Author Topic: Non-reciprocal Sympathy  (Read 4681 times)

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Redneck Gravy

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Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« on: June 18, 2014, 02:34:29 PM »
Ugh, I know this is on me but it still hurts my feelings...

My BFF's sister had cancer a few years ago.  My BFF & this sister were not close.  Barely civil when in the same room, which wasn't often due to other family planning events. 

BFF felt terrible about her sister's cancer (I think maybe guilty to her part of them not being close).  I sent small gifts weekly for the four months she was in chemo/radiation treatment.  Nothing big at all mind you...say under $5 and sent cards frequently.  My friend thanked me several times and said how nice her sis had said it was to have a regular stream of encouragement.  It also, apparently, caused the two sisters to have more communication and thus grow closer (I'm glad for them).   I also checked with my friend every few days on the welfare of her sister, yes, I was genuinely concerned even though her cancer had a 90% cure rate.   

My bro (whom I am very close to) has cancer, it's been diagnosed for several months now and he is finished with the chemo and has started radiation part... he has a horrible cancer survival rate (under 10%), I am scared to death.   

Unless I call my friend she has no idea what is going on, she never calls me to ask.  No cards, no words of encouragement, nothing.  I feel like while she may have appreciated what I did for her sister, she's really not interested in my brother's "problem". 

It hurts my feelings.  She knew her sister was going to survive and my brother probably isn't.  I'm just hurt that my BFF doesn't realize I would like some hugs and a shoulder to cry on too.     

amylouky

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2014, 02:43:30 PM »
Ouch.. that is definitely hurtful. I wonder if your BFF just doesn't know what to say, do, or how to be there for you? If you think that might be the case, maybe you should just come out and tell her.

I can be clueless sometimes when picking up on others' needs. It's not that I don't WANT to be there for them, I just am not very good at anticipating when someone needs support, or figuring out how to offer/provide it without just seeming awkward. I'd honestly love it if someone would call me and say, "Hey.. I've been really stressed lately and worrying about brother.. do you think you could come over for a couple hours and just hang out? I could use a shoulder."

I wouldn't make it as a reciprocal thing.. people have different ways of giving of themselves, and of being friends. It's not like you need to be paid back for your thoughtfulness when her sister is sick.. just make it about you needing your best friend.

And, I'm very sorry to hear about your brother.

Eden

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 02:47:11 PM »
I'm sorry for what you're going through with your brother. I absolutely understand your feelings regarding the lack of reciprocal efforts from your friend.

If you're wondering if your feelings are valid, they certainly are.

If you're looking for advice on whether or not to address it with your friend, I'd say that's up to you. If you do, perhaps instead of comparing what you did for her and her sister to what she has (or hasn't) done for you, the best thing would be to let her know what you'd like from her. "Friend, it would really mean a lot to me if you could check in with me once a week or so. I can't tell you how good it would feel to know someone was thinking of me and my brother and for me to have a chance to talk about things with someone outside the family."

sunseenli

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 02:53:03 PM »
First of all, ::hugs::.  I can't even imagine what you're going through. 

I don't blame you for being hurt at all.  I would be, too.  It's entirely possible that she just has no idea what to say; even though she went through something *similar*, it wasn't the same, and she may be thinking that doing something in kind wouldn't help at all, and may even seem...flippant?  So she may not know what to do or say, and the indecision is freezing her.

I agree with amylouky as well; I can't think of any way you can get her to realize on her own that you could really use some support, but I also think you wouldn't be out of line to let her know.  You don't have to ask her outright, you could say exactly what you said here: I could really use some hugs and a shoulder to cry on right now.  I think she'll come through.     

Best of luck to you and your brother.  <3

Lynn2000

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 03:17:09 PM »
Hugs! It can be very hurtful when a friend doesn't come through for you how you'd like them to, especially if you've done it for them in the past. And that's on top of the original stress you're dealing with. I think, with a good friend, it can be a good idea to just outright ask for what you want, as others have said.

It may not really be her thing to send something every week to your brother, and even if she's thought of it she might feel like she was just copying what you did. But you could say to her, "Hey, my brother would really appreciate hearing from people, just a card now and then." Or as Eden says, asking her to check in with you every week, or asking her to get together with you for a chat, and so forth.

Some people just really honestly aren't good at thinking about what to do on their own, even though it may seem obvious to other people. If they really care they are usually open to direct suggestions, though.
~Lynn2000

BeagleMommy

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 03:25:51 PM »
RNG, I don't blame you for feeling hurt.  Even if your friend didn't do things to the extent you did, it doesn't take much time to place a phone call or send an email.

We may just be "internet" friends, but your fellow ehellions have plenty of shoulders to support you.  Feel free to PM me if you need someone to talk to.

Hugs and prayers for your brother.

Aquamarine

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 03:47:48 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.
Always be polite, even to nasty people. Not because they are nice, but because you are.

NyaChan

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 03:58:07 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.

I don't advocate playing games like that. This is your best friend - why not speak up and tell her you could use some extra support right now as you deal with your brother's health?

AnnaJ

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 04:00:55 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.

I don't advocate playing games like that. This is your best friend - why not speak up and tell her you could use some extra support right now as you deal with your brother's health?

This ^^^  There's a reason she's your BFF, and you need to talk to her about this now, while she can still be supportive to you and your brother.

Seven Ate Nine

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 04:22:27 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.

I don't advocate playing games like that. This is your best friend - why not speak up and tell her you could use some extra support right now as you deal with your brother's health?

I don't think that the OP should cut contact just to see what happens next, but what does it mean that the friend never calls?  If it means that you initiate all contact, maybe you should back down some.  If it's just that she doesn't call to ask about your brother, or doesn't initiate conversations about him, then you should talk to her now before you build up too much resentment to have a productive conversation about it.

Lynn2000

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 04:26:24 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.

As someone who really doesn't know what to do in situations like this and appreciates direct suggestions, I can say that having been the recipient in the past doesn't actually help me, personally. I don't know why, that's just how my brain works. Sometimes it's because I'm too literal and I think, "Well, Jane ran errands for me, but I don't have a car so I can't run errands for Jane. So now I don't know what to do." I mean, hopefully I would be trying to think of something and outright ask Jane for suggestions, rather than appear cold and uncaring to a friend. Or, I might feel like our relationship has changed between then and now, such that I don't feel nearly as close to her or have any clue what she would appreciate vs. what would be annoying.

So I would suggest the OP ask her friend directly for something first and see what the response is. That may be all that's needed to get the ball rolling, or it may show that her friend isn't much of a friend after all.
~Lynn2000

Arila

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 04:47:54 PM »
Adding my vote that you should directly tell your friend what you need from her or make specific requests.

There are lots of threads on here from people on the other side of things who don't know what to do or what to say, so I think a lot of people get caught in indecision or uncertainty, and it's not because they don't care.

Give her a chance to do the right thing, let her know how she can help you.

amylouky

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 04:50:54 PM »
Your "friend" knows what to do when someone needs sympathy because she has been on the receiving end of it herself!  She knows what to do and she is making the choice not to do it.  Is this the person you really want or need for a BFF?  As it stands right now she's not even being a friend to you.

Personally I would be very hurt and I would stop contacting this person just to see what happens next.

As someone who really doesn't know what to do in situations like this and appreciates direct suggestions, I can say that having been the recipient in the past doesn't actually help me, personally. I don't know why, that's just how my brain works. Sometimes it's because I'm too literal and I think, "Well, Jane ran errands for me, but I don't have a car so I can't run errands for Jane. So now I don't know what to do." I mean, hopefully I would be trying to think of something and outright ask Jane for suggestions, rather than appear cold and uncaring to a friend. Or, I might feel like our relationship has changed between then and now, such that I don't feel nearly as close to her or have any clue what she would appreciate vs. what would be annoying.

So I would suggest the OP ask her friend directly for something first and see what the response is. That may be all that's needed to get the ball rolling, or it may show that her friend isn't much of a friend after all.

Totally agree with this. I'd be afraid that whatever I did would be wrong, given the seriousness of the situation. She may think you don't want to talk about it, or that it's too hard, so maybe she's trying to be the friend who is your getaway from all the stress.
If she's truly your best friend, it seems you should be close enough to just come out and ask. Some people are very good at deciphering others' needs.. others like myself, not so much.

fountainof

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 04:52:19 PM »
I also think you should mention it to your friend.  While you did give her an example with what you did maybe she just cannot do quite that much so doesn't want to do anything or is worried about doing the wrong thing seeing as you have set the bar so high.

Providing emotional support is just not really my thing but in turn I don't expect emotional support from others either.  I would be really stressed out if a friend (even a best friend) consulted me about my relative's illness every few days and sent multiple gifts/cards for me.  However, I do try to give others what they need but in this case I wouldn't be able to reciprocate in exactly the same way as weekly cards/gifts and contact every few days is just too much for me.

blueyzca01

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 05:11:38 PM »
It might not be in her radar to extend herself like you did.  When her sister was sick, you took it upon yourself to send things and keep in contact.  Hopefully you did it without thought of future reciprocation.  That’s the kind of person you are.

Sadly, this is probably the kind of person she is.  And because you did it for her sister and not her, it might not occur to her to do anything.  Hell, even if you had done it for her, she still might not be interested in reciprocating.  It doesn’t mean she’s bad, it just means that some people don’t feel the need to do anything.

I do agree with Eden and NyaChan…she won’t know how you feel unless you tell her.
No one ever says, "Why me?!?!" when something good happens.