Rejection is one of the greatest miseries. Why is it that we can remember every time we’ve been rejected, dumped, or excluded, but not every time we’ve been approached, befriended, and included? As painful as it is to be unfriended or rejected, I’ve come to appreciate it as fair play. Why would I want to be friends with someone who doesn’t want to be friends with me? In some ways, if someone declines to make friends, it’s actually doing me a favor, because I’d rather deal with the relatively minor pain of that brush-off now than with a bigger, more painful break further into a deeper friendship. It also makes sense to me, because I have my own set of standards for why I would avoid spending time with someone. Sometimes we just have to cross people off the list.
Standards of behavior are slightly different depending on the type of relationship. For instance, the list of reasons why I would quit going to a restaurant is not the same as the list of reasons why I would break up a romance or quit speaking to a family member. I once moved out of my apartment because my new upstairs neighbors ran a CPAP machine ten feet above my head every night. I couldn’t blame them, but I couldn’t sleep, either. We never met so I doubt I hurt their feelings. Ultimately, everyone is just as free to avoid me as I am to avoid them.
I’m not generally going to ask people why they don’t want to hang out with me. I’m going to assume that we’re just not on the same frequency. There are over seven billion people in this world and not everyone can be best friends with everyone else.
Okay, so what gets people crossed off the list?
These are my personal standards. Other people will obviously have standards of their own.
Angrily yelling at me. I believe people should only yell if they’re cheering or if there’s an emergency. I don’t care who it is, if I make you mad, just tell me and I’ll make it right. I don’t yell at you, so don’t yell at me.
Arguing about politics. People have the right to believe whatever they like, and I have the right to spend my precious free time not discussing it. I refuse to participate in political “debates” or arguments, and in fact I prefer that nobody actually knows how I vote or what my political views are.
Drug use. Pot smoke is a migraine trigger for me and cigarette smoke gives me nosebleeds. Anything else, I used to work at a drug rehab and it’s just not my scene. When the pipes come out I stand up and say goodnight. I’m not necessarily going to not be friends with someone who uses legal weed, I just ask that they not partake while I’m around.
Being rude to my other friends. Absolutely not. If you don’t like someone else who comes to my open house or game night or potluck or whatever, either avoid them or tell me why. If I have twelve friends who get along and one who doesn’t, I have to ask what’s wrong with that picture.
Being a taker. I’m a giver, and I prefer it that way, but it needs to be my choice to give the gift. Someone who never reciprocates or goes out of their way to do things for other people is not on my wavelength. I’m not looking for a quid pro quo, I’m looking for a kindred spirit who is altruistic and generous.
Jealousy. If you need to control someone then I am definitely not the girl for you. I am monogamous by nature, but I come and go as I please and I have a lot of platonic male friends. If you have a problem with not owning my time, may I recommend meditation?
Trying to badger me into kinky stuff I already said I don’t want to do. The less said, the better, but I am in fact a person and not a vending machine.
Lying. Why? To make yourself look better? To trick me? To be free to do what you want, because you know that if I knew the truth I would have a problem with it?
Selfishness. For those who’ve asked: No, I’m not going to sew your Halloween costume / go to your baseball card convention / clean your apartment on the weekends I visit after cleaning mine during the week / get up half an hour early to make you coffee, because I don’t even drink coffee / give your junkie brother a job reference / drive two hours to pick you up from the airport / pretend we’re not dating in public / have unprotected sex / do all the traveling in our long-distance relationship / stand around while you talk to your friends without introducing me. I hate to ask, but what have you done for me lately?
I used to say that I would never get married again without a criminal background check, a blood test, a credit report, and a psychiatric assessment. That’s sort of true. I did remarry. We had done a full open-book financial planning meeting together (his idea) a few months before he proposed. We shared our credit scores, bank statements, credit card statements, and retirement account balances. We also ran up forecasts for our investment returns under different scenarios. I knew about the background check because he had Secret clearance for his job, and he knew about mine because I was a notary public. We both did a full STD and HIV screening when we started dating. Part of why we work as a couple is that we both agreed on the basic common sense and fairness of all this disclosure.
I won’t go into it, but I have cut off family members before. Just because we’re blood doesn’t mean I endorse everything you do. Ethics still apply. The reason so many people get burned by their relatives is that if they weren’t related, they would never tolerate the shenanigans, whether that’s verbal abuse, fraud, theft, violence, false witness, or any other kind of high drama and hijinks.
I quit a job because the owner and manager kept going upstairs to snort cocaine together. One day I found some of their paraphernalia in my work space. I quit another job because my manager wanted to break labor law and have me oversee it. There’s always another job up the street, especially for an ambitious person.
Living consistent with your values means you proudly work for or with organizations whose values you support. Your romantic partner, if any, also shares your values. Your friends and associates, again, basically live in the same ethical universe. You teach your kids your values and explain why they are so important. Your pets mind their manners the way you taught them. When everything in your world is there by choice, because you endorse it and support it, you have massive leverage and very little drama. Anyone who operates by values that are inconsistent with yours can go about their business elsewhere, and that’s why they’re off the list.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.