Friendships and doing things for others

Hi Brooke,

One thing I hear from my friends a lot when I talk about this work, is the idea of friendship and doing things you don’t want to do.

I have a friend’s 40th bday party and I don’t want to go. I talked about it with my friend and she said I should because “you can’t just do whatever you want. That’s not how friendships work. You sometimes have to do things you don’t want to do for the other person.” I know we each get to decide what we believe, but I think that’s true. Yes, I am a good friend because I want to be one (I love them – this is my motivation). But when we don’t go to things or don’t do things that our friends want us to sometimes (important things, perhaps), they feel hurt, and that can hurt a friendship.

I know that not wanting to go, and then forcing yourself to go, isn’t a nice thing to do either. You really don’t want to be there. But not going can result in feelings hurt. My job is not to determine someone else’s feelings, I know, but someone else’s feelings being hurt can have consequences for me, so it does feel like I should take the action.

How do we reconcile this? Friendships are give and take. (This is a thought, I’m making sound like a fact.) How do I reconcile with this, knowing there may be consequences (lost friendships, hurt friends, etc.) on the other side? I’m trying to honor what I want to do and need, and also maintain my friendships.

Thank you!