The other weekend, I was sitting on a friend’s couch, listening to her romantic woes and about the two biggest relationships she has had to date. Like any good friend, I payed attention to the details and on a personal level, I was fascinated by what were at times unbelievable actions and conversations between my friend and her significant others. You see, I find what some would call gossip enthralling. Since gossip isn’t gossip unless you pass it along or use it for nefarious purposes, I like to think that my interest has more of a psychological or sociological bent. I like to know what is going on in other people’s lives, why they do what they do, and hear about stories that are almost always crazier than anything I could hope to imagine in my own life; I even have a friend who is known for such stories. When asked by a mutual acquaintance if this friend embellishes some of the events she retells, my words were that “this shit is so bizarre, it has to be real!”
So, it is established that I have the predisposition to listen to friends’ problems, out-there stories, and relationship disasters, but apparently, I also give amazing and thoughtful advice. I’m not sure what kind of advice I’ve given to friends in the past that has been useful, but maybe just lending a shoulder and pep-talk goes a long way. I’ve been told many times these exact words: “You’re such a good listener and you give such good advice.”
Ok, I’m flattered. Were I to do college and my career choice over, I might consider becoming a psychologist, so these compliments actually mean a lot to me, besides boosting my sense of what kind of a friend I am to people. Everyone wants to know that they are there for their friends and that they can be trusted to be dumped on by the heaviest burdens and to share them. That’s what friendship is all about.So, where am I going with all of this? Well, ever since that conversation on my friend’s couch, I’ve been thinking a lot about experience and the capacity to understand events one hasn’t participated in. Maybe distance gives me an objective view of things friends are too emotionally involved in to process. Whatever the explanation, the conversation about my friend’s past loves ended and was finished with the appropriate request for me to reciprocate by sharing my romantic follies.
When I was obviously caught in a situation where I had nothing to say, I did what I always try to do, which is to tell the truth. I told this friend that I didn’t have anything to share and was given a kind, but puzzled look in return. The dialogue that followed was along the lines of “you’re better off” and “men are too much trouble anyway,” but I couldn’t help but wonder what she thought of me. I felt the need to justify what she might have thought was a tight-lipped attitude with an explanation of my dateless existence, just so that she didn’t think I was being rude or one-sided in the swapping of personal details.
So, if I’ve had no real experience of my own, what makes me such an insightful sage that many of my friends seem to feel comfortable talking to? I’m not really sure, but I’m positive that my whole situation is proof positive of the saying “those who can’t do, teach.”
Tooting my own horn for a minute, I have to say that I’m pretty good at the friend-cum-therapist shtick. I listen attentively, ask the right questions, and give the right amount of sympathy and well-meant advice. I can see the path of a friend’s relationship for what it really is before even they can and I’ve predicted the death of numerous relationships and flirtations with a 90% accuracy.
Why then can I not figure myself out? I have no freaking idea!
For now, I guess I’ll just indulge in my hobby and be an ear to friends in crisis. I may not be able to help myself, but apparently, I understand what it’s all about. So let me know what’s troubling you, or give me some explanation for this phenomenon. The doctor’s in!