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Good Morning

Tired of being the initiator

HI, CAROLYN: I wonder if you can help me sort out the hurt and anger I have come to feel in some of my friendships. I find myself often being the initiator for getting together with my peers. In general I'm a leader type, confident, extroverted. I typically reach out first when I want to see someone or talk. But I get tired of my role as the initiator. So then I go quiet, sometimes for many weeks, and ... don't hear from some of my friends, then miss them, want to see them, and ... I cave, and initiate coffee, drinks at my house, or a walk. Nearly always my overtures are reciprocated; I believe they are genuinely glad to hear from me. I don't do most social media, so I understand I am choosing not to be as present in those ways. Even though I am a happily married woman with (not small) children, I may simply crave more friend time than my peer group. Or maybe I just go after what I want or need, not a bad thing. One of my single friends jokingly refers to me as her "other single friend" because I do my own thing, not just the couples/family stuff. Do I just suck it up and accept that I'm the initiator?



This is your skill, your strength, your contribution to your friendships.

Your friends contribute, too, in ways that reflect their strengths — because if they gave you nothing, then you wouldn't miss them and keep them as your friends, right?

Maybe you're fortunate to count a great listener among your people.

Maybe there's one who never initiates but always shows up — for you, for others, for anyone. With an appetizer.

Maybe there's one who can always be counted on to organize the group gift.

Maybe you have one or two who are utterly unreliable except in their ability to make you laugh or open your eyes to a perspective that would otherwise never have occurred to you.

Maybe there are a few who never fail to stay late and help clean up.

Maybe you have an optimist to lift you up. Maybe you have a pessimist who gets that things don't always happen for a reason.

Maybe this is starting to sound like we're casting for a new boy band, and I'm OK with that.


So, yes, even though your complaint is valid, you suck it up — though embracing the current distribution of labor among your companions would be even better.

It's fair and understandable to want your friends, just once in a long while even, to give you what you so reliably give to them. And if you think it would be of any use, then by all means confide in one or three of them that you'd like someone to pinch-hit for you occasionally on making plans ... or, seriously, call you sometimes. Maybe there's no objection, only inertia, all they need is a nudge.

But it's also more reliable to find solutions built from your status quo. That includes acknowledging that your friends don't always give you what you want but that you do still want what they give. Getting more of it might just mean adding more extroverts to your roster of friends.

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