On Friendships

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I’d like to write a blog series on friendship and hope for some dialogue from folks.  To IMG_20131114_155339_444begin with, I’ve been asking a few people in my life about how and why friendships end.  The first answer I got from a female colleague was,” there is a pattern in my friendships where we’re going strong and then something happens which doesn’t get discussed. The friend slips away without explaining and our friendship diminishes or dies. I asked my colleague why she thinks this happens and she said, “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to figure out what my part is but haven’t figured it out yet. It bothers me. “

I’ve noticed that most folks including myself will attribute fault of an unwanted  ending of a relationship  to the other person, i.e:  It’s never me.   I asked a man I speak with casually in a coffee shop about friendships and he told me that he has no real friends. He said he had a best friend in high school but because his friend got married and had children, as did he, they both got busy raising families and the friendship ended. He said that for him, his kids supply enough of his intimacy needs. He stated that he enjoys the casual conversations with folks at his job and in the coffee shop but feels no need to see people socially beyond that.

A female friend stated that the cause of many ending of her friendships with women were due to fears of intimacy. Her belief is that having conversations about how friendships are going is usually avoided and she attributes some of this to homophobia. Women are afraid to get too close to other women because of   perceived or projected homoerotic feelings. I’ve certainly lost friends because of this. There have been attractions that were very strong and the person who considered herself straight or closeted bisexual wanted to remain closeted and so, distanced or left entirely.  My belief is that men go through the same thing with an added layer of social conditioning that enforces distance and competition between them.

There are strong culturally determined societal pressures and expectations regarding coupling and marriage.  Growing up in my time and space, the general rule is that your marriage or life partner (whether male or female) is the person you are supposed to spend most of your free time with and share deepest confidences. There are lots of unspoken agreements about what kind of time will be spent together, alone, or with other single people, couples, families etc.

Other responses about the ending of friendships were; “We outgrow each other, people change in ways that others do not, we don’t always understand or agree with each other’s changes. We lose interest. “

Relationships alter over time. I wonder if they really end?  We drift apart and sometimes drift back together. We geographically move away. I’ve had several people contact me through facebook who I knew and loved in my younger days and lost touch with. The physical distance, as well as our very busy lives, for the most part, is what keep us from sustaining these connections. It takes a lot of work to stay connected over long distance and I’ve only been able to do that with a few people with whom I still have strong chemistry and a lot in common.

Please respond with any thoughts you have about how or why friendships end. I love hearing from you. Thanks

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6 Replies to “On Friendships”

  1. I think that you already have a good list of reasons why friendships may end and of course, every case is going to be unique. I would like to offer another reason though which falls under the category of “people are in our lives for a reason and a season”.

    On a karmic level, we share parts of each of our lifetimes with those that are closely bonded with our soul. When we meet a soul with whom we have unfinished karmic business, be it good or bad, the Universe provides us with the cosmic stage upon which we can play out what is unresolved from before and also with which we can make choices that set the stage for our next lifetime when we will choose to encounter our loved ones again (or not, as the case may be).

    For me, sometimes considering the possible explanations that exist beyond what we can experience on earth helps with solving equations “of the heart and soul”, but that is just my two cents.

  2. Friendships….that is a concept that has escaped me all my life. Growing up I wasn’t taught how to have friends. I’m still learning and every person is different. How does one have long lasting yet ever changing , authentic friendships? I know people in New York including myself who have known people who we went to high school with and grew up together, space, distance and life changes didn’t separated us. There will always be a bond between us. When we see each other it’s like a continuation of our life stories. I don’t think some friendships ends it just changes. Some end because no energy is put into it to flourish or the lack of honesty contaminates the relationship. I don’t think it matters if it’s a friendship, marriage or partnership.

  3. Interesting, I’m not around anybody I grew up with because of living on the west coast. I’m not sure what our lives would look like if we had all stuck around each other. Maybe I’d feel more like I had family in my day to day life. I remember my father complaining about how everyone in the younger generation had dispersed, unlike his growing up experience. I get it now. Thanks for writing and thanks for being in my life….d

  4. Interesting blog Deb 🙂
    For me- what’s more important is to keep the connection alive btwn friendships. If a friendship is important to me- I let that be known. Somebody mentioned in your blog that some folks are afraid of a certain kind of intimacy (maybe related to homophobia if that’s the case)- and I find this to be true in some cases- but the ones that are strong and nourishing- I feel like I’m able to express my care and love for them. I think it’s important for this to be mutual as well. Being able to process certain things are important too- it just depends on how much you as person/friend are willing and comfortable to explore. I ended a friendship once b/c I felt they were needing too much from me and I wasn’t receiving enough from them. We talked about it- and too much! which caused me to end the relationship.
    I’ve had many friendships over the years and feel that as we grow- we learn more about ourselves and who we are in the world, that determines and changes who we connect with. I think this is the biggest factor in loosing (and keeping) many friendships- due to ever changing values and connections related to identity. 🙂

    • Genna, thanks for reading and for your response. It makes me realize how important friends are to me. Also, as we change, if our friends can appreciate and change with us, our connections are more lasting and much sweeter. d

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