Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have difficulty with "being available"? I myself struggle with this at times, though I would love to be known as a friend who will always be there when someone rings my phone with a pressing need. But are we truly available? And when does that availability translate into being a doormat? Obviously one cannot be expected to constantly be putting out everyone else's fires...but on the other hand, a true friend will be available, as much as possible, when another friend has need of their attention.
Now, we aren't necessarily talking about life-threatening disasters. Perhaps my phone rings one evening and it happens to be someone I care about battling a horrible, allergy-induced headache. I might offer up a shoulder massage and facial rub to relieve the pain my friend is experiencing. Certainly that is not too much to ask of myself, is it? I would think it a reasonable offering to someone I call a friend, especially a friend who is in pain.
The question is, what will happen when the tables turn and I am the one who needs a buddy to lean on a little? Will that same friend be there to offer some kind of support? Perhaps I just had an intensely stressful day at work, or received some sort of bad news...will that friend take the time to be supportive of me just as I did for them? While I would definitely hope so, I also have to accept that human beings are not all wired the same...not everyone is going to think to take time out of their plans or schedules to be available for someone going through a rough patch. It is not a slam on their character, but it is the truth.
The next question would be whether or not I am willing to remain in a close relationship with someone who tends to act and respond in a somewhat one-sided manner. These types of people are often labeled "emotionally unavailable" because they do not commonly deviate from their plans in order to be sensitive to someone else's needs...no matter what, their agenda is adhered to and anything else, even the needs of a friend, are addressed as those other time constraints allow. While some people might see this as very backward thinking (I am among those), it is simply the way some people view the world and their place in it. It is not right or wrong...it just IS.
So what now? Do we sever relationships with people who are like this and limit ourselves to friendships only with people who think as we do? Do we hand out some sort of questionnaire to new contacts to see where they fit in this whole scenario before committing our own emotional energy to that person in any way? Or can we see that by the time we figure out that someone is wired this way, we will have already invested ourselves in the friendship and it is too late to cut our losses and bail out?
Loving people can be difficult...loving people who seem to give back less to us than we give to them is even more difficult. It's that whole "iron sharpening iron" concept...the rough spots on someone else tend to be the very things that polish our own rough edges smooth.
Tough call, being a committed friend but not a doormat. I welcome your thoughts and comments.