Jam wrote about friendship last week, and it’s had me thinking. So here is me ramble typing out some of my thoughts, none really yet solidified…
I think we all subscribe to the “package” idea of friendship. We want our good mates to understand us, to take our side, and to always be there for us, no matter what time zone they are in or what hour it is. Loyalty, trust, respect. We want these slogans from our friends.
Is the test of a mate someone who will drop everything in his/ her life to console us during our down times? Who will sacrifice the “trivial” daily goings-on of their lives to pick us up? When is it about us, when is it about them, to what extents, and when should they “hurt” us to “teach” us, if ever?
Sometimes we turn to friends when we want to be reassured or to hear sweet lies, under the pretence of wanting to learn & understand our situations. We outwardly beg to learn, move up and on. We often ask our friends for help in life, but we do not actually want that help, we want comfort of that place we are sitting in. Should they understand & respect this subtlety or should they force us into seeing reality? …. I am thinking that the answer changes from friend to friend. Sometimes some good friend better suits a need/ situation than another.
When I look at my good lifelong friends, I’d have to say that all of them have failed the package of criteria at some stage (As I have done to them & my friendship in which they have trust). Some of them have just had no desire to attend a birthday party of mine at the last minute, and so bailed under the most ridiculous of reasons. Some have forgotten to mention they got engaged & I found out six months later via another friend of theirs. Others have come home for two weeks from overseas and only called me on their way back to the airport before they fly overseas for another several months. Friends have never replied to sms's of mine, sent late at night, begging for consolation. Some never see their phones & if I am going to be in their town I know I have to start a programme of communication bombardment a month before. Some have slipped up and told others private information about me. Sometimes I have subtly begged for support on an issue/ situation I want to appear right about, and they have consciously denied me this sweetness.
Even as I type this, I am thinking, this is not reflecting too well on those people I say that I love, respect and trust. But every incident has taken place. And yet, I hold these people dearer than any others.
How can this then be reconciled with the “package”? Maybe I should change my mates (Which I am not willing to do, considering the love & respect I have for these particular people). Or maybe, the package needs to be destroyed, or must be expanded and ‘complex’itised.
Especially as we get older and our lives force us away from our friends. As we grow older, our time is becoming more and more precious. My friends and I have career commitments, then commitments of extra-curricular activities (from volunteering to gym), let alone partners and family to attend to. Friends fit into and around this – me being only one of their several friends. But even beyond this, when do each of us get to have time on our own.
When do we sacrifice our own “alone” time for time with a friend, and when do we not? When do we ask our friend to understand our position, when do we demand they understand it, and when do we abide by their cries, needs, or demands? I think there is no set answer to this. Each friendship is different, and each changes with time & life circumstances.
It is not about racking up scores, it is about being friends, living your own lives but being able to say what you want to or have to, trusting they will respect what you have to say, and might comply or might disappoint you. Friends are going to hurt you, going to take their pain out on you, let you down or just look at you with a puzzled expression. They will also wait for you, forgive you, wave the hurt off, or change the dynamics of the relationship.
I think that what we have to believe in is that our friends are fallible, even if we consider them out-of-this-world amazing, and that they can have faith in us not dropping them should they not be there for us or understand us or support our focus at times. That friendship is more than ticking the friendship boxes.
As a best mate and I once decided, during a six hour marathon catch-up session after a year of not seeing each other, on my couch because I was too hungover for me to brave anywhere beyond it & she let this be, everyone has issues, but you get to decide whose issues you put up with and whose you say you just cannot deal with.
You set boundaries. You need and demand, and you allow them to do the same. You trust, respect, and attempt to understand their point of view in the hope they will do the same for you. You live parallel lives, checking in when you both can. You allow them to disappoint you, not because you know you will do the same to them, but because you love them.
Friendship should be too incredible to be packaged. Lifelong friendships should be too unique and too few to have predetermined rules. I think my standard, of late, is that what I gain from people I consider my good friends is a love for life, for them, and for myself.
In my opinion. As of late.