Friends Who Won’t Listen When It’s Important Are Fake Friends
Suppose you really need to have a conversation with one of your good friends. It’s important. Yet they never seem to have time to have that talk with you. What do you do?
Let’s examine a set of steps to figure out if they really are avoiding you, and if so, what you can do about it.
Is the topic of the conversation truly important?
It has to be something where you need their input, you need to know where they stand on a topic that matters a lot to you. Not just, “Heeeeeyyyyy… haven’t talked in a while… just wanted to see wasssssuppppp….”
It has to be a topic where their input specifically matters, as opposed to just going to any of your friends.
Have you clearly communicated that it’s important to you that the two of you talk?
People can be so absorbed in their own world that they fail to notice what’s going on in the lives of others around them.
Have you communicated to them, in no uncertain terms, that you really need to sit down and talk to them? If no, you can’t expect them to read your mind.
Have you clearly given them some idea of what it is you want to talk about? If no, that’s like leaving a voice mail saying “call me back” without giving any idea why you called. They deserve to know what you want to talk about so they can mentally prepare.
Could there be a legitimate reason they don’t have time to talk to you?
If they work in a seasonal job, and ’tis the season, then they may simply be working so much that they don’t have the time or energy to talk. Someone working for a big-box retailer may put in 60 or more hours a week around the holidays. Someone who prepares taxes will be busy around the tax-filing deadline.
If they attend college, is it near the end of the semester? They could be overloaded with exams and papers right now.
Are they dealing with a family situation right now that could be commanding the lion’s share of their attention?
Are they someone prone to illness, or depression? If so, it may be perfectly natural that they don’t have the energy for a prolonged conversation.
Give them every benefit of the doubt. Step into their shoes for a minute. Can you think of any legitimate reason they would not want to talk, or would not have time to talk to you?
If no, read on…
Signs they are avoiding you, and that the conversation will never happen
“Sorry. I’m busy.” or “Can’t talk. Have plans.”
… or any other terse response in a similar vein.
Now, people are busy, and people do have plans. You’re not necessarily being lied to here. But, what is missing from their response?
“Sorry. I’m busy. Could we talk later this week?”
“Can’t talk. Have plans. But Tuesday would work.”
What they’re not doing is making a counter-offer. They’re not making an effort to arrange to talk to you at some point in the future. They’re telling you they don’t want to talk to you, without actually saying it and making themselves look bad.
They have no time for you, but seemingly unlimited time for truly unimportant conversations
They know you want to talk. They can’t seem to find the time.
Yet they have all the time in the world to sit down with a buddy and talk about how the Atlanta Braves are doing this season.
They’ll sit down with another person whom they call a friend and go through a long recap of the reality TV show last night, but they ignore you.
Again, they are telling you they don’t want to talk to you, without the discomfort of having to express that in words.
They make a token gesture in an attempt to avoid the conversation
This may be more of a male thing, since men tend to be less comfortable talking about feelings than women. Ladies, if there’s a female equivalent, let us know in the comments.
Imagine this: You’re sitting at a bar and the person who has been avoiding the conversation pulls up the seat to your left or right. They order a drink, then glance in your direction, then tell the bartender, “and get him/her one too, on me.”
If you refuse the drink (or other token gesture) you look like you are being the difficult one. Yet if you accept the drink, you are accepting the unspoken frame that comes with it — that the issue between you is buried and no longer needs to be discussed.
You get interrupted and they abandon the conversation
They finally appear to engage you in the conversation you’ve been wanting to have, and someone comes along and interrupts. Well, that’s annoying but these days it’s a fact of life.
After the interrupter leaves, do they say, “You were saying…?” or something similar? If so, then they are genuinely interested in continuing.
Or, do they seem to forget the conversation was ever started? Do they seem relieved that you were interrupted? Do they use the interruption as an opportunity to excuse themselves, aborting the conversation?
They hijack the conversation
You start the conversation you’ve been wanting to have, and for a brief minute they seem to be listening. Then they interrupt and either turn the conversation back to them, or to some neutral, unthreatening topic far removed from yours.
At best, they are being very rude. At worst, they are avoiding a discussion they don’t want to have.
They talk over you
The hidden message is, you don’t deserve to have a voice.
Again, best-case scenario, they are rude. Worst case, they are hiding something or trying to avoid something.
They have a condescending, dismissive air toward you
This isn’t something they say or do, but rather something you feel. If it’s there, you know it’s there.
If they feel they’re better than you, they’re not your friend. If they feel that you’re not important, they’re not your friend.
They tell you what you want to talk about is not important
Well, at least they get style points for being direct.
If a topic is important to you, and they are a real friend, then it is important to them.
You catch them lying to you as they attempt to get out of the conversation
There is no excuse.
Best advice is to not confront them immediately about the lie; just make a mental note that it happened.
Now what do you do?
You have three options.
Option 1 is to give up on attempting to have the conversation, and go on being friends with them as though nothing ever happened.
Option 2 is to cut them off entirely — stop hanging around with them, unfriend them on social media, stop answering their texts and calls. This can be hard to do when there are a lot of mutual friends.
I would suggest doing something in between. Still appear to be friends with them on a superficial level, but distance yourself from them. Stop confiding in them. Consider hiding social media posts of a highly personal nature from them. Only engage them in conversation if the social setting requires it.
If you do this, they may realize what’s wrong, and come to you and apologize. If they do, make your decision whether to continue being friends with them not on their words, but on their actions in the days and weeks that follow.
If you’ve made it clear that you need to talk to your friend, and you’ve made it clear that it’s important to you, then they should try to find a time for you to talk. However, you need to take into account extenuating factors in their lives, including work, family, and illness.
They may be avoiding the conversation if
- They say they’re busy and don’t offer an alternate time to talk
- They have time for long, superficial conversations but not for yours
- They attempt to dodge the conversation with a token gesture
- They don’t attempt to restart the conversation after it is interrupted
- They hijack the conversation, talk over you, or tell you what you want to talk about isn’t important
- They behave in a condescending way toward you
- They lie to get out of the conversation
If you do believe they are avoiding you, then it may be time to distance yourself from a person who may never really have been your friend.
If you want to read more stories like this one, be sure to sign up for my email newsletter. Thanks for reading!