How to loose friends and not influence people.

Human nature is an abstract term, although you would think that it would be an easily definable and identifiable thing.  After all, we’re all human and our “nature” should be intimately familiar.

Yah… right..

If this was so simple, then we would all understand each other and there would be no need for psychology, psychiatry and the myriad of other “social sciences” for which I could devote an entirely separate rant.  We would all get along and inter-personal relationships would be easy.

This particular babble is the result of my circle of close friends constricting and the realization that human nature is as irresistible a force as gravity itself.  Let me start by describing how my particular inter-personal relationships work; you are simply either on the “inside” or the “outside”.  An oversimplification you say?  Nope.  Think about this binary classification system thoroughly for a second and try to come up with a better way.  My relationships are either high level, or they are not.  This is not to say that there can’t be further classifications within those two groups, but the simple dividing line still makes sense.  High level relationships could also be called “inner circle” relationships and are the ones where you let people “in” and develop a trust/bond with that person.  Examples of this are family relations, romantic relations and close friends.  All others are on the outside.

See…. very simple.

Also interwoven into these two categories are two very separate sets of criteria; two very different expectations.  The “inner circle” requires a mutual trust, respect and accountability as well as all those intangible factors that bring people together in the first place.  The outside simply requires a recognition of the other person’s existence.

Now for the catch, at least in my twisted view of the world, the “inner circle” is earned, and is neither an entitlement nor a permanent assignment.  The term “what have you done for me lately” is very apt in this case as this position requires maintenance and ongoing consideration.  This shouldn’t seem surprising as this is a similar component of a romantic relationship. I just apply this to everyone.  Inner circle people can be “dumped” and re-categorized as “outside” just like a bad romantic relationship.  At this point I should bring human nature into the equation.  Specifically, the tendency of people to exploit other people where it suites them, do things in their own best interest, and what I like to call the “leopards don’t change their spots” phenomenon.  None of these traits mesh well in my ‘inner circle” but are quite common on the “outside”.

In keeping with the title of this rant, I am a person who simply gives all of himself to the people on the inside.  I would give a vital organ if needed.  However, I also have the tortuous tendency to let people “in” based on expectation, not merit, and this has recently “bit me in the ass” twice.  I too often overlook the “human nature” component, much to my detriment.  In my opinion, the people on the “inside” MUST (not should) be there for you when you need them.  It doesn’t matter how big, or small, the issue or how often you need them, but they must come through in the times of need.  If they don’t, then they shouldn’t be on the “inside”, where I would do whatever was necessary for them.  I don’t believe that I consciously “keep score”, but I am not ignorant to obvious inequalities in a personal relationship. I also am confident that I am a “giver”, on every level, to my “inner circle” relationships and have never failed to be available in a time of need.  Given my limited resources, I always do what I can.

In closing, I have proven yet again to be the “giver” to far too many “takers” and have come to regret the personal investment and the naive perseverance.  It is also fair to say that I miss those people, each in a different way, but I also know that I cannot change and maintaining them on the “inside” would only result in me giving more, and them taking more, all culminating in my eventual disappointment.  At least I’m wise enough to know that I can’t change anyone or influence their outlook in any meaningful way.

I very much dislike being used and/or taken advantage of for my generosity and personal investment.

So, to those of you now on the “outside”, I truly hope that you will learn to appreciate that true friends are very hard to find and must be earned, and that the measure of such is not how much “shit” they will put up with from you, but by how much better your life is with them on the “inside” as well.  I miss you both and each of you have been very significant in my life, but sometimes it is about me and I’m not going to take it anymore.  In the end, it appears that even my sentiment has been disproportional and I’ve been easily replaced and/or easily forgotten.  Either way, it seems that I’ve made the correct decision.  Only time will tell.

Trust, respect, accountability.


By Shawn Barlow