One of my friends broke up with me last month. Well, kindda. More like a friendship hiatus. Let me start from the beginning. It was two weeks ago that I noticed I hadn’t heard from her in over a month. It was unusual because she would usually ‘ping” me at least two times a week. It was ironic because I had been so involved in the chaos of my own life that I hadn’t noticed her absence. Maybe that was the very basis of her annoyance with me. Our conversation spanned from “long time no talk” to a detailed listings of incidents that proved (to her) that I didn’t care. Of all of it, the most alarming crime I committed was that I visited her city and only visited her twice. Funny enough, in my mind I had gone above and beyond considering that I was visiting for only 3 days and had at least 10 family and friends who lived in that city. My 2 visits to her, on 2 different days, weren’t enough to show my dedication to the friendship or an interest in her. To that, I remembered the 2 friends I didn’t even get a chance to visit on that trip, or the one cousin who came to visit me while I was visiting this complaining friend and had to leave because I was stuck in traffic heading back, or the one very beloved friend who kept calling me while I was visiting this friend but my phone was dead. Of these, I let her know. Then, she said I wasn’t as “available” as she would like her friend to be. I have a full-time job, plus I am planning a wedding and a big move. She was back in school and single. I told her, if anything, she didn’t need me; I needed her.
After acknowledging the feelings of insecurity in friendship she was experiencing, I made sure she realized that those feelings didn’t warrant a childish silent treatment. Our conversation ended almost sweetly. It felt like a romantic relationship “let’s be friends” conversation, except this went from a friendship to an acquaintance-ship. I wish she had told me earlier. Maybe, the level of resentment she felt towards me wouldn’t be so deep. Maybe, I would’ve had the opportunity to make a better effort. Maybe, she wouldn’t have felt so “left-behind”, her words, not mine. Just maybe we would have still been friends. And not in a hiatus…
Growing up isn’t easy. We all get side-tracked by pursuing careers, lifelong commitments and family. Life tears us all in different directions giving us different burdens to bear and shifting our priorities. As I get older, I realize that best friendship isn’t measured by frequency of communication but consistency of rhythm.
Relationships evolve over time, due to circumstances beyond our control. While I’m “in touch” with all my childhood best friends, who stays my “best friend” will solely depend on “time” and “mutual effort”. Growing up, all we had was time. Our only duty was to study and when we weren’t doing it, we just sat around and talked… and talked. I remember in high school, during breaks, I’d get dressed in the morning with the only agenda to meet up with my friends and talk and laugh about everything…or nothing. Gone are the days when all we had was time. Time to sit on the phone and talk about nothing. We had too much time to visit each other in the middle of the day, try on each other’s clothes and again, talk about nothing. The future was so bright, we were so full of anticipation that we chilled through it, daydreaming about the perfect future where the perfect future husband, job and children lived.
Through the pursuit of happiness, we have all lost “time”. The future we dreamed about is here and it’s not as perfect as we envisioned. Everyone is so focused on finding or securing a career and/or life partner that many friendships have shifted lower in priority. I now see majority of my BFFs once a year. In between, we try to maintain a grasp of each other’s lives via social media. It’s what life has become.
A similar article on hellogiggles couldn’t have said it any better.
Our phone calls are rare and brief – usually under five minutes – but it’s my favorite five minutes of the day. I Skyped with a BFF for two minutes a couple weeks ago and I’m still smiling from it. Sometimes we’ll go a month without contact—but no one gets mad or hurt. It just makes the random texts and phone calls even sweeter. And, we stalk each other on Facebook, of course, so it’s not like we’re completely cut off.
So while I may not see or talk to my BFFs nearly as much as I did when I was younger, I still very much feel their presence in my life. No matter how long it’s been since our last conversation, it always feels like no time has passed. And the time we spend together is richer, more meaningful. Not because we’re older, but because it’s so infrequent and we want to soak it up. And also because we still sneak cigarettes. (Please don’t tell our kids.)
The life classroom is a little different. We all belong to different “schools”…Now, “staying” friends is not only a choice, it is a continuous one. Life teaches us lessons differently and our threshold for such lessons vary. My ex-friend and I grew apart. Our expectations were mismatched and one of us let it slide long enough to build resentment that weighed the friendship now. It would be too much work to re-align. Ironically, what my friend and I need is time. Time for her to sort out her feelings and time for me to not be held guilty for the plate life set for me. Don’t get me wrong. Even though I have learned it is normal to loose friends with age, I think good friendships, especially with distance, need mutual effort, patience, transparency and understanding. It needs strength enough to stand honesty, to understand when your friend needs you more than you need them, and proactive efforts to resist resentment. Like I told my friend, it’s not all or nothing. Maybe, we still have hope.
As in every life experience, from my friendship hiatus, I have been inspired to make better and bigger efforts to “stay” in touch. This means more random social media messages and texts, more random dinner and lunch dates, more skype dates, and most importantly, more transparency. And when it’s mutual, no friendship hiatus!
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