Question about women and friendships and calling your friends

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2008
Question about women and friendships and calling your friends
8
Mon, 09-24-2012 - 11:41am

I had seen this topic awhile back, but something happened a couple weeks ago that has me thinking about it again.

My friend "Ann" and I were very good friends.  We would see each other regularly.  And talk on the phone often - a few times a week.  When one of my kids was very sick - in and out of the hospital sick - I stopped calling a lot of friends.  I just wasn't in the mood, and felt I didn't have anything positive to say.

I don't remember if Ann even knew he was sick.  Probably not, because I wasn't the one calling her.  And it occurred to me that I had been the one to always - and I do mean always - make the call.

Months passed - no call.  And I decided then that obviously, the friendship was convenient as long as I was doing the calling.  So I never called.  Who wants to be the one always making the effort?

About two weeks ago, I ran into a mutual friend and she said, "Ann said she hasn't talked to you in two years."  To which I thought (but didn't say) "Then Ann should pick up the phone!"

Do other women have this issue?  About who does the calling? 

I'm wondering if I should call Ann and explain all of this to her.  It seems petty, yet it's something that obviously bothers me.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2009

First of all, I don’t think it’s a woman/gender issue.

More importantly, friendship should not be based on one person always making the calls.  My position has always been that if a person cares about a relationship (whether it be friendship, romantic, or family relationship) s/he will put in the time and effort to maintain it.  This doesn’t have to be every day; it might be just twice a year, but to put all the responsibility on the other person is wrong.

Instead of calling her all the time, you could have said to her “Hey, I’m doing all the calling.  Call me sometime.”  But you didn’t; you just kept doing all the calling.

You say you don’t know whether Ann knew if your child was sick or not.  That is very telling.  If, at any time, she had called to see how you were doing she would have found out.  If she was a friend she would have offered support – even just a shoulder to lean on.  Instead she went on with her life.  By not contacting you for two years, she let you know where you were on her list of priorities.  Then she has the nerve to tell someone else that you haven’t called HER in two years.

I had a friend for several years and things seemed to change a few years ago.  Whenever I called she was always busy, promised to call back but on the few occasions when she did she went on and on about how hectic her life was.  I sent a couple of emails, and she replied “Busy, talk soon.” This went on for about a year.  Finally I said to her “Well, when you have some time to talk, call me.”  That was three years ago and I haven’t heard a word from her.  It wasn’t that I made a conscious effort not to call her – it’s just that I decided the friendship had run it’s course.

You don’t owe her any explanation – at all.  She has demonstrated that she cares nothing about you, AND she blamed the lack of communication on YOU!! Why would you want to get back on that merry-go-round?  Please don’t call her; she is no longer in the friend category.  Put her out f hour mind and move on.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004

I tend to give the person the benefit of the doubt in this.  When my mother was living with my daughter's family next-door to us and falling deeper and deeper into Alzheimer's, my whole life (literally) was involved in caring for her.  I truly didn't have time to call anybody or to even think about calling them!  When I did have a minute, I was so emotionally distraught/worn out I didn't feel I was up to being the kind of person I wanted to be on the phone call.

I did lose several friends during that time...it was, after all, SIX years.  I don't regret a minute I gave for my mother's care, but I do realize that I should have forced myself to take time for myself which included getting together with friends. 

I don't think there are any rules about calling or not calling...Now, I just call if it's somebody I want to contact and don't bother calling those I don't want to maintain contact with.  If they seem interested in a conversation or we plan a get-together on that phone call and the get-together happens, then I simply accept that the other person might just not be in a position to do the calling.  I don't take it personally.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2009

Friendship should be a two-way street. Those people who you considered to be friends could have called you or contacted you in some way, Instead, they chose not to and just faded away.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2004

I didn't say they didn't contact me...I said I didn't contact them.  Therefore, I really can't blame them.   And, in my life now, I make an effort to keep in contact and not get upset if they don't contact me an equal number of times.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2008

That's what I'm wondering...if friendship should be a two way street, or if a person should be okay with being the one who is always making the effort.

Sadie, in your situation, you say you didn't contact them, but I don't think that let's them off the hook.  Is it that they tried to contact you and you just didn't make the effort, or that you didn't contact them, and there was no communication from them at all?  If it's the latter case, then I think you're letting them off the hook too easily.

I do think, too, that some friendships are just that way - where one person is always the one initiating things, and as long as that person is okay with it, then it's not a problem.

In my case, with my friend Ann, I can't say that I was looking for an equal number of times, but when I was in the throws of dealing with my son's illness, and I didn't hear from her, it was a kind of wake up call as to the kind of friendship we had.  I was not okay with that, and that is why I have not contacted her.  Making equal numbers of calls is one thing; being the one doing all the calling is quite another.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-16-2008

Instead of calling her all the time, you could have said to her “Hey, I’m doing all the calling.  Call me sometime.”  But you didn’t; you just kept doing all the calling.

I just want to clarify - no, I never said that to her, but it wasn't until my son got sick that I realized "wow, I'm the one who is always calling".  And that's when I stopped calling her.

It's not as if I said to myself "I'm doing all the calling, but I'm going to keep doing it."

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-30-2009

Sorry, sillysadie.  I misunderstood.  I thought you meant that you didn’t contact them (because of all you were dealing with) and also heard nothing from them.  I agree that keeping score is not a good thing.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004

Very interesting issue you brought here.

I used to be the kind of friend that was almost always doing the calling, but eventually I got mad and my friendships ended. So I changed, and tried to balance my friendships, also thought that my friends probably wouldn't´t want to be as close as I did, or that probably I had done something wrong and they were not interested in my friendship anymore. (you never know)

I always took into account what life challenges they were facing. (illness, job change, divorce, a sick kid and things like that) I always tried to tell them what kind of challenges I was facing.

I had two very good friends, but at the moment I moved to a different state. About  1.15 minutes away, they lost interest and started being friends with people close to them. I used to be  very attached to friends and for me, distance can not diminish a friendship.

As that hurt me, I have also changed and now realize that friendship has a different meaning to everyone. I have lowered my expectations with friends and my own to friendship.

But about your question, I´d suggest you to call this friend and after saying hello, how have you been? And chatting a while, tell her in a nice not confronting way, how you felt about your friendship.

That your kid was sick and you felt that you were doing all the calling. Probably she gets the hint and you can have a friendship back. If she doesn't´t and you feel awkward with your call, then I guess it is over.

Give her the opportunity to learn, give yourself the opportunity to express your feeling and who knows. 

Good luck!