An Invitation to Play

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Imagine a situation: me and a friend of mine are having a heated debate until the friend derails it by chipping in a remark on what she assumes to be my current mental state, “why do you get so upset about this?” From that moment the debate is no longer what it used to be and it is likely to evolve into a festivity of accusations, personal attacks and insults. And since we’re human, we don’t pay much to attention when the conversation got derailed, but we keep chasing after the attacks like a bull seeing red. The whole exchange goes trough the land of youalways and younever and finally ends up somewhere in the area of well fuck you and a fuck you too.

Is the friendship over? 

If that whole friendship didn’t lie on the agreement of that argument (or whether I was upset or not) – it doesn’t have to be. If one of us isn’t a little bitch with an ego too fragile to handle a disagreement, or there having been a fight, and possible future fights – it doesn’t have to be.

I have had many such situations with friends, coworkers, partners; and if anything, I have learned from it that apologizing doesn’t work, restarting the argument on a sub-segment of the whole thing doesn’t work; and that more people than not simply won’t take the first step that will actually work. There is no ship unless it’s me. But shouldn’t it be a joint effort? Why wouldn’t the friend take the first step? Has she no will? Or no skill?

Now, there are extremely proud people who refuse to say sorry and all that – but I perceive a necessity for an apology is such a situation to largely be a stupid myth anyway. I don’t think anyone needs to be sorry for a disagreement or for getting emotional. So – I don’t expect an apology as the first step. Neither do I think expects the friend (unless she is a little bitch).

The little bitch demands an apology!

Who is a little bitch and why does such a person demand an apology? Here’s my theory – she either never really wanted to be your friend anyway, or she has tried apologizing before and has witnessed first hand it doesn’t really work – so she prefers not to try again. An apology made things worse – and she doesn’t think there is any other way. And since she can’t see another way – maybe she makes the assumption it wasn’t her wrong to right in the first place, and the apology is up to me.

Sometimes I do apologize – but when I do, it’s not for them, it’s for me. Only when I thought I’d crossed a line and want the other person to know I recognize that.

The most effective first step

When you put yourself out there to try to get back with your friend – you are taking a risk of a kind. It’s a risk because, as with an apology – there’s a possibility the other person will reject your efforts. Sometimes you have to try again later, other times you will find out your friendship was never going to work out anyway, and you might realize you were suffering from some interesting illusions about that. Very unpleasant.

But if not an apology, what am I talking about? An invitation to play. Send a silly emoji, start a conversation about something else, wish her a good morning, give her a hug (or a fist-pump!).

I’ve done that, and of the many things I have, this one seems to work best and is the least awkward, takes the pressure of the other person, releases the tension. Although nice, like any other method – it won’t turn any person into your friend. Which means any method you used to make up with someone won’t work with everyone. So, it is not only a nice way to get back to it – but also a super efficient filter mechanism – has the property to reveal there was no way to keep that friendship or whatevership alive in any way – a relationship partner ripe looking for reasons to not have that ship, actively at it (or the person is just a little bitch, with extremely high maintenance costs – same results).

How about the friend getting the opportunity to take the first step this time.

Some people with whom there have been one to multiple instances of fall-outs and I have successfully invited them to play, I did not rush to take the first step again for some Nth time. Sometimes it might have been a conscious effort, other times I was naturally slow to get to it – maybe I really need to know, to filter, if the person is willing to do it, too. To take a little risk, so to say.

After all, it leaves the other person the opportunity to invite me to play. But that’s where things get very interesting, even if they have proven to be capable of accepting my invitation – they might not know how to do it themselves. Seems like more people than not have no clue how to invite the other to play (and we all do know it when we are kids!), and they spiral the package back to the ugly fight that it was yesterday.

  1. Some apologize in an ugly, insincere way and I turn it down. And even when I turn it down mildly, they take offense in it, and maybe assume it’s over. Or when they don’t want it to be over, another sales-pitch that turns into a ted-talk of why you have to be my friend/partner, ensues. It is very tiresome. Apologies like this aren’t apologies – they are a real nuisance, although understanding that people might not be aware of there being other ways, I try my best to take it in good faith.
  2. Most often, instead of apologizing or inviting to play – some people make another negative remarkoh, I see you’re still mad. Oh, you seem to be in a bad mood. And what does such a remark achieve? Thinking of it – it’s just another attempt to swift the responsibility of making up on me, isn’t it? Personally – when their first move is such a remark – even trying to meet them half way won’t work, because kindness and smiles are not a reaction prompted by such remarks. So, nah, no thanks.
  3. And the few exceptional people extend an invitation to play. Even if you’d turn it down for now – because you still need to collect yourself – they will come back later and try again, or will just patiently wait until you come back to them and accept that invitation a little later.

Nothing else moves my heart more than another invitation to play – signals the person can really put petty disagreements (and they usually are really petty) aside and focus on something good and enjoyable. Maybe it is our innate nature to get into these fights every now and then. Consider it a filter mechanism, a way to weed out whether the friend is friendship material at all, whether she wants it or not – because a fight and how a person amends it is… Can be really informational 🙂

Good relationships are anti-fragile, like that.

Leave a Reply