Ask Ciiku: How do I get my friends back?

Dear Ciiku,

I’m a guy racing towards my 30s and though it took a while to get a stable job, I am now comfortably working and building a career. I have been in only one romantic relationship my whole life which is fine since I am devoted to a small group of friends.

Over the past years there have been cracks in our friendship as a result of growing up, people starting families, fucking capitalism and the whole gamut. My friends and I always thought of ourselves as immune to the traps of the couple form (hetero or otherwise) but the actions of one my closest friends surprised me when they put their relationship first at a point of crisis in my life. I know it sounds petty and selfish but it was a dire situation and even an acknowledgement would have been enough. She got mad when I asked and only sends perfunctory greetings every beginning of the month (landlord wa salamu) lol.

As all this unravels I have found myself slowly retreating into my head and away from people. I have always said that I love love but now I am scared that I’ll be hurt, rejected, or flat out ignored. Your posts on friendship are a huge fave and I wonder how do I get my friends back, or better, how do I stop dwelling on what we had as you have written before? I’m lonely but I don’t want to be cynical. Saidia

Mpweke

Hi Mpweke,

Have I mentioned that I find word usage fascinating. What does “racing towards my 30s” mean? It’s not like you are moving any faster than anyone else. We are all aging. Also “put their relationship first at a point of crisis in my life” is selfish and I’m glad you recognise that. That wording is quite something. But that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s talk expectations here have you been on the same page with your friends regarding the same? Or are these some assumptions?

Also, as I am solely relying on information provided here, do you know why she got mad after you told her what you told her? I’m only asking because if she responded in a way that wasn’t the way she usually does, is there a probability that something was going on in her life that because of your crisis you didn’t see?

Further from that and FYI, everyone gets hurt, rejected and ignored. To act like this will never happen or there is some way to avoid it, is to live a lie. At this point, being cynical is the expected reaction. However, my opinion is that you shouldn’t let it fester in your being.

What I think you need to do is feel the feelings, try to understand why you retreat into your head and maybe find other coping mechanisms. Also, continue working on being self aware and more so, make better decisions (including decisions on who you allow in your life). Maybe also try to widen your circle of friends and determine what it is love looks like to you.

Also, maybe entertained the fact that perhaps your friends have outgrown the friendship and the one particular one is holding onto the history of it all and hence the monthly greeting.

While yes I do believe that people should treat friendships as important and not the people as some spare tire, there is also some sense of something deeper here and sometimes people outgrow people. I don’t know for sure what the case is here 100%. I’m trying to look at it from a neutral angle.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, and maybe to keep thinking about, what does love look like? What does community of friendship look like? This is important in trying to figure out who you can have in your life.

All the best,

Ciiku.

Ask Ciiku: He doesn’t want to define the relationship

Hi Ciiku,

I’ve been seeing this guy for about 3 months now and everything has been going great. I recently brought up that I would like to initiate a relationship in the near future thinking we are on the same page, when he revealed that he isn’t sure of what he wants, generally, and by extension, whether he wants to be with me.

What makes this incredibly confusing is that he says he loves me, and expects that we be exclusive. On the one hand his actions are affirming and make me feel secure in what we have at the moment- up until this moment he had not given me any reason to doubt his intentions/ actions. On the other hand it feels like he is comfortable with things as they are and doesn’t intend on moving things along but wants to keep me at arm’s length. (I want a clearly defined relationship and not this hanging-in-the-balance business, he knows that).

Am I being irrational for feeling all this discomfort and anxiety around his inability to declare *any* kind of intention for us/me? He says he needs time and this would be perfectly okay for me if he had any idea of what he wanted, but he doesn’t and it bothers me. Should I give him the benefit of doubt and give him the time he requires to think this through? Is 3 months too fast too soon or should I give us more time? Help!

Anon.

Hi Anon
 I do not think you are being irrational at all. Your feelings are completely justified. What time is enough time? If he tells you he wants one year to think about it, would you be OK with that? If the shoe was on the other foot, would he be making excuses for you?
I find the concept of “enough time” fascinating. Because there are some who would say that three months is not enough time to say “I love you” to someone. And others would say that it is plenty of time. I say to you, what matters is the discomfort you feel. Because there is, I believe, a basis for it. If he wants to be in an exclusive relationship, or at least, expects exclusivity, why is he not willing to define the relationship? What are his issues specifically with defining it?
You say that he wants to keep you at arm’s length (have you around but not say you are his girlfriend) but has he explicitly said this? There is the chance that he also thinks three months is too short of a time to define the thing and maybe he thinks you should spend more time together before deciding where to go.
There is definitely a case for both sides of the coin here and I think that what would matter most is continuous communication without any assumptions. For example: When he says he needs time, I hope you realise that it is not something you can control, and that 5 years to him may seem as reasonable time to be given. Also, you say “when he revealed that he isn’t sure of what he wants, generally, and by extension, whether he wants to be with me.” and that is indeed something to think about seriously. If he has explicitly stated that he doesn’t want to be with you, why then, are you even considering giving him time? Or even more importantly, why are you still in the relationship?
In offering my help, I say this: Ask the questions and get the truth. Do not make any assumptions of what his intentions are or reading between the lines. From that, then it will be obvious what the appropriate response will be: Leave the relationship, or give it time (whatever you both agree this is).
Go where you are wanted Anon.
All the best,
Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: Will I Ever Get Over This?

Hi Ciiku,

I broke up with my boyfriend a little over a year ago and even dated someone else a few months later. Here is my issue, the reasons we broke up was that I didn’t know of his other family until his wife confronted me. He told me they were done but alas, I was being towed along. Our lives are linked in many ways (we share an office) and try as I may, I keep thinking of him. It has taken a lot to accept this since I ignore him and genuinely hate him. But the hurt lingers, it hurts so damn much. How do I heal?

T

Hi T,

I am really sorry about the experience you went through. We deserve honesty and respect which obviously you did not receive from this person. It’s terrible that you still have to encounter this man almost daily. Even worse that you feel this hurt.

Part of the hurt probably comes from being too hard on yourself. You likely feel that you should have known better or that you should have seen some warning. Please remember that you aren’t to blame here, because if this person was an honest person, then you wouldn’t have found yourself in this position. You chose to trust his word and he betrayed you. This isn’t an exaggeration, he betrayed your trust.

Obviously, if you could leave that office you would have by now so I assume that is not an option. Therefore I say to you, healing will take time. And effort beyond the hate you feel for him. I mean that you need to put specific effort into healing and moving forward. This might mean that you speak to someone about what you are feeling so that they may guide you. This also means that you need to sit with yourself and examine these thoughts and feelings that you have. Sometimes, and I’m not saying this is your case, we hold on to anger because we feel that it is expected of us. We might not be angry because we don’t allow people to occupy certain spaces in our existence but because this thing happened to us and anyone else in the situation would be angry, we hold on to that anger. But if we examine ourselves deeply, we realise that we have come to the place of acceptance and that we understand what happened and are peace. This might not be your case but I feel it is important to examine all angles and ask the right questions: why am I angry? am I angry at myself? who benefits from the hurt? What do I need?

And more than anything, you need to forgive yourself. I think that is paramount to moving forward.

Hope you find healing.

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: He Refuses to Follow my IG Page

Hello, first all ,thank you so much for this platform. I run an Instagram store and everyone knows likes are the currency over there so I try to get all my friends and family to like my page. I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to follow my page but he said he had issues with his IG so he couldn’t follow. A girl he’s had a crush on for so long requested him to follow her business page and he made a new account just to follow her account and didn’t bother to follow mine. I asked him about it and he doesn’t even know the actual handle of my page. I’m currently too mad to even talk to him about it. Am I being petty? If not, how should I go about it? Do I have a discussion with him about it or just let it go? Thank you 😊

Miss K.

Miss K,

Thank you for your question. Your response to this is not petty. At all. In fact it is quite valid.

What issues does someone have with IG that prevents them from following a page? I am seriously asking because I have never heard of anything of the sort. Also, if someone else makes him open another account so they can follow, it raises many questions first of which: Does he care about you?

The care someone shows when they are in relationship is mostly seen in the little daily things. Not the grand gestures. It is the knowing how you take your coffee, how you like your eggs, following your business page on Instagram… those things.

You definitely, immediately, have to discuss this because it is a bigger issue than just following your Instagram page. What is the reason behind not wanting to follow your page? Why hers and not your? Does he care? It may seem small and as though you are making a mountain out of a molehill but the extent he went for someone he isn’t in an intimate relationship with raises eyebrows somewhat.

Don’t learn to let things go especially those that matter to you. “Bend but don’t break” as they say. And to that, even the bending, don’t bend too low.

All the best,

Ciiku

 

 

Ask Ciiku: I Work in a Toxic Office

Hi Ciiku,

Do you have any tips on dealing with office bullies, office politics and hard to please bosses?

JM

Hi JM,

Dealing with office politics, temperamental bosses and bullies is something I have experience in. It is so terrible having to deal with such people yet you spend most of your waking hours with them.I always say that you cannot escape office politics. I think it is a part of all work environments in varying degrees of toxicity. As long as you have to be around people, there will always be politics and you can’t miss a terrible person in the mix.

Some suggestions for you would be:

  • Avoid these people – When I had a snake for a boss, I kept our interactions to a minimum. We only communicated on work related matters, on email and phone whenever possible and even then, I kept it brief. I also never got involved in discussions on the going ons in the office. I know depending on the type of office environment and the job you do it may be hard to avoid but if possible, please distance yourself from the disturbances that comes with talking with some people in the office..
  • Inform Human Resources – I had a boss who would text me unnecessary texts out of office hours about work (he was a bully) and I mentioned it to HR. I was told to settle it with him and so yes, HR may not be helpful as in my case but when I quit that job and they asked me for reasons, they had the info because I had told them about it.  Document all instances of bullying such that when you bring this up, you have proof.
  • Have discussions on expectation – If it seems that your boss isn’t happy with the work output, it may be of benefit to have a meeting to discuss expectation. Mention that you would wish to know what they expect from you so you can carry out your duties effectively.
  • Look for another job – Again, I know this isn’t easy and especially with how the economy is at the moment, but it never hurts to have your feelers out there. I always say that when you wait until a certain “a-ha” moment, you are assuming your resume will still be attractive. Don’t wait.

I hope some of this is helpful to you JM. Being in a toxic work environment is quite stressful and can cause strain on anyone. I therefore hope this is something that becomes better for you.

 

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: He isn’t a good communicator

Hello Ciiku

Thanks for setting this platform to provide advice. I have a guy friend who I like very much. We both are interested in each other but haven’t taken any steps to start a relationship. However, we don’t talk or meet up as much as I would like and the main reasons are that he is not the best communicator (he has told me so) and he has a crazy schedule. We usually don’t talk unless I reach out and this sucks. From your experience, can someone truly be super busy to the point where meeting up is a real struggle? Sometimes I feel like I am trying too hard to be in his life. I don’t know what to do about this as communication is very important to me.

Miss A

Miss A,

Thank you for your comment and for reaching out.

Now to your question, what about this friend do you like? That was my first question when I read your message. How do you know that he is interested in a relationship? I am only curious because you say he is not a good communicator. Being a good communicator is about many things: What is said, why it is said, how it is said and how often things are being said.

Based on what you say, I feel like the issue is how often you chat and I am going to assume that when it is you do talk, the man communicates clearly what he wants. One thing that I am reading from the subtext is that the man has said that he is a bad communicator with no intention of working on it. So you find yourself in a situation where you will have to accept him the way he is.

I know you said that you don’t know what to do but you do, don’t you Miss A. You say it in that same sentence…… “communication is very important to me”…. you even used “very”. This pretty much tells me that this is not something you are willing to look the other way about – and that is why you haven’t taken any steps to start the relationship, isn’t it? Why should you look away anyway? I am happy that you know what it is that you seek from someone you want to be in a relationship with. And you should remain true to yourself Miss A.

All the best,
Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I need to define boundaries with my friend with benefits

Dear Ciiku,

I have a FWB who is also a very close friend. I would like to ensure that it remains that way without feelings getting caught in the process but to also not treat them poorly in order to maintain this. How do I/we build the boundaries this relationship needs?

Anon

Dear Anon,

A dilemma of the ages if ever there was one. A close friend, a sexual relationship and boundaries. Will your friendship exist after the sexual relationship ends? That’s what the boundaries are supposed to ensure? From your letter I’m reading that you don’t want this to develop into a romantic relationship, that it remains a friendship plus sex. Is it possible that feelings can be caught by one party? Yes. Is it possible that the friendship might not exist once either of you get different sexual partners (on the assumption that it is monogamous)? Probably.

I’m glad that you acknowledge that one doesn’t and shouldn’t treat a FWB poorly. A FWB is like any other relationship in the sense that communication is key. And when I say communication I mean that conversations need to happen about what is happening, what is wanted, what isn’t. From your short note I see that you are clear about what you want, something you have thought about and this must be expressed to your FWB. Relationships work when the people in it are on the same page and have the same understanding of the expectations of each other. Not when we make assumptions of what the other person must be thinking or feeling. I must stress that this is achieved through honest, open communication. Talk with your friend. Lay your cards on the table. Soon. And remain true to yourself. Always.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: How do I deal with a toxic friend?

Dear Ciiku,

So I’ve had this friend for about 10 years. I use the term ‘friend’ very loosely here, reason being she’s very toxic. We were very close in college but drifted apart soon after. We lost track but she somehow managed to find her way back into my life. Thing is: she gossips a lot. The stuff she says about other people is so horrible and sometimes made up. And no one is safe, even her own parents & siblings have been trash talked. My way of dealing with this has been to ghost: I avoid her completely (I haven’t physically seen her in years but she always reaches out by phone). I tell her absolutely nothing about my personal life so she doesn’t have material to spread. I suspect there’s a bigger problem. Some mutual friends have told me that the issue may also be mental/psychological and the more I assess her behaviour over the years the more I think there may be some truth to it. My theory is she’s become so ostracized by friends and family cz of this behavior that she feels there’s nothing to lose by being a total bitch. So my question is this, how do I communicate that I think she needs to get therapy or some kind of help without offending her and without becoming a victim of her shenanigans? I think it’s a very sensitive conversation and I don’t know how to broach it since we’re no longer close (I’d rather not meet her to have this talk). Or should I just forget trying to help and continue to avoid her like everyone does?

Regards, Remote friend

Dear Remote friend,

I think we can both agree that she is not your friend. I don’t believe that just because you have history with someone that they deserve presence in your life as they please or even to be called friend.

Also, without a professional diagnosis, there is no need to say that this person has mental issues because they exhibit the behaviour you mention in your letter. People can be and are not good, they lie and are vile. I think assigning this to a mental issue to try and explain certain behaviour stigmatises those who genuinely suffer from mental illness. I understand that people tend to assign mental issues because they want to believe in the goodness of others. We really should not.

Let me repeat that: terrible, bad people exist. It is not your job to “fix” them. What you can do, what is truly in your control in this case and for your peace of mind, is accept that this person is not someone who exhibits behaviour you would associate with a friend and remove her from your life to the extent that if others begin to talk about her, you refuse to be part of the conversation. Completely dissociate yourself. So no, I don’t think you should have any conversation with her.

All the best,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: My friend drugged me

Dear Ciiku,

My friend drugged me and I found out later. How do I confront this?

Maddie

Dear Maddie,

I am so sorry that this happened to you, that someone broke your trust in such a manner. Not only did they do something illegal, but as someone you call friend, they broke boundaries of trust on which friendship relies on to function. This is terrifying.

Your question to me is very open ended because asking “how can you confront” can be viewed as follows:

  • How do I confront my friend about what they did? How do I find out what the motivation behind drugging you? Because a part of you must be wondering how your friend decided that drugging you is something that they could do.
  • How do I deal with this invasion? How do I move on and trust people again? Because a part of you must be wondering how someone you consider(ed) a friend could do this to you

When you hear of stories or people being drugged for example in the bar, most times people sleep it off and continue with life because it is something that happens and you don’t know who drugged you.

When you find out that it was someone you know drugged you, the circumstances are completely different because of course you must ask them why.

There is some clarification I would like from you before I give a concise response and if possible, let me know what you mean by confront in your instance and maybe give more details? I know it may be difficult for you but your question is very loaded and without details I fear I may not be of assistance. Thank you.

Wishing you peace,

Ciiku

Ask Ciiku: I feel like a dial-a-friend

Dear Ciiku

I have a friend who spends some months of the year out of the country. We talk a lot and whenever she’s having a problem I try be supportive and help her out. However, I’ve noticed that whenever she’s in the country the friendship changes. We talk less and there is little if any effort to meet from her end. Efforts from my end often end up in a cancellation. It’s not uncommon for her to be silent for days and text me when she’s out of the country again. But it is more than that. Even how we talk. The best way I can put it is that I can almost feel the dial of the friendships priority moving down and up depending on where she is. It is upsetting to be so close for so long and then suddenly feel like hi-bye friends.

I am beginning to suspect we are not truly close friends, only that I can be relied on for emotional labour when most of her other friends are not around. If she does not want to be close that is fine, but I would rather not share and be as open if our friendship is not that deep. My question is how to approach this conversation. I am realising that discussion on boundaries and defining friendships has a lot less information and guides than in relationships. I don’t know how to start this conversation without it seeming like an attack. What I really want is clarity but most of things that I can point to as changing are hard to put into words.

A friend

Dear Friend,

You deserve clarity. In fact, both of you need to be on the same page regarding this situation. And yes, a conversation must be had. It seems you have accepted that the friendship may not be as you viewed it. That’s a good place to be so that the conversation doesn’t revolve around how to make it deep but rather, how to get to the same page in your friendship.

The thing is, you can’t control how she reacts to the conversation. You can use the most pacifist approach and it may still be deemed as an attack. I think what you must focus on rather is ensuring that when the conversation is had, (and it must be had), that everything you are thinking and feeling is expressed. That, in my opinion, is the crux. Since it seems that you have better communication when she isn’t in the country then I think it’s best to have it then, in whatever medium is comfortable for you.

My opinion on this is you shouldn’t preempt the conversation by issuing a “we need to talk” notice. Just dive into it during any regular conversation you are having. And ask all the questions you believe will provide you the clarity you seek…… “how do you view this friendship? How come we never meet when you are in country? What kind of friend do you need me to be? How do you see this friendship? What defines this friendship?”

Both of you must be honest with each other to figure out where you will go in the friendship. And I wish you well.

Ciiku