The Vine: October 31, 2012
I have an awkward friendship question. I have a friend, who I've known since elementary school. We are fairly close, talk on the phone regularly, etc., and she is one of my only friends who has remained in touch since we were young.
However, she is unfortunately quite a downer. She has low self-esteem, is always unhappy about her life (for years and years, not just recently), doesn't have a good relationship with her family members, has one of those voices that always has that sad, complaining edge to it… Now, even though I don't particularly enjoy talking to her, she has been a very supportive, caring friend when I needed it in the past, and she has a genuinely big heart. So, I want to stay friends with her.
The awkward thing is, she sometimes says, "I love you" during phone conversations. We don't see each other in person very often due to distance, so phone is our main type of contact. I don't know why this bothers me so much, because, yes, of course I love her like a dear old friend who is almost like a family member, but I just feel so awkward when she says it, and feel compelled to say it back even though I don't want to (but why? it's not like it's not true), and then stiltedly say "I love you, too" and try to jump off the phone.
I realize that the dread of her saying "I love you" has made me reluctant to even initiate phone calls, and during conversations I'm always worried she's going to say it, and sometimes try to get off the phone before she has a chance to say it. Which I realize is ridiculous.
What should I do? I want to just get over all these weird feelings I have over the "I love yous," but not quite sure what to say to myself to do that. Also, maybe before getting over it I want a little validation from an outside source that it's okay that I'm weirded out, but still need to get over it. Thanks!
A big fan of The Vine
Nice sig! Thank you. But I'd have given you your validation anyway: yes, it's okay to feel weirded out by the I-love-yous, and yes, you need to get over it.
The problem with those three little words is that not everyone uses them in the same ways. Some reserve it for spouses and blood relatives; others express it freely to everyone, from new boyfriends to strangers with whom they've just bonded over a shared distaste for a "classic" movie. Most of us exist somewhere along the spectrum, and none of the points is "wrong," but when two people at different points are trying to communicate using it, it can get awkward.
So: accept that this is true. Acknowledge that you and your friend have different I-love-you styles. Then take a look at why it might make you uncomfortable. Is it because you just don't say it to "mere" friends? Is it because you sometimes find your conversations more a chore than a meeting of the minds, and to respond with an I-love-you feels like lying? Do you get the sense that her ILY means in love? (I don't get that vibe here, but when people get ooked by an ILY, sometimes the inferred "…That Way" is why.)
If you do think that's the case, it's probably time to take a deep breath and bring that up. If it's not, figure out why it does make you feel weird, tell yourself it's okay to feel that way, and then try to breathe through the pain. I suppose you could address it with her anyway, but I think it's going to cause more agita than that's worth, for both of you. You might relieve the agita you're already feeling by role-playing it for yourself a few times beforehand — if you've rehearsed, it might not stick out so much in the moment.
And remember…[takes Fan's hand]…the Nation loves you. [gentle beaming]
Tags: friendships lissen lissen lissen I love you guyssshh