A few months ago, an old friend joined Facebook. I was so delighted to see her on there! We’d been friends for years, she’d helped me when I was first starting out as a massage therapist (prior to being a teacher) and she and her partner had seen me through some of my darkest days. I added her with glee and sent a personal message along, telling her how eager I was to reconnect. After a few weeks of not hearing anything, I added her again, sure that my friend request had expired or something like that. A few hours later, I saw that it was gone: I’d been DENIED.
First of all, can we just discuss how this is the ultimate humiliation? WHO denies somone’s Facebook friendship? WHO? I was mortified, first and foremost, but once my embarrassment passed, I was hurt. Shocked. And so, so sad.
It seems like this is a common thing–not so much the out and out REJECTION–but the changing/ending of friendships in your mid-twenties and early thirties. So many of my friends and acquaintances have expressed their sadness at suddenly being left without a best friend, or a constant crew of people to spend time with a la high school and college. I think the chasm grows even deeper, because our twenties look very different from one anothers: some friends are still single, finishing college, etc. while others are getting married and some are having their first, second, third kids. I’m somewhere in the middle: in a committed relationship and a career, but nowhere near having babies.
The thing that strikes me as so weird is that there never seems to be a big fight or dramatic event that ends things. As odd as it sounds, I occasionally wish for one: I want something to cling to, a moment when everything imploded and I can say THAT is why we’re no longer friends. In the case of the friendships I’ve seen die this year, it seems like there’s not one moment; things just fade away, slowly but surely until there’s nothing left to cling to. I’m a friendship realist: the truth is that many friendships, perhaps most, are friendships of convenience. You work together, your boyfriend’s are best friends, you have some common ground that throws and binds you together.
While I’m a realist about this and I’ve seen many friendships end when employment changes or classes end, I wish it wasn’t like that. I want friendships to endure; beyond the scope of a job or a place where you’re forced to see one another. I like to think I’m fairly loyal. I have no problems making the “first move” or being the one to organize coffee dates or dinners. The people in my life matter to me, plain and simple. There does come a point, however, when I feel I have to throw in the towel, and stop trying. When a certain number of texts or calls or emails are unreturned, I know we’ve reached that point where things have shifted. And it hurts.
Today is the birthday of two old friends, both of whom I’m no longer close to. For the first time in years, I won’t be sending a birthday text message, or going out for dinner or drinks or doing anything to celebrate. It’s been made clear that in their eyes, the friendships are over. And it sucks. Even though I know I’ve been stepped on or hurt one too many times, it’s hard. It’s against my nature not to send something, even on Facebook, acknowledging them. I miss them both. I miss their laughter, hearing about their experiences, getting their advice. But they know that—I’ve told them that. And I’m tired of being the one to make the first move and getting nothing in return.
So, that’s my dirty little secret. You can now regale me as the Blogger Who Has No Friends. I’m kiddding–although this post makes me sound like I’ve LOST EVERYONE, the truth is I’m surrounded my amazing people and am soooo lucky to have the friends and family I have. But still, in some small place in my heart, I’ll be mourning the loss of those old, favorite, comfortable friendships that seem to disappear for no reason at all.
*Happy Birthday, J & B.