When I was a youngster, my mom used to tell me to make friends just by knocking on the door and asking someone to come out and play….or walking right up to them and saying, “My name is…..would you be my friend.?” Now that we’re grown up, making friends isn’t all that easy. Social media has helped in that when we find someone we don’t know, we can send a friend request. To me, that friend request is the exact same thing as when I was six years old and saying, “I’d like you to be my friend.”
In many ways, my brain still thinks of relationships in terms of a six-year old, so when I send that request, I’m asking someone to be my friend. It means, “I saw you. I saw what you said, I think I know about you and I’d like to be your friend.” When someone accepts the friend request, I’m excited. When it’s never responded to, I try to understand that not everyone sees it as I do. I’ve occasionally asked people I meet later in person about why they didn’t accept and they said, “it’s the internet….I don’t know you. can’t just accept every request.” I understand. It’s ok, but I just want to make friends.
I get lucky most of the time. In other words, most people I want to be friends with, accept. And I accept most. The reasons I may not are, no mutual friends, different language (which is not an automatic deal breaker) or I’m maybe just feeling especially vulnerable. So, when I accept, it’s kind of a big deal. And when you do, it is to me too. So, losing that is somehow very difficult.
Being unfriended hurts me. I mean, it hurts me in a way that a six-year old might think someone is basically saying “I’m not going to be your friend anymore.” And it’s just as painful as it was when I was six.
But, sometimes I do it too. See, once I’m unfriended, it hurts me to see those people that are still friends with that person. (I realize it’s childish and immature, but it’s just the way my brain works. And I’m going out on a limb here, because I think it’s the way many of my friends think of being unfriended too.) And immediately, we think of our own hurt. We think someone else has a problem with us. We decide to be hurtful back, but we don’t consider what they may have been feeling when they made that very fast decision to hit the “unfriend” link. And it is a pretty quick thing–easily decided in a couple seconds of sadness.
I’m pretty up front about my struggles with depression (now). But, when a depressed person unfriends you, it’s almost never because of something you did. It’s because, in the depressed person’s mind, (and my mind), it’s because I’m feeling sad and alone and hopeless. I look at those who claim to be my friends–sometimes those who are my close friends (or whom I consider as such) and start hitting the unfriend button. If they were my friends, they wouldn’t leave me here alone, right? I shouldn’t have to tell them how I feel, right? They should just know if they’re my friends. They don’t really like me. Nobody likes me. They’re better off without me. I’m going to spare them the misery of being my friend…and so I do. And a little later…..much later…when I’m out of my funk, I wonder…maybe I just hurt them the way I’ve been hurt. And maybe those that I thought didn’t want to be my friend anymore were feeling the same way I do when I hit unfriend. Seeing as how I tend to say stuff most people just think, It could happen. So, I thought I’d write about it. So, sometimes, when I unfriend someone….ok, almost all the time. The very best thing for them to do is to send me a new friend request after they notice. What that says to my little girl mind is that, “I noticed you deleted me. And I still want to be your friend. I like you.” Most of my friends are as sensitive as I am, and I sometimes forget that. I look at you and your pictures and see how you’re enjoying your lives and sometimes, I feel unworthy. Sometimes, when I say these things out loud or in print, people get annoyed because they don’t understand how I can feel that way, but here’s news: I don’t see how you can feel that way either. So, we’re just the same, aren’t we? I want to be your friend. My mom said it was ok to ask. So, if you’re unfriended, give them the benefit of the doubt. Send a new request. If it’s denied, you know you tried. I’ll do the same. We aren’t six anymore. Making friends isn’t all that easy, is it?