I don't need constant attention. I don't need to be the center of attention. Heck, there are numerous situations in which I'd rather not be the center of attention, in a group of people just to mention one. I like to think that I have a healthy dose of self-centeredness, meaning that I can put myself before others to protect myself. I have no problem listening to someone talk or tell a story. But if I'm having a conversation with you and just with you, I want it to be a dialogue. Not a monologue, a dialogue. If you tell me a story that takes time or update me on what's going on in your life or need to vent, by all means, I will listen. But a conversation can't just be about you.
If you give me the impression that you want to spend time with me and then don't ask me one single question about myself, I will get the impression you just want to spend time with me so you can listen to yourself talk. If I need to be the one who starts to talk about myself, I will feel like you don't care. I was brought up to think that it is disrespectful to just talk about yourself. If you ask me a question, let's take 'How did you come out?' as a completely random example, I will tell you about myself, but I will also be interested in your experience and will ultimately ask you the question back, because it is the polite thing to do AND because I want to know.
If you want to talk about yourself and solely yourself, buy a diary or start a blog. Because if you don't show interest in me, I will ultimately start to retreat. I can only take indifference for so long. The problem is that I can't make you care. If you don't care, you don't. If I tell you to care, you will only do so because I told you to. So please, don't waste my time. Either you care and you show it, or you will lose a friend. It will take time and you will one day wonder, 'what happened to her?', but you won't know because there is nothing I can do about your indifference.
Then there is this other thing: When I'm hurting, I will expect you to ask why. If I don't want to talk about it, I will tell you. But when I'm hurting, I want it to be about me. I want it to be about my feelings. I don't want to hear about you in that moment because *I* am hurting. I think I was probably around 13, maybe even younger, when we learned something very valuable in school. When a friend is in a difficult situation and is hurting, you shouldn't make it about yourself. I think that the example that was used was that the person had a fight with its sibling and wanted to talk about it. We played through two different scenarios: One in which we started talking about our own siblings and how we always fight. The other in which we ask about our friend's feelings and how the fight could be resolved or something like that. I don't remember the subject or which teacher we talked about this with, but I will forever remember the lesson. There are problems that can be solved by bringing your own experiences into the equation. But sometimes, it is better to just focus on the other person and by talking to them about their feelings, helping them. It will make the other person feel better when you inquire about their feelings, because they will see that you care and that you want to help, even if you can't offer a solution.
Now the question I have to ask myself is: What do I do when my friends don't care? As I said, I can't make them care. Do I cut off all contact? Do I slowly retreat? I've stopped investing a lot, because I can't invest when nothing is invested in me. And I'm not talking about mere acquaintances here. I'm talking about friends who've known me for over a year and who once seemed more interested in me. Maybe my memory serves me wrong and they never were. But lately I've been really noticing the lack of interest and it hurts me, because they send me mixed signals. On the one hand, they want to spend time with me. But when we actually meet, it's all about them. And right now, it's not as if there wasn't anything going on in my life. It's not like I don't have anything new to tell them about. But I'm not the person to force myself onto others. If they don't show interest, I will assume that they aren't interested and therefore won't 'bore' them with my life. I had a conversation in which I told one of them about something very new in my life and her reaction was 'You never tell me about stuff like that'. I was actually pissed at her for saying that, because, as I replied, 'Well, this is the first time that I've made this experience and this happened a day ago, so I would say that I am telling you about it.' She should have known me well enough to know that this was new.
Le sigh. Once again, I'm asking myself: What will I do?