February 17th, 2004

box

need.

this is sort of a companion post to the one about "people" yesterday. i've been turning it over in my mind for a while...

for years and years i always thought that the person who really seems to be lonely/unhappy and need a friend (or lover even) would make for a Good friend (or lover). because "a friend in need is a friend indeed" and i figured they would value it more than the person who already has 57 people. plus, like many people i have a soft spot for underdogs (the cartoon and in real life). it took me a while to figure out that the person who is habitually needy, i.e. not just having a bad few months because they got dumped or something, but regularly complaining of being sad/lonely, usually isn't that great to be with.

first of all, when someone is all out of whatever (friends, money, etc.) on a regular basis that's a good sign the person has trouble managing whatever it is (friends, money, etc.) and has gotten into some bad patterns. it's like the bank always wants to give the loan to the person who *has* the money because they're the good credit risk. well, the person with ten good, non-dysfunctional friendships and relationships is probably the good personal-connection risk. the person who has none, probably has none for a reason.

second of all, these people often have some sort of defensive or world-owes-me-a-living attitude, that might not come out right away till they have you hooked, but that will eventually rear its ugly head when you have a fight or conflict. the reason being that they kinda know on some level they're screwing up and have been beating on themselves internally and rather than take some kind of normal responsibility for their actions they'll transfer the upset they're feeling onto you or other people. then all of a sudden you'll start seeing why other people don't want to deal with the person.

i'm not saying that everybody who's going through a lonely (or broke) time is a bad person and everybody should avoid them. we all have temporary runs of bad luck, bad circumstances, bad emotions, or just downtimes like maybe when we've just made changes in our life and don't have new people filling the gaps yet. i've had periods in my life when i have been really needy or really screwed up. what i *am* saying is that you have to look and carefully evaluate whether someone's "need" is temporary or systemic. the only way you can figure this out is to observe how they deal with you and others over a long period of time. if it's a temporary thing, they'll come out of it. if two or three years down the road the person is still having the exact same problems over and over, well then.

the point is, don't just assume that because someone is needy they're going to be more happy/ more grateful to be with you than someone who is not. this is something i have to remind myself of daily, not so much because i have a savior complex (people have to save themselves, really) as because when i see a person who seems super lonely i'm likely to think, "oh i've been there, i can relate, plus the person is more likely to have free time" - but super lonely people aren't always the best/healthiest folks for me to hang around. this is a bad pattern of *my own* that i need to fix.

i've been thinking about this post for weeks and took some time writing it because it's hard for me to put in writing what i feel are judgmental thoughts. after all we're all down sometimes and maybe one person's kind of need is something that somebody other than me could cope with, even if they're a difficult person. it's hard to say, hey i can't/ don't want to cope with somebody, when it seems other people are able to. you feel like you're a failure, and like you're being unkind. then again you're not a fly on the wall to other people's relationships and you don't know just how functional/dysfunctional they are when you're on the outside. i've seen absolutely rotten friendships right in my own family, that everybody on the outside thinks are tha bomb but that people on the inside know aren't right - they just can't easily get rid of the albatross. in the end you have to do what you have to do for your OWN mental health, and when it involves drawing the line with another person that can be hard as hell. again, i think you learn a lot by how somebody reacts when you draw that line. do they yell and scream and blame you and set you up to look like the "bad guy" with all your mutual acquaintances? do they promise to change their behavior towards you and then do it, or more likely, not do it? do they simply ignore? do they talk to you about it at least semi-rationally? we can't be rational all the time but if someone is irrational most of the time, that's a gigantic red flag.

side note: although this post is not specifically directed towards any person(s) on livejournal, livejournal is interesting partly because you get to see something of how how people treat others and relate/interact with them. it's a window you don't often get into other people's personal behavior.
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