Editor’s Note: Welcome to Red Thread’s new advice columnist, Debra Darvick, a longtime Detroiter with…
Dear Debra: Mixed Signals
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I am having communication problems with a friend. She insists on texting for all of our communication, and I prefer phone calls. I find it bothersome to text long messages and plans for getting together. I have asked her time and again to please call or even email, but she refuses. Recently, when we made plans, she canceled at the last moment. Last week, I waited for 30 minutes at the restaurant we’d agreed to meet at and then a text arrived telling me she couldn’t meet me. I can’t think of what I did wrong to be treated like this.
— Don’t Text Me
It sounds like this issue goes way deeper than a friend who only wants to text. From what you write, your friend is using your preference for phone calls and emails as a way to disengage from you. She doesn’t call. She doesn’t write. She cancels on you time and again. These are not the actions of a good friend.
It hurts, and hurts deeply, when a friend drops us. The more adult way to honor a fading friendship is to talk about it and go one’s own way kindly and respectfully. From everything you write, this is not going to happen. Try with everything you have to move on. Do not initiate plans with her. Do not call or email or try to find out “what you did wrong.”
Chances are you did nothing wrong. People grow and change and so do their needs for certain friendships. And even if you did manage to slight her in some way, her passive aggressive rejection of you — and not letting you set things right — is a no-win situation.
As for your initial frustration with texting, it’s here to stay whether we like it or not. Continue to use all methods at hand — phone, email, text — to make plans and keep in touch with your other friends. They are all tools for setting up the communication you prefer — in person and face-to-face.
Last Passover, my husband and I had nowhere to go for seder. We are a young couple with no children yet and do not belong to a synagogue or temple. We called a synagogue at the last minute, but there was already a waiting list for their community seder. One of my friends heard we had nowhere to go and invited us to join her and her husband and her parents who were in from out of town. It was wonderful and made me realize how much we are missing by not being involved in the Jewish community. My husband refuses to join a synagogue because he says it’s too expensive to join when we only go for the High Holidays. But I don’t want to spend another Passover scrambling for an invitation.
— Missing More Than Matzah
As you are beginning to sense, belonging to a synagogue brings more benefit than tickets to High Holiday services. Joining a synagogue opens the door to making lifelong friends, expanding your Jewish knowledge base and getting involved in tikkun olam (social action) endeavors.
By attending services more than twice a year, you open yourselves to experiencing an entire cycle of Jewish ritual and celebration (including Passover seders!) that you’ve been missing. When you amortize all of the above, your husband just might view joining a synagogue somewhat differently. So often, one member of a couple feels the need to belong more than the other. If this is your situation, don’t let your husband’s disinterest hold you back from answering your neshamah’s (soul/spirt) call.
You didn’t mention if you attend High Holiday services now, but you’re just in time with Rosh Hashanah coming “late” this year. Most, if not all, synagogues have membership levels tailored to young singles and couples.
Some offer a voluntary system whereby you contribute what you can. I am pretty confident no one will be turned away for financial reasons. Some folks think the “whole money thing and dues” is a real turn off and synagogues should be there whenever we want and need them. Maybe in HaOlam HaBa (the world to come.) In this world, there are the realities of maintaining facilities, salaries, and sponsoring programs and religious education. Connect now and by next Passover you, and hopefully your husband, will know just how priceless membership can be.
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