What happens when friends, who mean so much to you, don’t return the favour?
A bestie queried me the other day, with considerable perplexity in her voice about how one should deal with friends who take advantage of one’s good gestures and take one’s love for granted. “It happens,” I told her. I may sound somewhat cynical, but except for childhood friends, we call the many of the rest ‘friends’ just for the heck of it. It’s a self-serving world and if we face reality, we shouldn’t keep high benchmarks and expectations of loyalty and support from our so-called friends.
“But I am so sincere and loving as a friend,” she declares. Yes, indeed, there are many among us who are just built in that mould. They often feel used, and taken-for-granted by their friends. I know it sounds wise to patronisingly say, ‘Let their behaviour not embitter you!’ but it is not that easy. Nobody wants to be taken for a ride. We all have feelings and it does hurt. I would suggest that don’t invest your loving and giving nature in one or two friends. Try and put it in a larger circle of acquaintances without too much emotional investment. Keep it easy and breezy with less intense and involvement. If you shift your focus away from a person whose taking you for granted to others around, you have buffered yourself from the intensity of the hurt. Who knows even the friendship might rekindle with a more acceptable equation and a better realisation on both sides.
If you think talking things out is the solution, you might be mistaken. Sometimes, expressing your emotions actually goes on to expose your vulnerability. In a work-place and in social groups, ensure that you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve. Keep a little distance. Everyone may not be worthy of your love and emotion. Even the Bhagavad Gita states that charity has to be given with discrimination.
It’s not always a black or white world. There’s always hope. So, don’t break all ties with that person in a wounded huff. Leave that friendship out in the sun for a while and remember time is a great leveller.
An important thing I would suggest is to even restrain your helping nature. You want your gestures to be respected — so the simple funda is place some value on them and don’t go enthusiastically bounding to give so freely! I am not telling you to shift from your good nature to being a tight-fisted scrooge. Let your heart be caring but share love with the understanding that it’s not a perfect world. You need to control your expectations. You cannot go around changing everyone. Try seeking greater fulfilment within yourself. Being oversensitive, especially in today’s world, is an affliction. In fact, a psychologist’s prescription for modern times might read like — ‘A thicker skin required’!
In case you feel lonely, try reading a good book or join a hobby class.
The writer is a columnist, designer and brand consultant. Mail her at email@example.com