Nurturing Real, True Friendships
Wednesday - May 10, 2006
I had a friend once who told me I wasn’t holding up my end of the friendship, so she was cutting me off.
It was sudden and shocking. Just like that, we weren’t friends anymore.
It is true that at the time I was working to pay rent and tuition for college, and I had a full credit load at UH. So yes, I was neglecting her. I figured she knew I had little time to hang out with friends, and I certainly did not have the money to splurge on nights out on the town. But she wanted - demanded - that I give her the same amount of time she gave me. I resented her attitude and kissed the relationship goodbye.
But in a way, she was right. Over the years I’ve come to realize that friendships don’t flourish in a vacuum. They need to be fed and tended like any other living thing. It’s just that some need more nurturing than others. If you aren’t in the position to provide it, you have to be prepared to let it go.
If I could have the friendship back, would I want it?
I’ve thought a lot about that lately. It doesn’t help that she thought I had treated her shabbily, and I thought she was insensitive and needy. If we had been real, honest-to-goodness friends, I think we would have worked it out. We would have made more of an effort to forgive the transgressions and apply a little - or a lot - more patience and understanding. We didn’t do that, and that says something about both of us.
I have found that some friendships endure. These are the people you know you can count on even if you haven’t seen them or heard from them for weeks, months or even years at a time. When you finally get together, you pick up almost as if you’d seen each other yesterday.
These are wonderful relationships. But they need your attention too. Just because they can survive without nurturing doesn’t mean they should be taken for granted. Time passes too quickly for that. People move away, they make other friends, they get busy, they die, and then it’s too late. You can’t really make up for the time not spent with them.
I got started on this train of thought because I heard the woman who had rejected me (and I, her) so many years ago was in town recently and I felt that tiny twinge that comes with regret. Should I call her? Write or e-mail?
Probably not. We have made small overtures to each other over the years but nothing really came of it. Neither of us harbors any ill feelings, but we are, I think, realistic. We obviously were not soul mates back then and it’s unlikely we would be now. Some friendships, like some marriages, just aren’t meant to be.
But I will make sure it never happens again with the people I do love, my real friends.
And I hope you take a bit of time to think about your own friendships, and how easy it is for them to get lost in the dizzying confusion of our busy, busy lives.
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