I have been thinking about some of my friendships lately and how many of them have changed in the last 6 months to the last 10 years. I recently reconnected with a few friends that I haven’t seen or heard from for probably 10 years or more. Wow. That makes me sound really old.
It seems so strange that some friendships can go years without connecting, but once you do connect again it is as if no time has passed at all. Some friendships come so easily and naturally that you don’t really even feel like you have to do anything to maintain it. You just pick up right where you left off and no one’s mad for not staying in contact, in fact, catching up after not seeing or hearing from one another is sometimes the best part. It’s exciting to see the changes, but not always. Sometimes it’s sad, because people change, and that’s not always a good thing. The person you thought you knew is nothing like the person that sits in front of you now. You find yourself not really even connecting to that person anymore, and so you move on.
I guess friendships are just like relationships in the sense that you put yourself out there, if you really are a true friend, and sometimes you get hurt. These are the friendships that can be really great, but sometimes they are the ones that hurt the most. It’s hard to put yourself out there because you know you risk feeling let down and used. On the other hand, it is amazing to have someone that really knows you, including your weaknesses and faults, but loves you and is your biggest fan despite those imperfections. These kinds of friendships are rare, and if you ever find someone that you can really trust, one that won’t hurt you or let you down, then hold onto it.
Then, there are those friendships that start out well, but usually end because one or both people involved don’t work to keep the relationship going. Just like a marriage, friendships take work. Now I will be the first to admit that some friendships require a lot more effort than others. The thing is, the friendship has to be worth it for you to work at it, otherwise what’s the point. If you aren’t getting anything out of the friendship then why bother, right? Other times the friendship might feel like a one-sided relationship. I have been in so many friendships where I felt like I was always the one calling or initiating contact. These types of friendships don’t usually last, because eventually I start putting in as much effort as the other person, which is not much, and so it dies and we just go our separate ways. I just don’t have the energy to keep working at a relationship when the other person just doesn’t seem to care. Maybe they think they care, but their actions definitely don’t show it. I’m not some stalker that is going to try to make someone be friends with me, but at the same time I’m not going to play the role of “the one that keeps the friendship going” while the other person just sits and eats potato chips in front of the TV on the couch. I’m not interested in one-way friendships, I want the relationship to be a mutual one where both people are involved.
If there is one thing I hate, it’s fake friendships. I would much rather be an acquaintance with someone than to be superficial friends. These “wanna be” friendships are the ones that only talk to you when they need something. They don’t really care about you or have any real interest in what’s happening in your life, though they may pretend to at times. They want something. These are the selfish people that hang around just long enough to get whatever it is they want from you and, they are only using you, and when they are done you never hear from them again. You can usually sense these people coming, and if your smart, you act polite and steer clear. Being used and discarded is infuriating.
At different points in my life I’ve had a BEST friend. This term is so overused today, in fact, it rarely means anything special at all because people will say that everyone is their “BFF”. To me it is very superficial and it reminds me of elementary school immaturity of fighting over who was so and so’s BEST friend. Anyway, I digress. To me, a best friend is that one (or more, you don’t have to have just ONE best friend) person that you can talk to at any moment about anything. You never have to be careful what you say, or worry about that person telling your business to others. You can be completely vulnerable in front of this person and not worry at all about being judged or mistreated. At the same time, this person doesn’t sugar coat things and will tell you when you are wrong or give you a swift kick to the rear when you need it. You never have to worry about feeling inferior with this person, or that you are in competition trying to outdo one another. Your love for each other is pure, without jealousy or hidden agendas. This person genuinely wants the best for you and actually really cares about you. Again, this friendship is rare, especially as you get older. Aside from my husband, who is hands down my “BFF” (haha!) I haven’t had a friend like this since I was probably 12.
I don’t know about you, but my list of TRUE friends get smaller and smaller the older I get. Each of my friends are important to me, but they all serve a different purpose in my life. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, you have the friend that you talk to about work and issues associated with it. You have your friend that you can talk to about your family when you have problems or just need to vent. Then you have your friend that you can talk to about certain hobbies or common interests. It’s like each of your friends serve a different purpose for you, and you for them, and it’s great. You love each other for who you are, and your friendships serves a purpose to both of you, so you stick with what works. Sometimes these are the friends that can turn into “best” friends, but not always. Sometimes, they serve the purpose that they serve and nothing more, so you learn to stick with what works and not push further for fear of losing the friendship altogether.
It’s great when people in your family can also serve the role as a friend, but you can’t expect it. Just because you are related to someone, in whatever way, doesn’t mean they are your friend or that they have to be your friend. Sometimes family is just family, and nothing more. Other times, your family members are your “best” friends because you do share common interest and you do genuinely care about one another enough to put the other person’s interest or well-being before your own. You can’t find many non-family members that will be as self-less as family. It’s just rare. All I know is, the older I get, the more I realize that no one cares about me like my family.
I think friendships between girls have a completely different dynamic than boys or girl-boy friendships. Girls are more insecure and more self-conscious and that usually leads to competition and back stabbing. It can be pretty ugly. I remember some really horrible things that went down when I was in elementary school and middle school between girls. I truly think girls are meaner and crueler than boys and they know exactly where it hurts the most. For that reason, I always had a lot more guy friends that I felt I could talk to because I didn’t want the caddy back biting of girls. I still feel like as an adult that I have friends that always seem to try to ask my advice about something and then do everything they can to prove me wrong. Sometimes I am dumb enough to continue to participate in discussions thinking that the person genuinely wants to know what I think, only to be reminded that it was just adding fuel to the fire. I am still learning that it is better just to keep my mouth shut and trying very hard to put that into practice. I would much rather not say anything than give a person information and watch them use it to turn against me.
I don’t know if the tone of this seems negative, but if it did, that was not my intention. I guess I just needed to vent and get some things straight in my mind. For whatever reason, writing helps me clear my head and get a new perspective about things, usually a more positive one. Believe it or not, I feel better. I want to be clear that I have been thinking about these things for over a month now and I don’t really have anyone in mind in writing this. I’ve just been reminiscing about old times and friendships that have died, changed, and developed. I’m extremely thankful for the friendships I have in my life, and as much as I would like to convince myself that I don’t really need friends, I do. We all do, to some extent. Some are perfectly content to have 1 or 2 friends, while others need hundreds. Whatever the case may be for you, remember to be a good friend. Don’t always call your friends because you want to talk about yourself, sometimes call them and let them talk about themselves. Be honest, be genuine, and if you are a true friend, don’t slack off, give it all you’ve got. I am saying this as much to myself as I am to anyone else, I’m really going to work on being a better friend and serving others.