I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. When it comes to friendship, I consider myself to be a bit of a chameleon, meaning that I can usually get along with most people. I rarely dislike people, and I try my best to avoid conflict. Friendship can be hard though, because being a chameleon has advantages and disadvantages. Despite the fact that I get along with a lot of people, I’ve always been someone who has very few close friends that I spend a majority with my time with versus a ton of people I hangout with. Maybe because I’m an introvert I have hard time really connecting with friends.
In my lifetime, I can count on two hands the people I felt I truly clicked with, and whose friendship and opinion I really value. Something one of my best friends and I have in common is that we often have fallings out with friends, and this can be really upsetting. When your friends with someone you invest so much time getting to know them, sharing your life with them, sharing memories, and then suddenly, something shifts and you look at the person and can’t help but think of the quote, “we’re not friends. We’re strangers with memories.” Losing friends is one of the most depressing things, and although my mom tries to cheer me up by saying that if you lose a friend over something other than murder, significant other stealing, or lying about something huge (i.e., I’m actually a con artist who is only friends with you to steal all your money), they weren’t really your friend to begin with. But regardless, it’s hard to accept someone vanishing from your life.
When I entered college, my Resident Advisor was a girl named Charlotte, and she was the sweetest, kindest person. She offered a lot of people similar advice about college friendships, especially during freshman year, and it went something like “you may think you really know someone because you’re spending so much time with them. But usually around January or a little later secrets can come out, and it’s either exactly as you thought or different.” This advice was welcomed, but to be honest, I kind of took it and then didn’t really pay attention. But then, as the year went on, I noticed friendships changing. Friendships where people were inseparable suddenly became separable and then some. There were times when people disliked each other suddenly started getting along. And friendships where you loved the person’s company at the beginning of the year, but then it suddenly felt like spending time with a stranger.
I’m not saying all friendships change, but people do, and that little fact changes everything. Friendship, true friendship, should be judgment-less, and each person should always want to hear about the other person’s life without trying to knock their spirit, or make some rude comment. Friendships are not something that should be superficial.
Friendships that have jealousy or hard feelings cannot be everlasting friendships. Trust me. And friendships should be natural, always. My best friend is someone I only see once in a while, and although we don’t hangout every minute of every day whenever we do see each other it’s like no time has passed, and we never have this awkward tension that I felt in other past friendships. She is always happy for me, and always has my back, which is something I both appreciate and love about her. I saw a quote once that I adored, and it said, “Friendship isn’t about being inseparable. True friendship is being separated and nothing changes.” This, my friends, is what I think is the mark of friendship. If you spend a little time away from someone, and when you try to hangout again they seem mad at you, irritated, or act like you’ve changed, maybe it’s time to revaluate why your friendship feels that way.
In my personal opinion, friendships that lack the natural, loving, open feel should be cut off. When do you cut off a friendship? When you lose all hope that the person you became friends with is the person you’re currently friends with. Or when life happens and two people change and go in two very different directions. Now, I’m not saying that friendships can only happen if two people never change or grow, but a true friendship allows the person to grow, doesn’t ridicule the changes, and doesn’t feel weird around the person because they’ve changed. Change is inevitable, part of life, and so it shouldn’t be something that is absent from friendship. However, you sure as hell better bet that if someone starts doing something I don’t do and they make me feel guilty, alienated, or unwanted because I’m not “cool” like them, they won’t be on my friend list for very long (and I don’t mean my Facebook friend list, although I have been known to delete people when they irritate me. I’m human?). Friendship gets people through life. It is a form of comfort, assurance, love, and happiness. We want friendships that will last, and we want friends who love us for who we are, who we will become, and who are willing to stand by us through every hurdle we face in this life. But something that should constantly be a little gem in the back of your mind is that it goes both ways.
In order to have friends, you have to be a friend. I’m not a perfect friend by any means, but I try to get as close as I can. I’ve recognized that some friendships are pointless, which explains why some people aren’t in my life anymore, but I’ve also failed to try with some friendships and lost people I wish I could still call on some days and just talk to. The important thing is that you recognize which friendships can be let go with nothing lost, which friendships you should work at, and which friendships will remain steadfast through everything. Another thing that makes a strong friendship is commonality. I think in many cases, opposites can attract, but in order for friendship to last I think two people should have similar moral codes. I think morality is where the basis for friendship lies, and although it may be overlooked for a while, in order for a friendship to get past the initial, getting-to-know each other stage, each person should have a similar sense of morality.
We could discuss friendship from now until the end of the world, but everyone is going to have some input on what makes friendships last, and what makes a good friend. For me, there are ways of recognizing a true friend, and those are: time doesn’t change the friendship, there isn’t jealousy or competition, each person loves hearing about the other person’s life, honesty with one another, and acceptance of differences. There are also, I’ve noticed over the years, ways of realizing which friends aren’t your friends and those are: jealousy, one friend has no desire to hear about the other, dishonesty, lying, getting really distant and angry when one of the friends brings someone into their life that the other doesn’t like (or boyfriends/girlfriends), and time does change something.
Your thoughts on friendship?