There are two different types of people in the world: Those who think it is up to them to keep up contact with someone, and those who think it’s up to the other person.
I was driving home from work yesterday, when I thought I saw someone I knew across the street from me. I rolled down my window and prepared to shout her name, only to get that all important second look that told me this person was not who I thought they were. In those few seconds between seeing her and realizing I didn’t know her, I played out how the conversation would have gone. I would have started by saying ‘hi’ and something like ‘it’s been forever since I’ve seen you…’ She would have responded by pointing out that we are both just so busy, and we would say we have to keep in touch, and not let months go past without talking. As we parted company we would both have had the same thought in our heads: the phone works both ways you know.
There are some people who are just comfortable being the one who always makes the phone call, or sends the email to keep up contact. They’ll realize it has been a few months since they talked to a person, and with out being angry at that person for falling out of touch, the will make the call. It’s not that they are the better friend or even that they have more free time or less on their plate. It’s just that they have the self discipline to realize that time got away from them, and to step up and rectify it.
The other type of person will realize it has been a while since they have talked to a person and get angry that their friend has forgotten about them. It’s not that they are a bad friend, but they are probably a bit less self confidant and take this lack of contact as an affront. They have probably been abandoned by a friend in the past, or at least set aside temporarily when that friend started a new job or a new relationship. These feeling build up and the person begins to get jaded in their friendships. So when months go by with no calls, they say ‘screw them if they don’t have time for me.’
This is when the idea of the phone working both ways comes up. It’s a way of making yourself feel better about your own lack of contact while indicting them for theirs. We have this way of getting all up in arms about the things people do that we don’t like, while having all the excesses for our short comings. Don’t believe me? See Mark Foley and Rush Limbaugh who rail against behavior they don’t like but have all sorts of people sticking up for them when they fuck up.
Of course the best scenario is the one where you get about as many calls as you make, and never really have to think about who is carrying the water in your friendship. If you can have a few of these in your life I say: that’s good work out of you, and your friends too.