I have been thinking a lot about the friendships I've had that have lasted versus those that didn't, and evaluating what are reasonable deal breakers, when I realized that I'm not even really sure what a "normal" close friendship looks like. Personal experiences of boundaries you've had to draw, flaws of other people that you can live with vs. not, etc. are all appreciated. I really could use some perspective.
Is it normally to overlook significant-but-not-dealbreaker type flaws like this? I try to be accepting of my friends for who they are, and work around their quirks (I avoid attending events with inflexible start times with Titus). I have somewhat unusual interests/hobbies and it can be hard to find others who share those interests, but sometimes I worry that I make too many excuses for them because of this.
Brilliant timing, I am dealing with a similar issue in my own thread right now. I know what you mean by your last paragraph--I don't have many friends and I'm comfortable with that, but sometimes I do think I put up with things I otherwise wouldn't, just because pulling away from that person would drop my number of friends to an even lower level. With the current friendship I'm reevaluating, one thing that made me stick with it early on was that we did have things in common, that we didn't have in common with other people--values, interests, backgrounds. She was the person I could count on to want to see a particular movie that other people would think was dorky, or who knew exactly what I meant when I complained about my boss, as we started out as co-workers.
But over the years that has eroded, and her negative qualities have stood out to me more and more. She is very persistent and pushy, and will steamroll over people without ever thinking, "I should just accept their no, because it's their time/money/house, even though I don't understand their reasons." She can be very judgmental, and I have to avoid a lot of topics and activities to avoid unpleasantness or criticism. Meeting with her is more stressful than fun at this point.
I will give you an example of what I consider acceptable irritation vs. deal-breaker (same person). We had a joint Christmas shopping day. I knew going in that she had a lot more stuff to buy so the day would mostly be focused on her agenda, and that was fine. It was dull for me, going to these stores I never go to because they don't sell anything I'm interested in, looking at gifts for people I don't know. But, that was also fine--if we could spend our free time chatting, and I could feel like I was really helping her (carrying her stuff, finding things she described, giving my opinion on something), I didn't mind that it was a bit dull, and all about her. That's what I would consider acceptable "irritation."
But then we went to the store where *I* actually had some shopping to do, and instead of helping me like I had helped her, she immediately went off to the other side of the store to fulfill her own list. And, refused to go to the one store I wanted to go to, that she didn't. So I had made all this accommodation for her, all day, and she didn't even contemplate doing the same for me. That was what made me really angry, and it's that sort of thing that goes into the deal-breaker category for me.
One of my sensitivities, I guess, is feeling like I'm putting in more work than the other person. Looking back I would say that's how my friendships have mainly ended--fading away because the other person stopped getting back to me, and I didn't want to be the person always chasing them down, initiating contact, sending gifts, suggesting outings. I feel like when people don't reciprocate, they are sending me a message that I'm not very important to them, so I'm going to ratchet the friendship down until our levels of effort seem to match. Which may be zero on both sides.
Not that I think I'm perfect; once, after I complained about a friend, my mom said (in her careful counselor voice), "Do you think there's anything about you, that annoys them?" I replied, in irritation, "I sure hope so!"
Okay, not polite, and I would not be annoying on purpose.