Good morning my blog reading weirdos,
Thanks for clicking in, since I’m very aware that blogging is not “in” and probably never will be. Das okay, you’re here. I’m here. Aye.
Friendship is a topic that I’ve consistently felt the need to write and blog about over the past 3-ish years. Just like intimate relationships and marriage, friendships are one of the most influential aspects of our daily lives. At many points in my life, I felt that I didn’t need friends. I was just fine on my own and not “one of those people.”
Then one day, one good friend came along and she changed my entire life. She showed me unconditional love, support, respect and appreciation. It was her that taught me the meaning of a true friend, and how to be a good friend in return. It was her that shaped my own definition of “friend” as well as “best friend.” Because that’s the thing, we all have different definitions of those two terms – just like we all have different definitions of “love.” The greatest cause of tension, misunderstanding and animosity between people who were or are friends, is the fact that we fail to realize that our meaning of friendship is NOT always the same, in fact it usually isn’t.
Just like my friendship shaped my definitions early on, others have had completely different friendship dynamics and outcomes that shaped theirs. In this way, I consider myself immensely lucky to have had this individual (and 11 years later, to still have her). I hit the jack pot, while others have not had similar histories with friends.
We are conditioned beings, who have developed beliefs and attitudes in response to our past experiences and learned behaviors.
Last year, I had really hit it off with a girl I had met when I moved to Florida. As our friendship grew into more than just a casual/passing friendship, we ended up dealing with some tension and misunderstanding that led to conflict between us. Fortunately, we ended up having a long conversation that opened my eyes to the fact that she and I had very different meanings of friendship. A best friend, to me, is a sacred person who is allowed to know the ugly parts of my life and see me at my most vulnerable. That comes with a very demanding set of expectations on my end. On the other hand, she hadn’t really had many experiences with a friend like that, and she didn’t have nearly as many expectations for a friend as I did. More so, she remained somewhat private with friends and kept friends at a certain distance/place in her life. This talk was really powerful in that it concluded with two very different women, sharing their very different experiences with an open mind, and ending the conversation with a new level of mutual respect for those differences, and a better understanding going forward.
And that’s what adult friendships are like. In many ways, they are harder than those school age friendships. Back then, we went to each other’s families home’s and it was hard NOT to know about each other’s history. It was history in the making. Now, we walk around and make friends as adults but we are blind to many important things, like the unique triggers that they have, the insecurities they’ve created in response to painful histories, the adversity and experiences that they can’t talk about but that would essentially give you that key piece of information to understand them better. And most importantly, the specific ways in which they need to receive love in order to get the value that a friendship has to offer.
In order to develop a friendship that will last years, I think we have to really invest time and energy into discovering the definitions of friendship that lay in our circles, and with that we’ll understand their expectations, as well as their boundaries (ooooh, topic for another blog). For example, personally I’m probably a tough person to become friends, or best friends, with because I’m very aware that my meaning of friendship comes with a lot of expectations that others don’t have, but I also know that having me as a friend is going to be equally rewarding if someone get’s there. If I call you a best friend, I expect loyalty, support, respect, consistent effort, vulnerability, forgiveness, compassion, value, and more. It’s fine, it’s fine, you don’t have to be my friend ok 😛
The lesson here: remember that we are all different. No one has had the same exact experiences so no one has the same definition of friendship. It’s simpler to find people who have similar definitions of friendship, but the ones that take that much more work might prove to be just as much, if not more, powerful. If a friendship is deepening and you want it to continue, have the hard discussions when you need to and learn each other. A relationship, partnership, or marriage is very powerful and yes, for some, it might be all that they need… but, I’d venture to say that for many of us, we need at least one good friendship. And remember, not every friend will be a best friend, and all of our friends have different places in our lives. And that’s perfectly okay.
Thank you for reading!