Friendship II: Breaking Up
It’s very rare for me to break up with a friend. In my post on friendship, brilliantly and creatively titled, “Friendship“, I discussed how important my friends are to me, and how I approach being friends with people.
My friends are important to me, extremely so. Which is why somebody has to pull a seriously dick move before I walk away.
This occurred last week, when I got into an argument with a friend of mine from high school over a relatively minor issue. I expressed an issue I had with something he had said, and he responded with dismissal, condescension, and an absolute lack of anything resembling validation or evidence that he so much as momentarily considered my perspective on the matter.
Now, this sometimes happens between friends (we are all occasionally douchebags), so I was willing to let it go and hope that the next time we disagreed he might actually take the time to address what I had to say. (Letting it go did not keep me from telling him he could take his condescension and shove it, because I’ll be damned if I let anybody just be a dick to me and not say anything. Outside of work, anyway.) We’ve known each other for a very long time, and he and his family provided me a place to live when Mom kicked me out of the house in our sophomore year of high school. For that I will always be indebted to him.
But then he sent me a private message to scold me for telling him to shove it, and he included the following: “I’d ask that you don’t respond as I have great respect for you [Whiskeypants]; don’t make me question that respect.”
The moment I read that sentence should have been the moment I realized our friendship was over, but it took a few more PM exchanges between us (in which he became increasingly dismissive and condescending) before I realized how awful a thing it is to say that to somebody.
Let’s take it apart:
1. “Don’t make me [x]” is one of the first entries in the abuser’s lexicon. I’m not calling this (ex) friend an abuser, but that kind of rhetoric is extremely questionable to me, and puts an individual in the position of having to do nothing and just suck it up, or face some kind of punishment. That’s no position at all, really, and I would never say such a thing to a friend unless it involved tickling or whupping them in Words With Friends. You don’t threaten people you care about unless it is somehow going to end in giggles.
2. “I’d ask you not to respond” is also something I would never say to a friend. I may disagree with my friends (sometimes vigorously), but I will never tell them that I do not want a response no matter how I feel about the matter. They are my friends. I want to hear what they have to say, even if I hate it. And if for some reason I don’t want to hear it, I still recognize their right to fill my time, email, Facebook, chat window or whatever with their views. Even if they do like Ron Paul.
3. The whole thing immediately invalidates, without consideration, anything I have to say with which he might disagree. Because I shouldn’t have said anything at all, and am unworthy, somehow, of his respect. Certainly my viewpoint on the issue wasn’t worthy of respect, so I don’t know why anything else I said to him would be.
To be perfectly honest, I think I would have been less hurt and offended if he had just said, “Go fuck yourself.”
But I don’t break up with friends who offend me. I don’t break up with friends who hurt my feelings. I do break up with friends who tell me they will lose respect for me if I make any further attempt to defend my position (wherein “further” is “at all”). But then, given the incredible amount of condescension he managed to heap upon me in a relatively few amount of words, I wonder if the respect he felt for me was not real, but imagined.