A Captain-Sized Dilemma

Sunday, January 18, 2009
I have a problem and could use some advice. Brace yourself, this is a bit of a long story...

As I mentioned, I recently deleted a number of folks from my Facebook Friends list. One of them was a "friend" from high school whom I'll call Helga. Helga and I were not close friends but we hung out occasionally and kept in touch for a couple of years after we both graduated and moved away from our small town. I was living with another school buddy and the two did not get along. Helga left me a message one day telling me how my friends from school were holding me back and being a bad influence on me. There was more to the message as well but I won't get into all the details. Needless to say, it shocked and amazed me that she had the nerve to say those sorts of things considering that she was one of those school chums she mentioned. I called back and told her she was right and that I was going to start cutting those people out of my life ... beginning with her. That was about 15 years ago. Then came Facebook and Helga found me.

When I first started receiving friend requests from old friends, I added them without thinking about it. However, months would go by and aside from the original request, I would never hear from these people again. I deleted a couple and started being a bit more selective regarding who I accepted as my "friends". In the meantime, Helga and I exchanged a couple of messages, played a few games of Scrabble, phone numbers, and a few instant messages via Yahoo. She kept wanting to meet up but things never worked out. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't all that disappointed.

I don't use my Messenger very often and as such, am not logged in all the time. Yet, it never failed that within a minute of logging into Messenger, she'd log on as well and contact me. At first I chalked it up to coincidence but as it happened more and more often, it began to become weird. Perhaps it was my overactive imagination but it began to feel as though she was sitting at her computer...waiting...for someone she was contacts with to log on so she could have someone to talk to.

Neither Helga or I were very popular in school but I at least had a close albeit small circle of friends that I hung out with. Helga always seemed to be on the fringe. As bad as I felt about myself sometimes, I always felt a bit worse for her. I don't think she had many real friends in school and perhaps same is true even now. However, while Helga seemed to want to suddenly become bosom buddies after so many years, I wasn't even sure I wanted to be acquaintances.

I'm generally not a cruel person - I know how it feels to be hurt. For the past few weeks, I'd tried to avoid her other than making my moves on Scrabble, giving short, one or two word answers to her IM'd questions in the hopes that she would maybe get the hint without me having to come right out and say it. During junior high, I once had two "friends" tell me straight up that they no longer wanted to be friends and I should stop hanging out with them. I know how it would feel and I was hoping that I wouldn't have to inflict that feeling on anyone else. However, the first time I logged onto my Messenger after the Facebook deletion...Helga was there within a couple of minutes and sent me a message about it. Nothing serious (just about our Scrabble game) but it once again felt like an unwanted intrusion into my life. So, I deleted her from Messenger. And yet, she sent me another benign message asking me how I was as though nothing had happened. I didn't respond.

Am I a bad person? More than once I've been told I'm passive aggressive so no need to point out the obvious. I avoid confrontation at all costs. Should I have taken a different approach? I just don't know what I could have done that wouldn't have hurt her feelings. And yet...I feel as though what I did may have been just as hurtful. Forget romantic relationships, friendships (real or imagined) are just as difficult to manoeuvre. Any suggestions you might have would be most welcome.

4 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That's a tough one, you've already deleted her from Facebook and IM and she acts as though nothing has happened? Being of the passive aggressive persuasion myself, I would be tempted to also act as though nothing had happened, as though you hadn't received her messages, that is.

If you keep her on out of pity, she will drive you nuts.

Wandering Coyote said...

Hmmmm...Methinks she cannot take a hint. Or she is clueless. Or both. Whatever the case, I think you're within your rights to delete from IM or FB whomever you want to. No one should take that kind of stuff personally.

As for IM, I just sign in as invisible all the time because I had someone accosting me every time I signed in and it was getting annoying. It solved a lot of problems.

Heather said...

You can set up your IM so that just that person sees you as offline - it's in the blocking features, I think. I did that to somebody because they were forever fishing for details about me and my friends, and I was never very close with her.

If you figure out a good way to deal with this, let me know. I still can't figure out the best way to let somebody down gently.

Milla said...

Ah I am in a similar situation, but with people who want to come visit one afternoon, but it is the same concept: people you don't want to be friendly with who don't get the the message.

Ahh your situation is even more difficult in a way, because I don't think this person is particularly bright, so perhaps you should be more straight forward...
Sometimes it's the only way it works.

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