I'm not answering the phone. When people don't like me it is because I won't answer the phone.I think that's the number one stressor in my relationships. Not doing what is expected of me, based on how I've behaved in the past. I think that's the second - and closely tied to the first.
I've lost friendships over both.
In a week, I talk to four people: My sister; my BF; Elaiza, and my mother - if my mother can remember how to use the phone. I text, I FB, I email, I tweet, I go to lunch when I'm in town. But friends are still disappointed - all of that does not replace the phone, for some reason. Why is that?
I met a new friend this week who wanted to talk on the phone and I was up front about the fact that I just don't do the phone, much. Though we exchanged something like ten emails in one day and have a standing commitment to lunch in the city in a couple of weeks, I still got a gentle ribbing about not doing phone.
I used to work on a trading floor and had to answer twelve, constantly ringing phone lines all day long. There's just no way I can earn a living and talk on the phone all day - I bill by the hour. That's what I tell myself and it is true - I can't just chat away my work day without seeing it in my paycheck - but there's more to it than that.
There's something about me - probably because of the way I was raised (by a college professor) - I will sit and listen and nod my head to anything anyone is saying. I ask questions because I am both interested and polite. At least for some period of time. I have more than one "friend" who can sit and talk with me for an hour without asking me a single question.
I feel like I spent years in Montana just nodding and smiling. For six years, I sat across the table from a group of people who never knew I had an art studio at the top of our road. Supermarket checkers and nail technicians tell me all their problems. The kind of person that enjoys listening to their own voice gravitates toward me at parties. Eventually I began to hate parties. Eventually, I decided to do my own nails. Eventually, I will leave this hairdresser because I don't want to hear about her problems. (I have my own.) It's interesting from the writer's point of view (and the most important part of my novel-in-progress), but also emotionally exhausting. And, of course, they love me for listening. They depend on it.
Eventually, I do grow frustrated just sitting and being a good listener.I know it starts with that first drink at someone's party; when I'm listening and nodding and there is something in my face that tells them that I'm open and honest and worth knowing but my nodding and smiling doesn't challenge their desire to dominate the conversation. I feel trapped.
And then when I've had enough and I stop being the good listener (doormat?) that defined the early terms of my relationship with that person, they are confused but usually keep trying. Sometimes they hang around long enough to learn that all that nodding and smiling didn't mean I agreed with them, it just meant I was being polite and it makes them angry that I'm not who they imagined. Then I'm a 'bitch.'
Unfortunately, not calling carries over into the relationships that matter, as well. It is a rejection of gestures of friendship.It's one of my emotionally stunted forms of self-protection - but it hurts others. Genuine friends have genuine needs that deserve my attention. They need to know they can count on you.They learn by your response or lack of response what they can expect from you when they need it most.
I've been struggling with something this week - I have to do something for someone and I don't have time for it. And then, I got it in reverse. Last night, a friend wrote me back (a month late) about a lunch invitation. She had told me she'd always have time for me when I needed to talk and thought she had genuinely good reasons, I still felt the sting of being at the bottom of the pile. Not even an email to say, "I'm busy the day you're in town, but I would love to see you next month or..."
It made me want to call people. Just to say hello.
How often do you talk on the phone? Who do you talk to? What do you talk about?
*The list of 40 Questions Everyone is Afraid to Ask is posted here, on my Pinterest page. I think they'd be good questions for a journal. Online or otherwise.