Tuesday, February 27, 2024 20:17

Remaining Single: How Judgement Kills Trust in Friendship

I am writing about a recent experience with someone who I thought was a friend, but after this episode, I may need to revisit that word ‘friend’ when thinking about this person.  I knew this person had some anger which I’ve seen directed at others, but this time the anger was coming toward me and it was scary.

The situation had to do with a conversation this friend and I were having in which I shared a thought about something, and the next thing I knew I was told “That’s crazy, you can’t do that, why would you do that, etc.”  I felt judged, scolded and lectured as if I were one of this person’s children.  As I sat with this person and listened to the tirade thrown onto me, I felt scared, hurt, angry and almost paralyzed.  I started to defend what I said and then I realized there was no getting through to this person so I chose to sit quietly, looked down at my food and waited for the verbal storm to subside.

I admit I have difficulty with that kind of anger-based energy directed toward me.  It always leaves me shaken when it happens.  That’s probably because I never expect anyone to talk to me this way.  I grew up with people who talked to me this way and it was hurtful back then.  But as a grownup I don’t expect it from people in the rest of my life.  Even though I have been proven wrong many times, it always comes as a surprise when someone comes at me with anger veiled as judgement, seen in their minds as ‘good intentions.’  For me, the intentions might be good but the delivery takes such an opposite turn that any good intentions are thrown out the window.

Often I try to figure out what would provoke such an outburst.  In this case I have a pretty good idea of where this person was coming from, a result of many long conversations about what is going on in this person’s life.  Since I know some of the background I can somewhat understand the energy behind this situation.  However, it is not something I choose to tolerate regardless of the reason.  I don’t accept unacceptable behavior and this was unacceptable.  And it is not the first time when this person has thrown some verbal judgement onto me.

In each situation the conversational topic was around men and dating.  This person and I are very different in terms of where our heads and hearts are as they relate to men, romance, dating, etc.  And the part I own in all of this is that I already suspected it was not in my best interest to discuss men, relationships, dating, romance with this person.  This person seems to be carrying some anger, resentment, and pain with regard to this area of life.  Therefore, I need to admit my piece of the responsibility/accountability for the outcome of the conversation.

That having been said, I also have learned several things about myself from this experience, as I do from every experience in my life.  I first connect to gratitude.  I have gratitude that I don’t carry the emotional baggage this person carries regarding men, marriage, romance, etc.  I have baggage of my own in that area to be sure, but I work on reducing the amount of space I allow it to take up in my head.  This helps my heart and mind to stay open to new possibilities.  Next, I am learning how difficult it is for me to speak up in the moment. I know I need to improve in this area.

I had no sooner finished thinking about that need for improvement when I received an email from this person, who continued on about the difficulty of our lunch conversation, the suggestion that I look at two websites for me to read more information about what this person objected to, and telling me it is only out of concern and care that these thoughts and feelings are expressed.  I decided to practice new behavior, called this person and let it be known that I expect to be spoken to as an adult, not as a child, that I don’t appreciate being lectured and while I appreciate the concern, the delivery made me feel judged, which hurt my feelings.  I was told the intention was not to hurt my feelings.  I restated that regardless of the intention, my feelings were hurt just the same.

After I hung up from this call, I was glad I had chosen to speak up.  I also have learned that as the title of this blog states, judgement kills trust in friendship.  Can I consider this person to be a friend?  Perhaps.  Has my trust toward this person been broken?  Absolutely.  Will I be more careful not to reveal any deeper truths with this person going forward?  Most definitely.  I prefer to be in relationships of any kind with people around whom I can feel comfortable with my truth.  When safety no longer exists due to the nature of judgement, then there is a need to pull back, take another assessment and recognize the value of knowing myself, and the value of receiving more information about someone else.  This enables me to make different decisions regarding time spent investing in this friendship.  In moving forward, I knew I was sent this experience as an opportunity to keep exploring for more friendships, ones where I may find the safety to be in the truth, without fear of the hurt that comes from judgement.  The quote goes “judge not lest ye be judged.”  In life we are constantly judging, but what we think and how we deliver it can make all of the difference in the life or death of friendship.

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