I used to do it as a teenager with my crushes: Maybe he has the wrong number for me? Maybe he didn't get the voicemail? Maybe he likes me so much he’s scared to call?
After this benefit-of-the-doubt tactic usually proved wrong (and after being bombarded with a plethora of “he’s just not that into you” propaganda), I finally learned my lesson -- if a guy wants to see you, he’ll get back to you.
However, it’s taken me longer to accept this same logic when it comes to friendships.
I have lots of really amazing friends. Genuine, dependable, available ones. I have also had lots of temporary, aloof, acquaintances I mistook for potential friendships. These are the folks with whom I’ve had really amazing moments, shared incredible conversations, had a great time at a party. We'd inevitably exchange numbers, emails or Facebook each other, and make plans to hang out.
Every time, I'd think that maybe we had something special, only to hardly hear from them again.
Maybe she changed her cell number and didn’t get my texts? Maybe my email got lost? Maybe she’s just not social?
Or maybe, quite possibly, she doesn’t (GASP) like me that much.
Oooouch! The truth! Man. It can be painful but it’s time I accept this fact -- if someone is not making an effort to connect with you, it’s time to disconnect from them before you let it bring you down. Consider this your “She’s just not that into you, as a friend” propaganda. Yes, it sucks.
If I can, I'm going to brag a little and say, I’m one of those good communicators. I check in with people. I make plans. I try my best to keep my word when it comes to those plans. I respond to people’s calls, texts and emails, and if I’m late in doing so, I always acknowledge it.
I’m not passive-aggressive about it -- if I have an issue with someone, I do my best to handle it immediately and to the person in question, not others. But by being the quick-responder that I am, I am I expect others to be the same way, too. If you're like me, you get super hurt when friends aren't as good at keeping in touch.
And yes, this brings us to the dreaded topic of technology and how it has mutually helped and hurt relationships. Just because I can read your status updates or Tweets it doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you to me, directly, personally, privately. And how annoying is it when you can see someone has time to Tweet but can’t reply to an email?
My biggest pet peeve in this world of half-assed relationships is the lame "Oh, I’m sooo bad at getting back to people" or "I’ve been so busy, I’m just the worst at replying!" excuse because what it really means is "Oh, I’m sooo bad at getting back to unimportant people" and "I’ve been so busy, I’m just the worst at replying to people who I don’t need anything from!"
I think these excuses run especially rampant in co-worker friendships where the difference between actual friendships and networking get fuzzy. Like I’m pretty sure certain comedian friends of mine aren’t sooo bad at getting back to friends who work at a television network. But that’s cool, no need to respond to my text, who am I but just some idiot who listened to you cry for two hours about your career, and your ex-boyfriend and your insecurities after you bombed on stage and then turned to me to keep you company.
Look I get it; we’re all growing up and getting busier so we don’t have time for the kinds of friendships we had in our teens and 20s. I understand getting drinks or coffee gets more difficult. But, what I will never understand is ignoring somebody beyond basic decency.
I've started, for the sake of my sanity, simply interpreting the “I’m so bad at getting back to people” excuse as "I’m so bad at being a friend right now,” and letting it go.
Many of us have kids or multiple jobs and "really do want to get back to you." It's probably not meant to hurt anybody, and lot of us have "time management" issues. But as I once read or heard in some self-help-y book, "If it takes less than 1 minute to do, just do it, so it's not nagging you on your to-do list." Writing back Got your message! Really swamped right now. Will get back to you soon! takes 10 seconds.
While it may be that they really are just bad communicators or people who are truly too busy to answer every email, you (and I, this is hugely a reminder to me) are also busy. Frankly, I'm too busy to keep giving a shit about people who ultimately don't give enough of a shit about me.