Nobody’s Perfect; Or, How I Could Be A Better Friend

Over the last nine months I’ve analyzed all types of friends—new and old, male and female, those who flake and those who disappear entirely. I’ve focused, overall, on the behavior of others and how they live up to my expectations of friendship.

What I haven’t done, really, is turn the magnifying glass on myself.

I try hard to be a good friend. If someone I love needs me, I do my very best to be there. But I’m hardly perfect.

I can be bad at returning phone calls.

I interrupt.

Worse yet, I often interrupt with stories about myself. Ugh. Obnoxious.

Sometimes I do this thing where I’ll show up at your birthday party, and, when you thank me, I’ll be like “Of course! I wouldn’t miss it, no need to thank me.” But then in the same breath I’ll be like “I hope you don’t mind I’m still in my work clothes, I’ve had such a long day that I haven’t had a chance to go home and change. And can you believe I had to wait in line outside to get into this bar? In the cold? Alone?”

Like, what do I want? A medal?

A better person says “Of course! I wouldn’t miss it, no need to thank me.” Period.

In college, I remember one of my roommates mentioning, in passing, that I sometimes snap at my friends. She said it so nonchalantly, as if I obviously knew that already.

I’m sure I have more shortcomings in the friendship department. I like to think I’ve grown out of the snapping thing, but the other faults? I’m a work in progress.

It would be impossible to spend almost a year examining friendship without discovering the places where you come up short. It’s my hope that my relationship strengths—I care deeply, I love to make my friends laugh, I’ll always show up and I hear what you have to say (despite the interrupting thing… like I said, I’m trying to fix it)—make up for the areas where I need work.

Now that I’ve become aware of these tendencies, I’ve been focused on catching myself in the act and changing my ways. They say the first step to recovery is recognizing the problem. If that’s true, I’m en route.

Have you ever taken a hard look at your friendship flaws? What are they? How did you/do you hope to make changes?

{Side note: Last night was the final night of Chanukkah. I got a Snuggie, that I am wearing as I type. I am OBSESSED with it. If you have any writers in your life, I highly recommend this comfy cozy Christmas gift.}

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Nobody’s Perfect; Or, How I Could Be A Better Friend

  1. Really, a Snuggie? Who knew?

    Today’s post felt like it could have been written by me. I believe I have the same strengths you listed (I’m also a great gift giver: “I picked this up because I thought of you!)”. I will find a way to get to my friends no matter where they are, despite the fact that I don’t drive – so public transportation it is, no matter the weather.

    As for flaws, I do the exact same thing: interrupt. And I’ve worked really, really hard on changing this. As you stated, it’s a matter of being aware and taking steps to try and change. I really do want to change my bad habits, so I just remind myself that now’s not the time to share. Maybe later. Not returning calls is a really bad habit that I have, and it’s just not conducive to cultivating new friendships or nurturing old friendships. So, now I have a 24-48 hour rule (applied to emails also). This is usually how long my friends take to return calls, so I think that’s o.k.

  2. This is a really good post topic Rachel! It’s funny, because we analyze our friendships to death but the principal is the same as any other relationship – you can’t change others, you can only change yourself. So it makes so much more sense to try to be a better friend if we want better friendships. I definitely don’t call enough, even though I think of my friends all the time. Why don’t I just pick up the phone?? Then I wonder why they don’t phone me that often. I’m going to call them all this weekend!

    XO
    Lenore

  3. Natalie

    I have the same flaws also. I have always had difficulting of holding my tongue and not interrupting with my two cents on a related situation that happened to me. I get upset in situations when friends do not live up to my expectations. Although, I do get upset with myself for not being perfect in all things I do or say.

    My biggest friendship flaw is holding on to a hurt that I feel from a friend and not being able to let it go. The next time they upset me, it seems to make me more upset with them and it starts to show with my actions in their presence. I have been upset with two ladies since August 23, 2009. I remember the date because it is the first time I realized they both told me a lie and intentionally kept something from me (I was very hurt). I have not been able to trust them completely since.

    I suppose trust issues with friends is another problem. Perhaps I am too eager to be completely honest in too many things and expect the same from others. If someone asks me about anything, I tell them what I know. (Definitely NOT a good thing all the time.)

  4. I try to give 100% to a friendship, but I also expect that of others. Sometimes I believe I expect too much and need to remember that the giving part of the friendship is just that, giving. We should be able to give without expecting.
    I am still working on it…

  5. Count me in as another chronic interruptor. I’m working on it!

    Also, I vent to friends more than I probably should (need to work on being more positive), and I’m a chronic busy person/multitasker, which sometimes makes people feel like they don’t have my full attention (they are right!). Like the time when my friend wanted to go out for a drink and I suggested she come over instead for wine so we could drink and talk while I continued working on a project that had to get done. Yeah, I know, that was awful of me….

  6. Lorrie Paige

    I tend to interrupt too; it drives my boyfriend crazy. I’m working on that too…..He thinks I have ADD…..

    My boyfriend wanted to get me (a writer too) a snuggie for Christmas, but as long as I get a mixer and the baadass cookbook, Ten Talents, I’ll be satisfied.

    • Karen A.

      Love The Ten Talents Cookbook, my copy is from 1980, I did not realize it was still in print.

      • Lorrie Paige

        Karen, the latest book was published on December 22, 2008. It has 675 pages! Retail price is $34.95. The new cover is absolutely beautiful; check it out at Amazon. They still have both copies available. I too only have the older version..At least until Christmas!🙂

  7. JessIca

    I have also examined my Flaws when it comes to friendship. I started to do this when my friends stopped returning my calls, facebook messages,etc. Some of my flaws are a lot like Rachel’s. I interrupt people and I talk a lot about myself. I personally don’t have a lot of tact when it comes to certain things and I can also be blunt at times. That can throw a lot of people off. Besides getting myself down on my flaws, I also chose to fix them. When I was younger, I always thought: well, I am who I am and if they cannot accept me for who I am, oh well. I am approaching 30 and it’s hard to have that point of view now.

    • Lorrie Paige

      As the saying goes, “You can’t change other people, but you can change yourself.” Yes, it’s important to check oneself for flaws, but a person shouldn’t change who they sincerely are just for others to like them.

      There is nothing wrong and bad about being blunt, as long as you know HOW to be blunt toward each individual person, according to their emotions…. It’s how one expresses it so not to be cruel. If ANY kind of bluntness put your friends off, then they have an insecurity issue with themselves that they need to deal with.

      “I am who I am and if they cannot accept me for who I am, oh well.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that, as long as you really love who you are. What good is it to change and be a person everyone loves but you don’t like who you’ve become?

      I’m not talking about you specifically Jessica; it’s just you made me think of this point. 🙂

  8. it’s Good when one can see where we all can improve on ourselves, Because most peoples Don’t Ever Wanna SEE Themself in mirriors. I Believe if U choose to be a GOOD FRIEND then U WILL BE.

  9. Julia

    I’m a confessed serial interrupter. Bad at work, but not *always* bad in friendships. I try, but when someone says something in conversation that reminds me of something else, a lightbulb goes off, I feel a connection in my brain, and I just want to share. I want to laugh about it again.

    In my generation of 20-somethings, especially younger 20-somethings and not-quite 20-somethings, I’ve come to notice that fast speech and interrupting each other are normal, almost expected. We’re so reliant on texting, when messages go to the moon and come back to earth in about 5 seconds, pauses feel unnatural. Texting someone before they text you back is normal. So sometimes we blurt; to cut it short would feel like you’re trying not to breathe. Too bad it’s totally selfish.

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  12. Layla

    Once I get started talking about myself, I find it’s hard to stop. I used to leave a gathering and be like “darn I just talked about myself too much again. I realized it a half an hour ago but couldn’t seem to stop.”

    Now I use a physical signal to reset myself – squeeze the knuckle of your middle finger, which is supposedly the acupuncture pressure point associated with talking. I’m a little skeptical of the acupuncture stuff, but I’m a fan of the placebo effect so it works on me.

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