February 18, 2010

Three hour “friends”

Posted in *cringe*, Guilt, Nerdiness, The Aaaarrrghhhhh!, The Just a Little Sad, The Small and Petty, The Who, The WTF at 9:00 am by Dagny Taggart

Anyone else have these?

Generally, it’s someone you meet in a situation where you’re sort of… expected to be friends with her.  Either you meet her through work, and are expected to work with her on a regular basis, or maybe he’s a part of a group of friends, and because he has a close connection to one or two of the people in the group, the rest of you are going to be spending time with him regularly.

So, if you’re a naturally friendly person, you look for things you have in common, bring up topics of conversation to which you’ll both be amenable.  You do your best to find a basis for liking the person – and you succeed.

To a point.

Because once you’re past the four or five things you have in common, you realize that you’re exhausted, just from talking to this person.  Maybe she dominates the conversation, making it all about her.  Maybe he’s so busy cracking insipid jokes that he hasn’t noticed that nobody’s laughing.  Maybe he demands every last bit of attention you can muster, clinging to you like a codependent facehugger, or maybe she’s a catty gossip who invariably starts tearing down each of your friends with snide remarks – leaving you to wonder exactly what she says about you when you’re not around.

At any rate, you realize that this is not someone you could ever be close friends with.  Yet, you are expected to be friendly with them, to maintain a jovial attitude when around them – for the good of the team at work, or to keep the peace in a group of friends.  Maybe you even really like some aspects of this person, and are genuinely happy to talk to them, just… not for very long. 

These people are what my fabulous ex-roommate referred to as a “three-hour friend”.  For three hours, you can have a good time with this person.  But once those three hours are up, evasive maneuvers are required.

Personally, I’ve been debating the merits of this particular farce.  It definitely serves a purpose, and I think in work scenarios, especially, it behooves one to seek common ground and establish rapport when possible, and do one’s best to overlook personality conflicts as much as possible.  But in social situations, I wonder.  Yes, a party will go more smoothly if everyone pretends to like each other.  But is it possible to “lead someone on” as a friend?  If you’re warm and bubbly around someone for three hour increments, mightn’t they have a right to think of you as someone with actual friend potential?  Would it be better to keep your distance, to be a bit chilly, so that nobody gets confused, and possibly hurt, when invitations are declined and phone calls ignored, because you simply cannot spend one more minute with the person?

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1 Comment »

  1. Carla said,

    Hahaha, we all have those unfortunately. And yeah, I choose to be nice and hope someone rescues me from the conversation… As long as they’re not asking to hang out with you, and just you, I think it’s best to be try to be diplomatic. I think eventually they get the hint, but without taking any particular offense to it. (I hope!)


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