Tuesday, June 08, 2010

How do you define friendship?

Last week when I wrote about my friend there were tons of good questions and talking points in the comments.

I thought I'd write about some of my feelings around friendship.

My best, best friends have always challenged me.

D is my very best friend and he challenges me continually (in fact, he was the only guy who could stand up to me and was strong enough to not feel threatened by my independence...).

Apparently he needs this too and I provide it in spades! He told me that his one serious girlfriend before me was too wishy-washy (ha! that's the last thing anyone would call me).

In a strange twist of fate, I actually met her in London two years ago. Very weird and afterwards I kept saying to him, "I can't BELIEVE you went out with HER". Nothing wrong with the girl just soooooooo not D.

Moving on.

I wrote before about my friend who, after I had the babies so suddenly, challenged my thinking in that I actually got to experience some of labour, waters breaking, and so on, something she never ever had.

I love that because I'd never thought of it like that.

One more.

I have two friends who are the exact opposite of me in personality type :) We do share very similar values though. They always, always say things like "well, have you considered x?" and usually it's a NO!

I love the different perspectives.

These are things I use to define a good friendship:
  • honesty (I think you know how I feel about being authentic and honest :) and I really do believe when you start truly being honest (in love) it deepens your friendship)
  • communication and true connection
  • reciprocity (of care and attention)
  • loyalty
  • support through good times and bad
  • consistency - contact not only when life is brilliant or when life is terrible, but through both

I also think there's a disconnect when your definition and someone else's definition don't mesh.

It's easy to sometimes say "oh, that was just for a season" and sometimes it's very clear like when you work together and really only spoke work stuff, one of you moves jobs and your only commonality is gone.

But most times I think it's different expectations, different values, other things.

Maybe you genuinely have different circumstances now.

I remember reading a bit of a sad post on a blog a few months ago - infertile girl now has baby and friends no longer read or comment on blog.

You know what? I get that. I totally do.

That's why I started the Fertility Babies group because it's not fair to ask someone to be totally happy when you have what they so desperately want.

Or maybe I'm just not that evolved but there were MANY, many times I couldn't STAND to see a pregnant woman.

I have lots of different categories of friends:
  • friends you can call at 3 am in the morning
  • couple friends (D & I both get along with both of them)
  • girl friends (to do girl stuff like shop and coffee and watch chick flicks)
  • infertile friends :)
  • blog friends
  • business friends (who I can safely tell how my business is going and where I'm battling, and who do the same right back at me)
  • and so on

Anyway, back to you.

What is your definition of friendship?

BTW, nothing is right or wrong - it's about what suits the people involved.

How do you know know when it's time to move on? And practically, how do you do so?
A friend said to me on Saturday that she makes very clean breaks - totally cuts off people - unfriends on FB, unfollows on Twitter, deletes name from cell phone, etc. Gosh, that's a bit extreme for me but then again I have a problem letting go. I will say I was like that with old boyfriends although I am FB friends with one guy!


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  2. I define friendship by sharing of love. Each and every one has it's unique flow and rhythm - some friends you can see once a year and you still are friends, others you need to see regularly. I have two best friends that both go way back to about 20 years of friendship - the one girl lives in Canada - we see each other about every 3 to 4 years but email or skype weekly. Funny - they used to be couple friends too but the men lost contact with the move. My other friend I see at the bookclub once a month, or in between if possible.

  3. Being such an introvert saves me a lot of time in this area. I have roughly 5 friends, and 4 semi/work friends. They are all considered friends because I can speak openly and honestly with them, and more so because they come to me for friendship and conversation with the understanding that I don't often seek people out.

    I've never really cut ties with people, they just fade away. Although my best friend and I speak only a few times a year but always pick up like it was yesterday. I guess it helps that we friended each other in nursery school-because I couldn't resist her mickey mouse glasses!

  4. I just nodded along as I read.

    My best friend, who lives in a different city and is about to move to the other hemisphere, challenges me in that she pushes me with lots of questions and has high expectations of what I can achieve. All done with the best of intentions. However, I love that with her and a couple of other really special friends we can go for months without talking and then pick up where we left off. They're also low maintenance - no needy weekly maintenance check ins. I've never been into those style relationships. I know that these friends are keepers. They've withstood some major events in our lives and are as strong as ever. I know that they're the ones who'd be telling the dodgy stories at my funeral :)

    Your friend categories are quite apt, and generally I have similar classifications. Sometimes someone will start off in one and move into another. Sometimes I refer to the old 'friend for a reason, season, lifetime' model. I know it's a bit light, but it sometimes helps me rationalise things.

    And then there are the people whom you extend the arm of friendship to who use you. To be fair, I do give people the benefit of the doubt, but nowhere near like I used to. With them, I'm hard. Total cutty-cutty. Life's too short for that kind of mental drain.

    I also follow a blog about an IF woman who now has babies, and yep, her readership (or at least comments) has dropped right off. I get that people move onto different stages and can't cope with the situation at hand, but so rapidly and brutally ditching her like that? Is it just too much to see her happy even though she's done the same journey as them? I only ask because even in the darkest days of thinking that I'd never have another baby to love, I always wished happiness to others who'd been hit by preeclampsia and then had a rainbow - and enjoyed watching their joy, living vicariously thru them. Maybe that's my INTJ showing thru :p

    OK enough rambling :)

  5. Oh, goodness! I have a lot I could say about this after going through a whole friendship "realization" in the past 6 months.

    I agreed with much of what you described in your post, and have different levels of friendships.

    Over my life, I have tended to have a few really close friends. It takes a lot for me to call you my "best" friend. I have only had a handful over my life. Usually, the "best" part has only faded because of someone moving, but I still keep in touch with every one of them. My close circle of friends has always been smaller than 5 people, although I get along with lots of people.

    Jolyn has been my best friend now for the past 3 years. We talk every few days, good times and bad. She's always there for me if I need her, and vice versa. We have fun together and cry together, and enjoy the same activities. She's been married just a year longer than me and has a 2 year old daughter.

    In the Fall and Winter, I was feeling really left out when some of my "friends" stopped inviting me to parties or events. We had been close over the past 10 years, and I didn't know what changed other than me having a baby, which wasn't a fair excuse. Turns out that the main culprit of this was Jenny who had a very different definition of friendship than me. She is the kind of friend who will devote all of her time and energy to you if she feels like it, but the very next week will stop calling you and won't come back maybe ever again. She's flaky. She says she'll call and doesn't. She makes plans but ends up overbooking and cancelling on you. She does love you, but she doesn't view friendship in terms of quality time or long-term commitments.

    At the time, she was really close to Katelyn, but Katelyn was looking for a more genuine, loyal friend, and when Jenny flaked on her, she was really hurt. It was absolutely the hand of God that brought Katelyn and I together because we would've never done it on our own. I've known Katelyn for 10 years as well, but she's 5 years younger than me and has always been high-maintenance and dramatic. Now, she just got married, though, wants a family in the next few years, and is ready to get rid of the drama. She wanted everything in a friendship that I would offer. We started hanging out 3-5 days a week and got close really quickly. I definitely consider her one of my best friends now, 6 months later.

    And, a great thing about being friends with Katelyn and Jolyn is that Jesse also gets along with their husbands, and especially REALLY likes Katelyn's husband. So, we can do triple dates or couples events or I can have a night out with my girls.

  6. I find fships challenging, I think because I enjoy my own company more. I hate that about myself. I've heard people describe themselves as one of two types. - Either you get energy from being around people, or you feel drained. I'm the latter. It isn't always that black and white - but on the whole. I wonder if I could survive on an island on my own!! LOL - probably not. I remember crying in Jnr school becuase I thought I couldn't make friends, and then I had some wonderful, beautiful fships in high school and university. I haven't made any 'best' friends since I've been married... I wonder if I've closed that off a bit as I put so much energy into my marriage at the beginning? Such an interesting topic - I could write tons more.

  7. I love your definition as well as your list of different kind of friends. You are definitely one of my blog friends, but I wish I could make you a friend IRL. If I ever get to travel, coming to see you and your family would be awesome!


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