The cool thing about having a kid is that it forces you to tighten up any questionable relationships in your life. These were friendships with people I didn’t have any reason to outright and explicitly cut off, but I also have no desire to maintain a friendship with them.
One friend called me the night after I got back from the hospital with Henry. After I ignored it, he wrote that he just wanted to see the baby. I didn’t respond to the message. However, I figured it was something along those lines of wanting to see my son, so I chose not to answer. It’s not like I talk to this person anyway.
Had I taken that phone call and played along, I would have been sending a message that it was okay for him to have a part in my new life as a family. Now, this is a person whom I’ve known since childhood, but we have nothing in common and do not socialize.
In fact, with the death of my mother a year ago, I’m almost positive that we’ll never see each other in person again. We are simply on different life paths, and I want no parts of his life near mine.
People give things so they have an opportunity to take later
Now sure, the argument arises that they were just calling to congratulate me. Maybe so, but if I never hear from them for anything else through the year, we aren’t close enough to feel like a video call is the best option.
Think of it like this. If an ex sends you a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” text, they probably mean it, but it’s also a low-risk investment to keep alive the possibility of extracting energy from you.
Whether it be in the form of conversation, consummation, or something in between, nothing is for free. Especially something that appears to be given freely.
The second friend I cut is similar enough to the first that I don’t need to bore you with the details. The only difference is the inciting event of the cut-off, but even that’s not important.
I’m still taking a similar approach. Some of you are keeping people around who aren’t bothersome enough to cut off, but somehow still find ways to insert themselves into your life.
What scabs and friendships can sometimes have in common
Many of you are likely wondering why I didn’t do something more direct, like tell him to never contact me again. Well, here’s why:
- This person has never done anything wrong to me. They are simply going nowhere in life.
- They likely wouldn’t contact me often anyway,.
- If they ever got serious about getting their life together (assuming the first condition held true), I’d be more than happy to help them.
In other words, I’m not burning bridges, not because I’m interested in crossing over. I’m leaving it open in case they ever want help to get off their little island of hell.
Maybe some of you have friends like this. They aren’t bad friends. They aren’t bad people. They’re just people you’d never be friends with in your current (and hopefully future) stages of life. In the days before social media, this person wouldn’t even be an afterthought after you left your hometown.
Both friendships are like scabs on a mostly healed wound. They no longer serve a purpose, aren’t painful to remove, are barely holding on, and no one would really notice if you ripped them off. From time to time, you may pick at them out of boredom, but when they fall off, you won’t even notice.
The ONLY thing you have to be careful about is reopening the wound. It’s completely closed now, but it’s still possible to cause a new scab to form.
This scab will be thicker, more intrusive, take longer to heal, and will hurt more if you try to rip it off. If you aren’t careful, you may end up with a permanent scar.
In keeping with this analogy, this is what we’re trying to avoid. Friendships with low-quality people that result in permanent, negative outcomes.
Before you have children, these negative outcomes are limited to proximity. If they’re doing something dumb, then all that matters is that I’m not around it.
However, now that I have children, every oddball influence I let around them in their formative years is one that I have to navigate later. Never mind the fact that I also have to keep my kid safe.
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I’m a former heavyweight pro-boxer (13-1-1) and alcoholic (Sobriety date 12/23/13), current writer, and aspiring chess master. I was raised in the projects by a single mom and failed high school, but I eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics.More Stoic Street Smarts Newsletters!