I’ve always been pretty good at letting relationships naturally fade out. I’ve always been able to recognise when either I’m no longer interested in maintaining the friendship or recognising when they no longer are. Sometimes there’s hurt feelings but most of the time there is a feeling of loss but no hard feelings.
It is hard to do when you’ve never done it before. I remember the first time I realised I was no longer a priority for someone. She was my best friend from grade 2 until grade 6. We spent nearly every afternoon together. I was usually home alone with my sister for a couple of hours after school every day so instead I’d ride my bike to my best friends house, stay there for a few hours and then make my way home. We hung out most weekends. And then we finished school. I moved but we kept in touch. She went to a school where 90% of my primary school went. I went to a school where I knew exactly 0 people. I was desperate to hang on to my old friendships but them, not so much. I spent many lonely weekends in the first couple of months. My parents worked weekends so it was hard to see my old friends as public transport wasn’t great. My best friend was good at first. Then she got a boyfriend and we were all forgotten. More of my phone calls went unanswered and not returned. We were mailing letters to each other a lot over the summer break but they started taking longer and longer to get to me. It took me the entire year to come to the realisation that I was no longer a priority. I wish I’d seen it sooner but as a 13 year old kid, I didn’t quite have the awareness I have now. It hurt. It really did, but by that stage I had made new friends. A core group of girls that I still see on occasion and one girl who is now my best friend and has been for the last 18 years.
The point is, that experience helped me see that people have other shit going on. And that I’m not always going to be a priority. That people grow apart. What it showed me is that there isn’t always a conversation about it. Whilst an explanation would be nice, I know myself that sometimes it’s hard to express that someone has done nothing wrong but you just don’t want to be friends anymore. It seems mean and unnecessary.
I also realised upon moving to a new school in year 9 that its ok to have relationships to serve you for the time being. In my first year at the new school, my group of friends were basically the other new kids. We stuck together because we were in all the same situation and that was one where everyone else had known each other for years and were already in their cliques. Year 9 is also a notorious year for girls so it’s hard to break into a new friendship group. Whilst I had fun with these girls, they couldn’t offer what I craved – common interests and close companionship. We all knew why we were friends and we each knew we were biding our time for acceptance by others. By year 11 I had found two groups of girls that I swapped between. Whilst everyone got along, they didn’t mix out of school but each group gave me something that I needed and once school ended, I stopped contact with the ones who I only spent time with simply because they were there.
I have let a lot fade out simply because they don’t serve a purpose in my life. That sounds harsh but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised I don’t have any interest in maintaining relationships for the sake of it. I’m very introverted in terms of energy levels and so I prefer to keep a close number of friends compared to hundreds of friends and if someone new comes into my life that may mean that someone else may be put on the back burner.
I think I’ve been lucky though. I’ve always been very much my own person who doesn’t rely on others entirely for support. I’ve always had that in myself and have had to use it in difficult times. I’ve also always had an awareness of others and how I factor into their lives. I’ve rarely thought that I’m more important to someone than I really was. In fact, I always assume that people don’t think of/remember me and whilst I know that comes across like I don’t think much of myself when I actually do, it also means that when someone does invariably decide they no longer want to keep as in touch with me as they used to, I don’t really notice too much or if I do notice, I’m glad for it.
Like with so much in my life, I don’t want things in it simply for the sake of it. I want all my relationships to add value to my life. So if that means letting go of friendships that no longer serve me then I will. And I refuse to feel bad about it.
When my fiance and I moved into our new house we were given a lot of things – furniture, cutlery, crockery, towels, rugs, bedding and many other things. It were great to start with as we didn’t have to spend money on things that weren’t that important to us but it meant it became an expectation that any time someone didn’t want something that they would give it to us and we would be grateful. Except we weren’t.
So how do you go from just accepting everything thrown at you to saying no? Well it goes a little something like this –
- ‘Thank you but no, I do not need anymore cushions/towels/cheese knives.’
If they insist or kick up a fuss –
- ‘Thank you but again no, I don’t want it.’
If they keep insisting –
- ‘As I’ve already said, no. Please stop insisting.’
Hopefully this is enough to stop them from continuing but if it doesn’t you may need to ignore it and change the subject –
- ‘Have you tried that new Spanish tapas place around the corner yet?’
Alternatively you can just tell them to get out of your house for making you so uncomfortable.
I get it. This can be a difficult conversation to have and its mostly difficult because you’ve changed the script that the other person is used to. But that isn’t your problem, it’s theirs. So keep doing what you need to to make yourself clear. Steer away from ending anything with ‘right now’ because it implies that you are happy for them to try again and that is giving mixed signals. Be clear, direct and as polite as you need to be, remembering that its ok to decrease the level of politeness the more you have to repeat yourself.
About a month ago I wrote a post about the ‘Not Giving a Fuck‘ philosophy and initially I wanted it to go in one direction and it went somewhere else so here is part 2.
Here I am going to list a number of things that I just don’t give a fuck about
- Other people’s travel stories – I honestly don’t care about your travel stories. Unless you did something that the majority of tourists do not do, I don’t want to hear it. And no, I don’t want to look at the thousands of photos that you haven’t bothered going through yet.
- Other people buying houses – Whilst I’m happy for you, I don’t care where it is, how much it cost, what it looks like or what you’re going to do with it. See how my eyes are glazing over? It’s because I don’t give a fuck. But again, I’m happy for you!
- Cars – Just get me from A to B safely. I don’t need any more details.
- Coffee – I don’t drink it therefore I don’t want to hear if yours is bitter, burnt, or any other adjective. I don’t care.
- Hearing complaints about public transport – seriously, it’s public transport. Deal with it and stop whinging.
- Complaints about traffic – I don’t give a fuck if you get stuck in traffic everyday. It’s obviously just a part of your life so deal with it. Silently.
- Your kids milestones – The only kid I care about right now is my nephew. Mostly because I’m invested in him. I don’t care if your kids went on the potty. I certainly don’t need to see said potty posted on facebook.
- Kale – I know its healthy but I hate it.
- Your gym workout – I’m glad your working out and getting healthy and tbh I do love the pics you post on Instagram but I don’t want a rundown of your exact workout. I don’t care because what works for you is probably not going to work for me, or I’ve already tried it.
What do you not give a fuck about?
There’s this person in my life that I really admire and respect. She’s gone through hell and back, and hell and back again and although she’s been bitterly hurt and used, she’s come out stronger for it.
She is the epitome of not giving a fuck.
We met in high school although we didn’t actually attend the school at the same time – I left at the end of year 8 and she started in year 9 but she became friends with a group of girls I was friendly with so we met and hung out. Never one on one but in a group situation we would hang. We lost touch once we graduated but due to social media we became acquainted again. She’s the girl I can count on to come see bands from our youth doing their final tour and events that involve dancing/gymnastics.
The reason I admire her is because she really does what she wants. She goes to bars and clubs by herself if that’s what she feels like doing. She goes to concerts by herself simply because she wants to see a band and doesn’t care if she doesn’t have someone with her. And I don’t mean it in that creepy way some people go to things on their own. She just doesn’t let the fact she’s on her own stop her. If she’s no longer interested in a conversation, she will politely excuse herself and not feel forced to pay attention. If she doesn’t want to go somewhere she will simply say ‘no, thank you,’ offer no explanation and leave it at that.
I think that is a quality every woman should have. Actually its a quality every single person should have. To be so aware and in tune with what you want and to just do it. Someone who is completely at ease with being alone at public events. Someone who won’t let themselves be stopped by something as trivial as appearing to be a loner by strangers. Someone who comfortably says no without feeling guilt, and yes without feeling obligated.
This is something I want to improve on. I’m already pretty good at eating out on my own and going to places like the beach or the movies by myself but I want to do more things simply because I want to and not let the fact that I’m alone stop me.
I started reading Sarah Knights’ ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving a F**k’ last week and I have to say I’m really enjoying it.
Sarah believes that there are only so many fucks that people can give so its important to dish them out to things that are actually important to you.
She categories life into 4 stages –
- Friends, Acquaintances and Strangers
I’ve been a subscriber of the “not giving a fuck’ philosophy for quite some time prior to reading the book and I have to say it has definitely made my life easier in some respects. The first 3 sections are pretty good for me – I can easily get rid of inanimate objects if they are no longer useful or don’t bring me some sort of joy. At work I can let things slide and don’t get worked up over office politics. I’m good at saying no to things I don’t want to do to friends, and I don’t feel the need to please acquaintances and strangers if it doesn’t also benefit me in some way.
My biggest issue, as is with most, is family. Family is hard because there are so many expectations and obligations and if you’re accommodating to start with, it becomes expected behaviour. It can also cause issues if you stop this behaviour.
I have to say things with my family are good. My parents are chill with the fact that I have my own life and can’t always attend everything. My fiance’s family on the other hand is a little different.
My fiance and I started dating at 16 and being a shy girl at that age, I did all I could to please his parents. This meant rearranging my life to accommodate theirs. Every single important holiday was spent with his family instead of mine because I’d rearrange my family events. To my family, it didn’t really matter what day we celebrated things as long as we got together. I did this for years because I didn’t know better. But most of the time I didn’t actually want to be there.
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realised there is no obligation for me to attend every single one of my fiance’s family events and have starting picking and choosing those that I actually want to attend.
Obviously this causes issues but the point is, although my previous behaviour has shown that I’ll do everything to attend their events, it doesn’t mean I need to keep doing it. What it also means is that provided I quickly give a response that I’m not attending something, I need to not give a fuck about others opinions of me. At the end of the day, it’s really not my problem.
Do you have issues with obligations and expectations? How do you deal with them?