Category Archives: Friendships

With Gratitude for You, My Listeners

A new year is often a time of reflection and looking back as well as planning for the coming year. Since I’m making a major change by moving to SiriusXM satellite radio, I wanted to look back on my 30+ years of being on the air, and especially to thank you for all you’ve given me during that time:

With Gratitude for You, My Listeners

Or watch other videos at youtube.com/DrLaura.

Read the transcript.

Girlfriends Compete Over Wedding Days

I had a caller on the air recently who flabbergasted me, and that doesn’t happen often.  After being on the air more than 30 years, I’ve heard lots and lots that has touched me or stunned me.  This one was a “stunner.”

The young woman caller told me that she has a friend she’s had since childhood.  They’ve gone through school together and they’ve been very competitive over the years.  Hmmm.

Well, my caller told me she was engaged and planning a wedding, and her friend is also engaged and planning a wedding….and the friend’s wedding is happening sooner than hers.

“SHE STOLE MY THUNDER,” my caller said.

What?  The triviality with which this young woman saw “friendship” and “marital vows” was astounding.  I gasped and said that her friend’s wedding – nor any other event in the world – could steal any thunder, as it was not about thunder.  It was about lifelong vows in front of God, family and community to love, honor, and cherish ’til death do you part.

She hung up on me.

I don’t blame her.  I was hoping she was ferociously ashamed of using a man who loved her with vows of love, loyalty and fidelity as a “win” over a girlfriend.  Yeesh!

My heart goes out to this guy, who will probably have to get her pregnant before her friend and get the new car and house before her friend does.  He won’t be measured by his character and warmth — he’ll be measured by how much and how fast he gets her to trump her “friend.”

I was praying he or someone from his family heard this call and warned him off this marriage. 

If you know him….please give him my condolences.

How To Be Happy

People seem very confused about happiness.  Most folks believe that having all they want is the way to be happy.  I don’t think so.

When I was on the radio evenings in Los Angeles over two decades ago, I reached a “24 share.”  That meant one out of four people listening to Los Angeles radio was tuned into me.  I got a substantial bonus.  We took that money and paid off all financial obligations and had some left over.

I had always wanted a tennis bracelet – that’s a bracelet made of tiny or huge diamonds.  I had enough money for a bracelet with tiny diamonds, but a tennis bracelet nonetheless.  My husband told me to treat myself, and I did.  I felt a swell of joy every time I looked at that bracelet.

I did not feel joy because I had a diamond bracelet on my wrist.  I thought that would be the case, but it wasn’t.  I felt joy because I had “busted my buns,” worked very hard, and built something special.  So, the happiness in looking at the bracelet was not because of the metal and carbon; it was because it symbolized the hard work doing what I loved to do.

It is the experiencing and working that brings happiness.

Years later, I became more successful, and “upgraded” the tennis bracelet.  I liked the new bauble, but it never brought me anywhere near the thrill of that first one.
 
What comes easily does not have the emotional significance of hard work, sacrifice, and risk.

Once, when my son was small, and we were visiting Las Vegas, he wanted to put money in those machines at each dining room table and place a bet in the hopes of winning lots of money.  I wouldn’t let him do it.  I told him that money wouldn’t mean as much as money hard earned.  He (at seven years of age) didn’t quite “get” that.  It seemed to him as a child that “found”  booty is booty nonetheless.  He’s now finishing up his military service and has learned up front and personal about hard work, sacrifice and risk, and he’s enjoyed every moment he’s earned.

So, don’t wish for “clearinghouse” checks or for winning the lottery.  Wish for the opportunity to do something meaningful, something you love, something with hard work, sacrifice and risk.  Believe me, you’ll be happier.

When Someone Disappoints You

People have, do, and will disappoint you.

Simple fact of life.

Ask yourself two questions:  did they intend to do damage, and what are you going to do with the disappointment?

Let’s look at the first question.  People are deeply involved in their own lives.  That doesn’t mean they don’t care about you or others, but they are first motivated to deal with their own situations and personal emotions.  The more mature, considerate, and less self-centered will also shift gears back and forth to consider the consequences of their actions or inactions.

Personality styles, however, are consistent.  Those who shun confrontation because they don’t want shrapnel of any kind aimed at them will probably never stand up for you, watch your back, defend you or come to your aid during that particular moment of need.  That’s who they are.  They might gossip to you later about it, tell you “tsk, tsk, tsk” this happened to you, or just ignore it completely like it never happened.

These people will disappoint you often only if you maintain the irrational hope that they will change some day and be there for you in a big way.  As I’ve said many times, most hope is simply postponed disappointment.

So your disappointments mostly do not come from ill intent.  They generally come from individuals whose number you now have, and this is when we get to the second question:  what do you do with your disappointment?

Personally, I have told several people over the years I was disappointed I couldn’t count on them to stand up for me when I thought it counted.  Some of these folks loved me dearly but just didn’t have it in them to become a target or focus of that kind of attention.  Some people simply are weak and frightened, although they’re basically decent.  I put these people in a more distant circle of love and affection, but they are still there at all, because I know they care.  They’re just supremely limited.  Others who have disappointed me have been relegated to the back of my mind, and I am just polite to them.  Still others – well, they become invisible, especially if I have put myself out for them when it mattered for and to them.

The people willing to put themselves in the line of fire for your friendship or your principles are the people to embrace the closest in spite of any other quirks that might annoy you at times.  People who will watch your back and/or stand in front to shield you are special people.

Special people should not be taken lightly.  They should be cherished and rewarded with your affection and respect.  It is not typical in the animal kingdom for critters necessarily to put themselves in harm’s way to protect another.  It takes a special form of human being with moral choice to do that.  Those are our everyday heroes.

Ya Gotta Have Friends

I’ve been giving something a lot of thought lately, and have decided to share it with you – to influence you (if you’re not already) to open up to friendships.

Deborah Tannen, the linguist, recently wrote a piece published in The New York Times which discussed some research which indicated that people with sisters are happier than those without them.  Her point of view was it isn’t women who talk better than men, it’s that they talk more often – even if it’s not about problems.  The very act of just communing is beneficial to both.

She pointed out that men – even men with problems – might talk to each other and end up feeling better, even when they didn’t spend ten seconds talking about “the problem.”  Why?  I believe it’s because talking is a connection, an act of interest and caring, and a remedy for isolation, loneliness, and despair.

My mother was from a small town in northern Italy and grew up during the Fascist/Mussolini era.  Her parents owned a restaurant and worked all the time.  She did have a sister, my aunt Lucia, who was gunned down by a Nazi firing squad at the age of 20 the very first day she joined the underground movement but, other than that, she learned (sadly) to be contained in herself.  That never changed.  As I grew up, I never ever saw her have even one friend and she instilled in me a real sense of self-protection.  She always told me I trusted too quickly, got disillusioned/betrayed/hurt and then suffered immensely.  She was right.  But so what?  Being “hurt” is not the worst thing in the world.  Being disconnected is.

I don’t readily tend to talk about my personal/emotional conditions.  That’s now what I do when I get together with friends.  I just share life with them.  I have a few lovely lady friends right now – a deep quality of friendship – which is so deeply satisfying.  I remember my surprise when one of them hadn’t seen me for almost a week and said, “You know, I miss you.”  I just about fell down.  Why was I so touched?  Because for the most part, folks are into their own lives and don’t necessarily pay much attention to subtle niceties like that with friends.  At that moment, she was cemented into my heart.  What a generous, sweet thing to say.  I have another friend who texts me now and then just to tell me to have a great day, and another one who gives me professional massages twice a month simply because she wants me to relax.

My mother missed out on a lot.  I’m glad I didn’t listen to her warnings about trust and people.  Yes, some have been untrustworthy and unkind, and others have outright betrayed me.  But if your heart stays closed to avoid that hurt, then you won’t hear from a friend those words:  “Miss you…love ya.”  I’d rather suffer some frustrations in return for not missing out on hearing that.  I hope you are also so willing.

No Excuse for Chronic Lateness

There are lots of ways to show others disrespect.  One very typical example of disrespectful behavior is being chronically late.  Oh, people have lots of excuses:  the dog, the computer, the kid, the traffic, the moon spots, and, of course “stuff happens.”

I’m not talking about an isolated event.  I’m talking about a pattern of behavior.  Being chronically late not only messes up plans, it hurts feelings.  I believe more often than not, chronic lateness is passive-aggressive behavior.  That means the individual who is always late is saying (in code):  “I am more important than you; you can’t tell me what to do; you are not in control of me; I will do what I wish to do,” and more.  Instead of saying all this directly, however, the behavior says it while the conversation is one of “Oh, I’m sorry.  I tried to make it on time.”  The meaning behind the behavior is the “aggression,” and the attempt to make it seem accidental is the “passive” part.

It is also true many folks just pile too much into a day to properly handle all their responsibilities; such anxiety-directed personalities find themselves always up to their eyeballs in too many self-selected obligations, responsibilities, busy work, promises, desires, and on and on and on.

And now, people can email and text and call from a little hand phone.  They very likely feel less and less upset about being late and making others wait because  (they rationalize) “At least I’m letting them know of my progress.”  None of that, however, changes the frustration, disappointment and hurt in the hearts and minds of those left waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

Relationships have been lost over this misbehavior, and rightfully so.  Friendships are supposed to be reciprocal in interest, thoughtfulness, compassion and respect.  When they are consistently lopsided, it is no longer a healthy friendship.

I had a friend who was chronically late.  Nonetheless, we planned to go to an event together.  I warned her most clearly:  “If you are not here at the stroke of 7 or before, turn your car around.  I’ll be gone, probably permanently.”  This friend was there about 30 seconds before 7.
 
Rules and expectations and consequences have to be considered.  It’s one thing to be disrespected by someone; it is quite another to constantly permit it to happen.  This just gives the chronic “latester” more permission to repeat the behavior.  Remember, I’m not talking about unavoidable circumstances.  I am  talking about patterns of behavior.