- Mormons, by and large, are uncomfortable questioning or associating with those who question the faith. I do that. They don’t like that.
- I smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. Also swear. I limit the swearing around my LDS friends, and I always smoke outside (and never at their house), but it’s still upsetting to them if we out to eat and I order a coffee with my meal, or we go on a walk and stop to buy drinks and I buy an iced coffee. Or if they see my smokes, or I buy smokes while we’re out — even if I don’t smoke in their company. They get this kind of long-suffering frustrated silence, which is still preferable to an outright lecture (that happens, too).
- I, on the other hand, feel frustrated that they can’t accept me as I am, especially when I’m making an effort (not actually smoking around them, not swearing) to show respect to them. Unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this sort of judgment as so par-for-the-course with mormons that I’ve begun to avoid meeting up/ hanging out with mormon friends due to a desire to avoid the frustrated silence and/or lecture.
Various stoners/ regular social drinkers:
I had a lot of stoner/ party friends in high school. A lot. They were cool at the time, but after I left high school, it got real old real fast. I have nothing against stoners or drinking, but certain factors have initiated distance between us:
- I find adults who rely on mood-altering substances (like alcohol or pot) for a good time, or indulge in them to excess more than, say, once or twice a month, pretty disturbing. It seems essentially unhealthy to rely on something that changes the essence of your personality, as though you can’t handle reality. This may also be because I only ever get stoned or blind drunk when I’m miserably, suicidally unhappy. I’ve been in the aforementioned state a total of 3 times in the past 10 years. Really not a fan of it.
- People who still see the highlight of their day/week as toking up and getting completely stoned (or getting blitzed/ drunk) are boring. It’s just no fun to chill with stoners or alcoholics when you aren’t stoned/drunk, and if they’re always stoned/drunk, there’s nothing really to talk about. They’re too stoned/drunk to hold a coherent conversation, plus all their stories are about getting stoned or drunk, rather than interesting and cool stuff, like concerts or motorcycles or camping or books or anything real.
- Because they rely on mood-altering substances on a weekly or daily basis, I have a hard time trusting them, and treat them accordingly.
- To clarify, I do have friends who indulge much more rarely, and they’re cool. I’m totally okay with alcohol/pot as recreational, occasional additions to a social activity, and when used in moderation — but when they’re the type of person who brings hard alcohol or pot to every gathering, or who arrives stoned/ drunk at every gathering, they’re just not the type of person I get along with, no matter how chill they are.
Newlyweds/ New parents:
I have lost contact with quite a few friends after they married and had kids. It’s either the couple syndrome or the kids thing. First the couples syndrome, which takes a few forms:
- “I like you, but my partner doesn’t, so we’re hanging out less and less and oh, never.”
- “I am totally and completely in love with my partner and we do everything as a couple now, so I can’t hang with you unless you like my partner.” This phase may or may not pass. I know my husband and I are still too couple-y for some people, while I’ve met other couples who seem far more couple-y to me.
- “I am now married and will take on my spouses political/ religious views, thereby changing my entire personality and making me foreign and slightly distasteful to my former friends.”
- “I am now married and my spouse is completely jealous/distrustful of opposite-sex friendships, so we’re done.” This is especially frustrating to me. I’ve always tended to have male friends, which my husband is cool with — but their long-term girlfriends/ wives aren’t. Apparently they trust their boyfriends/ spouses so little, and think so little of my husband, that they believe I will totally jump into bed with said guy friend the first chance I get. Pretty sad.
The shut-out couple phase usually passes, and some of these friendships have picked up again.
New Parent Thing:
The new-parent thing is more insidious, and I’m still learning to deal with the different permutations of it. So far, I’ve noticed these versions:
- The baby takes up all their time and interest and is now all they can talk about/ FB post about/ blog about. Poo is fascinating, first steps are fascinating, gurgle smile/burps are fascinating, and why is the entire world not as fascinated as they are? Not a new complaint. Every first-time parent does this. Patience.
- No-one else is parenting correctly, and they disapprove of any parenting method that is not theirs. I think this is a more recent thing, societally. I got over it when my son was about 4 or 5. I expect most parents, at some point, come to the realization that most of us are just doing the best we can with what we have, and there’s no exact science to this.
- Different timing on children. This one is the current biggie I’m dealing with. I have one kid, and he’s 9. Many of my friends/ family are starting their families and have toddlers and pregnancies to deal with. We’re in different family situations, with different parenting demands and vast differences in time availability. Plus, they’re going through stages 1 & 2, which requires some definite cultivation of patience — especially when they’re still in that judgmental all-parenting-but-mine-is-bad phase.
Differing Political Views:
When I met and married my husband, I was an active mormon girl, nominal Republican (didn’t know much about it, but my parents voted Repub, so I did), and sometimes feminist. My husband appeared to be an active mormon boy, Republican, and a slightly sexist misogynist. Over the next 10 years, we changed. A lot.
- We traveled separate but parallel paths to atheism and liberalism. We’re both vehement and active advocates of gay rights, women’s rights, union rights, and various other so-called “socialist/ liberal/ democrat” views. Although these changes were happening during the Bush years, we really became firm in our views when the Tea Partiers came on the scene and started trying to take away the LGBT, Womens, Childrens, and Worker rights.
- At the same time that we became more vocal in our repudiation of the Tea Party movement, some of our formerly moderate Republican/ Catholic/ Christian/ Mormon friends were similarly becoming more vocal in their support of Tea Party policies.
With some of them, our disagreements over social and political policy has become so divisive, we’ve had to part ways. Fortunately, this only seems to occur when they have no life (as in, no family, no other friends, no real hobbies), and rely completely and totally on politics, debate, and argument for entertainment.
added as of 10/21/12
When I was growing up, mom used to tell me that “friends will come and go, but family will always be family.” She was trying to get my sister and I to stop fighting, but I really took it to heart. Later, when John and I got married, my mom told me that he was always to come first now.
She said he was to come before my siblings, my parents, and even (within reason) my children, because John was the partner I chose to be with me for life. My siblings would marry and build their own families. My parents would, in time, pass on. My children would grow up and leave the home. But my partner — if I had chosen well, and if I put him first, and if I worked hard on my marriage — would be there with me through all of that.
I believe that, and so does John. Within reason, of course. Things like abuse, mockery, or persistent dishonesty are not to be tolerated from any partner, toward either their partner or their children. But in a normal, healthy relationship where those are not issues, I believe it is imperative to consider one’s partner and their emotions, concerns, desires, hopes and dreams on an equal level to one’s own.
As such, I have begun to cut ties with those siblings of mine who treat John and our relationship poorly and with disrespect. It’s less “cutting ties” and more “stopped calling,” but I knew when I made the decision to stop trying to contact them that they would not be initiating contact.
After many heartfelt discussions with my therapist and long, restless nights, I realized these particular relationships were toxic. I also realized that if it were not for our shared genetic bond, I would not be friends with them. We have too few shared values and interests for a common bond; we live too far apart and disagree in too many fundamental ways.
These siblings did not respect my marriage, my husband, or my accomplishments. I realized they were not willing to invest in a mutually beneficial and supportive relationship. Instead they relied solely on our blood ties to maintain the “friendship” between us, and that I, in fact, was maintaining my relationship with them out of a misplaced sense of duty — because “family will always be family.“
Furthermore, maintaining these toxic relationships was damaging my emotional and mental health and my primary relationships (with my husband and son). Once I came to terms with this realization, I was able to take the steps to cut ties on my end and leave the ball (so to speak) in their court.