Charlotte over at https://mypixieblog.com/ has given me loads of things to think about lately. She’s written a couple of posts on female friendships and I thought it was time I did one of my own.
I think alot of us can agree that an amazing friendship is one of lifes gifts that you treasure.
I have a friend I’ve known since I was five and we are still in contact 31 years later. She lives overseas (moved many years ago) and I miss her but we make do with FB, e-mail and Whatsapp. I don’t need to tell you it is not the same as when she lived down the road. Literally – her parents and mine were in the same road. We shared the magic of Father Christmas, went to the same Sunday school, shared the excitement of starting our first jobs after college. We attended each others weddings and there are so many times that I wish she didn’t live on a different continent but I’m thankful for technology which helps with the distance.
Then some friends come into our lives as adults. 6 years ago I was at a cousin’s birthday and I got talking to one of the other ladies at the party. We just clicked instantly – I think it was over her handbag and she went on to become a really close friend. A wonderful shopping partner who will find the top or shoes you are looking for, in your size in seconds (plus she loves the same shopping mall as I do). She is organised, makes solid plans and doesn’t let you down. Doesn’t take friends for granted and these days that is a huge deal.
These are two friendships that I’m highlighting to show that the time you know a person isn’t everything. But what I find as an adult is that I’m far more selective as to what I put up with because I know what a healthy friendship entails. These fabulous ladies have taught me this. They have both been genuine, thoughtful and kind from the moment we met. And so have the others who I’m proud to call friends and who I enjoy spending time with.
When I look back at a few friendships that didn’t make the cut, I can instantly see why. One person was doing all the taking. Or there was a toxic element (a huge turnoff for me). Or the introvert card was played.
Let me explain that last one as I’m also an introvert. I like my space in a friendship but when I say I’m going to something I’m there. There are things I don’t enjoy yet over the years did because I wanted to be a good friend. Like sitting in rush hour traffic to get to birthday dinners. Sitting through hours of movies that were not my cup of tea. Going to my least favourite mall on the busiest day of the week. It didn’t matter what I was going through or what sort of week I’d had. I DID it. And was it reciprocated? In some cases no.
There is a huge difference to being a genuine introvert and a lazy and rather shitty friend. And boy have I had my share of the latter in the last few years!
And then there is the friend who acts like your best pal but is really just there for the season. Don’t expect anything deep or heartfelt when you go through a rough time. When I lost my gran and was grieving a friend knew this. Instead of sending a single message of comfort she gave endless updates regarding her move to another country (complete with photos of her new house and how she’d decorated the rooms). I’d lost someone extremely important to me and was in a lot of pain and I realised that I was not dealing with a friend – I was dealing with someone that collects friends and makes them feel like they are nothing more than a number once the season is over.
Sometimes a friendship has run its course and it is time to part ways. I’ve read a few blog posts about this so I know it is something alot of us have experienced.
Or there are times you might feel dragged into doing things that don’t interest you and saying no seems impossible.
This happened to me many years ago. Instead of just being honest and upfront I made flimsy excuses after losing too many Friday evenings to dinners which hubby and I didn’t want to be part of. We tried being polite, we tried to postpone as many times as possible. We blamed flu for months (perhaps my punishment is getting such bad flu each and every winter ever since). When it was our turn to organise the dreaded dinner (a monthly chore we dreaded) we’d leave it for as long as possible but hints were not received.
I should have been honest and just felt incapable of saying what we feel. I drew the line one afternoon making the weakest of excuses not to meet for lunch that weekend and got caught out when I posted something on FB. Instead of feeling bad I just felt relieved and thankfully a rather one sided friendship fizzled out. It is particulary difficult when it is with someone you cannot avoid. A mutual friend in your circle you know you’ll see loads of. A colleague. A friend of your family etc. You don’t want to hurt feelings but you can only make so many excuses.
It is a complex area of our lives – female friendships. When they are going well it is wonderful. When they hit a rocky patch, it feels horrible and can drag us down. I see a lot of people hang onto friendships far after they’ve expired and it can be difficult to know when that moment arrives how to handle it. We invest time and energy into friendships but they need to be healthy to flourish.
What about you? Can you relate? Do you find female friendships are always rewarding? Or do you experience certain friendships as tricky at times? Are you able to cut ties with zero guilt and move on or do you hang onto expired friendships because saying no is too difficult?
Please share your thoughts on a subject close to the hearts of many of us.