A friend jokingly calls her Blackberry a “crackberry” because she is so addicted to responding to it, no matter what else is happening. She finally admitted to me that when she says, “Oh, it might be work,” it’s a lie. It is really frustrating when she sends a text at 1 a.m. in the morning or late at night because it wakes me up. Her texts are never urgent. She apologizes profusely when I confront her but a week later, does it again. I could end the friendship, it’s new and I don’t have much invested, but I have spoken to other people and learned they have this problem, too. Any advice?
One of my pals, a very successful local businessman, says that a true friend never calls or texts before 9 a.m. or after 8 p.m. That’s because a friend cares about you as much as she or he cares about themselves. They don’t just contact you when it is best for their schedule; they also try to keep your lifestyle in mind. The only exception is an emergency, of course, or when you have been explicitly given permission (“I’ll be up until 10 if you want to call back tonight”). Otherwise, err on the side of kindness.
Recently, a female friend of mine placed calls to several general contractors to secure bids on a remodel. One returned her call at 11:45 p.m. “What was he thinking?” she asked me. Who knows, except it was certainly the most convenient time for him. A professional would to adhere to business hours that are the norm for their occupation. And, they always would keep the customer’s needs in mind. The difficulty is that some people assume being attached to a phone 24-seven is a sign of competence. It’s not. More often than not it’s a sign of anxiety and a need to keep anxiety going.
I am one of those people who has learned to value a peaceful home and restful sleep. I rarely answer the telephone after 7 p.m., preferring to ease into a retreatlike experience at the end of each day, when possible. I prefer not to answer the telephone before 9 a.m., in part because I agree with my pal who considers early calls and texts rude. But I’m also slow to wake and need to focus my energy on preparing for work. Close friends know these things about me and proceed accordingly. Like you, I have also known people who do not. When someone enjoys living differently than I do, and that creates agitation, it’s easy to release the relationship. When this happens, sometimes people overreact and try to pick a fight. Or, he or she might choose to feel rejected and rework the situation, dashing off a text indicating they rejected you first. Just ignore these small dramas. Such behavior tells you a lot about the other person’s emotional state but very little truth about yourself.
My life is boring and not at all what I expected. I don’t know if I am depressed or if it’s a general malaise from the gym-work-home grind. I don’t even know what I’m asking you to help me with. Does this make any sense?
Yes, honey, it does. Here’s the antidote: Focus on fun. In a recent San Francisco Chronicle interview, David Kelley said he analyzes his daily activities to discover what he really enjoys. Kelley, who helped create the first commercial mouse for Apple, asks himself four questions at bedtime: “What was fun?” “Where do you derive fun?” “What drives fun up?” “What drives fun down?” He records the answers in his journal and devotes himself to increasing fun activities the next day. I dare you to try it.