Thank You For Being A Friend
Friendships cover a wide spectrum, from passing daily pleasantries to those who know where the bodies are buried. The more casual friendships don’t necessarily mean they have any less value, they are just different.
There are people in our lives where time passes with lengthy absences yet when reunited there exists an ease and comfort rendering the passage of time irrelevant.
Social media has the power to bring people together who otherwise would not have come into contact. It provides an excellent forum to connect with like minded people in groups where values and interests are shared. To label these relationships as “virtual friendships” negates the value of social contact and support.
Some friendships are more uncomfortable and incomprehensible for those around rather than the friends themselves. A prime example would be the close friendship I have shared for many years with my ex-husband’s wife. History has zero bearing on the genuine friendship we have. Raised eyebrows are not uncommon but readily dismissed without the need for justification or explanation. A bonus of this friendship is that family occasions are without the usual kerfuffle that accompanies blended families.
Covid 19 has put a spanner in the works for many friendships. Choices made in response to the pandemic unfortunately has skewed opinions about people’s characters and values. Beliefs change as a result of lived experiences, equally outside influences can also impact beliefs. Tolerance and acceptance has been stretched, instigating understandable fear based reactions. Suddenly personal decisions relating to health seem to be up for public debate, social media is a hotbed of declarations and justifications from both camps. Being bombarded with research to justify decision making is rarely helpful when unsolicited. Feelings are strong and a desire to convert to a particular way of thinking often leads to insults of a personal nature and generally only serves to alienate or fracture friendships.
New friendships and closer connections have also been forged as a result of Coronavirus. Evaluating what is important has strengthened many relationships. In times of crisis there may be feelings of disappointment attached to friendships but equally there are often pleasant surprises.
Mindreading is the poison of friendships and can trigger unhelpful thought processes linked to a text not being replied to or general lack of contact. There can be a tendency to inwardly scrutinise ourselves and create a narrative that can cause harm to the view of ourselves and in some cases feelings of anxiety. This can get in the way of checking in on the absent friend who may have their own struggles or issues. On a peripheral level, sometimes life gets in the way and good intentions remain just that, with no action. Maintaining friendships can be complicated if we allow them to be. It is okay to have differences in friendships but maybe it’s about focusing on the similarities, asserting boundaries and respectfully closing conversations that only serve to damage a relationship.
Friendships were no simpler back in the schoolyard, best friends became arch enemies on the turn of a sixpence. In teenage years, figuring out your identity and needing to belong is complicated. Clothes and music are often indicators of your tribe, imagine the scorn poured on a Wham! enthusiast from a bunch of Smiths fans.
Friendships come and go through a lifetime, not necessarily for any ill will but just fizzle out because circumstances change or people’s views or interests are no longer compatible. Friendships can endure most challenges providing there is mutual acceptance that we are all flawed human beings and the wisdom to choose our battles.