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Reader Q & A: Dumped Times Two

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QUESTION:


Hi Irene,

 

My name is Veronica and I live in the UK, I’m not sure if you take emails from people from the UK, but I felt compelled to email you about a situation that is bothering me involving of a couple of girls who I thought were friends of mine.

 

I have known these two girls for a number of years. We have boyfriends who are all friends and would go over to each other’s houses for christenings and on nights out for birthdays, etc. I saw them during the week as one of them has kids, as I do. Last year all seemed okay, until this year when things seem to have fallen by the wayside with the girl who has the children.

 

Every time I asked if she would like to meet up, she was 'busy' or working. I got a bit paranoid after the fifth time and thought, “What have I done?” She is on good old Facebook, so I removed her from my friends list.

 

These two girls are best mates, very close, but thought I got on with both of them. When the one with the kids was avoiding me, I concentrated on still being mates with the other girl, who I had always assumed was the nicer one and who did not gossip, etc. I was wrong. Recently, for my b-day, I asked if they could make it out for a drink but they were both too busy. I always make the effort for theirs---but not even a happy birthday did they wish me!

 

I made up my mind there and then that they are not worth it, but still spoke occasionally to the girl without children. She was feeling down and I said I hope she was okay and if she ever wanted to pop round and talk she’s more than welcome to. She told me hadn’t gone out for ages.

 

A week later I saw her and the other girl with three other girls I know, out on a night out. They did not talk to me until one of the girls came and got me. The other day I emailed the girl who was feeling down asking, “So, how are you?” Then she told me to stop hassling her! I was upset by her reaction and admittedly I panicked and send her three texts saying I hope we can sort things out and a voice message.

 

The next morning she said she can’t be bothered with me anymore, so I went ahead a deleted all these girls off my Facebook friends, I know that sounds petty, but why have them nose at my profile when they are not my real mates? One of them told me I was weird for doing so. I am fed up with these girls’ attitudes. They have tried phasing me out for ages and have now managed it but I want to know why.

 

The only thing I can think of is that I attended a wedding of the cousin of the girl who has the kids and she was not invited, as they do not get on! Hope you can advise me, this may sound so shallow but it’s doing my head in!!

 

Yours faithfully,
Veronica

ANSWER:


Dear Veronica:

 

When you ask a friend to get together five times and she comes up with one excuse after another, it means she doesn’t want to get together. I know this feels disconcerting because you were good friends in the past. And I’m not sure what accounts for the change in your ex-friend’s behavior but, as painful and confusing as this feels, it is common for people and friendships to change over time.

 

In terms of the second girl, you were supportive to her when she was depressed—and then she accused you of hassling her? She is telling you quite directly that she doesn’t want to be involved with you. Again, you can only guess the reasons why. One possibility: Since she is best friends with the first girl, it may be difficult for her to maintain an independent relationship with you.

 

These girls sound mean, insensitive, and SHALLOW. Defriending them, both in real life and on Facebook is the right thing to do because they are no longer your true friends. Stop trying to understand their motives because that really doesn’t matter. Move on and find another friend who is interested in a more reciprocal friendship.

 

I’m sorry this has happened to you and hope this is helpful. By the way, being dumped by female friends is a universal problem! The only cultural difference is that you call them “mates” and we call them “friends.”

 

Best,
Irene

 

Reader Q &A: Should breaking up be a blame game?

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QUESTION

Dear Irene:

 

When you break up with a female friend, is it really necessary to "give advice" about what they should do in the future, or is it better to focus on the problems within the relationship you were personally involved with?

 

I just got dumped by a friend who went on to say some very hurtful things under the guise of giving advice and saying she still cared about me, even if she didn't want to be friends anymore. It just felt like having salt rubbed into the wound -- she insulted my parents, my family, me, and cast doubt on my other relationships (none of which I'd been having trouble with), all while supposedly trying to help me be a better friend. I know she was just trying to give me a good explanation, but was it really necessary?

 

I've always tried to focus just on why it wasn't working for me when I end a friendship, not try to give advice on how they should behave with other friends; it just seems like it's enough to leave it implied. I also do a bit of the "It's not you, it's me" approach if I really care about the person but just can't handle them anymore, since I don't believe in putting all the blame on the other person when breaking up even if I feel that way --it just seems too hurtful/unfair. Is this correct, or is it okay to come out and say that it was all the other person's fault?

 

And when you break up with a friend, do you also unfriend them on Facebook/MySpace? What am I supposed to think if she tells me she has no desire to have me in her life, then doesn't unfriend me on Facebook?

 

Signed,
Anonymous

 

ANSWER:

Dear Anonymous,

 

Just as knowing what to say at a time of loss (e.g. a death) is always awkward, there is no commonly accepted protocol for breaking off a female friendship. That said, my thinking is that if an individual decides to unilaterally end a relationship, leaving no room for discussion, she should take responsibility for her decision and do whatever she can to allow the other person to feel unscathed.

 

Although your friend rationalized her bluntness by saying she was trying to help you become a better friend, her explanation doesn’t quite cut it for me.

 

  • She was insensitive about how you might be feeling. Being dumped without warning leaves any woman reeling, so her approach and timing was off if she really wanted to “help” you become a better friend.
  • Disparaging your parents and family should have been off bounds; Her relationship was with you, not them.
  • It is arrogant and unfair for her to blame the relationship’s demise entirely on you. She failed to recognize that all relationships are defined by two parties, not one. While your ex-friend may not have been able to sustain her relationship with you, other friends don’t seem to have the same problem with you. Did she even consider that it might be her and not you?
  • It sounds like she lashed out at you in anger. I’m not sure why. And because of the way she handled it, it has made it extraordinarily difficult for you to ever consider reconciling your relationship.

 

Since the ball is entirely in her court, I would consider the friendship over unless she comes back with a very good apology and you want to accept it. And if I were you, I would want to be sure to establish a comfortable distance from the woman who just dumped me. I wouldn’t want to know what she was doing and wouldn’t want her to know about me and my relationships. I understand your pain but I think you just need to move on. Taking control and defriending her might help.

 

Warm wishes,

Irene

 

The awkwardness of defriending

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David Spark, a new media consultant and producer, interviewed me a few evenings ago on the awkwardness of social network defriending (e.g, taking someone off your friends list on Facebook, Linked In, MySpace, or Twitter). Here is the link to David's piece called The Awkwardness of De-friending. (You may notice that the jury is still out on whether defriending is hyphenated.)

 

Since there are no commonly accepted rules on the etiquette of how to go about ending face-to-face friendships, imagine how murky the rules of behavior are in defriending in cyberspace. The act of defriending is as easy as hitting a key but your decision can have long-lasting repercussions, both for you and the person you defriend.

 

My advice: Before you defriend someone, face-to-face or in cyberspace, take time to think before you act. Depending on the nature of your relationship, social media defriending can be the emotional equivalent of being jilted or jilting someone else. If the friendship was once meaningful and you change your mind after you've defriended someone, your relationship will never be the same. Don't let your fingers work more quickly than your mind.

 

David also wrote a piece published on Mashable, 12 Great Tales of De-friending and another on his own blog When technology tells us we have no friends. You may want to take a look at one of my earlier blog entries too, Online friending and defriending patterns.

 

 

Buried Treasure: Finding Long Lost Friends

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In the midst of an archaeological dig amongst the piles on my messy desk this morning, I found a not-yet-used 2008 calendar from Papyrus. When I glanced at the celebrations of the year, I discovered that today is Long Lost Friend Day.

 

I don’t know who started it---Hallmark or Papyrus, I suspect. But it’s really a nice reminder of the warm fuzzies you feel when you reconnect with someone from your past. In the old days, before the internet, if you lost touch with a person you had to hire a private investigator but now there are so many electronic tools that make it easy to find people from your past. Admittedly, if your female friend has changed her surname, it makes the search a bit more challenging.

Want to find a long lost friend? Here are some ways to begin looking:

  • Try finding the person using Google by putting her first name and last name in quotes. See what comes up. If you know the city and/or state where she lives or last lived, you can refine the search by putting that after her name in quotes.
  • Check out groups from your high school or college on social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace.
  • Search for former classmates on sites like Reunion.com or Classmates.com---or email or phone the alumni office of your school.
  • Let your fingers do the walking---use the white pages directory on switchboard.com.
  • No luck finding her in a directory? Are her parents or other relatives findable? Chances are they may still live in the same town she did. Try finding their phone numbers or email addresses.
  • If you don’t know any relatives, you could try the friend-of-a-friend route. Do you know someone who knew her that you are still in touch with and who may be easier to find?
  • Any clue to the kind of work she is doing? Perhaps, you can find her through LinkedIn, a professional association, or the human resources office of her former place of employment.

Even better than digging: If you develop a blog or personal website, your old friends may come out of the woodwork looking for you. I was so delighted to hear from some of my childhood friends who serendipitously found me.

Have any of you successfully reconnected with retro friends? Please post your stories---and I hope you will reach out and touch somebody whose friendship has been meaningful to you. Oh, Happy Long Lost Friend Day! (Any and all suggestions for de-cluttering my desk are welcome too.)

 

Friend Poaching or Social Networking: What’s the difference?

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Have you ever poached a friend or had one poached from you? This is how it happens: Your friend introduces you to her friend and the two of you develop a friendship---independent of the friend who introduced you. If you’ve been there, done that, you’re a poacher. Or if you have introduced two friends and one of them snares the other for herself, leaving you in the dust, you’ve been poached.

Is it ethically wrong to become a ‘friend of a friend’ or is it a legitimate way to expand your friendship network? What are the rules and could they be changing?

CNN.com recent ran an article called, When social poachers snatch your friends, that posed both sides of the issue. Through one lens, poaching can be viewed as the ultimate betrayal, akin to “friend-napping.” Through another, it can be seen as a reasonable way of making new friends through vetted introductions.

A 2004 essay by Lucinda Rosenfeld in New York Magazine, Our Mutual Friend, expressed the jealousy and hurt the author experienced after she had been poached. When she learned that her two friends were planning a ski trip together---without her---she felt excluded (even though she had no interest in skiing). It harked back to the days of junior high school.

I’ve been poached, too. I had two close friends, let’s call them Marcie and Hayley, whom I decided to introduce to one another. I knew they would instantly “click” because they had so much in common: neither worked outside the home, both loved competitive tennis, and each had two kids around the same ages. It was a good hunch because they soon became best friends with each other as I drifted into the background.

Admittedly, the first time I bumped into them at Starbuck’s having coffee without me, I felt a bit strange and awkward, even hurt, but as soon as I regrouped mentally I realized that I didn’t have as much time or motivation to spend with either one of them as they did with each other. Now we get together as a threesome occasionally. Rosenfeld also found that being poached can be a blessing in disguise. Prior to the treachery, she had found herself in the unpleasant role of constantly ministering to one of the women who was needy and always crying on her shoulder. It gave her a way out.

With the booming popularity of social network sites like Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, the ethics and etiquette of friend poaching may be turning upside down. In cyberspace, becoming a friend of a cyber-friend is not only socially acceptable, but is actually one of the raison d’êtres of participation.

Being poached offline isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Because friendships change over time, a friendship that is 'stolen' may have long been gone. It may offer the poachee an opportunity to change, take a break from, or get rid of a friendship that was draining, all-consuming, or toxic in other ways.

The corollary: Don’t feel guilty about poaching. Unlike family or marriage, friendships have no blood or legal ties; the good ones are totally voluntary relationships that enhance our lives. Feel guilty? Remember that your new friend has the free will to add, subtract, or realign her friendships.

One caveat: Friend poaching is unacceptable, and maybe even pathological, when an individual consistently tries to derail friendships and hurt people around her.

 

2008 – 8 Female Friendship Resolutions for the New Year

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It’s so easy to make resolutions and so hard to keep them. Every year, women resolve to lose weight, reduce stress, work smarter, and improve their relationships with family and friends.

I thought a little more specificity might help clarify my Friendship Resolutions (and yours) and make them more concrete and achievable. Here goes:

1) Get real

Don’t expect all of your friendships to last forever

2) Don’t settle for one BFF

Surround yourself with a number of synergistic relationships

3) Get rid of toxic friendships

If a friendship consistently drains you, brings you down, makes you nervous, or makes you angry, it is not worth keeping.

4) Don’t be a toxic friend

Don’t be too needy. Listen as much as you talk. Don’t expect any one friend to fulfill all your needs.

5) Reach back

There is no substitute for shared history. With the internet and low-cost cell phone calls, there’s no reason to not reconnect with significant friends from your past.

6) Prepare for your future

Continually work at making new friends. As we grow and mature, we need to replenish our stock to keep our friendships fresh and vital.

7) Don’t be threatened by the internet

Virtual friendships on MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn don’t undermine friendships. Rather, they can enhance old friendships and create new ones.

8) Just do it

There is no substitute for setting aside time for your friendships and the payoff is worthwhile. Don’t just talk about getting together. Mark you calendar.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Facebook fast becoming a laboratory for the study of friendships

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An article by Stephanie Rosenbloom in yesterday’s New York Times, On Facebook, Scholars Link Up with Data, explains how the popular social networking site is increasingly being used by academic researchers to study friendships.

Rosenbloom quotes Nicholas Christakis, a Harvard sociology professor: “Our predecessors could only dream of the kind of data we now have.” While there are legitimate concerns that some of the 58 million Facebook users may not know their habits and preferences are being tracked, never before have social scientists had such a fertile source of information to mine on the nature of our friendships.

As one example, the article mentions that researchers at Harvard and UCLA are using Facebook to examine the concept of triadic closure: whether your friends are friends of one another. Although the phenomenon was first described by a sociologist named Georg Simmel as long as a century ago, there were few empirical studies. Using Facebook as a laboratory, social scientists are studying triadic closure---which one day may shed light on the exclusionary social cliques that draw circles keeping some people in and others out.

Given the importance of friendship in our lives, used well, Facebook and other such social networking sites could potentially yield important information on how to build and sustain healthy relationships.

 

Staying Connected: Whereboutz lets u no where yur besties r

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What will they think of next?

Want your besties to know where you are---wherever you are? Interested in their whereabouts? Then download Whereboutz, a new free Facebook application by Telenav that adds legs to the Status Update that appears on your profile. It can also be downloaded to 100 different cell phones.

Whereboutz lets you type in your location on an interactive map and add a note telling what you’re up to. When your friend does the same, you can use a yellow-pages-type search function to help you figure out where to meet. If you can’t meet up in person, at least you can ruefully visualize the distance between you on a map and better understand how geography creates miles between even the best of friends..

Oh, one more opportunity for connecting: If you’re already on Facebook, you know about “pokes”---well, if your friend hasn‘t updated her status in a while, there is a gentle Whereboutz “nudge” function to remind her.

For more information and to sign up, visit www.whereboutz.com.

 

Just for Fun: Facebook Top Friends

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No surprise. People on Facebook are consumed with friendship, BFFs, besties, and like to rank their friends. Hmmm….wonder how I got there?

An article in this week’s Australian PC World ranks Top Friends (developed by Slide) as the top Facebook application. Among 46 million active users on the site, more than 3 million have signed on to Top Friends as daily users. (That’s about 15% of the total Facebook user base)...
 

Friendship and self-disclosure: The times they are a-changing

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Female college students are twice as likely as their male peers to use social networking sites like Facebook (their favorite) and MySpace (ranked second), according to a market research survey from Anderson Analytics. The findings, reported in Advertising Age this week, examined the likes, dislikes, and media preferences of college students between the ages of 18 and 24. The same article mentioned that older women are more reticent than younger ones about networking with each other and sharing information on the internet...

 
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