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I was just kidding.

5 Apr

I had a friend some years ago that I enjoyed doing things with.  She was interesting and fun, and we had a lot of laughs. I enjoyed being with her but only until someone else joined us.  Whenever someone else was with us, she would criticize me continually, make fun of me, and generally make me look like a fool.  I would ask her about this afterward and she always said the same thing, “I was just kidding.”  Hmm.

Tonight on the phone I was talking to a friend who was very stressed out about a party she was planning, and made a comment about another friend we have.  I know this person quite well and he is notorious for making bad decisions.  I said something about being careful trusting his decisions because we’ve seen where they can go.  She laughed and said, “Well that’s just because you always think the worst of everyone.”  I told her that wasn’t a very nice thing to say to me and it certainly wasn’t true.  “Oh I was just kidding,” she said.  Hmm again.

There are a lot of people who make cutting remarks, criticize, and say uncomplimentary things, and then excuse their behavior by saying they were just kidding.  It really isn’t funny to do these things, and it’s not an appropriate way to kid around with people we are supposed to care about and like.  I’ve been thinking about this behavior and wondering what fuels it.  Is it because the other person is stressed out, like my friend tonight?  Is it because the other person doesn’t like something about us but isn’t brave enough to say so?  Is it because there is a jealousy issue?  I really don’t know what the reasons are but I have known a few people over the course of my life who have adopted this “just kidding” mantra when they hurt other people’s feelings.

My friend from years ago – I eventually ended my association with her because I didn’t like the way she treated me when others were around.  I got tired of her “kidding.”  So, because she couldn’t stop, she lost a friend to spend time with.  Is it worth the cost of a friendship to say hurtful things in passing, covering it up with that phrase?  Is it worth losing a friend?  I don’t think so.

Life can be complicated and difficult.  It can be stressful and we all make mistakes.  We trust our friends to be there when the going gets rough, and we rely on them to have our backs.  As friends, we should do those things as well.  It seems it would be best not to fall into the “just kidding” trap.  We should be respectful, supportive, and truthful.  Our friends depend on us the same way we depend on them.  We should be the ones that set the standard.  We should be the best friends we can be.  Friendship is a great gift.  It’s not something to be squandered and toyed with.  It’s a gift.  We should treasure it. And that’s no kidding.

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