Tuffy Luv Sez: Don't Let Them Walk All Over You

Ask [email protected]. OR ELSE.
Dear Tuffy Luv,
I’ve always admired that you don’t hold back with your advice.  I can tell by reading your columns that you are strong, thoughtful, unafraid, and independent.  These are all things that I can be, that I consider myself to be – but sometimes, it feels like all that my independence and strength is really getting me is a lot of pain.
From friends to boyfriends to ex-boyfriends, I am a huge fan of forgiveness.  I forgive people in my life partially because I’m very religious and that is a part of my faith, but also because I’ve always been able to, and shouldn’t that be a gift that I embrace?  When I can, I forgive, even if that means that I can’t throw a satisfying fit and demand that people treat me better.  However, I don’t make the mistake of forgetting.  I acknowledge the flaws of the people I love and love them in spite of those flaws, as I would expect them to do for me.  Sometimes I wonder if this mindset makes my emotions easy to ignore.
I was just broken up with two weeks ago (we dated for only 3 months), and I have been trying very hard to work towards a friendship with him, because that’s something we both want.  However, it has been very difficult for me to move forward because he repeatedly makes me feel as though what I am going through does not matter to him.  When I told him I needed to talk with him, he shrugged me off and asked if it could wait, then, a few days later, allotted me 20 minutes to talk to him – which he didn’t show up for.  I’m disturbed by his treatment of me, and worried that I have somehow unintentionally “taught” him to treat me this way.  I was very patient while we were dating, would gently tell him when he was making me feel uncared for, and accept his apologies as long as I felt that they were truly meant.  He always genuinely cared, and even though he can occasionally be oblivious to others’ needs, he is always ready to help his friends when he is aware that they need or want support.
This is why his attitude and actions towards me at the end of the relationship and now have been so off-setting – and made even more so by the fact that he told me, when he broke up with me, that I was a “phenomenal girlfriend” because I was “always easy to deal with” (we broke up because he’s graduating).  I worry that, even though I consider my ability to forgive to be a strength, it is seen by others as a weakness.
If this was an isolated incident, I would be less concerned, but I often worry about similar things with my friends.  Sometimes I just want a friend who can support me the way that I support them.  I just want to talk to someone about the tough times I’m going through with my ex-boyfriend without them expressing confusion as to why I’m still wrapped up with being upset with him, or lean on a shoulder for more than a few minutes before they find something else to do.  I see them support each other, and wonder why they won’t do that for me.  They will run to my aid, and be on my side, but it’s always very short-lived and then I can feel them rolling their eyes and wondering why I’m being such a drama queen.  This even happened when a friend of mine from high school committed suicide last August – my roommate expected me to be better the next day, and couldn’t figure out why I was focusing on how different he looked in his coffin.  After these comments, I turned inward for support.  I cried in the shower instead of where people could see.  I don’t want to do this all the time, because it makes things even harder to deal with.
As I said earlier, I can tell that you are a woman who projects strength and confidence.  Am I somehow allowing the people that I love to walk all over me by being forgiving and self-sufficient?  How do you gain respect and care from the people that you love?
Independent & Alone
Dear Independent & Alone,
You did not “teach” your ex-boyfriend to be a jerk. I have a feeling he had that covered waaaaay before he met you.
I agree that your ability to forgive is a strength. Girl, when you’re mad the easiest (and weakest) thing to do is blow up at the person you’re mad at or to take it out on someone else. But you’re able to take your upset and turn it around into something positive. That is so, so amazing. We should all learn to do that.
However, there is a difference between “forgiving” and “ignoring.” When these “friends” of yours do something that upsets you, are you just pretending it didn’t happen? I mean, yes, in that way, you ARE training them to act badly.
BUT!!! This is still NOT your fault. Just because you don’t act ruffled doesn’t mean you’re not upset, and people who care about you should know this. Your example about your friend committing suicide (I’m sorry for your loss, by the way–that’s awful) is really disturbing to me–there is no way in HELL your roommate honestly thought that wasn’t a big deal, especially ONE day later. This is a person who doesn’t want to deal with your stuff, even if your stuff is rare.
Which brings me to my point, honey: You’re making the wrong friends.
I mean, okay. Let me rephrase. The friends you have are being completely insensitive. You should give them another chance, however, because, well, you’re right–you’ve been letting them think that’s okay. If there’s something bothering you, TELL THE PERSON. Explain that they’ve hurt your feelings, and THEN forgive. But don’t just ignore the whole thing and steam in silence. These people have come to expect a certain kind of behavior from you; you’ve got to TELL them when there’s a problem.
After you’ve told them and forgiven them (after they’ve apologized!)–well, that’s it. If they act insensitive to you again, you know this is a person who honestly can’t be bothered to care about your feelings. And that’s the end of that.
Don’t keep being friends with people who don’t care how you feel. Really. There’s no point. It’s like eating a raw egg that you know has salmonella.
You need to start thinking about the QUALITY of your friendships. Does someone clearly not care about your feelings? Stay acquaintances but begin to distance yourself. There’s no need to make a scene or have a huge blowout. Just start thinking about what you want in a friend and start looking for it–and stop taking substitutes.
And by the by, stop forgiving everyone just because you can. You’re not a saint, yes? Forgive people for YOURSELF if you need to–no reason to stay angry–but don’t let it become self-righteous. Because you SO do not want to be a martyr, hanging around people you’re secretly upset with. Clearly the people you’re talking about are taking advantage of your good nature and you know it, which is why you wrote. Staying close to them because you say you’ve “forgiven” them but still being secretly upset doesn’t count.
Seek out people who care about people, like you do. You’ll be SO much happier. You are just as deserving of respect and support as everyone else. Find friends who WANT to give it to you. Ashholes need not apply.
Speaking of which, your ex? Don’t be friends with him. Poop in his sock drawer and get on with your life.
Hearts & Skulls,
Tuffy Luv

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