A Try-Hard or a Friend?

Have you ever met someone you desperately wanted to be friends with, but they just didn’t feel the same way? Every now and then, it happens. For me, it might be a writer who’s further along in their career — close enough to feel like a peer, yet far ahead enough to admire. I’ve come to know several of them over the years.

Sometimes, it saddens me when one of those connections fades before it has even begun. What are they up to? What are they thinking? Why aren’t they interested in a more regular exchange? Months pass. Emails stay unanswered. Sooner or later, reality sets in: I’m trying way too hard, and I must learn to be okay without being able to call that person a friend.

It’s not a nice thing to realize that you’re a try-hard. That you’re not wanted where you’re hoping to go. But some people don’t want your friendship as much as you want theirs — and that’s probably proof enough that they don’t deserve it.

When it comes to romantic relationships, it’s easy enough to understand that one-sided partnerships don’t work. With friendships, the stakes might be lower, but that doesn’t make it reasonable to spend years chasing someone like a door-to-door salesman.

How many coffee invitations must someone decline before giving up on them is the kinder thing to do? The answer will differ in each case, but there’s always a line where we go from extending a hand to begging on our knees, and beyond that line, your self-worth is in danger. Did they agree to meet out of pity or genuine interest? Are they tolerating you now because they need something? Can you trust their change of heart? The longer your persistence must persist, the muddier the relationship waters become. Until, one day, we wake up and wonder: What is this? Why am I here? How did I end up in this place?

The stars don’t always align, and not all magnets attract one another. That’s okay. Letting go is as valuable a skill as being a good friend. Don’t try so hard, and remember: If you’re not valued, you’re just in the wrong place.