I was talking with a friend from out of town last week, who has the exact opposite problem as I do here in SD.
Too many friends.
And when you’ve got a lot of friends and feel pressed for time, you start guarding your time so as to not get too thinned out. Plus, she’s an introvert with three kids, with a limited amount of “let’s do coffee” time.
She recounted an incident from the previous week. “I was heading out after Bible study, and Sarah — she’s more of an acquaintance — yells from across the parking lot, ‘We should do coffee sometime!’
“And I’m like, ‘yeah, sounds good,’ but I really don’t want to get together. Sarah’s a fine gal — great gal — but now I need to call her and schedule a play date. But I’m feeling bad because I’m trying to be intentional about spending time with Rachel, and am hardly keeping up with that relationship.”
I knew what would help my friend easily rectify most future situations like this. I spend a lot of time helping people with complex issues in the therapy setting, so I love it when the solution is easy.
“Next time, just say, ‘Sure, give me a call’ or ‘Shoot me an email.’ Eighty percent of the time, the person won’t get in touch.”
“Yeah. I’ve started doing it myself if I don’t really want to get together. Because I think some people say ‘let’s get together’ but what it really means is, ‘I like you,’ or ‘This was fun,’ or ‘It would be nice — in theory — to get together.'”
I continued, “But people like you and me actually take ‘let’s get together’ to mean ‘let’s get together,’ then we feel responsible to make it happen. Plus, getting together for the first time takes some oomph to set in motion a body (relationship) that’s not already in motion. Seriously: a) You’ve got to remember during your ordinary week that you want to get together with this person who’s not in your normal schedule. b) You’ve got to locate their contact info (sounds easy, but can be more of a barrier than you might think). c) You’ve got to figure out a proposed time and activity that fits with your schedule. d) You’ve got to initiate the contact.”
I concluded, “If she wants to get together, let her gather the energy to do the reach out.”
Which by the way, isn’t rude. (And if it does sounds rude, you might want to consider the role co-dependency or over-functioning might possibly be playing in your life. Like where you take on other people’s wants and desires, and do the hard work to get them what they want).
I can have some of these co-dependent type of tendencies sometimes. It’ll be like, “Well, he wants to feel like this was an enjoyable conversation, so I’ve got to make it look like I’m having a good time (when I’m not).”
Funny, I have no problem adopting the mindset of “If you want something, don’t make others do your work for you” for myself. Seems right. Helpful reminder. When it comes to others, however, allowing them to do their own work for something they want? That can be a little tougher. But like I said, I’ve got a little of that co-dependency thing goin’ on, so that makes sense.
I’ve seen those very words — “Don’t make others do your work for you” — used by the moderator of a networking group I’m in. In that context, it translates to, if you want to know the best thing to put on your “about page” don’t ask the group, “Hey guys, what do you recommend for what to put on my ‘about page’?” Do your own research first. There are tons of articles online. Plus, it’s probably been talked about in the group at an earlier date. Find that conversation. Spend the time. Do the work. After you’ve done your own work first, then if you still have a question, ask.
For me, it’s “assuming the best” about a person combined with letting them do their own work that’s a winning combo.
Assuming the best about a person without allowing her to do her own work means that although you’ll be free of criticism (“she just thinks it’d be fun to get together”), you’ll still be overfunctioning.
Expecting a person to do his own work while assuming bad motives (“he’s just lazy and wants me to do all the work”) means you won’t be over-functioning, but you’ll likely have a critical regard toward them.