A lack of reciprocity in regards to initiative has the potential to reach alarming heights in your friendship circle and become disheartening.
And now we come to it. The subject of passive friends. It is an important discussion topic when I consider how many people I’ve met who have been upset by passive friends. Personally, it caused me a lot of grief in my life many years ago and was one of the things that led to my severe bout of depression. As I emerged from the fiery furnace of depression like tempered steel I feel I really ought to share my thoughts on the matter with those who are also deeply troubled by it. In this first installment I’m just going to introduce the troubling situation.
Whenever I speak about ‘passive friends’ on my site I do so within a very specific context. The situation where someone shows a lot of initiative towards their friends and the overwhelming majority of them not only don’t reciprocate but exit that person’s life without a second thought. What is to be done when your social circle is plagued with it and it gets to ridiculous proportions?
After several years of befriending many people during Project Fellowship I became astounded by the world’s passiveness, indifference and apathy. It was on a far greater scale than I ever imagined.
I would have to rate it as one of the wonders of the social world. It’s like a huge, windowless dark tower charcoal black in color that dwarfs the tallest buildings in the world. It’s surface seems to absorb light rather than deflect it.
Funnily enough my attitude at one point changed when the Tower grew to immense proportions. I use to loathe it but I got to a point where I stood in awe and said, “That is amazing. Quick, take a picture!” Yes, I was in awe. No, I am not kidding. My high enthusiasm and keen interest in friendships no doubt made it seem bigger than it really was…if that’s possible!
Stagecoach: All Aboard !
I also refer to this situation as the stagecoach experience and I dare say it is typical for anyone who has a large circle of friends and holds many of their own social events like I did.
You’re in the front of the stagecoach holding the reins and a bunch of friends pile in the back. You go to a great deal of effort to make your home a nice place to entertain friends. You channel your heart and soul into the events and spend many hours getting ready for them. You show your friends a lot of hospitality, initiative, enthusiasm and warmth. You may even do many acts of kindness from helping them move house to loaning them money. Despite the many good times shared the moment you stop hosting events and cease taking the lion’s share of the initiative your friends get out of the stagecoach and walk away many of whom are never seen again. Sometimes, to my amusement, I hear them making plans that exclude me as they walk away. Such is the exodus that I call this the Great Falling Away.
It’s truly amazing how quiet your life can become when you stop taking the initiative for even a short while. The truth is that many friendships are on life support and are completely dependent on your initiative to survive. Step outside the circle and the world you helped create implodes.
It’s not just a matter of friends being chronically passive or suddenly fading out of your life either. There are other scenarios that make it even more troubling. Watching as the fiery lights in a close friend’s eyes flicker out and the cold chill of half-heartedness pervade your friendship. Being caught up in the strange phenomena where friends nearly always gravitate away from you towards other people they far prefer the company of. Hearing your friends talking with warmth and enthusiasm toward each other in your presence in a way they never would with you can feel like acid on the heart when you deeply feel friendship destitute and in depression.
As a result some people have cloistered themselves away feeling like a social leper and that nobody cares. Others are reluctant to search for new friends and find that their past experiences discourage them from doing so. Because of this when they do make an effort it tends to be on such a small scale that nothing really comes of it.
If you read all my posts concerning friendship on this site you will notice that Project Fellowship acts in part as a counterweight reducing the bias I seem to have in my life for an overwhelming amount of passivity in my circle.
In an effort to strike a balance and encourage understanding I will first try to help people come to grasp with the overwhelming amount of passive friends in part 2 of the series.
Be Active : Engage Others
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