Friendship is a two-way street?

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Friendship is a two-way street?

Postby Devil » Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:16 pm

I was out last night with a pair of friends who I consider that I’m pretty close with; the three of us go out regularly and have a good time. Anyway, it came about last night that my two friends think I’m pretty secretive (which, undeniably, I am). Yet it kind of turned into a bit of a debate about how friendship works, and one of them basically said that real friendship has to work both ways (you tell me, I tell you) implying that I’m not actually a true friend at all because I'm not open about a lot of things going on in my life.

I was a bit hurt, which is unlike me. I replied that if that’s the case, I have no real friends because I generally don't discuss my problems with anyone. The more I thought about it the more I started to worry that maybe I was right. I take it for granted that these two girls, as well as other friends, always have problems/stories to tell and feel comfortable doing so. I consider them good friends and have never thought otherwise, but maybe they don’t think of me in the same way, and in turn maybe none of my friends really do.

I think what bothered me the most is that the reason I’m secretive is not because I don’t trust them, but because I’m scared I would lose my friendship with them if I was honest (I am gay and one of them is a complete homophobe) and also that some things I just don’t feel like talking about. I didn’t know how to convey that it wasn’t a trust issue without being totally obvious about what the real issue is. I’ve never really thought I was anything other than a decent friend; I’m always willing to listen and I take genuine interest in my friends’ lives. BUT now I think I’m actually maybe a bit of a rubbish friend judging by what they think a friend should be. The truth hurts, perhaps?

I just wanted to hear other people’s thoughts on how much I should read into this, and how much you agree that a friendship can’t progress very far without being totally honest with each other. Should I bring it up with my friends again and try to sort things out or just leave it? Should I apologise for not being as open as they are? Would it be pointless unless I was going to change?

Thanks for any input if/when you get the time
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Postby Beckie » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:02 pm

you don't have anything to apologise for, you share as much as you want to and if you don't want to then they should respect that.
At the same time though you shouldn't be worried about being judged when you decide how much to tell them; don't let one homophobic 'friend' stop you from being open with the rest of them.

I think all your friends were trying to say was that if you ever want someone to talk to then they're there. They probably want you to share more with them so that they feel more needed, i doubt it has any reflection on how good of a friend they think you are. BUT, don't let them manipulate you into saying things you don't feel comfortable talking about. they had no right to gang up on you and saying its a "two way thing" as though you're not pulling your weight is pretty out of order.. its for you alone to decide how much you tell them. Your mind is your own.

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Postby HappyGoLucky » Mon Jun 30, 2008 10:35 am

Devil wrote:I’m scared I would lose my friendship with them if I was honest (I am gay and one of them is a complete homophobe)


To be honest, I think a good friend would accept who you really are. Don't change because of other people. I think friendship really depends on who the people involved are. You don't have to be completely open or honest just so the friendship can progress. Everyone is different - some prefer to share their problems whereas some just don't. It is who you are and there's really nothing wrong with that. Your friends may be concerned about you as you don't share your worries, if you look at it this way.

I don't think there's anything you really need to apologise about - don't think you did anything wrong.
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Postby Bel Bel » Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:22 pm

I totally agree with happy

Some people have different levels of friendship too

Some friends I can talk about sex with whilst others I would confind other things but not intimate stuff.
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Postby Devil » Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:21 pm

Thanks for your input everyone, it gave me some food for thought.

You're right, my friends definitely have my best intentions at heart; they are both good, caring people and I can't fault them for that. Maybe, as you say, it was just a case of 'we're here for you, you can tell us stuff'. But at the same time it did make me feel like I wasn't pulling my weight, and worry that if I don't start telling people more maybe I'll start to lose my friends. One of my best friends stopped talking to me at the start of this year claming that she was sick of me being so secretive. It's just my nature to be guarded, I think I feel safer that way rather than having everyone knowing my business! It's not as though I don't tell them anything at all though.

So should I just forget about it and not bring it up again?
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Postby Bel Bel » Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:45 pm

Well I would tell them that your gay. If they are true friends they will accept it. It must be a bit of a burden keeping this a secret from your friends. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to be your true self with them.

I assume they must be curious about whether you have a b/f etc and not knowing can sometimes be really worrying for someone else and their imagination can go into overdrive. They could be wondering if you lead some kind of seedy or dangerous other life.

If you really feel you can't tell them or you don't want to then I would explain you just have never be good at sharing and you feel safer keeping things to yourself but remember they will probably wonder what is so bad you can't tell them and there will still be the risk they think your hiding something and decide not to be your friend.

I wouldn't apologise though because you haven't known how they feel upto know and you aren't deliberatley deceiving them to cause them any harm
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Postby sunshine girl » Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:01 am

I had a similar problem with my friends a few years back, I'm naturally a fairly discrete person and I generally prefer to deal with things in my own way and in my own time and a lot of my friends felt that 'I never told them anything' and got quite upset about it. I've found that the best response has been to assure them that I do trust them all and to try to share a little bit more of my life with them. I haven't fundamentally changed as a person but I've learned that maybe I don't need to keep all my cards so close to my chest all the time.

I wonder reading your post if a lot of this hinges on the fact that you are hiding your sexuality from them, I wouldn't be surprised if your friends have picked up that you are keeping something (fairly big) from them and perhaps feel a little hurt by that. After all it must prevent you from talking about people you like, relationships etc, etc. And whilst you say it isn't a trust issue it seems that that might be an element of the problem as you don't trust your friends to react well to the news that you're gay.

Perhaps you could tell just one trusted friend, the one you feel is the least likely to make any judgement about you, and that might give you the confidence to be yourself more with your friends. Plus, remember that anyone who chooses not to be your friend because they find out you're gay probably isn't worth knowing anyway!
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Postby Beckie » Wed Jul 02, 2008 9:25 am

yeah, i wouldn't think on it now, just consider it their way of asking you to open up. If they're real friends (which you say they are) then eventually they will just accept that you're a private person and like you for what they do know about you.

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Postby Devil » Wed Jul 02, 2008 10:04 pm

Thanks so much to everyone who's replied. Your post in particular, sunshine girl, gave me a new perspective. I never considered that my friends might suspect I'm hiding something big. None of my other groups of friends have ever been suspicious of me, so I don't know if these two are maybe a little more perceptive or if it's just a coincidence.

I'm definitely not wanting to come out to them (or anyone!), though. I know that one of them would be fine with it, but the other would freak out and I think it would really affect our friendship. I'll try harder to be a bit more open with my friends in general to hopefully put their suspicions to one side!
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