How to tell if you’re in a dead end friendship

Friendship can be a fun addition to your life if you’re in the right kind of friendship. The “right kind” of friendship involves a give and take. You both have a lot in common, you both listen to each other speak, and you have the same interests. Seems easy to be able to tell, right?
Sometimes we are tricked into thinking we found a new friend when in actuality, we found ourselves a new career opportunity called Unpaid Therapist. How can you tell if your friend has designated you to be her unpaid therapist? If she calls you up to meet for drinks because she “has a bunch of stuff to tell you”, that is actually code for “I’m going to go on and on about my guy problems while you give me advice that I have no intention of taking.” You are tricked into meeting her for drinks because after she tells you “the bunch of stuff she needs to tell you” then you think you will have your chance to tell her what’s going on with you. The problem is, it hardly ever works that way. Your friend will spend the whole night telling you what a jerk the guy she’s seeing is because he (Fill in the blank: Didn’t call when he said he would, canceled their date, or makes her drive to his house for “dates”). Then you think to yourself, “Is my fellow 30 year old friend really asking my advice on something that any 15 year old would be able to answer?” You then give her advice as she immediately interrupts with, “Yeah. So do you think that’s normal for him to do that? He didn’t do that when we were first dating.” As if that isn’t bad enough that she totally steamrolled over all your advice by basically ignoring you and going on about her guy, you might find it helpful to jump in with, “I had a similar experience when the guy I was seeing canceled our date. I…” She will then cut you off- “Anyway, I just don’t get it.” It is at that point when you realize she doesn’t want to talk to you and have a give and take conversation. She needs someone willing to listen to the sound of her own voice. You might feel useful by being able to help your friend. If she takes your advice, great. But what will most likely happen will be she will call you in a week or two to meet up for drinks because she “has a bunch of stuff to tell you” (sound familiar?) and you will meet with her because you want to hear how it all turned out following your advice. Instead, she will tell you about how she decided to give her guy another chance. They had a date for Saturday night and he, (gasp!) canceled it!! What should she do??? It is at this point when you might be thinking, “Didn’t I tell you to stop seeing him, you dumb bitch?”
If you so much as put it in a kinder way such as, “Well I told you he’d probably do it again, so you should move on” she will reply with,
“But I really like him!” She will then tell you everything she likes about this very obvious horse’s ass. But the only horse’s ass is you because you are allowing this fake friend to completely waste your time. Don’t fool yourself into thinking she needs you. She just needs a sounding board. And one simply does not have time for that. If you have ever felt like this, it is time to move on:

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I have had a lot of “friends” like this recently. I’ve met up with them to listen to their guy problems and have given them great advice because I’ve been there. Then they turn around and do what they want. I’m sure they would eventually listen to my guy problems, but I wouldn’t want to take advice from friends who at age 30 have the naivete of 15 year olds (and I thought I was inexperienced!). If you find yourself in this draining situation, run don’t walk to the friend store and do a trade-in for your clunker.

And if you feel you are competing for her attention over one of these, make like one of these and trade up:

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Because Honey Child, you deserve better.

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Wanting to know whether to talk to that cool guy or girl in class? Go for it!

Society tells us that the time to go to college is immediately after high school, between the ages of 18 and 22. These are the years that we form most of our friendships, relationships, and social connections that will carry us through the rest of our twenties and beyond. The problem is most of us enter college with a lot of emotional baggage still left over from high school. We are still nervous if our peers will think we’re cool enough, good looking enough, and interesting enough to be worthy to talk to. These insecurities can prevent us from talking to people who might wind up becoming our friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, or enrich our lives in some meaningful way. It takes years to shake all these insecurities left over from high school. I wish the social skills I now have in my thirties could be teleported to my 20 year old self.
  …..Flashback to 2003. I was sitting in my psychology class in college on the first day. My professor wanted each of us to say something interesting about ourselves as a way to get to know each other. The reserved, handsome, brooding guy next to me stated his name and said, “I play guitar. My favorite song is “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths”. The outgoing, cute, blonde guy next to me introduced, “I am a comedian. The Berenstain Bears is the last book I read.” I said, “My name is Sydney. I am a writer.”
I had so much in common with those two guys and they actually had a lot in common with me. Playing the guitar, being a comedian, and writing are all intertwined. Not to mention The Smiths and The Berenstain Bears are my two passions that have made me who I am: quirky, morose, reserved, innocent, and a natural curiosity to learn more about those around me. If only I would have been brave enough to talk to those guys. We could have taken on the world. We could have teamed up and created a project whether it be a band, screenplay, or some YouTube wackiness that only we and our other close friends would see.  Instead, I let a whole semester go by without saying a word to my seat neighbors. They also never said a word to me. Missed opportunities happen a lot in one’s early twenties due to a lack of self confidence. In our thirties we become more self confident. We are able to just randomly introduce ourselves to a stranger. We don’t care if our conversational skills are up to par. We don’t care what the other person thinks about what we are wearing or how cool we are.  None of that matters. But unfortunately, by the time we reach our thirties and get ahold of this amazing courage, we no longer are in school where we have this amazing opportunity to freely meet all these cool people our age. Many of us have jobs which don’t allow for a lot of social interaction. Our coworkers are often much younger than us or much older. Our coworkers often are in different phases of life than we are: married, have children, or are single. We find we don’t have much in common with them outside of work. In college, however, most students are exactly your age and share a similar background. This is the one time in life where most everyone you meet will be single just like you, understand your generation, like your music, and be willing to go out with you to all the places you like. Enjoy that time because no other time in your life will be like that. So many opportunities that are yours for the taking. So speak up and don’t be afraid to talk to that cool person next to you who seems “out of your league.” Make something happen.
  If you need some inspiration, I once heard of a girl who was in a taxi in New York. The cab driver picked up a guy who got in the cab next to her. She thought he looked really cool. She just had this “feeling” about him. His stop came before hers. Instead of staying in the cab and waiting for her stop, she decided to get out with him and “pretend” to be going to the same place as he was. She introduced herself to him, “My name is Karen.” He replied, “My name is Brian.” She later told Rolling Stone Magazine, “I just had this feeling that I was supposed to know him.”
Ladies and gentlemen, that girl was Karen O., the future singer of the band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. That guy was Brian Chase, the future drummer. They met on that fateful night in New York and formed The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Because Karen chose to be brave and not tongue tied, this magnificent duo met and put their mark on music history.
  So don’t be afraid to talk to that cool guy or girl in class.  He might just introduce you to your future husband. This was the case for a quiet art student named Julia who through a classmate in her math class at community college was introduced to her future husband, Julian Casablancas who was a singer in the up and coming band The Strokes. You never know how your life might change. But you have to learn to speak up first. Unfortunately, we take these opportunities for granted when we’re 20 and in school. We think there will be more or we psych ourselves out of it due to nerves. Life is short. If I knew at 20 what I know now, I would have pushed myself a little harder to talk to those guys in my class. Even if it turned out we didn’t change the world, I could have at least made some interesting friends to talk to. That’s the whole reason we go to college, but it’s so easy for us to lose sight of that when we’re young.

You know you’re 30 when….

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1. You go to Vegas with some friends who are turning 21 and they don’t understand why you don’t want to get black out drunk with them. Trying to explain that you’ve “been there” and “know better” gives you the playful title Mother Goose.

2. When your 20 year old friend just doesn’t get something (which happens ALL the time), you knock on her head and call out, “Hello McFly?!” like Biff in Back To The Future as she backs away worriedly and asks, “What are you doing?”

3. Your proclamation, “George Michael is one of the greatest singers of all time!” is met with, “Who’s George Michael?”

4. To your 20 year old friends New Kids On The Block means you’re going to have some new neighbors

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All my 20 year old friends asking me to describe these pop culture phenomenons and my 23 year old ex pretending he knows about them just so he can prove he can hang. Oh yeah? Just show me ONE childhood picture of you holding your Teddy Ruxpin doll or holding the VHS movie. You can’t, can you? Fail!

Any other 30 year olds out there have any stories to share about relating to their twenty something friends? Please comment below and we’ll share a laugh 🙂

Friends with benefits benefits no one

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Friends with benefits is my companion piece to my last blog entry: Keeping an ex as a friend in facebook? Ain’t nobody got time for that! This is another dating mistake I made in my twenties that I’ll be sure to never make again. On the surface, friends with benefits seems like an ideal sequel or solution to a breakup: you still get to hang out with this great guy you still have feelings for and do all the same stuff that you did while you were dating but now he doesn’t owe you anything! Yay! Jackpot! When I was 26, I really missed my boyfriend who dumped me. We both suggested being friends but when I realized “being friends” meant never seeing, facebooking, or talking to each other ever again, I came up with what seemed like the perfect idea. I suggested we hang out as just friends over a drink. I said I didn’t want to be “friends with benefits” because I “wasn’t that kind of girl.” What a difference a couple of drinks makes! He agreed with my deal to just be platonic friends with no benefits. He invited me to a party that night. We had a couple of beers and we decide to go somewhere “quiet” where we could talk. That “quiet” place turned out to be the backseat of his car. We talk about what’s been going on in our lives since the big breakup two months prior. Suddenly he kisses me and all my judgment takes a trip to The Bahamas as we’re making out ferociously in the backseat. Without any discussion, we have unofficially crossed that dangerous threshold from “just friends” to “friends with benefits” I designated my tall can of Pabst as an unneccessary scapegoat when I really just had my own stupidity to blame. Contrary to popular belief, girls also do some of their thinking “down there” just like the fellas.
  After our “hookup,” my new FWB (Friend With Benefits) admitted that he thought it was fun to be able to makeout with me again. We carried on this arrangement for about four months. In a way, it was cool to just text each other anytime we wanted day or night and have our meetups, but as time went on, it started to become more insulting than gratifying. One time my ex texted me and told me he wanted to hang out. So I invited him to come bowling with my friends first before we would go off on our own to (wink, wink). He turned me down flat by telling me he didn’t feel like going bowling but wanted me to text him afterwards. The stunning realization hit me like a brick shithouse: My ex no longer wanted to hang out with my friends and I like he did when we were dating. He wanted us to just meet on the down low without each other’s friends knowing. On another occasion, he said he was going to the movies with his friends but “would call me after.” I no longer felt like I was a part of this guy’s life like I did when we were dating. He was keeping me in a separate box where our meetups were secret and hidden from everyone. Suddenly an arrangement that started out being kind of fun became very seamy. I felt like some kind of Lady of the Night. I tried one more time to blend my ex with my friends by inviting him to see my friend’s band with me. For the first time ever, my ex made me pay for my own drink as he ordered and paid for his. I realized he really didn’t owe me anything anymore since he wasn’t my boyfriend, but yet we were still making out and what have you as if we were dating. But all the other benefits like including me in outings with his friends, being emotionally available, and hell, just paying for my beer were over like Justin Bieber’s career. The worst was yet to come.
  My ex agreed to meet up with me at a music festival. This time, his friends were along for the ride. One girl was single and by herself. The other two were a couple. The girl flirted with him like no one was watching (most of all me, his ex. He just introduced me as “a friend”). I looked at his stylish new makeover which consisted of expensive skinny jeans, high top converse, and a form fitting flannel shirt. I wondered why he had to become better dressed and drop a few pounds AFTER our breakup. It was like he was on the prowl. I painfully realized that he was moving on at the very same time he insisted on meeting with me. The feeling was bittersweet. I wanted him more than ever after his sexy upgrade but it was too late. We all went to his house to watch Saturday Night Live after the music festival. His flirty friend tried to sit next to him on the couch. I had to force my way in there. The couple seated next to us started cuddling and holding hands. I knew that would never be us again. There was this distance between us that was palpable. After everyone went home, we went to bed. No longer did my ex try to hold me or cuddle me like he did when we were dating. In the morning as I was about to leave, he looked at me as if to say, “This is the last time. We can’t do this anymore.” No words had to be said. I knew what he was thinking. I wanted to tell him how I felt, but never got the courage. He was sending a message that was loud and clear. All the pain that I felt right after our breakup resurfaced. It turned out being friends with benefits just prolonged that pain. We never really had that fresh start that I was looking for. Nothing would ever be the same again. Take my advice and don’t do it. If you really care about someone and still want them in your life after a breakup, suggest being platonic friends. Stay in touch, talk, but whatever you do, DON’T be intimate. If he still wants you in his life, he’ll agree to being platonic friends. I am going to try being friends with no benefits with my latest ex. I don’t plan to fuck it up by being intimate with him. No matter how strong the sexual tension gets, we’re not acting on it. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. I’m not guaranteeing it will work out, but I can guarantee it will work out a helluva a lot better than being intimate with him and confusing each other. This is the wisdom that comes with being in my thirties: I’ve learned that a genuine friendship ala Jerry and Elaine on Seinfeld is better than a little ass. And that is the best benefit a girl could ever have from a guy who used to be her boyfriend.