Friendship has taken on a different meaning these days. For example, we have “friends” on Facebook, many of whom we hardly know! We have friends at work, who are usually people we’re friendly with during the eight or so hours we’re together, and then there are friends who live in our neighborhood. We wave to them, invite them over for an occasional gathering, share some food and beverages and still know little about them.
The friends I am talking about in this post are those who are really rooted in our lives. Those with whom we have shared experiences, personal dreams and wishes, and those with whom we have been vulnerable. I am talking about true—not digital or activity-related—friends.
Friendships can fill our hearts and bring us great joy. Friends can give us sustenance and help nurture us, especially through the rough patches in our lives. Friends can share our life histories and help us mark important events. Many are often closer to us than our own family members are, and some pretty much become our families.
The Real Deal
When we lose a digital friend, recovery from such a “tragedy” is usually brief. In fact, those who link their successes in life to the vast numbers of friends or connections or followers they have may not even know they’ve suffered a loss for months!
The losses that truly get to our hearts are those friendships that are three-dimensional, real and deeply personal. Such losses can be devastating.
Sometimes the loss of a friendship can be exactly what we need, though. Am I a callous or insensitive person here? No, not at all. It is time to talk about a painful topic that may, in fact, be joyous.
Recently, I conducted an informal poll among my friends as to why a previous good friendship may have faded, dried up and blown away. As we sat around the fire pit, their informal responses taught me what I already knew: friendships fade for real reasons.
In one case, the response was that the friend was undermining and demanding. In another, the friend had become too much of a drinking buddy, where alcohol became more important than conversation. Then there was a case where the friend had turned angry and overly opinionated, finding fault with everything and everybody to the point of discomfort. One of my friends told me that friends who had “perfect” children amazed them. Another vented, “I think it’s funny that people who treat you offensively get offended when you finally do the same to them.” When the exchange had come full literally circle around the fire, and it was my turn to share, I simply stated that I would rather be known in life as an honest sinner than a lying hypocrite.
Though other aspects of the friendship might have had their better memories and shared experiences, the “tests” they were made to go through as a result of maintaining loyalty were just not worth the effort or the pain. Finally, one day, we realize it is less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.
Every End Is a New Beginning
At first, when the people I spoke with realized a friendship was over, they were (naturally) sad. Some expressed that there had been a great deal of pain from the loss. Then, as the “friendship” slipped away, there was a slow awakening that maybe it was a good thing. Some of the realizations were:
The realizations were not only healthy, they were extremely valid. What would have been disturbing was if they stayed in those friendships.
Good friends care for each other while close friends understand each other. A true friend either apologizes or at least talks about it, but a fake friend talks to their spouse or other “friends” about it. Genuine friends stay forever, beyond words, distance and time. Through the years, one of the best lessons I have learned is that being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it will always get you the right ones.
There are simply times in our lives when we are much happier leaving than staying; when the journey must end for us to move on and have more fulfilling and meaningful relationships. Remember when you were a kid and were happy for no reason? Be that again. The best feeling in the world is when you realize turning the page on a friendship allows you to recognize there is so much more to the book than the page you are stuck on.