Passivity vs Activity in Friendships (Waiting for Change/Making a Change)

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This is going to be one of those posts where I try and argue the pros and cons to each side of these ways of thinking, but in the end I don’t really have an answer for you as to which is “better.” All I know is that personally in my past I have had problems fully taking on either one of those rules. Since I’m writing this for a blog and I have to assume you, the reader, don’t already know what I’m talking about. Which is perfectly fair because you’re not in my head (you’re just in In My Head.. I think I’m pretty funny), so of course you don’t just automatically know what it is I’ve been trying to figure out for so long. I tend to forget that sometimes, I spend all this time trying to make sense of my thoughts and once I finally get to that point I get thrown back by the idea that my friends and loved ones didn’t also go on this 2-3 month journey of reflection with me and thus don’t know what the fuck I am going on about. So what is Passivity and Activity? Well when it comes to your role in the relationship it’s the two different methods of how you interact with someone you consider a friend. For someone who’s taking the passive approach, it’d mean they end up preferring to take less action, like starting conversations, inviting them, and just essentially being vocal and upfront about wanting them being in your life. Instead they often still reciprocate the expressions of affection they receive, but they more wait for them to have done it first before they feel comfortable expressing it too. They’ll usually always be up for some games when invited but will be too nervous to invite them or just worried about being a bother or intrusive so they just wait until they know FOR SURE that isn’t the case. I often take this approach just because of how still afraid I am of putting my feelings out on the line and looking like an idiot when they aren’t mutual. I want to preface this, I’m saying this all with the wonderful gift that is hindsight and full knowledge of the negative effects and pitfalls both approaches have. So when I give my reasonings for choosing each approach I just want it to be clear I either don’t feel this way anymore or I am self aware of how irrational and ridiculous these “This person hates me because they haven’t talked to me in a few days” thoughts are and if knowing that could help in any way to make them stop that’d be fucking great but alas it is no use.

Not only is taking a passive approach extremely awful way of trying to find out the answer to these intrusive thoughts, because you just end up resulting in a lot of time waiting. Take it from me, if you’re ever someone who is prone to getting these intrusive thoughts that asking whether or not somebody actually gives a shit about you, the more time you spend waiting the more every little thing you glance upon will seem to confirm that and so will each moment that passes that they haven’t talked with you or done anything to help stop these thoughts. And okay some people might say that it’s not all that unreasonable to gauge someone’s interest in you and how much time they’d like to spend with you. And in some cases sure, and really I think is okay if it can be assumed you guys are both currently just like casual friends but not if you’re at all “close” and where taking a passive approach might give them the wrong idea and definitely not when you’re in this state of mind. They won’t realize that you’re looking for that effort at that specific time so it won’t just come out of nowhere, this idea to talk to you wont just suddenly pop in their head just because you’d like them to. We all want the people we care about to want to care about us, to show that they care, to show that they actually want to spend time with you and aren’t doing it out of some obligation. You end up just creating confusion, and its unfortunate that in some cases it’s a confusion that’s almost impossible to sort out. If you have these doubts, and you’ve spent time away trying to observe they might also end up thinking that you’re not wanting to talk with them or spend time with them either so they pull back as well as to not seem too bothersome. So what I try to do is end up just confronting them and trying to see what they honestly feel about me but when you confront someone like that asking how much they’d like to be friends they are rarely ever going to say not that close, or that it didnt really matter to them. It’ll always be the best case scenario “I want to be close, I want us to be great and I love spending time with you” etc. However there’s a big chance (at least for some) that they are only saying that to spare you the hurt feelings or to spare them the confrontation/awkward conversation. It’s kind of a fucked up situation I put myself in where I want to know my friends care about me, but I now have an excuse/reasoning why any proof they show that they might care about.. might just be because of something else. They could be telling the truth but with how many times you were right with even this extremely irrational way of thinking its hard to not listen to it. Either way taking a passive approach in friendship, usually at least in my cases, ends up in pain and confusion.

Now what’s an active approach? Well honestly I’m not as sure with this one because when I do switch between being passive and doing this I don’t often do it in a way either a normal or health person probably would. I’m going to say that finally coming out and being up front about your feelings does come with this and being honest with your feelings is great and ideally you should strive to do this with most of your friendships. Life’s too short to spend all your days worrying about what someone else thinks about you. However relationships and people aren’t just so simple as “Let’s just stop lying to each other and be real so we can more easily deal with any problems we might have without days going by of us waiting and the situation getting much worse in our minds than it ever really should have been. There’s often a good reason someone isn’t forthcoming about some things and as paranoid as it might seem to question it every single relationship, not everyone does have the best intents when entering your life. Some will be there just to get attention, affection, sex, I don’t know whatever it is they are there to receive from you. And as good it is for someone who you can equally trust, to be as honest and vulnerable as you might want to so you guys can just cut the bullshit.. Not everyone can. The bullshit is all there is for some relationships and sometimes you find that out early on in the relationship and unfortunately sometimes it takes years but you realize how easy you made it for them to do that because you told them everything and hoped that in return they wouldn’t be telling you lies, or deceptive truths non stop just to keep you happy for the time being. So then there’s my other idea of being active and that’s by pretty much taking complete control. Well “control” sort of in the sense that if you want to do something or say something, you just do it. You want to hang out with them you ask them. This has the same exact problems of being honest and upfront all the time does, except instead of appearing vulnerable you just have a risk of looking stupid, or too needy and maybe that’s because all along I really am. I just don’t like to admit that. So ideally in a perfect world the active approach is what I would suggest striving for but the problem is it isn’t. And those times I’ve taken a passive approach, just to finally become comfortable and decide to switch sides and give them my full trust and attention and it’s around that point I come to learn that the whole thing was bullshit and I fell for it and even worse I find out just in time for me now to show much I really was attached to this and how much power they had over me. Something I can say for certain one person would laugh about knowing. Not about me specifically, just that they had that power over people. “They’re just internet relationships. It’s not even real it shouldn’t matter that much.” And its ridiculous of me to think that every new person that comes into my life is at high risk of being just like these people, a little less ridiculous to be afraid that those who treated me a certain way in the past wont do the same all over again but it IS ridiculous to still be just as hesitant and tense when its already been so long and they have done almost all I could ever want/ask for.

So what’s the conclusion to all this? I’ve got none. I tried to warn you. I think that there isn’t a simple answer for any one relationship, and even one relationship has different answers depending on the current situation.. and it even depends all on factors you might not even be aware of so it’s very difficult to know when to do either unless you can fully trust the other person which a person you can do that with is very rare. Honestly I think if I had to choose I’d say stop worrying about how you should act in a friendship or relationship. You’re going to look vulnerable sometimes and its not always going to be in front of people who you can trust with that vulnerability, you’re going to look stupid and maybe even at times desperate but if you remain passive you’re also going to appear distant and elusive sometimes too. You won’t always know whats the perfect amount for that person and when you try and fitting into that mold for them you run the risk of changing how you naturally act just to get along with someone, or worse you’re faking it just to get them to think you want just the same amount of attention/affection/time in their days.. whatever that they’ve been wanting and you’re only giving them that just to keep them happy and to keep them here. Relationships come and go and if we put too much pressure on them because we’re afraid that some of them are on their way out they’ll end up just cracking and breaking, then there’s definitely no fixing that relationship at that point. Thankfully with the current mood I’m in that fear isn’t as present now, I’m just okay with keeping the friendships that want to remain here and letting the ones that don’t go. Endings don’t seem nearly as bad these days in fact some are seeming almost relieving at this point. So yeah, just try and do what you feels best in the moment and stop worrying too much about all this I guess I’d say to you reader if you were looking for some insight that I’ve learned from all my failures.

-T

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