7 (People) Mistakes I’ll Never Make Again

social-mistakes

…and you don’t have to, if you learn from my experience.

2011 has been a year of learning in the social realm. I’ve discovered as much about people in this year as I have in the past ten. Much of this learning has been difficult — very difficult at times.

People can be a source of enjoyment, but can also prove to be a primary source of frustration. You can’t change this, and you can’t change their ways, but you can change the expectations you have of people and the way you approach them.

The following is what I’ve learned not to do when it comes to people and all kinds of relationships.

1. Assume your close friends and family know and understand you

Before this year I’d thought the people who I’ve known for years and had a close relationship with understood my way of thinking and motivations. But I was wrong — most people simply don’t understand (but think they do), and will easily misinterpret your simplest actions.

2. Believe people will be consistent in thought and behavior

Being fairly consistent, I expected other people to be as well, at least when they tried to be. However, people are a fickle bunch. There is no way of telling how they will feel or what they will do from one day to the next.

It’s not that they’re dishonest — they can truly mean something one day, and say or do something which contradicts it the next day. If you think you can hold someone to something they said weeks or months ago, forget it.

3. Assume people understand why they do things

As surprising as it may seem to people who are more self-aware, many people don’t understand themselves and their reasons for doing things. Often times they say or do what they feel like doing at the time, without comprehending why.

This ties into number one — if people don’t understand their own motivations, how could they possibly understand yours?

4. Think people will be straightforward about their problems

There are several passive personalities out there, but there are even more people who become passive when they disagree with you or your actions. They will do everything except tell you that they are upset. They will drop hints, but will not come right out and say it. That is, until the situation has reached its breaking point and the issue can no longer be resolved, or you confront them about it.

5. Be eager to see someone as a friend

“What about your friends?” Yes, what about them? They’re probably not as friendly as you think.

Since people are fickle and don’t tend to know why or what they will do, the chances are high that they may do something you consider very un-friend-ly. Definitely do not share information with someone that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the world knowing.

6. Presume reciprocity

It’s easy to think that if you help someone, they will help you when you’re in need. Or that your friends will be there for you as you will be there for them. But assuming this will leave you disappointed — many people are, above all, concerned with their own well-being.

7. Believe friends and family won’t betray or disappoint you

Because I’ve learned they can, and will. Consider yourself warned.

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32 thoughts on “7 (People) Mistakes I’ll Never Make Again

  1. Oh Alee! This post came right on time! I have learned all of this in the last year myself after being highly disappointed by my loved ones. I’ve been talking about this for the last week. I agree with everything you wrote and had to learn the hard way, but I’m finally learning not to have those expectations, keep my mouth closed, just let people be who they are and forgive them. No one can change anyone or make someone understand, we only have the ability to change ourselves. All I require is that the person I’m with understands me, is consistent, communicates well, reciprocates, and won’t betray me. I thank God I have been blessed with a man like that, because that is a needle in a hay stack! 🙂

  2. Hi Nikisha,

    “This post came right on time! I have learned all of this in the last year myself after being highly disappointed by my loved ones.”

    Really? Well, that’s good and bad at the same time. Good because now you know and can hopefully prevent disappointment and misunderstanding in the future. Bad because it’s extremely hard having to be smacked in the face with reality like that.

    I think I always knew these things, but since I’m an idealist I tried to think positive and look at what was going right rather than what was wrong.

    “All I require is that the person I’m with understands me, is consistent, communicates well, reciprocates, and won’t betray me.”

    Lol, that’s a lot in the world of people! Unfortunately.

    “I thank God I have been blessed with a man like that, because that is a needle in a hay stack!”

    Yes, it truly is.

    I’m really glad you found someone. I need to see this man you’re always raving about.

  3. I know I keep him private, it just feels better that way because I cherish him. One day I might show him. You can friend me on facebook if you wanna see him…lol

  4. Nikisha,

    “I know I keep him private, it just feels better that way because I cherish him.”

    Okay. I completely understand. 😉

    I’m close to shutting down my Facebook page. I’ve always been a fan of minimalist living and getting rid of the unnecessary; I have way too many “friends” on Facebook which I’ve accumulated since I’ve been on it for 5 years now. I only use it occasionally now to keep in touch with people I haven’t spoken to in a while. Some of the people there are definitely not what I’d call friends under normal circumstances — see # 5 of this post.

    But I was thinking of creating a Facebook profile just for A Lofty Existence, so I’ll add you there when/if I do.

  5. Alee,
    I hear you on that minimalist living. I don’t like facebook and never had a page until I started the urbanbushbabes blog, which forced me to create one. I want to shut it down all the time, so I understand. But if you make a page for this blog make sure you find me :).

  6. Perhaps I’ve been just lucky, but I have been especially grateful for my friends and family who really do understand me and love me steadfastly. Now I lost two friends this year, and I am S-A-D over that, but it makes me love and appreciate the ones I have left even more. The folks I find that are inconsistent were always inconsistent; it just took me awhile to figure that out.

  7. Nikisha,

    Yes, Facebook is more like a general networking site now, like a Twitter or Myspace. When I joined only students and alums from certain schools could join, so it had more of a one-on-one vibe. It also had a cleaner design. Now everyone is on Facebook, and they have ads and features all over the place.

    I’ll definitely add you though.

    Re: minimalism. One of the best parts of minimalist living is that you cut down on acquiring and/or get rid of certain “friends”.

    Sherry,

    “Perhaps I’ve been just lucky”

    From the looks of it, yes, you have. If only we were all so lucky… Or do you have a certain way you go about choosing friends?

    Sorry to hear about your friends passing away.

  8. No, not passed away. Just we aren’t friends anymore. One I’m not sure what happened, and the second one, I tried to offer some helpful advice that did not go over well. I tried hard to hold on to both, but since the beginning of June I see it is futile. I had been friends with both for over 10 years. I tell myself that friendship is a precious gift that you can never demand, but just be grateful when it is given …

  9. Sherry,
    I have gone through a similar situation. Two of my closest friends that I had both known for over 10 yrs had to get dropped. They were toxic from day one and I just had blinders on.

  10. I’ve made some of the mistakes listed above and have sometimes been the offender – don’t judge me. But two stand out to me.

    I definitely have experience with #5. It took me awhile but I’ve learned to differentiate the difference b/ friends and acquaintances. It makes life much easier and I’m actually grateful to have both. And it is so important to be careful who you reveal personal things to. There are some rotten souls that store away your personal information as a weapon to wield against you in the future.

    No. 7 is the one that always catches me off guard every single time. Esp. betrayal by relatives. Nothing hurts worse than that.

  11. Alee, sounds like lessons out of my own (recent) life book! Thank you for posting this. Now I know I’m not the only one suffering from crazy people lol!

  12. Sherry,

    “No, not passed away. Just we aren’t friends anymore.”

    Ohhh, okay.

    “My friends kicked me to the curb, not the other way around.”

    Oh well, then I guess you have learned a few lessons in the social arena this year?

    Nikisha,

    “Two of my closest friends that I had both known for over 10 yrs had to get dropped. They were toxic from day one”

    And don’t you feel so much better? It’s like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. You don’t know you’re carrying it, until it’s gone.

  13. Udara,

    “I’ve made some of the mistakes listed above and have sometimes been the offender – don’t judge me.”

    Okay. I won’t. 😉

    “And it is so important to be careful who you reveal personal things to. There are some rotten souls that store away your personal information as a weapon to wield against you in the future.”

    Yes, there definitely are. And I find it so off-putting — how could you use something a person told you in confidence, as a friend, against them?

    But again, it’s probably the idealist in me that hopes that people wouldn’t be so cruel as to do something like that.

    getgln,

    Hi, welcome.

    No, you are not the only one suffering. And now you no longer have to suffer in silence. 🙂

  14. I can relate to numbers 5 – 7 for this year. Numbers 1 – 4, I’ve learned previously, and it has stuck with me.

    5 – 7 hit hard with me because I’ve had to learn these lessons the hard way, and once you learn them the hard way, you tend to remember those lessons the most. Either way, you still learn and move on.

  15. Eliss, you do tend to remember the hard lessons, and rehash the scenarios over and over again. Which makes it that much more difficult. So hopefully someone is listening and doesn’t have to learn the hard way.

  16. I can totally relate to this. On another blog, it was mentioned that relationships have to grow with people on both sides communicating and staying open with one another, and it’s hard for those relationships to grow and be maintained if there’s no communication. I have some relationships where there’s not really anything there anymore (if there ever was to begin with). There are some people who I clicked with nearly a decade ago, but who don’t know how to relate to who I am now and who are stuck in the past. I don’t like having my past casually brought up as if it happened yesterday. I’m one who likes looking forward and moving forward. I need to cut some of these people off, but I find it hard to do that because I don’t consider these people “bad,” just incompatible with where I am now.

  17. changingmoods,

    I knew we’d see eye to eye on this one.

    “On another blog, it was mentioned that relationships have to grow with people on both sides communicating and staying open with one another”

    Absolutely. You should strive to be forthright with your needs, problems you may be having, etc. Communication does wonders (and so does a lack of communication…).

    “I need to cut some of these people off, but I find it hard to do that because I don’t consider these people “bad,” just incompatible with where I am now.”

    You don’t have to consider it cutting off, just moving into a new situation. From friend to acquaintance (or less). All relationships must change and grow. 😉

    *high fives Nikisha* 🙂

  18. Alas Miss Alee, I didn’t learn anything from either implosion. I don’t know the reasons for the first one. The second one is because I tried to caution this dear friend that she was too bitter, and letting that bitterness sour her whole life. I tried to do it gently, but was not successful.

  19. I’m late (as usual), but I can definitely relate to the losing/cutting friends thing. Moving 2000 miles away from home really put things in perspective for me, because I had some “friends” who were way too possessive of my time and energy, and I knew that when I moved I wouldn’t be inclined to put in the effort to keep in touch.

    Alee,

    Nearly a year ago I purged my Facebook down to just people I actually want to talk to (and coworkers/people I couldn’t really delete), so I only have 120 or so friends. My ex-boyfriend friended me last week, and I accepted, but it’s bothering me, because I hate when people friend me with nothing to say! Now I want to defriend him, but I’m close to his mom, so I can’t. Maybe I’ll put him on the extremely restricted setting and just call it a day.

  20. Jasmin,

    I don’t know how you’re doing it so well. I disliked moving so far away from home (not because of friends though).

    My ex-boyfriend friended me on Facebook too… or, he tried to. His friend request is still pending, since I’m rarely on Facebook.

  21. Good news from the front! One of the relationships I mentioned has been saved. As it turns out, my friend was having a serious health challenge, and was not sharing that with me. The challenge has been conquered, and we went out for breakfast on Saturday. Just like the old days ….

  22. I was talking to another long time friend of mine last night, and I think that the main lesson for me is that I get attached to folks easily; probably too easily for my own good. Keeping a friendly, but more neutral posture with others for a longer period than I currently do will serve me better in the long run.

  23. Sherry,

    Yes, I had to learn that too: more and thicker boundaries. The easier it is for you to attach to people the easier it will be for them to hurt you, knowingly or unknowingly.

  24. Silly me, I still believe in some of those things. But I’ve learned (the hard way) that just because somebody loves you, doesn’t mean she understands you or know who you are. This goes for my mother (and most of the parents, I suspect)

    PS- I rarely visit Facebook. I don’t think I’d delete my account, but I don’t use it anymore. Not that I ever used it “properly”: I went with a made-up name in an attempt to prevent people from high school to find me… but they all did anyway.

  25. Mira,

    “Silly me, I still believe in some of those things.”

    Yes, silly, silly you! 🙂

    Just kidding. But seriously, it may seem cynical or jaded, but you’ll come across these points sooner or later. You may not realize them when you do, but you will.

    “I rarely visit Facebook…I went with a made-up name in an attempt to prevent people from high school to find me…”

    I tend to give the side-eye to people with fake names on Facebook because many of them are just trying to be “different” or cute. When I joined Facebook there was no such thing, it was very professional: you always used your real name and you had to use your college or alma mater as your network. But I could see some people using fake names now for anonymity.

  26. I know these things exist, and I do know what is like when people you like/love the most betray you or act in a way you wouldn’t believe. But I guess I still do believe in some things, such as reciprocity with true friends.

    As for Facebook, I didn’t want to leave my real name, because… Well, I just don’t like to post my full name online (strangely enough, I don’t have a problem when it comes to posting a photo or two). I just didn’t want high school people to find me, but they all did it anyway. (It’s because Facebook lets you see friends of your friends, which sucks a big time).

  27. Mira,

    I guess it’s nice to aspire to some of these ideals, for yourself. Like you can be the kind of friend that is consistent in thought and behavior. But expecting it of others is just asking for trouble.

    “Facebook lets you see friends of your friends…”

    Yes, you forgot about that, huh? 🙂

  28. I guess it’s nice to aspire to some of these ideals, for yourself. Like you can be the kind of friend that is consistent in thought and behavior. But expecting it of others is just asking for trouble.

    Well, I guess it’s because I have only one good, close friend, so I do think I know her (it doesn’t mean she never surprised me negatively – same goes for me). But I think people should try to be the best they can when it comes to their friends.

    Yes, you forgot about that, huh? 🙂

    I had no idea about it! I joined in 2007, when it wasn’t such a big thing, at least in my country. Who knew that everybody would find me, eventually? Ugh.

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