I was recently talking to an acquaintance who was on her way to meet a friend for lunch. This woman and her friend were close in high school around twenty years ago but only see each other every couple of years now, even though they live less than thirty miles apart. The woman I was chatting with was giving me a few reasons why she thought the lunch was going to be a chore: her old friend has some undesirable qualities–what they are isn’t important to the story–that tainted their get-togethers.
I asked her, “Why are you meeting this woman for lunch? She sounds completely annoying and rude.”
She answered, “Well, we’re old friends. I mean, as long as I know that she’s like that, it’s not so bad.”
I replied, “Hmm. Life is really too short to waste time with people you don’t particularly care for, you know.”
She stared at me for a moment and smiled. “You know, you’re probably right…” Her voice trailed off and even though she was still heading out to lunch, of course, I hope that she thought about our conversation later that day.
It took me many, many years (like, thirty-five-ish?) to learn that friendships don’t always last forever–some just aren’t meant to–and that’s okay. I have been lucky enough to have had only one major friendship that ended badly. Once I came to terms with the loss, I realized that I could still be thankful for what the relationship added to my life while it was going on. These days, I don’t have a problem quietly backing off from a relationship that just seems like it isn’t working anymore.
There are other friendships that have just naturally faded into the background of my life, like those with many of my mom friends with whom I connected on a regular basis when our kids were in elementary school, or the people I used to work with. After the one thing we had in common dissolved, the relationships dissipated. I have a friend who stepped up to support me at an amazing level when the aforementioned major friendship imploded. We hadn’t been very close before that time, and I haven’t seen or chatted with her in ages. When I run into any of these people at the store or on the sidewalks of my neighborhood, we exchange pleasantries, catch up for a bit, and then move on, no awkwardness whatsoever. In fact, in most cases it’s like we just saw each other the day before and can pick up right where we left off. I have learned that even though I might not connect on a regular basis with some people, it doesn’t mean that those friendships are over.
There is a poem out there somewhere that talks about how friends can be classified in three categories that align with the length of time they are a part of your life: a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I believe that no matter how long friendships (or any type of relationship, for that matter) last, there is a reason for its existence. Sometimes it’s to teach a lesson, sometimes it’s to lend support, sometimes it’s to inspire. Always, a reason.
Some friendships are like the waves of the ocean, ebbing and flowing but always there in some capacity. Some are white-hot with intensity for a short time before cooling to a simmer. Some are a part of my daily life. I value each and every one of them, and thank my lucky stars for everything my friends have taught me, how they have supported me, and how they have inspired me.
As Cape Cod Turns
You are welcome! I love you too 🙂
Oh, how lovely. My aren’t we all mushy-like today? It’s like I tell my kids (most especially, the girls) being a friend means you love, respect and accept each other for your faults as well. That said, I’m having a hard time understanding exactly why said acquaintance kept her lunch date? Life is just too gosh-darned short not to share dessert with someone you love, dangit!
Well, yes. I believe the same thing about loving, respecting, and accepting even the faults. In this case though (and I didn’t want to give specific details–and still won’t! haha), the friend of this woman was displaying rude behavior that was disrespectful to this woman (her friend!). It was one of those situations where I was thinking, “I can’t believe she is letting her friend walk all over her and talk to her that way!” So in THAT case, I believe the friendship had run its course.
But yes, generally I’m in total agreement with what you said! You’re a smart lady! xo
I have a friend from hs-love her so much! But it wasn’t always that way. We were friends, then not, then friends, then not. Happily, after college graduation we were able to put our earlier differences behind us and now she’s one of my most treasured friends. One of the things that we’ve agreed upon is that we don’t take long silences personal. We both have families and busy lives, and live very far apart, so connecting regularly isn’t always easy. You might know her… she’s regular folk!
O My I totally love this and it is so so true.
Wow, this one hit the spot! I’m tough on friendships, being the only child, friendships were like the most important thing ever to me. If you became my friend, you were my friend for life! I quickly learned that wouldn’t always be the case, but never learned to approach a friendship knowing that the person maynot be a friend forever. It’s weird I guess, but I’m finally at a point now where I take friendships for what they’re worth and enjoy them while they last. This post helped drive that point home.
Great post Melisa…
The fantastic thing about it all is…once you get to a point in your life where you actually realize this, there is SO much less stress in your life about relationships. For realz. 🙂
I’m just learning this at 33, that it’s not necessary to hang on to bad friendships just because they’re old friendships.
This is so true … does it apply to family too??
Lisa - Hannemaniacs
Dwana – You read my mind! In my case if does apply to family. They’re the biggest bunch in need of a spring clean in my life.
There was only one friendship I remember ending intentionally. It was very difficult because I knew it would mean I would lose other friendship over it.
Yes at my age I only have a few what I call friends that have been best for ever. I find that the people you meet now a days are not like the one you make when you are younger and it depends from what city they are from and how they have been brought up as to if they will stay connected and be a good friend. As you say life is to short and it gets shorter all the time.
If there is anything that I have learned over the past year or so, it’s that not everyone is going to be the friend you WANT them to be. You have to accept the person for who they are, and in that acceptance, you learn who to lean on for what purposes. Each friend brings a valuable lesson and reality to your life, if you’re willing to learn.