Over the holiday weekend I was catching up with an old friend. I asked about some of her friends and how they were doing. Everyone was well, she said. But when I asked for specific updates on one pal’s love life and another one’s family, I was told, “Oh, I don’t ask them about that stuff anymore.”
These are sore subjects. One friend-of-my-friend is devastated about being single, the other has a newly strained relationship with her sister. They’re issues that have been brewing for a while now, and my friend has checked in on both topics plenty of times. But nothing seems to change, and it started to feel as if she was upsetting her BFFs rather than supporting them by asking the same question over and over. So she stopped.
And now the subjects have become taboo territory.
People say the measure of a best friendship is that you can talk about everything. Usually I think this is true. I generally don’t approve of having topics that are off-limits in a close relationship. How can you show you care about the important stuff if you’re not allowed to bring it up?
But maybe that’s the journalist in me. When I’m curious about something, I ask. Often to others’ disapproval.
I do think it is important to respect someone’s boundaries. Sometimes it’s more rewarding to have a friend you don’t have to talk about the big stuff with. Someone with whom you can escape your troubles, if only for a moment.
I have trouble toeing this line. I always want to show my concern if a friend is going through hard times, but I don’t want to be another person firing off the same questions, especially when the answer hasn’t changed. It can start to sound an awful lot like nagging.
Are there any taboo topics in your close friendships? What are they? How do you show you care without beating a dead horse?