Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elephant in the Room

There are plenty of dates who ask me about the status of my friendships. 

"Oh, you moved . . . do you have any friends?" 

What is this, first grade? Let's see, there's the best-best friend, the second-best friend, the friend who is only a friend by recess because she has awesome snack . . .
I have very high expectations from friendships. I assume a friend is someone loyal and pleasant, with whom one truly can exchange ideas or beliefs without feeling mocked or criticized. 

I had to later conclude that I must have been delusional. 

After being betrayed or hurt in a number of situations, I have been leery about sharing my innermost thoughts with others, specifically females my own age. 

Facebook has certainly diminished the glow from friendships, equating them indiscriminately with "vague girl from Calculus five years ago." Friendship, the actual, pure meaning of the word, is a rarity nowadays. But few are willing to concede to it the rank of "endangered species." 

Some bloggers, shielded by the comfort of anonymity, will admit that they are friendless. Because to be friendless today is often viewed as an equivalent of Jud Fry, the murderous sociopath in Oklahoma! What do you mean, "no friends"? Impossible!
He's on the right.
We no longer hunger for friends for mere companionship, but as proof of our worth. How often do I receive a wedding invitation from a girl I barely know? Too often.

How can so many single girls cry that their married friends have completely abandoned them? You know why? She wasn't really your friend to begin with. She was single, she didn't have many responsibilities, and why not hang out with you? You threw her showers, hired shtick, and danced the night away in painful shoes. Why? Not simply because you believed her to be your friend, but be honest: That when the time came, she would return those many favors. But she didn't, did she, after all, she's married, she's too busy. If she was truly your friend, she would hold that relationship as dear as you do.

I am reminded of that harmless movie, 27 Dresses, an ode to "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." The main character, Jane, goes ridiculously above and beyond for her "friends," to the point that it can be officially labeled abuse. She says at one point, "By my wedding, they will be there for me," and the concluding scene of her nuptials has all her 27 friends in attendance, wearing the atrocious getups they had stuffed her into for their own.  
It is a statistical infeasibility she had 27 best friends to begin with. Never mind that she supposedly kept up with any of them following their marriages, or that they still had any interest in her. 

When it comes to a friend, I am holding out, the same way I am holding out for my Han Solo. I don't want to be around someone who will bring me down, nor do I want put up with someone I constantly have to puff up. Just someone whom I can talk to without being ridiculed or scorned, with whom a give-and-take is the norm.  

For the past few years I had a few individuals who I would maybe refer to as "friends," but I must admit the relationships were less than satisfactory. After leaving their company I would be aggravated from their behavior and my own reaction to it. 

But then I met someone, one with whom I can share and won't be laughed at. She doesn't hog the conversation. She understands me (and I her) to the point we are finishing each other's sentences. Yes, at the advanced age of 27, I think I finally found an actual friend. The others? Cheap imitations, who obviously maintained the connection to ensure a dancing section by their weddings. 

Even if this relationship will have an expiration date, I am still happy to have this time together while we are still in the same place. People do change, and I wish to enjoy another's company in the here and now. 
Friendships are, in some ways, like marriages. They are based on respect, kindness, and work. If they can be cast away easily, one half was not doing their part. Time for a divorce.   


FrumGeek said...

I had a really close friend who dropped me when he got engaged. I refuse to believe that he was never my friend to begin with. We've been close our whole lives, and then he upped and left. His wife is needy, and I recognize that she's the priority in his life now. Luckily she's started to ease up somewhat, and slowly but surely I'm getting my best friend back.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, like FrumGeek, I don't think it's an either/or. "Friend" doesn't have to equal "soulmate" to be true. It's not an all or nothing. There are different levels of friendship, and just because you aren't "kindred spirits" (to quote Anne of Green Gables) doesn't mean you can't be good friends.
I am no longer close to most of my friends from when I was younger, but I don't think it's because we didn't have a real friendship. I think life gets in the way and people no longer have the emotional or physical time to put into an intense friendship the way teenagers/very young adults do.
Did my married friends drop me? Well, it wasn't anything so sudden as that, it sort of drained away slowly, once we were no longer living in the same area and especially once they had kids. Now that we're older (mid 30's), I think some of them have the maturity to want to renew our friendship status, but a)it's hard to do so after being out of contact for so long and b) they are somewhat uncomfortable talking to me because they don't really know what to say.

Tovah11 said...

Really great post!

The few TRUE friends that I have actually go back to grade school and college.

I have had to 'divorce' some of my friends because they were sucking the life out of me.

When you find yourself dreading seeing the person's name on Caller ID, it's time to think about making your life easier and letting go of that friendship...if it ever was a friendship.

rosesarered said...

Princess Lea, I thought you might find this interesting:

Wondering Minds said...

I can safely say I have only a select few real life "Friends".

And they are married.

And we were friends before marriage.

And they are of the opposite gender.


Princess Lea said...

FG: A resonable individual understands that matters would change, in some way, following a marriage and new priorities. But does it take so much flipping time to answer a text or an email? It's not like she dangling from his neck 24/7.

Anon: I never said "soulmate." My issue is more along the lines of loyalty and respect.

"Draining away" is more understandable than going AWOL the second sheva brachos week is over. People move on, both physically and emotionally, and I don't believe friendships are necessarily forever. But that should be a matter more for circumstances than a lack of simply trying, a little.

Tovah: Yes! I have realized now what are toxic influences, and what associations are better for me.

RAR: You rock. Bless thee, fair maid, for thy gift of knowledge thou hast graciously bestowed. (You are a chick, right?)

WM: Should it be a shocker?

Wondering Minds said...

Not to me...but most people wouldn't expect that the friends you have are all of the opposite gender.

Princess Lea said...

Are you friends with them just because you want to shock people? Hmmm, ulterior motive . . .

Wondering Minds said...

No, I'm friends with them because they can hold normal conversations and they are awesome people.

Princess Lea said...

WM: Of course they are.