I've had something on my mind for awhile but have debated discussing it because I don't want anyone to think it is directed at them, but I just feel the need to get it out there, so I am diving on in! Please don't think it is directed at anyone in particular.
I've been wondering about this since my days in high school (hundreds of years ago) and have still not come up with a satisfying answer. Does there ever come a time when you just stop trying? When it comes to relationships, whether friends or family, is there a time when you've just given everything you can but have gotten no where and have nothing left to give?
When I was younger there was a guy I was "in love" with, had been for years. We were friends, but nothing more. I am sure everyone and their dog knew I liked him, but nothing ever happened. Even after I "fell out of love", I was still friends with him. After a few years he sort of pulled away from our group, I still invited him to things, called him, tried to stay in touch. It wasn't really working. I decided I would give it one more shot to stay friends with him and invited him to something (I have no idea what it was), he was all for it, should be fun. The day came and I called him to work out the where and when of it all and I was told he wasn't home. I was disappointed but not surprised. Anyway, I continued to get ready and as I did, the phone rang. It was his Dad. He was calling to tell me my friend was home now and to talk to him. So his Dad put him on the phone and we had an awkward conversation with an end result of him being beat and he wasn't going to make it. That phone call was probably one of the last times I spoke to him. We may have crossed paths a few times after that, but nothing of significance.
Since then I have always wondered if I should have kept trying? When something becomes apparently one sided, how long do we continue trying? It becomes hurtful, embarrassing, a clink in your self esteem, when honest efforts are repeatedly ignored or shunned (whatever the "good reason"). You begin wondering, "is it me?", "did I say something?", "do I smell?"
Is there an appropriate amount of time to try? If you've been trying for 2 years, is it acceptable to stop, to just leave the ball in their court? Whether it be your brother, sister, parent, crush, friend...can you just willingly stop trying and feel okay about it? I think you can, it's tough but sometimes it is all you can do.
My friend's Dad spoke to me later to thank me for trying to reach out, I told him I hadn't done a lot, that I was just trying to be a friend. But, I guess when someone doesn't want to return the sentiment, there isn't much you can do. And sadly, there comes a time when you just have to stop. Probably sounds a little harsh, but that's just how life is I guess. Eventually I think the attempts just start to seem desperate. If calls or emails go unanswered/unreturned, and invites are constantly turned down or never reciprocated, what can a person do? Stop. Stop calling, stop inviting, stop making an effort.
That's not to say the caring stops. I still think about my friend all the time and wonder what he is up to. I get little snippets of how he is doing from mutual friends, but I don't remember the last time I actually spoke to him. And I think that goes for everyone. You never stop caring, even in the worst of strained relationships. I am sure there isn't a parent out there who stops caring for their child no matter how strained their relationship may have become. But, for yourself, sometimes you just have to take care of your own mental health.
And no, this is not a cry for help, or a pleading letter to a friend or family member. It's just a rambling from someone who would like to think she tries to be a good friend, good sister, wife, daughter, mother...but wonders if she could do more...or if it's just that I smell?