I wonder, sometimes, about the path of least resistance, since it’s such an easy place to spend time.
Honesty in friendships is necessary to the health of those relationships, but it’s sometimes challenging. How do you talk to a friend about a comment that wounded you in some way or felt like an accusation? How do you respond when you see a friend making what you worry may be a terrible mistake? Is it better just to live and let live or do we have a responsibility to our friends to have difficult conversations now and then?
I’ve trashed many relationships in my life. True, some needed trashing but some fell by the wayside because I was embarrassed about something, because I felt guilty for something either done or left undone, because someone pissed me off and I crabbed about it behind their back instead of dealing with them directly, because I spread thoughtless (or worse – thoughtful) gossip. Most of us have probably had one or more of these experiences but in the course of trying to live a more excellent life, I’ve tried to be more direct and have difficult conversations rather than drop relationships. Is my record perfect? Oh, heck no, not much about me is perfect. But I think I’m getting better and I know I’m working at it.
The question is, though, how do you determine that a relationship is worth the discomfort of a difficult conversation? And when one party decides the relationship IS worth it, what if the other party engages in avoidant or evasive behavior?
I’m not sure I believe, as one friend does, that the universe gets in the way of conversations that don’t need to be had. I do believe that we are very good at rationalizing why conversations should not be had (people got in between us, we were interrupted). This is not to say that people who believe the universe gets in the way of conversations that don’t need to be had are wrong (I think they’re wrong, but their beliefs are as valid as mine as long as we’re in this particular world).
I guess I believe we need to challenge ourselves to have those conversations. It’s scary, but it’s the only way to move forward in friendships…you’ve got to work muscles to build them, right?
The hard conversations can’t always happen if one of the parties isn’t willing. These are the people who hang up, walk away, are always busy when you would like to talk. I’m not sure how you can force the conversation with an unwilling partner, but I’m all ears if you’ve got ideas.