Having relationship problems? Does your partner not listen enough? Have you ever considered that YOU might be the problem?
Everybody knows that any relationship between two people is based on a certain amount of give-and-take. But that doesn’t mean everybody you are friends with has to listen to your bullshit.
Think about it, man. Any social interaction is based on the simple truth that it only works if both people are trying to interest the other (unless you happen to share a common interest which is interesting to both parties by default, but that’s not what we’re talking about here), and yet there seems to be a vast swathe of the population who think that by virtue of being “friends” with someone else, they have earned the right to bore the fuck out of them with their own fucking boring problems.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this is a new development. I am saying that a lot of people are (and have always been) self-absorbed arseholes.
Of course, being a part of a friendship group of any size affords you a certain amount of control over conversation. Those who are the best conversationalists use this power for good, are aware of the control they exercise over their friends and do their best to pick up on social cues to assess others boredom so that they can move on to another potential avenue of interest.
Let’s explore this. If you are a part of a conversation with ANYONE else you care about, it’s your job to entertain them. Simple. That’s it. Most people have to temper this with the selfish compulsion to vent or complain, and that’s fine. These are not mutually exclusive objectives. If you need to complain about some dumb fuck you work with, there’s no reason you can’t couple that with some insightful humour or absurd characterisation to frame it in a way that will retain other peoples interest. It is when this objective is lost sight of and people start employing the “I don’t care, I’m just so sick of dealing with it, so you guys have to listen to my problems forever because I think it will somehow help me” tactic that people start losing interest.
And why not? Being friends means that people should have some kind of empathy for each other, it doesn’t mean they have to be interested in what the other is talking about 100% of the time. You hate your job? Fine. I sympathise, but I don’t want to hear about it in exactly the same way every time I see you. I can’t offer any new information to you if your situation hasn’t changed and your conversation sure as hell isn’t offering anything to ME.
I love to complain more than most, but if I thought for a second that I wasn’t being received well, I’d change my tactic somewhat. And if I was unable to make the conversation work, I’d stop and I would CARE. And if you care about YOUR friends, you should be more concerned with their own enjoyment than yours. If you are using your friendships to vent your own problems and giving nothing in return, what right have you to expect that your friends retain their interest in you? If your problems are the only experience people have of you, they eventually start perceiving you AS a problem.
Consider this. Every relationship starts with a grace period where people are held together, in part, by a shared interest like music, each other’s humour, or a desire to have intercourse with each other. But every relationship that lasts must eventually come to a point where these wells are bone dry, and at that point, it is only the ability to converse for the pleasure of it, without the need to convey new information that remains. If you can’t be a person who makes people happier than they would be if you weren’t there, then why be there?
And to my friends who make me listen to their problems, I love you. But you have no right to EXPECT me to be interested in your problems. I DO care about how you feel, but I care because I am a decent human being, not because you DEMAND it of me. I will do anything I can for you, but fuck you if you try to exploit that.