Thinking about my last post and how an ex friend and I ended because we just weren’t on the same page anymore had me pondering exactly how that could happen. That is what I want to explore today. How do we get off the same page to begin with?
A person’s definition of friendship plays into this. Their definition will be based on their circumstances, experiences and perspectives (which are based on said circumstances and experiences.) For example, people who work or study full time (sometimes both at once) and whom may also have partners, kids, pets, extended family and other extra-curricular activities, obligations and responsibilities that chew heavily into their time, value low maintenance friends who place low demands on them and appreciate the sentiment that no matter how much time has passed it is like nothing has changed. This person’s definition of friendship would fall more in the realm of “2 friends will never part so long as the friendship lives in their hearts.”
People who are less obligated timewise, for instance, people who might be working or studying only part-time, unemployed, retired, raising children at home, or people without romantic relationships or extended family nearby tend to have a higher social need than those listed above. Their definition of friendship would tend to fall more in the realms of “Friends are the family you choose for yourself and family are the people you prioritise and make time for.”
In the case of myself and my ex-friend, she was in the former category and I was in the latter. However, the ironic thing is that our perspective changes with our circumstance and the tables can quickly turn. In the beginning of what I perceived to be the end of our friendship, I was the person wanting, needing and offering more, while my friend was wanting needing and offering less. I can identify that there was a period in the middle, of a few years, where my circumstances came close to matching hers and that was probably where I reached a level of acceptance and understanding that our friendship fizzled but that it hadn’t been personal. Just as I reached acceptance things started changing again. Weddings, children and moving were all added to the mix.
I guess that’s another thing that plays into circumstance. Distance, and the relationship that shares with expectations. If a friend moves to the other side of the world, you naturally expect to hear from her less, and you may also reach out less. Out of sight out of mind, right? On the other hand if she still lives relatively nearby, you would still reasonably expect her to make the effort. However a half an hour drive might be nothing to you, but may considerably impact your friend’s willingness to come over, and she may assume you feel the same way and not throw out many invitations for fear of inconveniencing you.
This flows nicely into the realms of (mis)communication, languages, and styles. While one friend may base her ideals of friendship on measurable acts of service for one another, another may base it on someone spending time, listening and keeping up to date with the details of each other’s lives. Or one may be direct in communication and the other indirect…. Or 2 indirect people may mishear things in the silences that were not intended.
Circling back to my exfriend and what happened there, originally she wasn’t there for me when I needed her. She was too busy. In time I found other people to turn to; to be there for me. When she needed someone, I was still there for her. So in her experience we were still best friends because I was still meeting her need of me. I was still being her friend. In my experience she wasn’t there. She had stopped being a friend to me. What compacted this, was when we got together she would say “It’s so good that we can go so long without speaking and still be best friends.” Looking back perhaps that was a question and my indirectness and lack of ability to point out that she was far from my best friend anymore, and why, gave her a silent confirmation that I felt the same way. She only realised that I didn’t feel the same way when she experienced it for herself! When she was ready to make the effort, to make time, and she found that I was “too busy.” You’d think that would put us back on the same page, but I had mourned, I had experienced this loss and reached acceptance. She was just beginning.
As mentioned in my last post, my exfriend was able to acknowledge her part in this on some level and did apologise for being “a bad friend.” Due to her awareness of this fact, she interpreted certain actions, such as me not telling her certain things ‘first’ as a punishment, failing to recall that the reason I stopped telling her originally was because she was too busy to take my calls. (OMG This was totally pre texting era?! lol) This isn’t about blame. She genuinely was too busy. It is about understanding perspective and the experiences it is born from. Later in the friendship I was upset over feeling excluded, at a certain event, however I see looking back that she had probably felt excluded too from a few things and it was just as painful for her. We just weren’t on the same page and perhaps we just couldn’t be due to circumstances? Makes me wonder about the importance of time and timing for sure!
At the end of the day though, it's about priorities and communication. As Shasta Nelson from Girlfriend circles recently tweeted “It’s impossible to build a friendship without interaction! Everything else is built on that!” To further this, I’d say it’s impossible to maintain a friendship without interaction even after it is built. Maybe you are too busy to make time to hang out, but if you are too busy to make time to talk? There’s literally nothing else to say. You’re not being a bad friend… you’re not being a friend at all.
All this brings on the next question…. If my life makes no difference without you in it…how close can we be? Make a difference to your friends lives ladies…. By being in it in some way, and letting them share a place in yours.
Your Best Friend ForNever