I don’t know how to be in a relationship sometimes. And by relationship, I mostly mean people outside of my family. I love my family. My mother and my brother are my entire world when it comes to people. Like, if I only had a choice of two people whom I could hang out with for the rest of my life, it’s hands down my mother and my brother. They’re not just family. They’re my best friends. Soul mates, in some weird way. (And no, I don’t believe soul mates are exclusive to romantic relationships.)
When I say I’m not really good at relationships, I mean that I’m not sure how exactly I should be a friend sometimes. Of course I know I should just be myself and fulfill the basic checklist of a decent human being (honesty, willingness to communicate, kindness, love, etc). The problem for me is that this checklist goes on and on and on. All of a sudden I make myself shoulder these qualities that I think I should uphold in a friendship. In order to be a “good friend”, I have to fulfill all the requirements. This imaginary list that dictates how I should speak and how I should behave. It’s imaginary but at the same time very, very real. Sometimes, or more often than not, it makes me very breathless, stressed out, and occasionally whiny.
What tends to happen is I am often wrought with the guilt about not doing enough. I’m not forgiving enough. I’m not considerate enough. I’m not helpful enough. I’m not enough to be good friend to somebody. I overcompensate my guilt and (in many cases) stoop very low to ease the guilt in my heart. And it’s just not guilt. It’s also my desire for validation and reciprocation. Why do I put myself through shit? Well duh. I want to be loved. Don’t we all. It’s a complicated matter and if I were to delve into all the layers of my psyche, upbringing and emotional patterns regarding this issue, we will be here all day and probably all week. So let me just say that I have been a compulsory giver when it comes to my relationship. And having been tremendous giver who gives without discrimination or personal boundaries, I attract a lot of free takers who proceed to take me for granted.
The significant relationships that I have had so far in my life (best friends, boyfriends) are essentially the same story, over and over again, but with different people. When I decide that I love somebody, and I mean really love them, I flip the switch of unconditional love. Although, now that I think of it, it’s not really unconditional love. It’s more like a self-imposed martyrdom in which I failed to protect myself from people who didn’t care enough to consider how I really felt.
It’s a long story. My point is, after going through and ups and downs of relationships: I really don’t know how to function in a relationship properly. I’m an introvert and by nature not very social, so it’s not a necessity for me to be around people all the time to feel energized or fulfilled. I’m quite satisfied with just having my mother and my brother. It’s doesn’t make me paralyzing lonely or anything, but I do feel this yearning. For friends.
And now the guilt seeps in again. The truth is I do have friends. But like I said, my ideal, my perfectionist tendency to evaluate myself (and subsequently anybody around me) according to that “checklist” of what a good friend should be like. I admit that sometimes I have false or unrealistic expectations about how my friends should behave, because heck, I’ve poured in so much effort and time and energy and I’ve done so much for them–why can’t they do the same for me? I know expectations aren’t healthy, and I try my best to manage them–but how do I know if I’m just asking for too much, or I’m just neurotically about asking for too much? Like what’s the balance?
I’ve learned that there are some things that you should expect from a person who you intend to keep in your life. Honesty, for example. I honestly am so tired of people who claim to be one kind of character and see themselves as utter angels, but they turn around to stab you in the back while shedding tears of injustice and crying about how you’ve treated them. Dear god give me a break. You know what pisses me off the most? People who use my biggest worries against me: am I expecting too much or asking for too much? Oh my fucking god. You can tell that I’m not completely over this. You know, I accept my part in the relationship and I take responsibility for never truly communicating where my boundaries are, and sometimes my anguish comes from my own expectations of how a person should behave. I accept that. I take responsibility for that. But blaming everything on me without a moment of hesitation or self-reflection that all the problems in our relationship are because I’m too emotional, expect too much, have a perfect image of what a friend/boyfriend should behave like????? Do you even hear yourself!? It makes me SO mad. And bitter. The even worst part is when I tell people that they aren’t accepting the part they play in my relationship with them, they become offended or hurt from your accusations because where did those accusations come from? Gasp!! How can they, the innocent angels of this relationship, be accused of such devilry? No. This is too much. This hurts their sense of self too much. Oh no. They don’t want to give up parts of themselves just to make peace with you.
And then they would try to offer you their good will. Like they’re some kind of saint. Seriously, these people. “Let’s be friends again though we’ve broken up.” “I will continue to send you these good will even if you don’t talk to me.” “I just want to apologize for what I’ve done even though I have no idea what I did wrong and it’s not like I will actually think about it, but since you’re hurt, I will apologize to make you feel better!”
I know a toxic person when I see one, okay? Or should I say that after going through years of bullshit, I finally see them for who they are.
Sigh.Sorry this blog post turned into a kind of rant. I meant to write about the nature of friendship and how individuals participate in it. But boy did I let out some angry juice today. But I suppose, this is what needs to come out of me, so there you go.