Dear Miss Lonelyhearts,
There’s this guy I know who recently left Reed, who I lived with for a year. He dropped out and, while we used to talk every day when we knew each other, our conversation gradually became more infrequent after we stopped living together. Before he left we only really spoke in passing, nodding to each other on the blue bridge the way Reedies do when they want to acknowledge, but not engage. Since leaving, I know he’s been pretty isolated. "Loneliness" was the main reason he left Reed, and I can’t imagine it has improved since he moved back in with his parents. Now it seems like he’s trying reaching out to me. He keeps texting me. He wants me to friend him on Facebook. He wants me to add him on LinkedIn. I don’t even have a LinkedIn. I don’t really want to speak to him but I’m not sure quite how to tell him to leave me alone. It feels wrong to just keep ignoring him but I don’t want to say “fuck off” either.
I don’t know much about your relationship to this guy, but it sounds like you were pretty good friends — or, at least, friendly — when you lived together. You don’t mention any particular reason that you would have “broken up,” friendship-wise, and it’s possible that there wasn’t really a reason at all. The ebb and flow of friendships is totally normal, both at Reed and in the larger world. The people who you don’t work to keep close simply tend to drift away. Nothing wrong with that.
Miss Lonelyhearts, you might say, why should you care what our relationship was like a year ago? I’m talking about our relationship now!
Patience, Alonely! I was just getting to that.
I’m getting at the fact that he didn’t seem to wrong you in any way. No big fight, no violation of the roommate code, no instance of him being a bad friend. You simply drifted apart — which, again, is normal. But if all this is true, Alonely, why not throw him a bone? It doesn’t take any effort to friend him on Facebook or add him (link with him?) on LinkedIn. If you really don’t want to see what he posts, simply hide him from your newsfeed. You’d be making him happy with essentially no effort on your part.
If you’re willing to invest a little more effort on the wellbeing of your once-friend, consider inviting him to enjoy an activity with you. You may be worried about the endless hangout. . .you know, when you invite him over to your place for lunch, but he stays until dinner and drinks all your beer. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation, either! Instead, do something together that gets you out of the house and off campus. Invite him to see a movie, grab a cup of coffee, go bowling, whatever. As well as breaking you out of the Reed Bubble, all of these activities have built-in timelines. When you finish your coffee, the date’s over! There’s none of the awkwardness of trying to politely get him off your couch — you’re in a neutral space that you can simply leave when you’re done.
This plan may worry you. You may think that you’re giving this pushy friend an open door into your life, through which they will enter and never leave. I posit to you, however, that your friend is simply lonely and would love to do an activity with you once, maybe twice, a semester. If you can give up a couple of Saturday afternoons to the cause, you may find yourself having more fun than you’d anticipated.
Let my love open the door,
Ask Miss Lonelyhearts at www.reedthegrail.com/submissions/