I’d like to write a blog series on friendship and hope for some dialogue from folks. To begin 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