" for a birthday present.

This is unintentionally a great point in the "unreasonable" column, because it really does sound like the OP wants her friend to do something you'd expect a boyfriend to do.
posted by spaltavian at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


No. It's not heartless. I remember getting my wisdom teeth out. If people were calling me to express sympathy and expecting me respond by talking with a swollen and bleeding mouth while drugged up on sedatives that meant all I wanted to do was sleep, THAT would be heartless. Fortunately, my friends knew enough about me to leave me alone and not call.

That doesn't mean that OP is the same as me, but it does mean that different people are different. There is no such thing as a simple human courtesy. Every courteous action is tied up in culture and personality and knowing your audience.

So did best friend flub "knowing her audience?" yes. But that doesn't mean that best friend is cold, or heartless, or not a friend.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

Surgery can be scary. I hope you heal quickly. I've got two other thoughts here, and I hope you read them with the gentleness I intend.

1) I suspect a perfect storm of Big Events (wisdom teeth, graduation, changing professional circumstances) is coming together. You likely have very natural anxieties about the changes that accompany any transitional time in life, including the anxiety of losing touch with people who have become important to you. This may be manifesting itself, at least in part, in the way you feel about your friend's reaction to your surgery. We all overreact at times and it can be really useful to think about what bigger uncertainty or fear might be causing that, as you may find the underlying issue to be affecting other areas of your life as well.

2) Do you have other close friends? If this is your only or one of just a couple very close friends, you may feel extra-panicky about the thought of losing her because she fulfills so much of your need for human interaction. That can be a really tough situation. As you move through life and forge new friendships and relationships, that feeling of needing someone's friendship to fulfill all your needs can ease. You mention in a prior question that you're headed to grad school in the fall, which may be a great opportunity to diversify your collection of friends.

I urge you to spend some time thinking about this after you're totally back on your feet, but I also very much agree with those saying anesthesia drugs can have an unexpectedly emotional impact, so be kind to yourself (and your friend, who I guarantee had no intention of hurting you) in the meantime.
posted by superfluousm at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Despite what I said earlier about wisdom teeth not being a big deal, I do think it's possible that your friend might be pulling away slightly because you're at a transitional point in your lives, and you have a better intuitive sense of how she's treating you than any strangers on the internet, obviously. If you're best friends, this is something you should be able to bring's inevitable that things will change now that you've graduated, or at some point soon. It's something that you'll have to accept, but why not tell her how you're feeling?
posted by three_red_balloons at 10:31 AM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been telling her the whole week that my surgery was yesterday morning

Okay, but why? Why did you need to tell her more than once when your surgery was? This language indicates to me that you weren't getting what you wanted/expected from the exchange so rather than rephrase your information (my surgery is X morning and I feel panicky about it, can you call me so we can talk) you just kept telling her the same thing. She's your friend and she cares about you but she's not a mind reader and has no way of knowing what need, especially if you never tell her.
posted by kate blank at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2014 [8 favorites]

When you have a True Best Friend Forevah and Evah [and by that I mean, someone who has a proven track record of being a trusted, supportive person in your life in general and vice versa] you cut them some slack whenever they mess up something relatively minor like this. And from where I sit, yeah, your BFF messed up a little bit because she should have heard what you were trying to say when you did tell her this surgery was going to be a concern for you this week. But.

Have you considered the possibility that it's only been approximately 24 hours since your procedure, and the jury might still out on if/how she plans to respond?

I mean hasn't she, as your BFF, earned the benefit of the doubt??

If we're lucky, life and best friendships are long-- and the truth is, if you're super close friends with someone long enough, you're both eventually going to mess up and let the other one down at least a little bit, in some minor way, at some point. That's natural.

The question is, do you want your BFF to give you a break the next time you commit some unspoken etiquette lapse in her eyes?

When that proverbial shoe is on the other foot, will you want her to take it as a sign that you just don't give a damn about her anymore? No, of course not.

I tend to think @superfluousm's comment is spot on - sounds like you're feeling some big feelings about your transition out of college life, and are maybe unfairly putting some of that on her. Give her a break.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, OP.
posted by hush at 10:55 AM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pick up the phone and say "hey, come see me soon!, I miss you and am going stir crazy recovering from this stupid surgery!" Get Thai takeout and watch Netflix, catch up on events and tell her the horrors of you bloody gory surgery. You will feel great about taking control of your feelings and thoughts, acting on your desire to reach out to your friends rather than assume they don't love you. All will be right with the world.
posted by waving at 10:55 AM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

you are being self centered. the world does not revolve upon you and your teeth. Yes. A big deal for you. But no. Not that big a deal since about everyone I have known has gone through this...I had a biopsy yesterday and was not flooded with calls. So it goes.
posted by Postroad at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Having your wisdom teeth pulled is not that big of a deal. Was it different for you for some reason? Do you have crippling fear of even walking into a dentist's office that your friend knew you were trying to overcome?

If she's your best friend then I would assume you're talking to her most days and it would just come up in normal conversation -- "so how did the teeth pulling go?". But I don't think many people would go out of the way to deliberately ask about having your wisdom teeth removed.
posted by Blitz at 12:05 PM on May 16, 2014

It sounds like what you have here is a clash of ask culture vs guess culture. There was a very good response on a another question somewhere explaining this very clearly, maybe another MeFite can find it for me. .

I am an asker and come from a family and culture of asking. if I wanted someone to come see me after I'd have said and would never have presumed they wanted to see me unless they mentioned it. My MIL on the other hand comes from a guess background and would have reacted very much like you in a similar situation. And has in fact been mad at me about things I didn't even realise were going on or that she was mad at me until my husband has said, she was mad because you didn't offer to lend her something to take to an event she casually mentioned in passing she was going to. I thought she was rude for expecting me to guess, she thought it would have been rude to ask directly. Neither way of doing things is right but I suspect what you have going on here is a clash of expectations and ways of communicating on both your parts.
posted by wwax at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2014

I'm surprised by how many people believe that one should have to prompt/ask a best friend to behave like a friend. A best friend should not have to be asked to express concern about surgery.
posted by Dolley at 12:45 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ask vs. Guess Culture.

You are a "guess" person.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:03 PM on May 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I did express how nervous I was before the surgery and still no words of support.

Your own Love Language is probably "words of affirmation." I bet your BFF has a different favorite means of expressing platonic love than you do. (I prefer "acts of service" myself. My husband and son both prefer "quality time." My daughter is a "words of affirmation" person. My BFF prefers "gifts." My relationships with all of these loved ones improved dramatically once I figured out what they each uniquely wanted from me, instead of trying to perform my go-to "acts of service" for them.)

Having read over your question and all of these responses again, I agree with the spirit of @Dolley's comment: "A best friend should not have to be asked to express concern about surgery," (query: does everyone agree that teeth extraction = "surgery" though? maybe not) as well as @leedly's thoughts that you weren't asking very much at all here - just a simple text message, really. Yes, there is definitely a lot of truth to that. But on the other hand, there's also truth to the ideas expressed here that folks should not have to mind-read: you should let your closest friend in on your own particular preferences around texting words of support, and allow her more time.
posted by hush at 1:35 PM on May 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

For some of us, it took well into our 30s to begin to catch on that your close friends are also your family, and that they (particularly your single friends) need you to be a friend like this for them. But at age 21? I'd have assumed that most people's parents had them covered in the "ah, poor sweetie, let me swing by and drop off a smoothie" department.
posted by salvia at 3:36 PM on May 16, 2014

My sister was a mess for days after having her wisdom teeth removed. When it was my turn I started to count backwards from ten, got to around six, and woke up well-rested and feeling great a few hours later, just with a few less teeth. I didn't even take my Vicodin afterwards. Responses vary a lot, but if I hadn't seen my sister's response I would put the surgery on the same level as having a filling replaced and not even think to worry.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 4:02 PM on May 16, 2014

Some people have their teeth pulled and no big deal. Some people are totally brought to their knees and are a sloppy mess for a while after. Some people, like me, never had them pulled and have no idea what it's like at all. If you need her, call her and ask for help. I bet she would be over in a hot minute.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:42 PM on May 17, 2014

When I had my wisdom teeth out at age 22, I had a bad reaction to the anesthetic; my father spent several hours sitting in the waiting room after the operation was over because every time I tried to sit up from the recovery couch I'd vomit. The oral surgeon's office staff eventually kicked us out at 5:00 when they closed. I clutched a plastic trash bag (just in case) as Dad drove me to my apartment, where I fell into bed and spent the next week or so in a Vicodin-induced haze waiting for the chipmunk stage to pass. I think Dad phoned me once, the next day. I talked to Mom about once a day, because that's what we did, but it was a 30-second "How're you doing, kiddo?" "Uhhhh.... surviving." "Okay, love you, feel better." "Bye..." conversation. Not one friend phoned me during that week, as I remember.

And it was totally fine. That was the level of interaction I wanted and the level of interaction I got.

Please read the thread on Ask vs. Guess culture. The older I get, the more blazingly true it seems to me that when I communicate clearly about what I want and need, I'm more likely to get it.
posted by Lexica at 6:09 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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