Thursday, July 09, 2009

Feeling the love


"....I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now,
you like me!"


-Sally Field (accepting an Oscar for Places in the
Heart)

Like anyone, deep down, I have always wanted to be liked. I suppose it is survival instinct that makes us strive to be liked. It starts when you are a baby and realize that you are defenseless and need to rely on the big people around you to take care of you. So you begin picking up clues as to what behaviour triggers people to smile and want to do things for you...because they like you.

Now granted, it is easier to be liked when you are a cute little baby and can evoke oohs and aahhs by simply spitting up spaghetti. But as you grow and embrace your true personality, being liked becomes more and more of a challenge. By the time you are 50-something you probably have learned that very few people actually do like you. Or at least very few people like you unconditionally. Even a dog's devotion is based on the level of food in his bowl.

I've grown to believe that people's affection for each other is measured more in tolerance levels than in love. This is not to say people don't like or love other people. It is just that the old adage about familiarity breeding contempt has some merit to it.

I try not to be annoying, but I think it is a lost cause. Because unless you are totally without personality and mannerisms, you can't help but do something that annoys someone. It can be the inflection of your voice or an oft repeated gesture or phrase. Most things that annoy people are unconscious things that other people do. So the only way to make them aware of how annoying something they are doing is, is to tell them. That of course makes them self-conscious and they will be annoyed at you for bringing it to their attention.

It's a viscious circle.

Subconsciously, I think I make comments about people not liking me just so they will reassure me that that is not the case. As with any attempt to assuage self-pity, this ploy seldom works. People either like you or they don't (or you are likable or you aren't). You can't make people like you.

Which comes to my annual reflection on my lack of friends. I wouldn't say I have no friends. I'd say I lack close friends. And I would have to qualify that by defining a close friend as someone who gives a rat's ass about what is going on in your life as opposed to being totally absorbed with their own life.

Facebook friends don't count. Having friends on Facebook is more akin to collecting trading cards.

If I bemoan my lack of friends too loudly, someone will eventually say something about me "having to be a good friend to have a good friend." I will admit that I am not the best at flipping through my virtual roledex and keeping in touch with everyone I know (though Facebook does kind of work like that). But I have had people in my life over the years who I did care about and did make efforts to stay in touch with. And inevitably they would drift off into their worlds leaving me to believe that I had done something wrong or offended them or didn't use the right deoderant. So I was right back at that not so happy place of wondering why I'm not likeable.

I was thinking about my lack of friends the other night and I came to the conclusion that I don't really care. Frankly, with work and my family, I don't have a lot of energy left over for friends anyway. Having friends just obligates you to help people move or give them rides to the airport. And you have to listen to them. Who needs that?

I think I may be able to put my finger on why I don't have many friends.

9 comments:

K. said...

We're family now. I don't have to be your friend. You're stuck having awkward conversation with me at holiday dinners.

;)

(That's supposed to be humor)

Time said...

K.

I'm beyond awkward conversation. I just mutter these days :)

JP/deb said...

I find that my circle of friends is tight and small (in real life and on Facebook!)

With limited resources (mainly time) we have to pick and choose, but still keep ourselves open to the possibilities that surround us :)

Peace,
JP/deb

Time said...

JP/Deb,

You're on Facebook and haven't sent me a friend notice yet? :)

K. said...

Ah, muttering is fine. I can't hear out of my right ear anyway. :)

Naughti Biscotti said...

I've been thinking about this issue recently but from the other side of the issue. I've been ignoring people. I've been drifing away because of my own actions. I can't stand my mother, so I've stopped responding to her phone calls. I delete emails from other people I'm trying to get rid of. Recently, I was even forced to move out of the building I work in and move back to the disgusting Welfare building across town. I'm leaving all of my work friends behind. I've isolated myself. Why am I doing this? When I get through whatever it is I'm obviously experiencing, do you think my contacts will take me back?

By the way, whether you're wanting me to say this or not... You ARE likeable. Very much so. Though I wish I had never befriended you on facebook. It makes me think that I have contact when really I'm just looking at your trading card every day.

Time said...

NB,

In my youth, I assumed friends were like lawns. Neglect them, allow weeds to grow and don't water them and still they'll come back when the rains return. But sometimes lawns just die and it's a lot easier to just maintain them then bring them back to life.

And thanks for thinking I'm likable. That's really all I have ever wanted someone to say when I sprint off on these self-pity jags. And I think it is okay to have actual (or virtual) friends on Facebook, too :)

Naughti Biscotti said...

I think I allow my own lawn to go to weeds; overgrown and obnoxious. Eventually I mow it down an ivite my friends back for a garden party.

Time said...

NB,

Real friends will always come back. Especially if you offer them free food and beer. :)