Friday, February 22, 2013

A Bunch of Words on Friendship

Friendship has always been a tricky thing for me.  Throughout my life, I've always had a pretty good number of friends, but I haven't always felt particularly close to a lot of them.  Maybe it's because I'm a twin and my sister has been my built-in best friend since birth.  Believe me, it's a blessing and a curse.  It's really hard to make another best friend when you feel like you're cheating on your twin.  So-o, I've made a number of good friends but not many best friends.

I've always had a close group of core friends, and a large number of additional friends I've made along the way, who I will keep in touch with and occasionally go out with, but I'm not super close to.  I want to be closer to certain friends, but some of them are so hung up on the fact that I'm married.  They don't invite me out with them very often anymore because they assume I'll say no, since I've got a husband now.  Totally untrue!  I still like to hang out and have fun, even with this ring on my finger!  I also have a number of long-term friendships that have gotten very one-sided in recent years.  I always wonder what I should do, and I have let go of a few old friends who just took another path in life.  I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Throughout my life, the actual practice of making friends was pretty easy for me.  I'm a joiner by nature, meaning that I've always been one to take part in clubs, teams and organizations even when no one is asking or making me.  I just enjoy collaborative environments and teamwork, and love to do things for the greater good of the group.  I think that's also the extrovert in me, who draws energy from being with others.  While I do have some introverted tendancies, I have always tested as an ESTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (my HR friends are sure to be pretty familiar with this).   I just like social environments and meeting new people.

What I find harder than making friends is maintaining friendships over the long-haul.  While I still keep in touch with friends from high school, it's the friends from college and my early 20's who have been the most problematic.  Whenever I talk to a few of them, they talk about themselves and their problems non-stop, and the only way I share anything about my life is if I butt in and tell them.  Otherwise, it would be 2 hour conversations about them and them alone.  Ugh.  It's exhausting and even disheartening.  Sometimes it would feel great to get a phone call from one of them asking about how my life is going, but that doesn't seem to happen very often.  I miss my friends the way that they used to be, but I realized that some of them changed a long time ago.  Despite the fact that they've changed, I still want to keep in touch.  I guess I'm trying to stoke the fires of friendship and keep the embers burning, even though the flames may be on their way to full extinguishment.  It sounds ridiculous, I know, but I still hold out hope that they'll be the great friends they once were. 

And I don't think I'm just the victim of selfish friends.  I've played a part in this too.  Once my friends started focusing primarily on themselves and their issues, I gradually stopped calling and emailing as much, slowly cut down on the kind gestures, and found myself getting distant.  In all fairness, they weren't doing any of these things either, so when I noticed they stopped reciprocating, I scaled back on the friendship.  I'm sure this didn't help, but after you put yourself out there so many times and that care isn't reciprocated, you have to make a decision:  keep doing it because you want to or just stop because you feel like a sucker.  I started feeling like a sucker, so I let the little things trail off.  I feel awful about it, but I just want to do things for others who show their care for me in return.  But the guilt of knowing that I'm not being the kind of friend I want to be still eats away at me.

In the last 8 years or so, I've made some truly wonderful and rewarding friendships.  I am extremely grateful for my current group of close friends, who are sweet, sassy and reciprocate kind gestures the way I wish everyone would.   They really are the best.  Because of them, I know I can always vent about my issues, meet them for chick flicks and retail therapy, share my dreams and plan for the future.  We just have a lot of fun together, the way great pals should.  I wish that feeling carried over into all of my friendships.

As I look forward to the next phase of my life, I often think about what kind of effort I put into friendships, and I think friendships are kind of like romantic relationships.  They require some work, but if you're working too hard, then maybe they're not the right friendships for you.  I want to put effort into the right friendships, including some of my best long-term friendships that I really don't want to lose.  That means that I need to focus on being the kind of friend I really want to be to all of my friends, new and old.  I have faith that being a great friend will yield me great friends in return, and I think it's time to start being less reactive and more proactive. 

I will love my friends and treat them the way that I want to be treated.  That's one of my goals for this year.

1 comment:

Nichole said...

Friendships absolutely do go both ways and sometimes no matter what side of that you are on, it can sometimes be more work than a friendship should be! I'm glad you have a few good core people in your life and I'm glad that we go get together from time to time as well :)

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I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

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