I have a friend that means quite a lot to me.
Just last Saturday, he came over to my house to visit.
We had had a discussion about something I have been very upset about for awhile: His poor communication skills.
Not two weeks prior to this, I had approached him calmly and told him that his communication skills had diminished over the course of the last two years, that he had become quite horrible at following through with texts, emails, and phone calls or even a simple “thank-you” after he had asked me to complete a task for him or even offered him a gift. I told him that as my close and dear friend, I expected common courtesy from him in our relationship.
His response to me? “I’ve never been very good at this.”
Now, if he were a child, or a young adult, I would accept that answer and I would work with him to improve on this bad habit but he is a man of 52 and so it is not my place to “school” him.
I thought back over the course of our friendship together and remembered when he at least made the effort to call back within a reasonable amount of time, to at least type “Ok” to a response in a text or email and I realized that it wasn’t that my friend “couldn’t” manage communication… he had managed communication just fine numerous times in the past… it was that I had allowed my boundaries to be crossed, bad behavior to be accepted, and now his actions were speaking loud and clear to me: He knew that I would accept his poor behavior time-and-time again because I had shown him time-and-time again that I would.
What changed in a week to make me realize that this was no longer acceptable?
He let down my child with his lack of communication.
He disappeared after making verbal promises.
He committed to my son and then did not follow through.
As soon as I looked at the situation as a mother, I could see the situation in it’s true light: this behavior is unacceptable from a good friend, and definitely from a person that claims to love me and my family.
Will I say anything this time?
Will I expect him to communicate appropriately in the future?
I doubt it.
His actions have spoken louder than any words.
I have given him the benefit of the doubt one too many times and I now know what I have to do.
I have to change my actions and no longer accept inappropriate behavior from someone I love.
If he truly wants to be my friend, to be in my life, he will have to work on his end of the relationship.
What I am asking for is a reasonable request.
I expect good communication from my family, friends, even my work colleagues and he is no exception to this rule.
The response “I have never been good at this” is no longer acceptable.
And my acceptance of poor behavior, and poor boundaries on my part is no longer acceptable to me.
We must both work on our short-comings to make this the relationship it should be: one that is healthy and bound by common courtesy and good communication.
“Dear God, help me to stand strong when I must change my actions for the better. Help me to understand that by being clear in my demands now, I will bring the best out in others over time or I will make new relationships that will fulfill my spiritual needs.”