By and large, my closest friends are all people who have struggled with some degree of people pleasing for some length of time. I tend to believe this is because like attracts like — and my struggles with people pleasing have been well documented and are well known.
But I suppose a cynical person could come up with nefarious reasons I’m surrounding by people pleasers if they were so inclined. It could be part and parcel of an evil plot by me. Mwahahaha….
Nah, seriously, I think it’s because we all grok each other. Really get one another intuitively. And I tend to be both protective of and vaguely inspirational to people who are struggling with these issues, so I think fellow recovering people pleasers enjoy having me as a friend.
Anyway, because of these friendships, I’m perpetually bombarded with self-help articles and memes. On many topics — but in particular on setting boundaries.
And there’s a lot of advice surrounding blocking. Most of it comes down to this: Stop hunting for closure. It doesn’t exist. Block people who are bad for you.
This is fantastic advice.
And I personally sorta follow it. Why only sorta? Well, because I don’t hard block people all that much. I usually only sorta block people.
Sorta block people? Huh. Okay, I’ll explain.
What About the Soft Block?
I used to be a person who responded to everyone who contacted me. Day or night. Regardless of who they were, if I even liked them, how much it inconvenienced me.
Predictably, this was a terrible way of using my time. I was miserable and beset by a lot of folks who took and took and took — and really weren’t concerned with my mental health or happiness. They were very one-sided arrangements, you see.
Nowadays, I’m much more careful about how I spend my time. I have fantastic friendships that are marked by mutual support — and I’m also better at not over-stretching myself when I’m in a bad way — and I have friends who behave similarly and support my taking care of myself (even if that means not getting an instant response).
I also don’t respond to messages unless I want to (for whatever reason). Frankly, I get so many due to the nature of my work that I literally do not have time to — especially not to write back to everything and also get writing done and have any semblance of a social life.
But do I block people with the block button? Almost never. I basically only do it if someone is actively harassing me.
Frankly, I tend to soft block things — by simply not responding. I ignore an awful lot of things. Some of it is due to capacity, some of it is due to desire.
That said, I have blocked people — again due to harassment and also in situations when I’m concerned about personal safety (someone having access to my location or goings on).
But for the most part, I find that it’s unnecessary to hard block people in order to gain space.
And I find it curious that people haven’t talked about it more.
(Note: No, I’m not talking about ghosting people. Especially in one’s personal life where there’s a preexisting relationship, there’s always an element of telling people that you need or want space or don’t want to talk in polite terms, akin to excusing yourself from a room when you feel ill or need a break. It’s just the incessant back and forth after that point that some people try to promote that tends to be optional.)