The other day I left a comment on Snippets of Snapdragon’s blog. She said something about not having a lot of friends, which is interesting but not uncommon to read here in our personal blogs.
This is how I reacted:
I struggle with friendships. It’s a deep learning curve to understand this type of relationship in a cognitive, intuitive sort of way. Friendships that are platonic, emotional, connected on multiple levels, trustworthy, authentic, reliable, understanding, compassionate, empathetic. And, most importantly, unconditional. Do they exist? And if they do, do they last?
This is a rhetorical question.
I discovered over the years that the definition of friendship is fluid and personal. Subjective.
I have loved and lost friends for 20+ years. It’s difficult not to take it personally sometimes… But, as I’m developing my intuitive sense and learning that I am okay – more than okay – with a solo life, I discovered valuable lessons about all sorts of relationships.
Here are some thoughts:
Give and you shall receive
We’ve all heard that what you give you receive. But we’re all experienced enough to meet this statement with a healthy dose of skepticism. Not all acts of friendship, or love for that matter, are returned.
When you act honestly, authentically toward someone and they walk away anyway, it says something about them, not you.
I still think about my friends I no longer have contact with, all the way back to my flight attendant days. I have questions about all of them, from 20+ years ago to the most recent past.
- Why did she invite me to her wedding and later to her business launch but not once responded to emails or phone calls?
- Why did another friend who considered me her closest, best friend for 6+ years, with whom I worked with at two different places, drop me like a hot potato the minute she got married? She met my first child, but I never met any of hers…
- Why do some of my present girlfriends always wait for me to contact them? Why isn’t our friendship a two-way street?
- Why would someone walk away when there is a misunderstanding or difference of opinion especially when the “I won’t judge you, don’t judge me” mentality was alive an well for the duration of the friendship?
I wonder about these and similar circumstances but don’t dwell on them. I’m always willing to be available to listen, to invite dialogue, to forgive and move on, but it takes two to tango.
Alas, sometimes I am left to dance alone.
I do have a tribe of online friends, male and female, with whom I share a consistent friendship. In some cases, our incessant chatting has lasted for years. 😀 They check in with me about as much as I check in with them. Some of them have dropped off, which I see as a natural, cyclical event and feels like growing apart, others pop up after a lengthy absence and we manage to pick up right where we left off.
I cherish those friendships, especially because when it’s online, words are used to cement the connection, and we all know how I feel about words. 😉
Standing the test of time
I’m aware that I am uniquely talented with picking up where we left off. I’ve been told this by numerous people, even by those who take advantage of me in that capacity. They drop off for reasons that usually has something to do with being busy. (?) Inevitably, they pick up contact whenever they feel like it knowing I’ll be there to welcome them back.
In some cases, I do welcome them back. It’s how I’m wired. (Note: in some cases does not mean everyone; I’m not a doormat, I understand how boundaries work.)
For others… it’s hit and miss. I broke up with a long term co-worker-friend from decades ago last year which launched her to pick up communications again. I listened to her story, accepted her apology and her intentions of nurturing what used to be a beautiful friendship, and we have some plans to meet soon to reconnect in the physical realm.
This says something about my character. It also says something about our connection. Friendships can go through ebbs and flows just like any other relationship does.
What it comes down to is this:
I have learned, over the years, that some friendships stand the test of time, no matter the history. I will reach out my hand or open my arms if I feel the intentions are authentic.
Does this make me a doormat? I don’t think so.
I’m also learning that all relationships evolve and transform but never in linear fashion. Feelings and emotions are fluid and take on the form of whatever they’re encasing.
The internet has changed the definition of friendship.
Like our own life journey, there are twists and turns, obstacles and barriers we must overcome in the name of evolving a connection in friendship. We must adapt to maintain; if we can’t or are unwilling, then a piece of the puzzle remains forever missing, and an important friendship may be lost forever.
The question is, can you accept that an interruption may be permanent?
For me, it depends on the circumstances and the history. Sometimes, friendships served a purpose at a specific time in your life and then ceased to serve that purpose and you both move on. I look back fondly at those people, many of whom I traveled with as a flight attendant, and I have no regrets that we no longer talk.
I once considered purchasing a compass for certain friends who seemed a little lost. A compass, with its navigational directions, will help you stay the course. Theoretically.
But not all friends will recognize the implications of such a timely device.
Some people shut the door on the past and refuse to entertain the idea that a re-visit might ignite a new perspective on historical events. There is one woman who explained in her blog how she re-ignited a connection with someone from several years ago. Apparently, both are willing to give each other a chance to develop a new relationship. Will history repeat itself, or will they have learned from past mistakes? If she continues to blog about this, I will find out. 😉
In the end, the way you define your friendships and relationships is deeply personal. People meet friends and foster new connections all the time, yet as we get older (and hopefully wiser) we seem much more intuitive about things which mattered less in youth. People have lists, hopes and dreams and a desire to meet someone with whom they can share life experiences, laugh (and cry) and have fun.
My advice, to myself and you, is to remain open-minded.
Because no matter how you look at it, friendship is a gift. 🎁