Wednesday, June 12, 2002

We haven't talked in years.

I had dinner this evening with a friend of mine, a woman I once worked with. In the course of our discussion, I asked her about Ted, who was one of her best friends since they went to school together, and how he was doing. She told me that they haven't spoken in almost two years. The story of why was a familiar one, about how there had been a hard-to-pinpoint falling out, and how that contact ceased. There had been no major confrontation, no "laying it on the line", but the sense that he was mad at her remained, and remains still. I wouldn't presume to judge what's behind this particular conflict, but the way that such a strong and long-standing friendship ended with so little clarity really made me think. How many of those situations where people don't talk anymore are based on assumptions and miscommunciation?

I know that there are those situations where something overt and well-defined brings about a conflict, and many of those times involve principle rightly maintained. But I think that something upwards of two thirds of these falling-out situations stem from active minds, making self-disparaging leaps about what the other person's motives are, and what they must be thinking. Unfortunately, this leads to a preparation for the worst, and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it's easy to keep a grudge going. How many friends, how many family members, live these fallings-out, subject more to the current state than to the almost-forgotten, or never-defined original issue?


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