Author Topic: Non-reciprocal Sympathy  (Read 4498 times)

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QueenfaninCA

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #15 on: June 18, 2014, 05:23:28 PM »
Playing devil's advocate: You supported her sister. How well did you know her sister?

The reciprocal would be her supporting your brother. How well does she know your brother plus throw in that we are now dealing with the opposite gender.

Also, you pretty much expect her to be a shoulder to cry on. were you that shoulder for her when her sister was going through cancer?

Also, I'm not sure I would call a friend who calls me a couple of times a week just to dump on me all her anxieties (as justified as they are). If you really need to talk about this that often, you might want to find a counselor to do so. There is only so much of that that friends will take before they either retreat, tell you to grow up or find someone else to talk to.

fountainof

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2014, 05:45:49 PM »
I was thinking about it when reading the "I am not crazy..." thread and maybe she cannot do the same for you because of her sister stuff and her own mental health.

If the friendship hasn't always been one-sided where you give and give and she doesn't then I would cut her some slack.  However, if now this behaviour is reflective of how she always has been then you need to evaluate the friendship.

menley

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2014, 07:16:17 PM »
In some ways, I wonder if this is along the same veins of "love languages". You express your love and concern for her by sending small presents and calling to check in regularly, but perhaps the way that she shows love and concern for you isn't the same way.

It sounds like you treated her the way that you would want to be treated - and in a lot of ways, that's great! The golden rule, after all :) But it doesn't necessarily mean that's the way she wanted or expected to be treated, and it definitely doesn't mean that it would be the way she's comfortable treating others. I know that personally, while I would feel touched by the small presents and the regular check-ins, I would feel very uncomfortable doing the same for others - it's just not the way I do things. I don't think that makes me a bad person or uncaring, it just means that I show how I care in different ways.

I would sit down and think about ways that she may have shown you that she cares and is concerned. After that, if you're still upset and thinking that she is ignoring your pain, I would agree with other posters that say she is your best friend - you should be able to talk to her about it. But please do consider that just because she hasn't done the things you did, that doesn't mean she doesn't care.

LifeOnPluto

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2014, 11:23:44 PM »
Playing devil's advocate: You supported her sister. How well did you know her sister?

The reciprocal would be her supporting your brother. How well does she know your brother plus throw in that we are now dealing with the opposite gender.


I was wonderning this too.

OP, I have to say that personally, I'd find it a little strange if my sibling had cancer, and a friend of mine was sending them weekly cards and gifts. To me, that's a little extreme. Unless of course, my friend was also friends with my sibling. And if the reverse happened and my friend's brother had cancer, I wouldn't feel comfortable in sending him cards and gifts unless I knew him well too.

I agree with other people - tell your friend what you'd like. Eg "It's been a really stressful week dealing with brother's illness. Could we grab a coffee tomorrow and chat?" If your friend seems disinterested, or doesn't want to hear about your brother, that's a different kettle of fish!

And ((hugs)) for you and your brother.


Deetee

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2014, 12:15:21 AM »
Playing devil's advocate: You supported her sister. How well did you know her sister?

The reciprocal would be her supporting your brother. How well does she know your brother plus throw in that we are now dealing with the opposite gender.


I was wonderning this too.

OP, I have to say that personally, I'd find it a little strange if my sibling had cancer, and a friend of mine was sending them weekly cards and gifts. To me, that's a little extreme. Unless of course, my friend was also friends with my sibling. And if the reverse happened and my friend's brother had cancer, I wouldn't feel comfortable in sending him cards and gifts unless I knew him well too.


I'm also going to agree.

What you did for her sister was very kind and sweet and considerate. However, it way, way beyond anything I would ever do for a friend's sister. And, to be honest, it's way beyond what I would do for a good friend with non terminal cancer.

[Sounds callous, but I personally have some health issues that can sound scary, but aren't-or more correctly, I don't find them alarming. I ran into someone-a friend of a friend- who has the same thing as me and it was a BIG DEAL to her and her family and her life.]

I would visit. I would bring a meal. I would donate to a group gift. I would never send weekly gifts. It's almost unfathomable to do that for a semi acquaintance who will likely get better. I don't say this to be a jerk. I think it's lovely that you did that. i admire it. But I would never do that.

[Other story. My FIL had a heart attack and a few years later a car accident. Both times, I did nothing that I recall. My husband drove out 10 hours the first time and flew 8 hours the second time. Which reminds me that I did do something. I had a free flight anywhere  from an airline mess up. I gave that to my husband to book the last minute flight, but that doesn't really count as anything special. But my FIL's sister sent weekly cards.I thought that was sweet too, but never going to happen]

Anyhow, that was a long winded way of trying to get to a few points

1) What you did was sweet, but exceptional
2) Your brother is in a scary situation and the sad thing is this paralyzes people
3) This is your best friend. Talk to her and tell you what you specifically need.
4) Tailor that to what she can give (money, time, compassion,expertise)

Luci

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2014, 01:03:22 AM »
I know someone who does that kind of thing for those in pain, as in several aunts and great aunts in senior care in the past.

I have no idea how she does it. In fact, I need to call her and ask what to send to our own very dear grandson, her great nephew, who is very ill. She sends a note once a week. But how many Dr. Who pictures and puppy jokes can I send to him without saying something stupid?

My point is that some people have the skill and creativity to do this, and the rest of us sit in awe of what you do and then still don't know what to do. The "duh?" group is where Lucas and I are, except we can visit and play!

I am sure your friend is in the "duh?" group. She cares, but doesn't know how to express it. (Yes, I am the eternal optimist.)

PS I will send great aunt a thank you note tomorrow for what she is doing. Thanks for reminding me.

dirtyweasel

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2014, 01:49:17 AM »

I was wonderning this too.

OP, I have to say that personally, I'd find it a little strange if my sibling had cancer, and a friend of mine was sending them weekly cards and gifts. To me, that's a little extreme. Unless of course, my friend was also friends with my sibling. And if the reverse happened and my friend's brother had cancer, I wouldn't feel comfortable in sending him cards and gifts unless I knew him well too.

And ((hugs)) for you and your brother.

Yeah, I have to admit I would feel the same way.  I just wouldn't feel comfortable sending sending something that that - especially if I didn't know the person that well or had never met them.  Maybe she feels the same way.



lowspark

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #22 on: June 19, 2014, 01:05:15 PM »
I think different people handle things differently, and different people are capable of certain behaviors while others aren't.

Years ago I was going through a crisis in my life and one of my friends "Stella" stepped up and helped me tremendously. She is the type of person who is always johnny-on-the-spot for her friends and was the perfect person for my needs at the moment. As time went on, though still in a bit of crisis mode, I needed someone to talk to who wasn't going to be overly sympathetic. Someone who could just be straightforward without volunteering to help me or patting me on the back or giving me the shoulder to cry on. I had the perfect friend for that, "Molly" someone totally different Stella.

Now, I would never have asked Molly to do the things that Stella did, or vice versa. It seemed to me that each of them had a totally different way of approaching things, and neither was better than the other, because in fact, they both were able to help me in their own way.

To be honest, I'm probably a lot like your BFF. I would not be comfortable being too involved with trying to cheer up someone by providing a shoulder to cry on. I could help in other ways, though. I'm more comfortable being a distraction so when you're ready to get your mind off things by going to the movies or shopping or just want to go out to lunch for a break, I'm the one you'd call.

I think it's a matter of recognizing where your friends' talents lie as far as what things they are comfortable with vs. what kind of things you need.

TootsNYC

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2014, 02:05:55 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."

Love this!


I know that I personally am really uncomfortable when I'm on the receiving end of such...trying to think of a word...over-the-top?..no, that sounds judgy...maybe "extra generous" gestures.

Because I know that I will not reciprocate.

A single gift, yes. But when the time and energy investment of the other person gets pretty big, I can see the imbalance approaching.

I also know that when I go a little overboard, it always because *I* like doing it; I do it for totally selfish reasons.

However, having a friend *completely* bow out would be *really* hurtful.
But that would be hurtful no matter what level of caring I had done for them.

I love Eden's recommendation:
Tell her what you need from her. Don't compare it to the past; just tell her that you need this from her. And try to ask for something she can give, as long as its' still something that fuels or nourishes you.

Hugs, though--that must be tough.


Allyson

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2014, 02:20:39 PM »

Years ago I was going through a crisis in my life and one of my friends "Stella" stepped up and helped me tremendously. She is the type of person who is always johnny-on-the-spot for her friends and was the perfect person for my needs at the moment. As time went on, though still in a bit of crisis mode, I needed someone to talk to who wasn't going to be overly sympathetic. Someone who could just be straightforward without volunteering to help me or patting me on the back or giving me the shoulder to cry on. I had the perfect friend for that, "Molly" someone totally different Stella.

Now, I would never have asked Molly to do the things that Stella did, or vice versa. It seemed to me that each of them had a totally different way of approaching things, and neither was better than the other, because in fact, they both were able to help me in their own way.


I love this! I have friends who will specifically ask my advice on situations because they know that I'll tell them if I think they're out of line...but I'm not much good for immediate-crisis phone calls/sympathy...I am much better at advice than sympathy, so in a situation like an illness, I often feel really at a loss as to what to do, because the right words never seem to be there.

OP, I definitely think you can ask your friend for specific, concrete things you'd like her to do. If she reacts badly to this, well, then yeah I would definitely take a huge step back.

jackie jormp jomp

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2014, 11:46:42 PM »
While it's no excuse, I offer an explanation for your friend's behaviour:

Her sister's cancer was very traumatic and anxiety-inducing for her, and discussing your brother's cancer triggers these feelings.  Tell her you know it might be hard for her for this reason, but that you would really value her experience and comfort, if she could be there for you.

People are often walking wounds and we spend our waking hours trying not to pick at scabs... but your telling her that she could offer you strength through empathy right now might be a wakeup call for her.  It could even make her realize that her bad experience has value and make her feel more confident about a time she sees only as a trigger.  Worth a shot.  But remember either way--her behaviour is not a negative about you.

And this stranger is sending good thoughts your way.  You're tough and thoughtful and I admire it.

Jocelyn

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #26 on: June 24, 2014, 01:44:15 PM »
People tend to offer the sort of help they want to receive.
I had to tell a friend that asking frequently about my father's cancer was interfering with my ability to use denial to cope. (this was at a time when Dad's treatment was taking a wait-and-see approach: it was easier for me to go through months of waiting by assuming we'd be getting good news. I told him that I appreciated his concern, that I understood he was trying to be helpful, but it would help more if he just didn't ask, and I would update him whenever I had news.

So, by all means, talk with your friend about your feelings. But you also need to keep in mind that you are on about the 99th percentile of being supportive, yourself, and  it's virtually inevitable that others are not going to meet your standards. That doesn't mean they don't care, just that what's normal and natural for you is way more than most people are going to be able to do. Just because you sent weekly gifts doesn't create an expectation that others will reciprocate.

And I am very sorry for you and your family, in this crisis.

bah12

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2014, 02:07:17 PM »
It is possible for good people and good friends not to share the same 'friendship talents'.  I might be able to recognize and appreciate when a friend steps up and offers me support for something and still not have the talent to think, when she needs that from me, that I need to send little gifts, make calls, etc.  It doesn't make me a horrible person, it is just that I might have a different skill set (as a PP mentioned above).

There is nothing wrong with feeling hurt when going throught a life crisis and not getting the support from a good friend that you expect.  This is your BFF, so I do think it warrants a conversation.  "Friend, I need you to remember to ask about my brother without me mentioning him to you first.  I'm scared and I need you to ask about him because that makes me feel better. Please, can you make an effort to do this for me?"   Maybe all your friend needs is that little in-your-face reminder of what you want. 

((hugs))

Softly Spoken

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Re: Non-reciprocal Sympathy
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2014, 06:00:43 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.
You stated this very well. I agree this could just be a miscommunication.
Also OP, you may want to consider that your friend is not coming from the same place as you. The very thing that other posters are saying "should" give your friend more empathy may in fact be the reason she has not reached out. Having gone through this crisis with her sister, perhaps seeing you go through it with your brother hits your BFF too close to home. I lost my mother to cancer - I am always a very empathetic person but cancer hits a nerve. If someone else were struggling with it, it would take everything I have to overcome the urge to run screaming instead of being supportive. My first thought, instead of "oh no poor so and so", would be "oh no not again - I don't know if I can handle this." :'(

Please give your BFF the benefit of the doubt OP. I know people usually hate to ask for things (and are often conditioned not to) and would rather whoever they deal with magically know what is needed instead - but that's just not how it works no matter how close you are or how well you know each other. Please reach out to your friend, instead of being bitter about her not reaching out to you as much as you think she should. If she is you BFF, and it is within her power (I also agree with bah12's post that it might not be one of her natural "friendship talents"), I believe she will give you the support you need if you can bring yourself to ask for it.

My sympathies and prayers are with you. ((hugs))
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