“I normally never do this, but could I ask you for your number?”, he said. I was very charmed, until I heard from two friends he’s been asking them for their number too. I usually don’t swear, but fuck him. I don’t like sending angry messages either, but I texted him that he’s a pile of donkey shit that should take his rotten poophole to a farm for other ugly people to harvest from. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I’m a lot better than my friends, than most girls really. I sometimes agree to go on dates, but I actually want to be single. I seem to entertain many guys on Tinder, but I’m actually very afraid of commitment. I did just came out of a long-term relationship, but I think it was my fear of commitment that broke us up. There was a lot of drama involved, but I don’t like drama at all. Half of my family refuses to speak to me, but I’m actually very good with people. I appear to be lonely, but I’m very happy by myself: exercising, studying, meditating, you know. I’m sorry, I seem to speak a lot about myself today, I normally never do that. … But then why do you? But then why don’t you change it? But what is it then, goddamnit! 

All examples just presented to you were experienced by me. Not by me personally, but told to me. I’ve listened to them all. Countless contradictions and endless ‘but-stories’ from my friends, seeking for advice or empathy. But my advice is never listened to and I’m running out of empathy. I can’t take it anymore. Don’t be sorry if you’re not sorry, don’t pretend you did when you didn’t, and stop making excuses people pléase! I want to be nice, but I don’t want to hear another but! Shit, I just did it myself: I said the b-word. To rephrase: although I want to do good to my friends, I struggle to endure any more of their invalid claims and unjustified complaints. From now on: no – more – buts. 

Some of my friends might not be aware that they constantly contradict themselves, but I think most of them are. They try to convince me of their nonsense so they will start believing it themselves. I would probably be a better friend if I call out their bullshit, but I simply lost the interest. Nodding in silence is a lot easier than arguing. Some friends might also think that their life story, or interpretation of it, will lift their reputation. For me personally, it seems to have the opposite effect. The more stories they tell me, the more wary I get. Why would they repeatedly rave that their career worked out perfectly and mention how busy it keeps them, or that they feel tremendously fit lately because they’ve been exercising so much, or that they’re still in love with their spouse and marriage turned out to be everything they hoped for? Their house is perfect, their child is perfect, even their dog is perfect. It’s all a bit suspicious don’t you think? On sporadic late Friday nights, after having consumed too many drinks, I’ve occasionally asked my friends how they’re really doing. They downed a tequila and hanged their heads. “Everything is great, but…” “I meant what I said, but...” 

Once the drunk truth comes out, my friends can no longer carry on pretending. They change into a different person, and to my opinion, a better version of themselves. They are still appreciative of what they have and continue to brag about their achievements, but in a more modest way. They dare to admit that although things are pretty good, they aren’t always great, and that although people aren’t always nice to them, they aren’t perfect themselves either. They suddenly acknowledge that they’ve dated compulsively because they feared being alone, that they’ve dumped caring partners because they were seeking for attention, or that they’ve acted arrogantly because they felt insecure. Feeling completely at ease now, I can finally start talking about my own character flaws as well. When I swear too much we all laugh, because my friends confess to having the same bad habit. I like my new born honest friends. 

But people can easily relapse, so I must keep my friends on a tight leash. ‘Karin, I sympathize with your hurt caused by a shitty bastard, but did you now finally tell him it’s over?’ ‘Yes but, he keeps calling me’. ‘Then I presume you made clear that you never want to see him again?’ ‘No but, I will soon.’ ‘Robert, I appreciate your distress towards letting your family down, but did you call your mother at last?’ ‘Yes but, she didn’t pick up.’ ‘Well have you tried again?’ ‘No but, I will soon.’ ‘Carly, I recognize your desire to go shopping when you’re in destress, but did you pay off your overdraft already?’ ‘Yes but, I started using my dad’s credit card.’ ‘Did you tell your father about this?’ ‘No but, I will soon.’ ‘Thomas, I understand your frustration that girls never want to stay over, but did you start cleaning up your pigsty bachelor flat?’ ‘Yes but, only once.’ ‘Did you get rid of the stinky laundry and mouldy dishes that one time?’ ‘No but, I will soon.’ 

Although I appreciate my friends’ honesty, I refuse to accept their buts. I will kindly tell them that we shall continue our relationship once full responsibility has been taken for their flaws and appropriate actions have followed. Even in that case, I will only proceed conversing when my friends avoid the b-word by all means or to the best of their ability. I don’t want to hear another ‘I know I messed up, but I worked it out.’ Instead I would like to hear ‘I was faced with a difficult situation due to my own wrongdoing, after which I appropriately adjusted my behaviour and solved the issue in a diplomatic way.’ The moment I hear the same complaint twice, without any sign of interactive changes or intermediate actions, I will freeze the friendship until the person in question has come to his or her senses. Only when my friends put all the blame on themselves, may I return to being a listening ear or shoulder to cry on. I will happily drink with them, joyfully laugh with them, and humbly allow them to talk more than they probably should.