Where do friendships go to die?

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.

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7 Comments

Filed under life with titch

7 responses to “Where do friendships go to die?

  1. Kim

    This is something that I’ve been struggling with too. It’s nice to know there’s someone else out there going through it too. And you put it into words better than I do.

  2. Trix

    I agree – the fading friendships seem endemic to being a 20-something, and while I relish how fluidly we can enter relationships at this point in our lives, it’s difficult to get over a friendship that fades away without a defining end point or any clear reason. Thanks for posting this – it made me feel better to know other people struggle to understand this phenomenon too!

  3. Mr. G

    As much as all of this social networking technology helps us re-connect, I haven’t rekindled one friendship as a result. I’ve re-opened lines of communication and have received passive updates on their lives, but nothing has returned the bond that once was. The complexion of my “crew” changed from year-to-year throughout high school and then every year through college I found myself with different groups of people. Either way, I was always doing what was most comfortable and natural. Nothing felt contrived, which may explain how difficult it is to invigorate old friendships because, to me at least, facebook interaction with old friend feels contrived. But as I look back, I realize that from each of those crews and from each of those different lives I’ve led, at least one person has transcended the sad truth that we just don’t have enough room in our lives for everyone. And that’s who I’m taking with me. But that realization doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.

  4. Oh girlies. I’m sad to say, it doesn’t stop once you get into your thirties. Especially if you’re one of the babyless stragglers. šŸ˜¦ All I can tell you is, you will be able to hold onto a few. Just put all of the effort you can into it. That way, at the end of the day, you’re not the one saying, “Maybe I should have made the effort to relate.”
    Ugh. This is a heartbreaking topic for me as well. The good news is, you’ll appreciate the ones who stick around even more. If we leave this this life with just one solid, loyal friend…I think we’ve done okay.

  5. Mary Jo

    This post is exactly how I feel about my friends. I have one friend G who I was super close with… one day she just stops talking to me. I email and she responds, we plan to get together. I email again to get exact details. Nothing. I email 2 or 3 more times. Nothing. I wonder what the heck happened between those emails that ended our friendship. She’s not the only friend that has happened with, just the most recent.

    It makes me feel sad… I think I’m a great friend, but when I lose a friend I wonder what I did wrong. Hmm…

  6. Christina

    The fading friendship epidemic (which is way scarier than the stupid swine flu, by the way) is something so many of us deal with at this age; you are so right! I can tell you that although you might think having that one “big blow up event” that is the moment the friendship dies might be easier, I can say that from my experiences this past year, it is not at all easier. It does perhaps define the end or the beginning of the end, but if you are at all like me (which I think by now we have established), that event simply gives you something to think about, something to replay in your head a million painful times, trying to figure out if and how things could have been different between you and said ex-friend. Whether it be the blow-up or the fizzle-out, the end of a friendship, in no uncertain terms, just plain sucks! I too tend to be the one making all the effort in the end and I know how you feel. I try to focus on the new friends in my life and the old, comfortable ones who are still around, which makes it somewhat easier. After all, don’t you want to spend your time and effort on someone who wants to put that same time and effort into your friendship? Of course, because as someone who is a great friend and confidant, you deserve that in return! Here’s to friends, the ones (as they say) we have for a season and the ones who are for life!

  7. Sam

    I have to say, Facebook denying someone is pretty dang cold! Ouch! I have quietly unfriended someone, or patiently NOT added someone, but never outright DENIED anyone I actually knew!

    A long time ago, I came to the realization that a good friendship is like any other relationship and you have to work at it. For the friends that really matter, that involves forgiveness like you would forgive a partner – on both sides. Still, it is really hard, and things change, and some friendships, I believe, are only meant for a season. But that doesn’t mean you don’t miss them when the season is past.

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