Ask J-Ro: A Friend In Need Who Doesn’t Return The Deed

I ended a friendship recently as my friend’s an emotional dumper & was bringing me down. I talked to her&explained how hurt I felt. She refused to accept any responsibility for my feelings & said it was my problem. Now I miss her. We’ve been friends since we were kids. Do I get in contact?

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Friendships are a tricky business in the grown-up world. As people get older and change their priorities in life, it’s very common for friendships to change and for some to cool off as people go their separate ways. It’s a rare thing when someone actually specifically ends a friendship though; most people are content to just let such things slide naturally so as not to attract any attention to the issue.

I’m guessing it wasn’t a decision that you took likely in telling her how you felt about her behaviour towards you, and the fact that you didn’t get the result you wanted must have upset you a great deal. So I’m wondering what it is that has made you want her back in your life at this stage?

When you guys were friends, you found her quite draining, and referred to her as ‘an emotional dumper’. Friendship, like a romantic relationship, is something that functions at its best when both parties are benefitting from the union. It seems that she got the better end of the deal, in that she could vent to you at her leisure, and bring all her problems to your door, but you were left feeling like all YOU got was negativity. If she refused to accept responsibility for your feelings when you brought it up, chances are it’s highly unlikely she’s changed in the time since you guys spoke. So if you DO want to revisit the friendship, you’ll have to accept that not much will have changed, and she’ll still be the same person who brought you down all the time.

It could be that you miss the good times or what could have been, and things seem a lot better than they actually were through the rose-tinted glasses of time. Or it could simply be that you DO miss her. Only you can know the answer to that question. Once you’ve figured out your motivation, you’ll find it easier to decide whether or not you want her back in your life.

I would say that it’s probably no harm in reaching out, after all, life is too short to hold grudges, and it’ll be better for your overall well-being to eliminate animosity and strife wherever you can in your life. But if you do reach out and offer the olive branch, remember she may not want to get back in contact with you, and so you’ll have to make your peace with that.

However, if all goes well and you guys get back in contact, I would advise you to mind yourself in it from the beginning. You can keep her in your life, but keep your emotional cards close to your chest, and watch out for signs that you’re falling into old roles where you’re the designated shoulder for her to cry on constantly yet again. Just make a decision in your mind about what you will & won’t tolerate, and then avoid situations where the old habits could kick in again. Remember; you can’t change her; you’ll have to be the one to change. You can resolve to be more assertive, and set a higher standard for how you want your friends to treat you.

Best of Luck!

Ask J-Ro:  No Laughing Matter

Jen, I’ve been a bit down lately due to homophobic comments slipped into normal conversations with a friend. They pass them off as humorous, but it’s still quite uncomfortable to say the least. I only recently started coming out as gay but he makes me feel ashamed of my sexuality. Thoughts?

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First things first; don’t EVER feel ashamed of your sexuality. Your friend is clearly the uncomfortable one, not you. As us Limerick women say about people like that, “He’d want to go away and have a chat with himself”.

You made a seriously courageous decision to come out as gay, and your friends need to have a bit of understanding in how difficult it must have been to take the leap and tell them. In groups of friends, there tends to be a lot of mental categorising of individuals; the funny one, the mad one, the Star Wars nerd etc…and nobody likes it when the balance is upset because it shakes up preconceived notions about who people are. The reality is you’re still you, and you’re still their mate whether straight or gay.

If it’s just the one guy responsible for the homophobic comments, then he’s got his own issues that are feck-all to do with you. Not that it hurts any less to know that. Maybe he’s an out and out homophobe, or maybe you’re his first gay friend and he’s all discombobulated (Been waiting to use that word!). Or maybe he’s not secure in his own sexuality. Either way, totally HIS problem.

Whatever the reasons are behind his obviously shite attempts to disguise his discomfort with ‘jokes’, it needs to be nipped in the bud ASAP. If for no other reason than to save him from losing a hell of a lot more friends down the line if he keeps it up.

Phase 1 would obviously be to talk to him one-on-one, not in an aggressive confrontational way. Tell him you find the jokes that he makes really hurtful, and as a friend he should be aware of what it took for you to come out, and hearing stuff like that won’t help ANYONE who’s thinking about doing the same. If he’s your true friend, chances are he’ll be thoroughly ashamed and won’t have realised he was hurting you. Then he’ll hopefully beg your forgiveness and find another source of ‘comedic’ material. If, however, he gets defensive and says things like “too sensitive” and “only a joke” etc, it means you’ve hit a nerve and he doesn’t like being called to his account for his behaviour. In which case you can move swiftly to Phase 2.

For Phase 2; I would suggest a subtle push of reverse peer-pressure. Have a chat with one or two other mutual mates in your group whom you consider to be loving, supportive friends to you. Let them know that what he’s saying is not funny to you, and is really hurting your feelings. If he’s saying these things in a group, and nobody is calling him out on it, they are complicit in his actions. So a simple request for others to call him out on his crappy homophobic comments – or, worse yet for him, not laugh or find it funny – could be the kick into the Personality Hole this fella needs. No harm for him to know what it’s like to feel real shame.

If he persists in being an insensitive gowl-bag after all that, feel free to tell him go fuck himself. There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to live a fantastic authentic life. Hop to it!

Best of Luck <3

At the heart of it all, we just want to matter.

It’s the little things that keep us warm.

Normally I can be found sitting behind the laptop drumming up one-liners or little anecdotes to put up on my Facebook page for anyone who reads them, and I love that people get a laugh out of them on an otherwise dreary day. Sure, it’s a good ego boost, who doesn’t love that? Yet, what drives me mostly is the desire to be that one thing in someone’s news feed that might give them a chuckle or a laugh-out-loud moment that gets them strange looks on the bus first thing in the morning as they scroll down on their phone.

In among the countless bad weather updates or declarations of how hungover their friends are, I’m happy to share the fact that, depending on what shoes I’m wearing on any given day, there’s a fifty per cent chance I won’t be able to reach up and close down the boot of my car. Hell, it makes even ME laugh sometimes. After the fact, obviously. Laughing in the pouring rain at your own misfortune may look charming in ads and indie movies, but it only gets you odd looks and no help whatsoever.

In essence, I don’t see my personal Facebook profile page as any way personal, I think I look on it sometimes as an extension of my public persona, and I’m  guessing a lot of people do the same. There are others who wear their heart and soul on their Facebook sleeve, using their status updates like a kind of mini-journal, not giving a flying fuck who takes notice and who doesn’t. In among those people, though, are people who care way too much about who takes notice. Some give thinly-veiled observations obviously directed at a particular person without mentioning names, some just put up an emoticon and hope that someone will ask what’s wrong. Inevitably, someone will always ask what’s wrong, out of sheer morbid curiosity if nothing else. However, if people are honest, it’s never the person they WANT who asks the all-important question.

I bring this up because at times, all I want to do is just that. I want to use my Facebook profile to rage and scream against the world, and tell people every day how miserable I am, that life sucks and at times I can’t even stomach getting out of bed because the list of ordinary mundane things that every basic adult in the world knows how to do just seems like a mountain of Herculean tasks to my messy, hectic, addled brain. (sometimes I do it anyway, mostly through the medium of appropriate YouTube song titles.)

Sometimes, life is fucking fantastic. Good things happen, I feel on top of the world, life is cruising along in the right gear, and I love all my friends, and they love me, and the birds in the trees are lining up alongside the squirrels and the mice like a Disney movie to sing about the lovely world we live in. That’s also stuff worth sharing for a few ‘likes’.  People are generally very good-natured on Facebook, mostly because hitting ‘like’ on some bit of good news or other takes about as much effort as exhaling.

I wonder though, how many people would send a message to someone they saw on their news feed who seemed genuinely depressed or down? I include myself in this too. It may not even be welcome on the part of the person receiving it, but it would let them know that they have been seen and heard, and maybe, that’s all they wanted in the first place.

In a sea of mass activity such as that of Facebook, it’s easy for people to be lost and feel like they’re screaming into the wind, so sometimes they test the waters by throwing out a little emotional bait to see who bites. No harm in that. The beauty of social networking means we’re no more than a ‘like’ away from making someone feel good, the downside for people like me is that I’m on-line so much, nobody needs to text me to see how I am, they just log on and see what manner of shite is grinding my gears right at that very moment. Which is fair enough. It’s cheaper than a text…

In essence, I have no real purpose or agenda in writing this, it’s just something I’ve noticed as I look through my news feed. There’s a lot of unhappy people out there, some more vocal about it than others, some who just post a sad song or quotation, some will ask their entire friends list out to see if anyone wants to meet for coffee. For all our closeness with people we spend hours talking to day in and day out on our phones and laptops, there’s no substitute for a bit of face-to-face attention from someone who genuinely wants to meet up and see how you’re getting on in the real world. It’s a lonely, tough world – and everyone has a story. We should mind each other more.

At the heart of it all, we just want to matter.