Yesterday I got a tweet from one of my Twitter friends that most of my “followers” (I hate that term) aren’t aware of saying that she had decided that someone she had been friends with for a number of years had proven to be all take and no give, and that she was on the point of abandoning her. Later, she wrote that she was writing a letter to “takey friend” explaining her feelings. I suggested that it might be a better idea just to conveniently be ill or busy next time this woman (I presume it is a woman) wants to cling to her for emotional support, but she replied, “I decided I’d feel better if I was just upfront & honest that they’d made me feel like crap, now I can let it go”.

I felt kind of sad that she felt the need to do this. Normally people would spent a lot of ‘neutral’ time together, having fun, not just giving or taking emotional support; however, since this woman has a painful medical condition, I expect there is less of that than with other people. I don’t pretend to know all the reasons why my friend may have chosen to end this friendship, but I do know that some people are better able to give others emotional support than others, something which is particularly true of men but also of some women. I can recall many times when I’ve been talking to people who have an emotional crisis of one sort or another and being at a loose end for something to say to them.

Sometimes, however, I’ve felt the urge to discontinue friendships, not because I found that they weren’t there for me when I needed them, but because they were rude or discourteous or didn’t have any time for me. There was one friend whose flat I used to go to who does a lot of work abroad (not sure what it all is but some of it is charity work), and it often happened when I visited him the phone would ring, he would pick it up and would talk to people in a foreign language for twenty minutes or more. Another time, I was with him and another Urdu-speaking friend and he told me that they would speak Urdu to each other, if I didn’t mind, and of course I was in no position to mind.

However, I actually never did cut it off with those two, although I’ve seen much less of them in recent years (one of them is no longer in the country). One of the reasons I had the urge to discourage the person I mentioned at the beginning from cutting “takey friend” off was that, after what seemed like a minor public disagreement over a political matter, someone apparently decided that they no longer wanted to be my friend after six years. This was someone I’d shared quite a lot with and vice versa, and I thought our friendship was stronger than that. I actually was not angry with that person, just a bit annoyed with something they’d written. I got quite depressed about it for a week or so afterwards. But you can choose your friends, but you can’t force them to choose you.

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