Hey, I Didn’t Know the Rules Changed!

Have you ever played a game with someone only to find they have changed the rules without telling you?  You cry foul and begin to whine, “Hey, wait a minute…that’s not the way we learned to play the game!”  Who changed the rules?  They did – and forgot to tell you.  But in the back of their minds they’re thinking, “Yes, this is how we play now.  Get with it!”

Many moons ago when Kathy and I first became friends, the rules of the game went like this…

Kathy: When I have family in town, I don’t have time to hang out with you, I don’t have time to talk to you. I’ll get back to you after the family has left.

Linda: Wow, that took the wind out of my sails!  What I came to understand is that she didn’t know how to spend time with her family and still connect with me.  I wasn’t really expecting her to hang out with me during visits with her family.  It just would have been nice to touch base still be a part of her world.

Kathy:  I remember those difficult years and the inner conflict it would cause me.  Looking back, I see how inept I was at trying to balance time with my family and time for my friend.  I would almost completely disconnect from her during those times.  I’m sure that left her frustrated, hurt, and fearful.  After years of learning new and healthy patterns of relating I desired to connect rather than exclude my friend even when my family was in town.

Linda: Great! But I didn’t know the rules had changed.  So even recently, when Kathy’s sister was in town, I was still playing by the old rules.  I didn’t call her, I didn’t text her, I just gave her what I had in the past…LOTS of space. The problem with that was, she no longer wanted or needed lots of space BUT I was not clued in.

This brings up an important piece of information for any of you in a friendship.  You must, must, must, as we have learned – REVISIT the rules and do so quite frequently.  Here’s why.  People change.  People grow.  For that reason, the rules of the game change.  And if you’re still playing by the old rules…everyone loses.  She didn’t get what she needed, connection with me, her best friend. And I didn’t get what I needed, connection with her, my best friend.  I was trying to give her what I thought she needed.  Lesson learned.  We shall often, from here on out, revisit the rules of the game; to see if either of us has changed them.

Friend Coaching Tip: Revisit the rules and do so quite frequently.


~ by thefriendshipdoctors on June 19, 2010.

One Response to “Hey, I Didn’t Know the Rules Changed!”

  1. This is so funny and so true!! Thank you for this (=

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