Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

I wasn’t sure whether I should write to you because I am not sure my problem is really about manners, but here goes. I have a new “friend,” who I like very much. She is a lot of fun and we have even shared our more serious thoughts with each other.

The problem is that when we meet unexpectedly like in the hall between classes or at church she sometimes doesn’t even speak. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it hurts my feelings and makes me think we are not really friends. What would you do?

G. J., White Stone

Dear G. J., your situation does indeed have to do with manners and with commitment. I am glad you wrote; I have had the same experience as you and understand your confusion. There are many kinds of friendships.

Some are casual, for fun times together or because the parties are involved in a common goal such as a school project. These are not usually long lasting and are successful because those involved don’t want them to be more than that.

Others work because both people want to share on a deeper level and commit to not only enjoying each others’ company but to working things out when there are problems. In our lifetime, most of us experience both kinds of relationships.

It seems your new friend isn’t sure what level of friendship she wants with you. She has given you reason to think she wants you to be closer than just casual friends, but her hot and cold responses are confusing. Although it may not be easy to do, take her aside and tell her how you feel. It is possible that she is not even aware of her responses. Say, “I enjoy being with you and sharing our feelings, but I don’t understand why sometimes you act as though you don’t know me. I am hurt when that happens.”

Be prepared to accept that she may not want to have more than a casual friendship, despite her acting to the contrary at times. This doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you or that you are not worthy of more meaningful friendship. However, we cannot force friendly alliances!

Lastly, expecting at least a smile from your friend when you meet in public is absolutely reasonable. I hope that even if her unpredictable behavior continues that you keep smiling. Acknowledging people who we know—and even those we do not—with a smile is a show of good manners, always. It often brings positive changes. I could write paragraphs on the importance of a smile, but I will spare you and other readers this time.

Thank you for writing, G. J.  I hope your new friend doesn’t miss out on what I think is the valuable friendship you offer. If she does, though, be assured you have an even better one waiting down the road!

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at [email protected].

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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