Saturday, March 24, 2007

kj's Human Challenge # 1

Person A: "If I can't be spontaneous, I try to plan ahead so I can enjoy the anticipation."

Person B: I let things hang loose until they fall off".

Oops. If these are the words of two different people, which they are, they can either anticipate their differences and plan for them, or they can ignore their differences until they become a problem. Either way, one person will like the approach and the other won't. And therein lies a real or potential problem.

"Hey, how about lunch?"

"No, sorry, I can't."

"How about getting together next weekend?"

"I'm not sure."

"Ok, how about we come up with a time that will work for both of us?"

"I'm really swamped right now. I just don't know."

"Well, how about we plan a weekend trip for June?"

"That sounds good. But I'm not sure."



Lest you think one of these characters is either too pushy or the other one doesn't give a damn, or whatever else, here's a brief description of the situation:

Good people. Good intentions. Different styles.

What about your relationships? Has this ever happened to you? And if it does, or could, or used to, what the heck can be done to find a solution that works for both parties?

Note: Since I qualify on the grounds of being both a Counselor and an Imperfect Person, I've decided from time to time I'm going to write an ocassional post that looks at sticky challenges and issues like this. And since I'm blessed with such varied and intelligent blog visitors and comments, I figure it's sort of a public service to see who has what to say and why. So consider this Human Challenge # 1. .

What can be done when two good natured people have totally different styles when it comes planning (or not planning) ahead?


  1. I have faced this often. After certain period of time I just stop bothering.

    Sometimes both want to really meet but it never happens, so I say forget it.

  2. This kind of attitude has led to a lot of heartache and strain in my relationship.
    It is a shame but when it keeps happening and the partner is not responsive to your suggestions and planning you do get to the point where you stop bothering and begin to do things on your own. This is my reality.

    I think that most healthy relationships would need to have similar planning or at the least compatible styles for them to survive.
    Partners grow apart because of incompatibility of planning styles. You go East, I go West...
    Simplified but that is how I feel about the subject, KJ.

  3. I agree with the others. No need to insist. If she wants to meet you she will say it.

  4. I believe that even the most aberrant
    planners will manage to plan in something important to them. If faced with continuous negativity I'm afraid that I, like GT, C and S give up and fairly quickly. That said I'm not good at planning and have friends that I haven't seen in an age but the fault, if fault it be, lies with both of us so we remain friends with good intentions and the relationship continues and no-one feels hurt or rejected.
    As Cream says - relationships probably only work well if there is some similarity, some effort to compromise or a very clear understanding that each person's approach is not a personal observation of their feelings towards the other.
    Have I argued both sides of the fence evenly d'you think?

  5. If two persons really have the intention both to meet and/or do something together, then such a hard (laborious) conversation cannot take place too often. I think there must always be a kind of congeniality of character. And that counts for things like organizing and planning too. It is very difficult if you have to work with a total different character. Let alone that you make appointments with people like you described in your spare time. I am afraid that Cream said exactly the right thing.
    OT: I shall write something about 'the international applepie project' soon!

  6. I had a friend like that. We were together everyday until she left work then she stopped communicating. She did not answer my emails, did not return my calls, did not respond to the cards I sent her and it was not just me. She did not respond to our mutual friends who also communicated with her. Then on Christmas she sent a card stating that things change, some are nice and others not so nice. I just hope she is well and happy and perhaps she may remember me when she sees the painting I gave her. I was really concerned for her welfare. Now I am at peace with my memory. I know when I see her again, it will be just like the last time we were together. Friends are like the tides. They ebb and flow and sometimes they just die.

    KJ, sometimes things don't work out the way friends plan out their lives to be. You just have to trust your instincts and follow your heart.

  7. Off Topic: The introduction of the IAP is a fact! I just checked my post in the Babelfish-translation and I am under my bureau now :-))))

  8. I just want to say that I like the way Wieneke states her ideas:

    "If two persons really have the intention both to meet and/or do something together, then such a hard (laborious) conversation cannot take place too often. I think there must always be a kind of congeniality of character."

    I think you should keep that in mind. Maybe you are laboring to much KJ? :-) Are you? In this relationship does person No.2 ignore Person No.1? Maybe Person No.2 does not have the freedom that Person No.1 has and therefore won't be as free to see Person No.1 as much as she likes.

    Okay I have to go back to my cleaning chores now.

  9. When I ask someone if they want to do something and they respond as person #2 does, after a while I decide that they really would rather not do whatever it is I'm suggesting and I stop asking. I'm not good at coming right out and saying, "no," though I'm getting better ... so would tend to respond to an unwanted invite as person #2.

  10. I like my space. If a friend was wanting me to respond to an invitation(s) right away, I think I'd say, "Tell you what my very dear friend, I love your ideas, but give me a bit of time to think about it. I'll get back to you tomorrow." ... Or something along those lines. I often need to look at a calendar (or my diary) before I feel calm enough to accept an invitation - I have a fear of double-booking or doing too much and getting pressured and stressed and therefore spoiling what should be an enjoyable time.
    So an expected instant answer would probably put me in a bit of a panic.
    Some people need space to think. I do. I am like the first person you've described at the start of this post. I like to plan my spontaneity! I'm just weird like that.
    HOWEVER I do think it's rude not to respond to a friend's invite.
    I probably rely too much on friends being spontaneous and me being the one to respond with "Okay." (Even if the positive response of 'Okay' requires a little time! Maybe I'm a very annoying friend.)

  11. I can usually sense if a person is truly busy or is hesitant about being with me. As a person who is most comfortable with my immediate family (most social situations drain my energy) I can fully understand.

    If it really is a very busy time then I provide alternatives and if it's really not possible then I call back in a month or two. I do this usually with my few very good friends with whom I really make an effort to keep in touch because otherwise I am pretty self contained.

    If it's the other reason, then I just will stop and respect the other person's decision.

  12. I am excepting of business, but basically get my feelings hurt if someone responds over and over as friend 2 does, basically because I think like Melissa. They must be saying "no" in some way. At some point, it becomes irrelevant whether or not the person is actually interested What becomes relevant is that I have to protect myself. And so I stop asking. If the other person wants to make plans, or call my spontaneously, then I decide what to do, but I no longer reach out.

  13. what thoughtful advice. thank you all very much!

  14. If it happens because the person is just temporarily in a difficult place, I will make all kinds of allowances. But if I get the sense that they are either reluctant or just holding open their options in case soemthing better comes along, I feel differently. At some point there is agreat mismatch in how much you both are valuing your time, and that never feels good.

  15. I have a very dear friend who I have been close to for about 25 years. She's not good at making obligations & if she does make them, she rarely keeps them. I see her maybe 2-3 times a year...usually when i call her up & say 'whatchya doin' right now?' If she says nothing, then i have to bully, beg and even bribe her into venturing out. LoL, about 50% of the time, she'll come...the other 50% she doesn't budge.
    I don't beleive that she does not want to see me. It's more that she is such a creature of habit, ritual & routine that making plans creates too much anxiety & that her anxiety is much shorter lived when we just do it spontaneously.

  16. This made me feel a bit bad because I am person #2! I have had deadlines for so long that I had to forego a normal life. I decided to be an artist very young and knew that meant I would struggle financially for a very long time. I had to decline many an invite because of either lack of funds or leaving my space/project would divert my attention from my forcus. It wasn't personal, I promise you that, but the invitations stopped coming and people stopped calling. I know that it is hard for people to not feel as though I didn't care (I did!) I wanted to be like everybody else but I really don't think I could juggle the needs of friends/a social life and the expense of going out all the time. I would try to explain but it's difficult to know. I don't regret it and I made a pact with myself a long time ago that I had to make real sacrifices to create the art I really wanted to make and live the artists life. People think it's selfish and maybe their right. I thought you might like to hear this perspective. Even though I have no regrets I feel bad someimes about others feelings.

  17. Oh Thank you Val! because I am person No.2 and not because of my art but because of my responsibilities, my work and not having enough vacation days.

  18. MBTI would likely teach me that we're talking about two people with a completely different and opposite profile here. And that is not easy. They will have to try and understand each other and somehow come to a mutual agreement.
    But both will have to bend somewhat. If both find meeting worthwhile: this will happen. The planner will have to realize and accept that this cannot be planned the way he/she would like.
    The "African attitude person" will have to accept that to join the other some steps will need to be taken.
    I like MBTI.

  19. i must say how impressed and grateful i am with these helpful intelligent comments. i am obliged to substantiate the realities of time and place and circumstance that sidney and chief and ces and val and slb have presented so well. and i am equally obliged to concur with others that one can get worn down and stop asking at some point, if only to protect him/herself from disappointment.

    i like so much wieneke's "congeniality of character'. And finally,the bottom line as far as i'm concerned is aptly and beautifully spoken by pieterbie:

    They will have to try and understand each other and somehow come to a mutual agreement.
    But both will have to bend somewhat. If both find meeting worthwhile: this will happen. The planner will have to realize and accept that this cannot be planned the way he/she would like.
    The "African attitude person" will have to accept that to join the other some steps will need to be taken."

    as for friend #1 and friend #2, i expect they will work it out if for no other reason than each of their lives is so much richer with eachother in it.

    thanks again for a great discussion.

  20. This was really interesting to read, since I've been going through something like this with a very old friend.