The downside of relationships, loving and caring for others, is that there are parts that can sometimes be painful and difficult to navigate
HI, my name is Rivka. I’m 14 years old and in 8th grade.
I’m having a small problem with my friend Yael, and I wanted to ask for advice.
Yael’s been my best friend since we were little. We do everything together. That includes planning our Chol Hamoed trips together so that we can be sure that we end up doing the same thing! This year, we seem to be butting heads about what we want to do and can’t seem to reach a decision we both agree on.
I’ve been thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s because this year I’d like to do something with just my family? It’s not that I don’t want to be with Yael over Yom Tov — I do, really. I just think maybe I’d like to take a little break from doing everything together at every possible time. And this year, my little brother Chaim just turned two and will be able to actually do some things, like get excited at the zoo when he sees the animals or go on baby rides at a theme park. I just know that if Yael and I are together, I won’t be able to be with Chaim the way I want to. She’ll want me to go with her on all the bigger rides or do our own thing, which I get, but this year I’d really like to spend time with Chaim and the rest of my siblings. How do I tell her that without insulting her or hurting her feelings? It’s really not because I’m mad at her or not in the mood to see her. I just know that if we’re in the same place at the same time, I won’t be able to do both, be with her and be with my family. What should I do? How can I tell her without her getting mad at me? I don’t want this to turn into any kind of fight.
Last year, when I suggested that a friend of mine, Shaina, should come along on one of our outings, Yael got all sensitive on me and claimed I was getting sick of her and why couldn’t I just be honest and say it straight out. I think that behind the scenes, Yael is insecure about our friendship, but I really don’t see why she should be. I love spending time with her and I don’t ever get sick of her.
How do I make Yael realize this is not about me getting sick of our friendship, but just wanting to do something with just my family for a change?
HI, my name is Yael.
I’m really looking forward to Chol Hamoed Succos this year. My friend Rivka and I have been discussing our plans for days and days but haven’t been able to agree on what we want to do. I’d love to go rock climbing, but Rivka says it’s boring and hurts her ankles. Then I suggested a water park, but she said the weather’s unreliable, and we can’t plan to be wet without knowing it’ll be nice out.
That’s basically what the conversation’s been like.
It’s never taken us this long to make plans. For as long as I can remember, Rivka and I have always made sure to make plans together and to book things for the same days so that we end up being together. Rivka makes everything more fun and that’s why I’m happy I have a friend like her to share experiences with.
She seems a little hesitant to make plans with me this Yom Tov. Is she mad at me? I can’t imagine why. I haven’t done or said anything I can remember that may have upset her. Why does it seem like she’s avoiding making plans with me?
I know sometimes she likes to hang out with her friend Shaina. Is she trying to ditch me so she can make plans with her? I don’t want to come right out and ask her because then I look like a real nebach, trying to figure out if she’s making plans without me. But something is telling me she’s not as interested as she normally is in hanging out with me this Chol Hamoed.
Maybe I’m reading into things too much. I do that a lot. I have a bad habit of assuming a friend is trying to avoid or ditch me to go hang out with someone else. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I think there’s always someone more interesting, more enjoyable to be with, than me? I’m honestly still shocked that Rivka is my best friend. I’m so lucky to have her and I’m always nervous she’s going to get sick of me and tell me she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore. I’m not sure why I always think like that, but I do.
It’s funny. I started out this letter thinking I want to ask advice about how to approach Rivka about Chol HaMoed and figure out if she’s getting sick of me. But now I’m realizing I have a much bigger problem on my hands. Why am I always insecure about my friendships? Why do I always have a fear that my best friend is going to ditch me and tell me she’s sick of me?
I think that’s an issue I need help dealing with. I can’t always be anxious that I’m about to lose a friend because I’m not good enough or cool enough or fun enough. How do I stop this thought process from happening at times like this?
Succos is zeman simchaseinu. How lucky you are to spend such a happy time together with friends and family! Relationships bring us special simchah and enhance our regular joyous times and events.
The downside of relationships, loving and caring for others, is that there are parts that can sometimes be painful and difficult to navigate.
Multiple relationships increase the simchah in our lives. They also require a significant amount of juggling in order to spend time with everyone. Sensitivity and focus is necessary to make sure that everyone feels respected and appreciated.
Sometimes we think that if we hint, or ignore, or avoid confrontation, we are being kinder. This is a mistake because it causes insecurity and increases negative feelings. Imagine slowly removing a band aid instead of ripping it off, or slowly sipping horrible tasting medicine instead of taking one large gulp. Honest communication can be scary and hurtful but in the long run is less painful.
Sometimes it’s easier to write a letter. Either way the conversation or letter should follow this format.
- Start with an honest appreciation for the relationship.
- Clearly state what’s not working, using an “I message,” without blame.
- Reiterate how valuable and secure the relationship is.
Yael, I’m grateful that we’re best friends. I love that we can be real with each other, study together, and have a blast.
I’m thinking that for this year Chol Hamoed I want to spend time with just my family. I know I’ll miss you and I would love to get together with you one night or Shabbos after Succos.
The true recipe for success with the above formula is to be honest, calm, and remain unemotional. So if she starts crying and says things like “How can you betray me in this way,” don’t backtrack. You can just honestly say that you feel so bad that she is so hurt and that you really don’t mean anything more than what you are saying. “I value your friendship, I love spending time with you, and this year I just want to spend this time with my family.”
Wow! I love how after you expressed your pain you honestly reflected that it’s a deeper issue than just Succos plans.
Everyone has insecurities. It’s part of what makes us human and it reflects what we care about emotionally. We are not insecure about what the homeless man on the street thinks of us. We only doubt the relationships that are closest to us because we value them so much. May I suggest that you use this awareness to change your behaviors and hopefully your thoughts?
Grab a pen and paper and make a list of proofs that your friendship with Rivka is secure.
Pay attention to the thoughts that are telling you otherwise and write those down as well. Look at those insecure thoughts and answer them back with the logical thoughts. Understand that the insecure thoughts come because you value the friendship and these thoughts help you protect that relationship. However, the thoughts are often exaggerated because your fears are unfounded.
My friendship is secure
She calls me often unless I jump to call her first
We study together
We hang out together
We laugh and have a good time together
She protects my secrets
She confides in me
I’m just a chesed friend
She doesn’t like me as much as I like her
She’s bored of me and looking for new friends
Answering back the thought:
I know it’s a real friendship, and as with all real friendships, we both do chesed for each other.
It could be I like her more than she likes me, and that’s okay.
She laughs with me and I’m always her first choice for studying science or getting hyper in the middle of the night. If she wants to make more friends, that’s okay.
One final point to remember. There was a research study where thousands of participants were asked the red button question. “If I had a magic box with a red button and if you push the red button all your pain will disappear, would you push it? Be aware that if you remove the pain, the capacity to have any real relationships will be removed as well since there is no relationship without pain, as relationships are synonymous with pain.”
Almost no one chose to push the red button!
Wishing you both, and all of our devoted readers, a true chag samei’ach!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 931)
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