Looking back, I used to think that my expectations for friends were too high.
I’d want to make plans, and they’d cancel on me last minute – “just so busy, ya know?” Or, they’d ignore my texts for weeks, or months, on end – “hey, I saw your text last month. Crazy busy right now!” I fooled myself into thinking that it was me who was expecting too much. Time and time again I found myself in the same situation. Missed calls. Ignored texts. Cancelled plans, yet again. I’d let it slide, even though it puzzled me. Why did they agree to plans if they just were going to back out of them later? Did they even want to hang out with me? And, how is it possible for someone to be SO busy they can’t even respond to a text message? I couldn’t help but feel things aren’t supposed to go that way with friends.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve steadily lost touch with those friends of mine. It actually wasn’t hard to do. Once I let go and stopped trying, they quickly fell to the wayside. It really makes me wonder if the only thing keeping us together was my weekly texts and feeble attempts at hanging out. Now, I refuse to put myself in that same position.
I value myself, and my time, much more.
If someone cancels on me too many times, I stop extending an invitation. If I send texts or make phone calls and get no response on the regular, I stop communicating. I now see friendships as a two-way street. I’ve seen those posts making the rounds on Facebook. The posts that justify cancelling or never being available because of the broad stroke excuse of “motherhood.” Trust me, I get it. I know what it’s like to be so busy you blink and have no clue where the day went. But, I refuse to let that become my excuse to be a crappy, unavailable friend.
I know I cannot change the behavior of others, and I cannot get back the time I wasted on friends who did not put forth the effort. I can, however, make a decision to not use busyness as an excuse to bail.
So, here is my promise to all my girlfriends.
I promise to respond to your texts within 24 hours. Even if that means I have to bring my phone into the bathroom or text you at the butt crack of dawn before everyone else is a wake. I’ll respond. I want you to know that you can count on me to communicate with you. I’ve experienced ignored text messaged, and it is something I don’t want anyone I consider to be a friend to feel.
I promise not to cancel last minute unless it’s an absolute emergency. I’ve got a good handle on my schedule. If things are too busy, I’ll let you know. I’d rather adjust the date beforehand than cancel after plans are made. I know your time is precious and getting out of the house is just as tricky for you as it is for me.
On the same note, I promise to extend an effort to spend time with you. Even if it’s a short coffee/wine date in the middle of the week of half an hour. I know it’s exhausting to be the one trying to make all the plans, and make 100 more decisions. Sometimes it’s easier to say “yes” to plans if someone else has already worked out the when and where (“want to grab drinks and appetizers right after work?”).
I promise if your friendship matters to me, you’ll know it. It may have taken me a while to find the right friends, but I have taken a new mantra to heart: “Save the excuses. It’s not about ‘having’ time. It’s about making time. If it matters, you will make time.”