Permanent Gaslighting Damage
Right now I’m feeling very upset at a close friendship, but my issue is I don’t know if I am reasonable here with my problems or if I am just being unreasonable and unhealthy about the way I view it. I decided to vent/CBT here to try to leave this feeling behind so I can move on with my day.
I’ve felt somewhat angry because I’ve been the one who has been reaching out and initiating about 80% of the time, and a lot of the time it’s ignored. I also want to preface that there is context and I am only telling the parts that line up with this toxic narrative so take it all with a grain of salt. But I realized I felt very shitty because the person had not responded to my messages, but was posting things on their story throughout the day. I realized whenever I see something pretty in nature or cool things I try to send them it as a way of putting effort into maintaining the relationship, but they don’t do the same. They don’t send me pictures of random things they find interesting, I have to find out by looking through their story and swiping up. Also, they’ve made plenty of promises they haven’t followed through on to the point where if they say they will do something I don’t believe them anymore. I know that this isn’t done with malice, as even when we are in person it’s the same with stuff like paying me back – but I still find it a pretty unfavorable trait. I hate playing games like this, but I’ve tried explicitly mentioning to them several times which is incredibly uncomfortable for me to do – and each time they’ve made promising remarks and acknowledgments, but haven’t done anything else, and nothing changes. I know that typically friendships can get used to the mode of initiator and recipient, but I think this situation is different due to big timezone delays. I’m kinda sick of the feeling of them messaging me as a chore, and so I think at least for the next 24 hours I’m not going to initiate. I think overall I’m going to avoid initiating for a bit to experiment and see how it feels, as currently, I don’t think I can sustain this emotionally.
They mentioned in the past while talking about something different that if I stopped initiating with them, they would think something was wrong and would go out of their way to reach out and initiate. I’d like to hope that’s true, but realistically I think they’ll just continue as normal without noticing. Maybe I stop putting this much effort into the friendship if it’s not being reciprocated in my eyes.
Venting over – now CBT:
Situation: A close friend is not reciprocating communication, and they aren’t initiating with me.
Thoughts: They don’t value me as a friend, and are enjoying the friendship as long as they don’t have to put in effort to maintain it. I feel upset because I am putting in a lot of effort to try to maintain it, and it just seems like it’s not reciprocated at all.
Feelings: I feel like shit, and I feel like this friendship is on its way out. I feel like she doesn’t care about me as a friend, and that she doesn’t actually want to maintain the friendship. I feel somewhat taken advantage of, but that it’s my fault for that.
Behavior: I pull away from her as a friend, and I reinforce the feeling that people wouldn’t want to be close friends with me. I put less effort into the relationship drastically, and she sees that as a sign that I don’t want to be friends and also stops – friendship over.
Now in a better world:
Thoughts: She just sucks at texting, and doesn’t understand how I feel about it. For example with other friends of mine that I value a lot, they text me out of the blue 90% of the time, and I’ve always just assumed that’s how they are as a person, and I have no problems with it – I actively enjoy it. She probably doesn’t have the awareness to understand how she would feel in this situation, and so there’s no malice behind it.
Feelings: I do feel upset in a way because I’ve tried to explicitly communicate and stop the miscommunication, and it doesn’t seem like she’s paid attention to it, but she may not be a bad friend or ignoring it, she might just not be emotionally mature enough to recognize and be able to empathize with those feelings. I feel like it’s a bit more understandable, and when I frame it as a personality flaw instead of an indication of the friendship I no longer feel like the friendship is deteriorating. I can also corroborate this with evidence, as she’s mentioned in the past how she’s a bad texter and she wants to improve on that. I feel more secure in the friendship.
Behavior: I may have to stop communicating about harder things for her to change, and rather look to coerce or manipulate the behavior out of her through natural means instead of expecting her to consciously change her behavior. I can do things like text her less frequently, so she doesn’t feel like there’s no reason for her to initiate if I am always willing to initiate. But in doing this I can instead be more reasonable with the effort I am putting in and have her help maintain the friendship instead of it feeling so one-sided.
Every time I do CBT I am surprised with how well it works, which makes me glad I force myself to do it out of habit now. I think the key statement to take away is that things can be personal flaws instead of indications of the relationship. I think that’s something incredibly important I need to carry with me more often. Proud of you man, keep fighting for the life you want to live. Love you Feet Pics 💌