We’ve all been there before. What else can I say?
Somewhere between the obviously downsized communication and 4th dimensional emotional chess, you probably realized things weren’t always this way with the person you knew – or at least the person you thought you knew.
Commonly, we use the term “friendship” as a blanket term to describe people that we know and share a bond with, and more often to stretch the definition of what 9/10 of our “friends” actually are: casual acquaintances.
I’ll be honest, with social media making people we “know” so accessible, some of us likely consider ourselves to have more friends than we actually do.
While both friendships and acquaintanceships share similarities, they also have fundamental differences.
Yes, you’re friendly to your acquaintances and even extend pleasantries in the occasional interactions you have with them. You may know some basic anecdotes about each other, or perhaps connected once or twice – but you can’t really classify yourself as “friends”.
To me, at least, friendship takes another step – vulnerability.
Like any other sort of relationship, a friendship (in order to work) needs communication and trust to grow.
While you’re likely to tell a casual acquaintance about a recent negative experience at a restaurant; you won’t dig into the grimy details of how mildly annoyed you were with the inconsistencies of the table cloths at said restaurant that were triggered by your childhood OCD memories – or at least not quite in the same way you would shamelessly dish out to a close friend.
A stretch of a point, but you get the general idea.
To actually get to know one another, friends must be honest and allow others to come into their personal lives; both the good and the not so good. Being vulnerable is opening up to others.
This is where a lot of “friends” end up falling short, or revealing their “true colours.”
An acquaintance is most likely fine with talking about mutual interests or something easily to make conversation on, but would they also be there to talk about things that aren’t always so easy to discuss or not particularly “interesting” or “relevant” to them?
If someone only wants to share in the “positive” with you, can they honestly call themselves your friend?
In my relatively short life, I’ve come across people whom I would label as “friends of convenience.” Simply put – they’re 100% your friend when it benefits them, aids them in some way, or your relationship with them yields a “return of investment.” It doesn’t take the brightest bulb in the room to recognize that this isn’t an actual friendship: it’s a parasitic relationship.
Unfortunately, we’re either too coy or oblivious to realize this, or we’re simply in denial about the entire ordeal – knowing full well how things are, but refusing to come to terms with them.
It’s interesting to note, because often when things take a challenging turn these people who identified as your “friends” are nowhere to be seen, or are frantically running away from the first sign of trouble or turbulent times to come.
This highlights a sadly all too common fact: those people were not your friends.
While it hurts to learn the truth, you should take it in stride as you learn to appreciate your own value and worth. Besides, if that person couldn’t handle a minuscule amount of inconvenience, how would you both have fared as time went on and grimmer realities presented themselves? Even if initially hurtful – and in some cases practically paralyzing, it’s probably to your benefit that you learned the actual nature of your standing with them.
There are two perspectives to consider in every story, but sometimes the other half of the party has no intention of telling their side – and sometimes we should let it stay that way. You usually can’t turn apathy into desire. What’s crucial is to not tie yourself to a line that you’ll be forced to tow. We hold on to things for many reasons (sentimentality, nostalgia, personal reasons, and others). Relationships with others can be the same way.
However, it oftentimes gets to a point where this is harming you far more than it’s helping you. Eventually that lifeline connecting you to your past and memories becomes a noose that’s ever so slowly tightening. Sometimes you have to cut the dead weight, and that’s okay.
Instead of clinging onto what was, what could’ve been, or what still might be – you should try to see the favourable side to new changes, and allow the following growth from those experiences to help you move forward while being stronger and wiser.
That’s not to say that you should cut off and disappear at the first sign of a challenge or disagreement. The opposite, actually. A successful friendship is one where both parties are consistently growing, taking on obstacles and challenges together in stride. If you can overcome adversity, together, you’ll be better off for it – and your friendship will benefit greatly.
Though you shouldn’t always fault somebody for not wanting to grow as friends or persevere in times of trouble, you should try your hardest to avoid attempting to befriend people who have no foreseeable intentions of returning the favour out of genuineness or who shy away from any amount of change.
This makes the friends that remain after all of this so extremely invaluable.
I personally belong in the camp of “quality over quantity” for most things in life, and nothing about that statement rings truer than in the context of friendship.
Ask anybody who knows me, and they’ll tell you correctly: I’m really freaking weird. I’ve come to terms with this, and now wear it as a quasi-badge of pride.
If I consider you to be my friend, it’s no small distinction.
Being regarded by me as a personal friend means that somewhere in this scatterbrained abstract mind of mine, you’ve done right to some degree, and I want you to join me on this chaotic and unpredictable but occasionally heartwarming journey of life.
As my friend, you’ve probably shared a lot with me. And hopefully I have done the same with you.
The midday laughter, the midnight bawling, the weekend brawling.
We appreciate being joyful in the hard-earned happy moments, because we’ve crawled up flights of complete and utter shit to get to that point.
Frankly, if you ask me, that’s what makes friendships worth it.
None of us are perfect, and true friends understand that. It’s no problem either, because a true friend never requires you to be perfect – they only ask that you be yourself. You accept that your journey them is a long winding road, and you cherish that fact.
As the old saying goes: “times change and people change.”
No matter the change of time or person, if you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you. From the sincerest depths of my muddled and sometimes seemingly cold (or even non-existent) heart, thank you so much.
I’m forever indebted to the kindness and decency of the people who have taken the chance to befriend me beyond the realms of acquaintanceship, and those who have shown their unconditional love for me despite my frequent shortcomings.
It means more to me than you could ever imagine.