"I’ll be there for you."
No, I’m not channeling the ubiquitous repeats of Friends. But you all knew that phrase, right? You’ve probably heard it dozens, maybe hundreds of times in your lifetime, from various people. It’s one of a collection of Things People Say that sound good. “Call me anytime.” “If you need me, I’m always here.” “Lean on me.” “You can depend on me.”
Well-intentioned people who promise you the moon and stars, if you’ll just reach out and ask for it.
I wish they’d stop doing that.
Because, as much as they want to be, no one can always be there for you. And to set people up with that sort of expectation sounds nice at the time, but it ends up hurting, disappointing, and disillusioning.
I don’t begrudge others this inability to always be there. There’s a reason I never say phrases like that — because I know I can’t deliver. I mean, I can, sometimes. But not always. So I’m not going to say I can, just because it sounds good.
People have lives. People have jobs, children, pets, errands, chores, hobbies, crises, responsibilities. People need to sleep. People shut their phones off when they’re in a movie theater (and they really should shut the damn things off in several other places too, but that’s another subject). How many folks do you know who can simply sit by a phone 24/7 in case someone needs them? Yeah, we have cell phones now, so supposedly we’re accessible at all times. When I was young, if someone wasn’t home, you couldn’t reach them. Period. No cell phones, no voice mail, no texting, no IMs, nothing. It was the telephone, or in person, or nothing. Not so now.
But guess what? If a person is busy, or if a person doesn’t want to be reached, they are still unreachable. You can leave voice mail, email, texts, and send a carrier pigeon to poop on their head, but there will be times they still won’t reply to you. That’s reality.
So why make these lofty promises that you can’t possibly keep? Is it because you want to seem like a good friend? A hero? A rock? News flash. I’d rather have someone not promise me anything at all, than set me up and let me down. That affects my trust. That affects my confidence. That affects my feeling of being cared about.
When I was in 12-step programs, they had what they called sponsors — people who would be a sort of mentor and teacher, your friend, to help you with your stuff. People gave each other phone numbers. It was the 80s, so it was still landlines and office numbers. And members told me I could call them “anytime, day or night.” Well, I didn’t. Because, frankly, I thought that was rude and invasive. And also, because I really didn’t expect them to be there for me, day or night. If someone is that available, they can’t have much of a life.
I suppose some 24/7 D/s relationships insist that a sub is accessible at any hour, any day, any time. As I recall, John has known some really pushy dommes who expected him to answer his phone at all hours, and be ready to do whatever they wanted at the drop of a command. Fine. Let them spend their lives sitting by a phone. I, and most of the people I know, have a lot more to do.
Again, I applaud the sentiment. The words are said with the kindest of intentions. But I wish people would start getting real. What many of them promise is impossible.
And nothing feels worse than when you believe them, you pocket your pride and that squicky, uncomfortable feeling that you’re intruding or interrupting, you make yourself willing to be vulnerable, and you reach out… and they aren’t there for you after all.
I recall an old Ziggy cartoon (remember Ziggy?), where he’s staring mournfully at the reader and saying, “Maybe people, who need people, really aren’t the luckiest people in the world.” I think the poor little guy was right. Neediness doesn’t pay. Best to be as self-reliant as you can, and find your strength within. Because people are just too damn busy these days. They may want to be there for you, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, they are. But never count on it.
So… what’s my point? Please, stop promising things you can’t possibly deliver. Stop promising to always be there, because you can’t. Stop setting people up to believe they have their own personal Rock of Gibraltar. Because you’re made of mere flesh and blood, just like the rest of us. You have your own issues, your own stress and pain to deal with. We all do, and I don’t expect you to deal with mine, I really don’t. Unless you tell me, insist to me, that you want to and you will. And then, because I’m a mere mortal myself, one with needs, I believe.
I’m grateful I’m more of a loner. Because honestly, needing sucks. The more I need, the more I hurt.