Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Weeding Out People Who Don’t Earn Your Trust

I don’t take friendship lightly. I know lots of people, but choose to have few real friends. That’s because my high values for a true friend limit who I completely trust. Most people don’t qualify and that’s okay, because the friends I have are real, loyal ones who care about me, and accept me as is. They’ve proven themselves over time and know they’d get almost anything they need from me, having earned my trust. One quality that should never be left off your list of “must haves” in a friend is trust. Without it, there’s no base for friendship.

When I was a Doormat I gave my trust away to anyone who’d be my friend since I believed I needed to have lots of them. I got let down and even burned regularly, since I trusted people who didn’t earn it. The more I loved myself, the more understood that it’s not good to give anyone your trust before they’ve earned it over time, with actions, not just words. Trust takes time to build. Earning it means the person follows through on what they say and keeps their word. You should be able to tell a friend a secret and know it’s safe and they won’t tell anyone if you ask them not to.

There are many people who actually mean what they say at the time they say it, but later on just can’t follow through for whatever reasons.  I’ve heard too many complaints from women about a man they were involved with who seemed so sincere when talking about seeing them again, etc., but never called.  I’ve talked to many men about this who invariably agree that often when they say something to a woman, they mean it at that moment.  But, absence doesn’t always make the heart fonder and often when they’re not with the object of their desire, feelings and memories fade fast and they lose interest a lot faster than they found it. The woman is left thinking, “I trusted him. Why didn’t he keep his word?”

People mean well most of the time (I’d still like to think so), but get distracted by various things in their lives.  Since they usually put themselves first, promises to you may get lost in the clutter of the other things going on for them. I had a friend named Jo for five years, the last of which she fell into a pattern of never following through on anything she said. Jo and I had been good friends before her words became inconsistent with her actions. I gave her leeway for the broken heart she was dealing with. I allowed for knowing that she really did have a rotten memory. But the fact still was, she never kept her word to me.

Whenever Jo and I spoke, she’d promise to call again at a certain time, but never did.  When I asked her to stop being specific since I just got aggravated when she didn’t follow through, she’d get angry, swearing “this time I’ll do as I say.”  But “this time” never came. I truly believe Jo was sincere at the time, and basically a good person who wanted to mean well.  But that didn’t make me feel better when I was let down. When Jo and I did get together it was always lots of fun, but always the last minute.  She’d ply me with excuses, begging me to believe my friendship meant a lot to her, despite her previous actions.  I’d always leave Jo feeling positive and then WHAM!  She’d zap me again when my guard was down.

Jo was too wrapped up in herself and her immediate problems to put energy into turning her words into actions.  Her justification was she meant well, which lifted her burden of guilt. I finally cut off Jo’s friendship. I felt sad but she couldn’t prove I was important enough to make the effort to keep her word. For a while I had to remind myself for that last year I couldn’t trust anything she said. Now I’m resigned to the fact Jo wasn’t capable of acting upon her good intentions. I accepted how she was but also accepted that wasn’t the kind of friend I wanted.

People like Jo will go on talking off the tops of their heads, meaning everything at the time, but forgetting their words not long after they’re spoken. They’re not bad people but they don’t prove themselves as friends. If that doesn’t bother you, fine, tolerate them. But don’t put any trust into what they say. If it does bother you, love yourself enough to set boundaries or let go of the friendship. Jo aggravated me too much to stick around. Sometimes you can limit time spent with the person and just not take anything they say seriously. But if it makes you feel bad, consider letting go of this person who doesn’t give you good friendship. I love myself enough to only trust people as friends who act like one. You should too!
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