Hello, Papa Bear!
I've wrote to you before and you helped me with a previous issue. It was a trivial one but now that I have your insight on it, I feel much better, thank you!
This time, the issue is a bit more larger. It's about an online 'friend' I have. We'll call her 'Ally'. I really don't know if she's a friend or not, but allow me to explain the situation.
You see, I met Ally about 3.5 years ago, from a friend on DeviantArt. When she first video chatted me, she was alright. She used to talk about daily things and the like. But then came drama and most of the time, she'd use me as an emotional cushion. She'd never want to be alone, and she was really depressed. Me being the overly nice person I am, I stayed with her, and this continued about once every two weeks for a about two and a half years.
We used to talk about dumb stuff sometimes, and there were moments where we did genuinely laugh, but sometimes she would be on video stoned or crying or smoking or drunk. She'd pour out her drama and I'd sit there and nod and say stupid things to try and cheer her up. I don't know why I tolerated it. I guess I felt bad for her because I thought she was really emotional and suicidal. She used to manipulate me into calling her. I know I was being manipulated but... I couldn't help myself. I felt really bad for her.
There was a half-year I got a break from video chatting her once a week. We still kept in contact through text. We occasionally video chatted when I had a good enough internet or privacy. During this time, she managed to find a boyfriend, she moved out of her house that was causing her drama, and she's living pretty happily.
Now the problem is... I just don't want to talk to her nowadays. I've become bored with her. She's happier than before, but she'll occasionally (once a month) get on video chat stoned or drunk, or she'll stick me on the phone with her boyfriend or other members of the house I really don't want to talk to. I remember saying: "I don't really want to talk to anyone else right now." and she still made me meet them. Although, perhaps I didn't say it with enough conviction as I should have.
She's a very loyal and morally ground person, really. She just doesn't like being alone sometimes. She has her housemate, who she's really good friends with. I feel that I'm just there for her own entertainment sometimes. I've made friends in a game development chat I really like talking too. I can talk to them about dumb and deep stuff. Artist things, video games, life at school... heck, I just finished a four hour chat with one of them, and I enjoyed it! I can't handle more than 30 minutes with Ally.
It's been bugging me: I feel that I'm in too deep with her because she thinks we've been friends for 3.5 years. I force myself to sit there and nod while she tells her housemate how she and I were buddies. I don't consider her much as a friend. Just... I don't know, an acquaintance. Someone who somehow forced their way into my life. I can tolerate her for 30 minutes tops, and during that time, we can have some decent conversation.
I feel I've gone in too deep with her. Her friend's kid started calling me 'Uncle'. And she's really set on having me come visit her when if I go to graduate school in the USA.
I can not handle that. I will not handle that. >.<
And... I don't know, Papa Bear. She's not clingy: I can tell her nowadays that I don't feel like talking and she'll accept it. She'll sometimes say stuff like: "*Whines* Pleeease?" But she's not clingy and as manipulative anymore and she won't force me into a chat. I just choose to entertain her because again... I feel bad. However, I just want to remove her from my contacts list. I've done it with so many other people, but with her, I've video chatted her and I've been there for the bad times in her life.
I've been reading these little “Thought Catalog” friendship blogs and sometimes I think I'm just a crappy friend. Sometimes I think that I should give her a chance. Sometimes I just want to remove her from Skype without telling her a thing.
I'm very confused and this is troubling me. Not to the point where it's distracting my work and general life, but every time I go online, she's there, waiting to talk. I don't want to talk to Ally, even though she's a good, happy person now who had some rough luck in the past.
So after all this, what do you think, Papa? Should I tell her I'm moving on? I'm growing as a person and I've made new friends? Should I just write her a really long and emotional paragraph and remove her through Skype text? The one other thing stopping me removing Ally is that I know she's really emotional. I know she'll get depressed again if I leave her because she's had quite a few close people leave her in the past, during her seemingly endless bad weeks. Even the thought of saying: "Look Ally, I think we need to talk..." gives me the chills because I'm afraid she'll get this hurt look and... gah. What to do, what to do? >.<
Your advice on this matter is greatly appreciated.
* * *
This reminds me a little of a situation I had with a former friend in high school. I met him during my brief life in Illinois, where I attended a high school in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton for a year. I didn’t have many friends at all at the time (having just been uprooted from my childhood home of Van Nuys and making a tough transition), and this fellow (I’ll call him Ted) made an effort to be friends with me, which was nice and I appreciated it. My family then moved again (to Michigan) and I lost touch with Ted. Fast forward about 30 years and he contacted me on Facebook. Ted was quite friendly, had married, and had become, well, very Christian, shall we say. Other than that year in Wheaton, we really didn’t have a thing in common and I wasn’t all that interested in his friendship. It’s not that I thought he was a bad person or even that I didn’t like him (he’s likeable enough), it’s just that I felt no sense of closeness to him, none at all, and, well, I found him boring. So, basically, when he contacted me I politely said hello, but made no effort to chat with him and he eventually got the message, I believe.
I have said in this column a number of times that true friendships are priceless and one should not dismiss them lightly, so perhaps this sounds a bit contradictory, but it really isn’t. A friend should be someone with whom you have some things in common (hobbies, work, world views) and to whom you can relate. You are under no obligation to be someone’s friend just because they want to be your friend if you really don’t feel like you have much in common. A friend is someone who enhances your quality of life, not someone who feels like a burden, an obligation because you somehow feel guilty that you actually want to dismiss him or her from your life.
I, like you, used to be a sucker for the whiny plea for acceptance, too, but I’m over that now. I’ll give you another, more recent, example from my life. I run the Greymuzzle group on Facebook (along with Critter Otter). To become a member, we have a couple guidelines that are simple, but strict: 1) you must be a furry, of course, and 2) you must be at least 30 years old (or else it wouldn’t be a Greymuzzle group). And, of course, you can’t be a jerk. So, anyway, I screen the people who want to be members and the other day someone asked to be a member, so I checked out his profile and it said he was 21. I wrote back to him and said, sorry, but you have to be at least 30. He wrote back and said he was 32 and his fursona was 21 and that was because he wanted to be young again. I then wrote to him that I wasn’t comfortable with people who lie on their profiles and, anyway, if he’s obsessed with being young he really didn’t fit in with a group of furries who were celebrating the fact that they were older, more mature furries. Then I got the whiny “pretty pleeeeeeze” like he was a baby. Nope, doesn’t wash with me, not impressed. So, you see, even though he technically fit the profile, he wasn’t right for the group and so the judgment call—about which I have no qualms—was appropriate.
Your letter is riddled with words and phrases that leave no doubt that you don’t wish to be friends with Ally; she just doesn’t fit into your life, your personality. So, do you “write her a really long and emotional paragraph”? Of course not. That just evokes a lot of silly, unneeded drama. You indicate her life has improved a lot, so, not to burst your self-esteem at all, but you might be giving the value of your friendship a bit more weight than it truly carries. I’m sure Ally will survive if you decide to break it off.
Unlike making friends, dropping friends is incredibly simple and can be done with class. You don’t have to be a drama queen about it; you don’t have to explain yourself; most importantly, you don’t have to be mean. Simply be disinterested, which is honest. You don’t have to block her, or even bother to unfriend her. Gradually reduce the number of times the two of you are in contact. On those occasions you do chat, reduce the amount of time you talk. Keep doing this until, eventually, contact is reduced to almost nothing or stops completely.
Now, at some point, she might contact you and ask if there is something wrong. To this, you say, “No, nothing’s wrong and I’m not mad at you.” If she presses, say, “Ally, I just think that what we had has kind of run it’s course. We really don’t have much in common. This has nothing to do with you; you’re a good person. It’s about me and my interests and life goals.”
Do not feel guilty about this! You are not being a mean or bad person. This is just a matter of two people who don’t click together. Neither one of you is to blame. It’s okay to weed out some clunker friends from your life and then, hopefully, find others who fit into your life better.
Hope that helps.
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