True friendships are hard to come by but the real authentic ones are uncomplicated, the ones where you really don’t need to try all that hard and that person is still there for you. It’s when an extended period of time passes, and neither party holds it against you – instead they understand that life gets in the way and choose to cherish the selective time they do get to spend with you.
Having said this, I wanted to share an experience I recently had that reiterated the importance of identifying a real friendship from a temporary one.
About a year or so ago, I had fallen off with someone who I had been friends with for a number of years. After many failed attempts to salvage the friendship, I finally decided to let it be and moved on.
As time passed, and I immersed myself in different activities and sought newer, more positive connections, it did always bother me in the back of my mind what might have gone awry with this person. I am not a fan of confrontation, but at the same time, I do not like not having peace with someone or something.
So as we rang in 2018, I decided that I wanted to start the year off on a positive note by smoothing over any lingering conflicts from the past. I decided to send this person a brief message on social media (we weren’t connected) basically sending them good wishes and also explaining my noticeable absence being due to how one-sided I had felt the friendship had become. I kept the message to the point and made sure it had a very positive, non-confrontational tone, as I did and do wish them well.
Funnily enough, I received a reply almost immediately (as if they were almost waiting for it) and while the message was positive, I finally received an answer to the burning question of ‘what happened’ – though it was not quite what I had expected.
I was basically told that the reason they fell off was because they were put off by my seemingly lack of effort in seeing them as often as they would have liked to. They decided to take that to mean that I wasn’t being a good friend. They continued on to say that they were happy to hear from me now and that they were willing to reconnect and ‘start over’.
True friendships are hard to come but the real, authentic ones are the uncomplicated one, the ones where you really don’t need to try all that hard and that person is still there for you.
It took me some time to craft a response back because I sort of just sat there in disbelief. I couldn’t decipher what was more surprising: the fact that the person had had that level of entitlement on their shoulders to have expected anyone to go out of their way like that, or the fact that they assumed that just because we re-established communication (and only because I reached out) that we could suddenly pick up where we left off and act as if nothing had happened?
After mulling it over for a bit, I decided I would respond but not with an drawn-out explanation defending myself, because I knew at that point that I had no interest in restarting anything. In an effort to keep things civil, I apologized for the miscommunication, wished them well, and just kept it very closed-ended.
The way I see it is if this person had truly cared enough about me and our friendship, would they not have perhaps reached out on their own eventually? Surely they would have seen all of my frugal attempts and could have finally opened up about their feelings. We are all human and at any given time, have too much going on inside our own heads to figure out what someone else’s problem is unless they communicate with you to help solve the problem. It’s incredibly self-serving to just sit there and form a negative opinion about someone’s behaviour without actually talking to them about it.
As the saying goes, the truth hurts, but it’s better to know the truth than to be misled by what you think the other person will want to hear. This experience made me wonder if people like that don’t even really want to mend fences because how else could you be that dismissive of a person’s sincerity and then turn around and pin the blame on them?
If you can’t get past your own anxiety about what you think a person is doing or not doing, then how can anyone ever have a real friendship? A true friend would put their own reservations aside to get to the root of the problem, so that unfounded conclusions are not jumped too.
So needless to say, I can only hope that my reply made them realize a thing or two about how to handle future friendships.
In the end, I felt accomplished in that I had finally come to peace with the whole situation and was able to close that door for good. I found solace in forgiving them for what they did or rather for how they handled their feelings towards a situation, but it was time to move forward and chalk this down to a lesson learned.
How would you have handled a situation like this? Would you have done things differently? Would love to hear your thoughts!