I just realized something that’s taken me 4 or 5 years to see clearly. I know a lady here in my town I thought was my friend, but she clearly is not. She is an acquaintance with a daughter who plays the same sports as my youngest, so we’ve always ended up sitting together and talking.
At some point a few years ago, we rode together to a sporting event in a distant town. Not long after that, we met for breakfast. Then lunch. This evolved to our taking our kids to the beach together in the summers, and we developed fairly regular communication over email.
While I like this lady well enough, I realize it isn’t because of anything she brings to the relationship but rather, she’s infinitely more pleasant than most of the other parents in our sports circle.
You see, in all our years together, she’s never shared anything remotely personal about herself. I’m not talking private issues, but even just dreams and goals and big ideas. She doesn’t share about books she’s read or anything creative she’s done or would like to do. She only wants to talk about her kids’ dreams and goals. And… she likes to gossip about other kids at the high school, and their parents.
I didn’t see it clearly for what it was at first, because her comments about others are often couched as concern or dismay. But now I realize she just likes to talk trash about others. Of course, I only realized this after she treated ME badly.
This summer, she blew me off completely. Not that we were ever exceptionally close, but at the very least, we responded to one another’s emails. This past summer, I never heard from her and she never returned my few emails or phone calls. It didn’t take me long to take the hint and just leave her alone. Not a huge loss, really.
But then once school started, I got a gushing email about how she’d missed me, how she HAD read my emails, but hadn’t responded because she wanted to spend every possible moment with her kids.
Really? Not even enough time for a “sorry it’s a busy summer – I’ll see you in the fall”?
Then she asked me to do a volunteer thing with her. When I said I couldn’t, she got very cool and the friendliness went away as quickly as it had come.
How did I not see this sooner?
I know a lot of people. A lot of nice people. I know half our town. But friendships are hard to come by. They take energy, investment, and most of all, time. Lots and lots of time. And if people don’t even have time for a one-line email to let me know what’s going on, then where does that leave us?