Service of Lopsided Friendships

July 12th, 2021

Categories: Conversation, Friends, Friendship, Listen, Sensitivity

Image by michael maggiore from Pixabay

I’ve written about friendship over years. A favorite post is “Service of What is Good Company,” from 2012.

Some friendships are lopsided temporarily either during crises such as illness, job loss and death or at happy times, to celebrate milestones: births, marriages, raises, promotions, new jobs, clients, relationships or homes. At these times most conversations involve the special events/circumstances.

Image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay

Other relationships seem chronically out of balance. One example: Person A, who lives alone and is retired, has enjoyed a lifetime relationship with Person B, also alone, who still works and is in frequent contact with siblings and their offspring. Person B has little patience with A, often cutting off B saying “I don’t need all those details” or “I know what you are going to say,” or “everyone knows that,” or “you’ve said that before.”  B doesn’t understand–or care–how important it is for A to share thoughts even if at times they are heavy with minutia. It’s not as though A is wasting B’s time. Conversations–or putdowns–often take place when the two are on the road.

Friendship should be like a game of ping pong or tennis between two people of similar ability, with back and forth conversation–equal amounts of listening and talking. Do you agree? Are your friendships even Steven most of the time?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

16 Responses to “Service of Lopsided Friendships”

  1. Helen Rabinovitz Said:

    I was just thinking about that the other day. Called my friend Cathy…I got to speak for about two minutes. Then for another twenty I listened to her talk about people I don’t know. Happens all the time. I’ve thought about saying something to her but is it worth jeopardizing the friendship. Not really. I just call the landline from my cell…the call waiting beeps and I say…I’ve got to go because it’s so and so! Sneaky yes but it works…..

  2. Hank Goldman Said:

    This is an interesting topic that affects everyone…

    It’s not always easy to get the other person to talk, or listen! One thing I do know, it’s hard to put yourself in someone else’s place. Or as they say, walk a mile in their shoes… They may be dealing with things that are hard or overwhelming to talk about and or reveal!

    Each relationship is different, Obviously. And each one should be cherished even if it’s lopsided! That’s just one person’s opinion… Thanks for bringing up such a good topic.

  3. BC Said:

    Certain friendships are a healthy even Steven type which I prefer.

    I try to limit my exposure to folks who are psychoneurotic or Psychosomatic chronically. However, since I am a physician, people often tell me more than I really need to hear, and use me as a sounding board, and ask for advice. Try to be available for times of crises, which we all experience.

  4. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Definitely agree and thankfully my friendships are pretty balanced. But there’s always one (right!) who has to be right all the time — even when she’s not. Life is short, and I just try to tune it out.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    I find stories about other people fascinating. Maybe that’s why I like to read biographies, autobiographies and memoirs. So I wouldn’t mind hearing about strangers as long as I knew how they fit in with my friend’s life. That said, 20 vs 2 minutes is lopsided on steroids. Whew!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    It takes time for a shy or introverted person to feel safe and comfortable enough to talk/share. It is always worth the wait if you like the person.

    As for chronic lopsidedness being worth it, if it bothers the person being constantly quieted or cut off, there must be positive aspects of the relationship to make it last/continue. If you’re the one being dismissed, a good first step might be to mention how it makes you feel.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    I, too, prefer even Steven friendships.

    I’ve wondered how much information is too much to share with a physician. I used to think of a hypothetical patient who just lost her job, her husband walked out, parents failing and who didn’t know whether to pay rent, light, phone or credit card bill because she had little income and who experienced headaches. If a doctor didn’t know this he/she might send the patient for a serious brain test when the cause of the headaches is most likely nerves from overwhelming life circumstances.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    Needing to be right all the time is another recipe for creating a lopsided relationship. Good point. I wonder if the cause is insecurity. In any case to save a friendship at times a person who is right needs to let the point go. That’s maturity.

  9. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook: For the most part – yes. Balanced & very grateful for the long term rich relationships.

  10. BC Said:

    Exactly. Too many docs today would not listen to the social history and order an MRI of the brain.

  11. lucrezia Said:

    Just like equality is based more on wishful thinking than fact, the same applies to friendships. most are lopsided, because of personality and/or circumstance. Every so often, however, there are friendships based on compatibility and teamwork, and they are worth their weight in gold.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Most people forgive friend imbalance-light or lopsided every once in a while. But if a friend overdoes it….the target can’t be happy.

  13. Deb Wright Said:

    For me personally, I have curtailed those one-way friendships. I am always interested in human nature and people, but it took me a long time, perhaps into my 40’s, to not be so available to everyone who was self-absorbed or unkind.

    I “inherited” a friend when my foster mother died. Her mother and my foster mother were lifelong friends. At the funeral, this friend (I had not seen or interacted with her very much at all) said it would make my foster mother so happy to know that we are friends. Okay, I am always open to new people. Well, all of the conversations and visits are totally about her and her various problems. I seriously think when she takes a breath and asks me how I am, if I told her I had just been diagnosed with leprosy and had two weeks to live, she would continue to tell me about herself! How do I handle this one-sided affair? I limit the phone conversations, I sometimes let it go to voicemail, and seldom have an actual breakfast or lunch with her. Why do I even respond? I feel sorry for her, she is not very smart, and she is alone. If she adopts a dog it bites her or has some expensive and rare disease! But I set limits on my time. I recently loaned her money. I realized that she actually has more income than I do! It was only three hundred dollars, but I reminded her to pay me back and she eventually did.

    But for the rest of my friendships with women and some men, it is pretty even-handed. I am too old and have realized that being a sounding board for “friends” is not healthy.

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    Good for you for getting back your loan. It doesn’t always happen. I have stories.

    I, too, feel sorry for this woman but the cost to deal with her is too dear. She’s lucky you answer the phone at all. Some people are accident prone. She seems to be one of those.

    Remember the old joke, “well enough about me. How do you like my tie?”

  15. Eileen Dover Said:

    No one should ever discount friend’s chit chat. Friends don’t always want to give or take advice, just knowing someone’s listening is what close friends are for. My thought…even steven isn’t practical, sometimes we ying/yang or wax and wane. Don’t lose sight of long term friendships when you can take a break! When the friend who plays ping pong isn’t going well look to friends who enjoy netflix and pate!

  16. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Eileen,

    Friends are hard to come by that’s true and some surprise you. One I thought was a close friend dropped me like a basket of bees when I got divorced! Nevertheless just as one should not feel abused or take abuse in a marriage nor should they in a friendship.

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