You think I don’t know I’m not your first round draft pick of desert island friends to be with? You think I don’t know I ain’t stealin’ the show, and I’ll be lucky if I get any lines to deliver at all? You think I can’t tell I’m your backup friend, the one you only run to when no one else is around? You think I can’t tell you’d rather be with the A-listers, who are smarter, funnier, and more talented?
What’s funny is aside from my personal experience, the person you like certainly sees you as their backup. Of course they are awesome, they can talk on any topic – but always know which ones you’d rather avoid. They are great at moving the conversation along without you ever feeling rushed or hurried. The better friend is highlighted in another post, but this one’s about the backup friend when you can’t have that better one.
You treat me as lesser because I haven’t spent enough time catering to your personal preferences. Your preference of topics, location or demeanor during our time together is pretty outrageous. How can you expect to be treated with that much respect when you refuse to return any of these favors?
I went to the mountain time and again. Climbed uphill to get time to be with you. I got there only to realize you were just deigning to grace me with your presence, a gift to me from the heavens. I have stayed and helped and listened and watched and clapped and encouraged you. It’s not that I need fawning adoration here, but even a little return on my investment would be greatly appreciated.
I am not some backup 3rd string relief pitcher. I’m not a friend when only you need something. It’s great to be able to lean on someone else, and I tried to be there for you as much as I could.
But the kicker for me is the sheer volume of experiences in which I have not been able to enjoy the same courtesies. I ask for help and get turned down and I think, but I was there when they needed me, right? And it’s not about owing or scoreboards or keeping tally, but come on guys, at some point this is a thing. I should be able on occasion to turn and look to my friends and count on them for something.
With that said, real friends also spend time bonding together, and sometimes it’s not talking about anyone’s problems. I don’t actually need others to be there to help me if they’re interested in a little quality time together. It doesn’t have to be helping with some issue or inadequacy, it can be as simple as having a beverage in the same place for a while. We can catch up, read a book or talk about the weather. I don’t mind if we do some small craft or look at photos of each other.
The big idea is to have people in this world that like us without an agenda. Friendship is not only you leaning on me or me leaning on you over and over again. There should be something else that we have between us that doesn’t hinge on power dynamics or obligation.
If you like me and want to be around me that’s great and of course I’m generally all for it. But if the only reason I’m here is that one no one else better made it, and you regularly lean on me with no reciprocity or social bonding: I’ve got to tell you I’m no longer that backup friend, so you’re going to need to backup your social life elsewhere.