I have said here, time and time again that for some reason we have the unrealistic expectation that friendships are life-long liaisons. If you look at a holiday fling for example, the people involved are generally in agreeance that when the time comes for one or both parties to return home that it probably wont be possible to keep the romance alive, no matter how intense it was.
This is because we can acknowledge that a relationship requires time, effort and continued contact to keep it alive…. So why is it that we assume a friendship, borne of the same experience, or any other, would not need that same effort and attention? Is it that we have lower expectations of what it takes to maintain a friendship, or is it that we are less easily able to identify when a friendship is a fling?
I guess it isn’t always as obvious. When you embark on a romance, the clues that it has no real potential for future direction seem clearer. It could be that one partner is substantially younger than the other, or that the partnership is forbidden in some way, or even perhaps that illness or circumstance plays a role. The reason we see this is because when it comes to romantic relationships we are consciously looking forward for potential. We are wary and looking for red flags. We are assessing compatibility and values and how our lives will develop together for continued success as a couple or a family.
In contrast, we generally have no such foresight or social conditioning to do the same in terms of friendships. This does strike me as odd to be honest. Given that a persons friends can indeed impact the direction of their lives, especially if they are not the best influence, why do we have such a casual take on friendship? Not only do we not look for clues that a friendship may be a bit of a bad match, we actively overlook red flags that tell us when we are not well suited.
This is likely because we want friendships to work. We want them to live up to the ideal that they are simple, require little time or effort, and that as we do not share a life with our friends, our compatibility, such as shared life goals, values and directions are irrelevant. However that is simply untrue.
Friendships do require effort, and if you wish to have and keep people in your life, even at a distance, it helps if you do share common interests, values and circumstances. It does not help to overlook red flags and it does not help to find yourself stuck in unhealthy friendships because ending them feels like an unnecessary evil.
I have had friendship flings. Far more than any holiday flings that much is certain. However I feel I would have coped better with the situations at hand if I had of been actively looking at the friendships realistically enough to know that while they were fast, fun, intense and meaningful, that they were flings. To cope with the ending would have been much easier if I had of seen it coming before it began and just enjoyed the friendship fling for what it was.
When you think of romantic flings, however prepared you were when they ended, it still hurts. I know this. But you have to admit that there was a level of acceptance or accountability that you knew the potential was limited…. That you knew this day would come, and that you chose to proceed anyway. Knowing it was likely to end in tears. You weighed it up and decided that the pro’s outweighed the cons and went ahead anyway. Lets be honest, if you have been there, it’s likely you don’t even regret it. These people often represent the best times in our lives and the fondest memories because it really feels like living!!!
Perhaps it is a healthier approach to enjoy all our friendships as though they are flings. It is not inevitable that they will end, but it is probable. Alas we continue on, enjoying them for what they bring into our lives today, and knowing that we will remember them with fondness when it is all over. Or perhaps the key is to look at all friendships in the same way as we screen a romance… are we compatible? Do we see longterm potential?
Either way there are no guarantees. A friendship is every bit as much a fling of fancy as any other human relationship, and there are no guarantees with any of them. Some may start as flings, but somehow never end, and some may start as long term liaisons that somehow never seem to make the distance. Some we feel stuck with and some we can never seem to grasp at all no matter how hard we try.
As all the advice before me says, yesterday is gone, tomorrow is unknown…. Today is all we have. Enjoy your friendships, your relationships and your flings, even if you can’t tell the difference.
Your best Friend ForNever