Are You a Compassionate Friend/Partner?

Do you sometimes wonder why people act the way they do toward you? Do you question if they sincerely care about you? Have friends expressed they question your feelings toward them? I did a YouTube video on this very topic, under the same title, which can be found here.

Friends are those people in your life you may initially think of during your brightest or darkest moments. You feel they genuinely care about you, your situation, and will uplift you to the best of their ability. You imagine they’ll check up on you to let you know they’re still there for you. They won’t simply say, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Take care of yourself. Hang in there.” And, you don’t hear from them again for weeks. Some people aren’t capable of meeting certain needs you have, whether temporary or permanent. It’s not anything against them as a person, simply understand what they are and aren’t able to give you.

I do use the term “friend” very strongly. It goes further, for me, than simply being cordial with a “hello” and “goodbye.” It means also being compassionate toward people and vice versa. My thinking on whether I am, or others are, compassionate began with my mother going into a nursing home diagnosed with Dementia. I started looking at my friendships and analyzing if actions were reciprocated.

If I felt my emotional needs weren’t being met, or time I was putting in wasn’t being shared, I’d talk to that person about my feelings. If a change occurred, great. If not, I was okay as the friendship dwindled away. My emotional distancing wasn’t felt by the other person until, sometimes, months later when they’d check on me with the words, “Hey, Stranger.” Often followed by them saying they hadn’t heard from me in a while. The truth of the matter was that I hadn’t heard from them either. They were so used to me reaching out they didn’t think or realize, even after my sharing my feelings about our friendship and what I desired, that they should put in effort to help maintain our connection.

Friendships and relationships should be reciprocal. The question, “Are you a compassionate friend?” has been on my mind for a while. For instance, when I told people my mother tested positive for COVID, they showed compassion and then I didn’t hear anything else from them. So, I wondered how deep their concern was for me and my situation. Other friends checked on me often, asked about how my mother was, questioned how I was coping, etc. Be mindful that this type of friend I’m talking about isn’t a fair-weather friend. This person is with you regardless of what’s going on in your life. They’re not only around for the bad times, they’re also there during good times. There are some people who will profusely show you care and concern when you’re having a rough time, and they disappear once the excitement or drama has worn off. This type of person feeds of off negative energy and situations. A genuine friend is there with you simply because they want to be. Beware of people who are bored with you when things are going well and are excited to support you when things are messy or traumatic.

I’m at the point where I desire, and work on, my friendships and relationships being deeper than a surface level conversation. Meaning, if I share something traumatic with a person and they don’t remember a few weeks later, I question if they really understood the depth of how that situation affected me. I wonder if they really listened to my words and my expressions of sadness, feeling overwhelmed, unsure of the outcome of a situation, etc. It’s become important for me to have people in my life who provide balance. We may give out repeatedly to someone, and when they don’t replenish us, it eventually leaves us feeling empty while still attempting to give them more. Such behavior, on our part, ends up having a negative impact on our mental health. Mental stability is underrated and it’s something I’m attempting to bring awareness to with the more recent articles and videos I’ve been doing.

People may lack compassion, beneath the surface level, for various reasons. They could be wrapped up in coping with their own struggles and emotional battles and don’t have enough mental energy to extend compassion to you once that phone call or in-person conversation ends. Their mind dismisses your trauma to allow them to deal with or avoid their own, or to mask their own feelings with positive thoughts and activities. I do believe people are sincere in the initial moment. I think their own personal feelings overshadow yours once you’re away from them.

I believe they lack compassion whether it was a learned behavior from when they were hurt in the past, they don’t realize you may still have lingering feelings after a situation appears to have been resolved, they’re self-centered, or they lack healthy social skills. Where’s the substance in someone expressing care and concern when you share an unfortunate situation and they don’t follow-up with you afterward whether it be a few days, a couple weeks, or even a month? I question what type of friend they are when they know you’re going through something and they seemingly dismiss it.

A person who lacks compassion isn’t necessarily a bad person. It may simply be who they are. It’s important to acknowledge what a person is and isn’t capable of giving you. Once you know a person’s mind and heart, you can make an informed decision on where this person’s place is in your life or if you’d rather them not be a part of your circle of friends.

My suggestion is to surround yourself with people who support you as much as you support them, put energy and time into people who do the same for you. Be okay with letting people fade out of your life if they’re having a negative impact on your mental health.

The bottom line is to be conscious of what you offer others and what they offer you, what you’re comfortable with, and sustaining your mental stability. It’s important to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Practice self-love and self-care and work on securing quality friendships and relationships.

Questions for you:

  1. Are you a compassionate person?
  2. Do you follow-up when you know something bad, or good, has happened to someone?
  3. Do you notice these traits in yourself or others in your circle?
  4. If you notice some friends seem to lack compassion, are you okay with that?
    1. Is it easy to remain friends with them?
    1. Do you begin to feel emotionally disconnected from them because you don’t see a reason to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with them?
  5. If you’ve realized you may seem to lack compassion, what are some things you commit to doing to change?

Comments are always welcome. I look forward to reading your thoughts on this article and the answers to the questions.

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Thank you.

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I journeyed from GED to a PhD in Psychology. I decided to focus on my writing once I retired from the clinical field. I write in various genres and have several WIPs for publication once edited. I post articles on this website for intellectual and entertainment purposes.

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