“Its really amazing when two strangers become the best of friends, but it’s really sad when the best of friends become two strangers.” – Raphnie
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have long believed that establishing and maintaining good friendships is a very important part of our life journey. As a teen my friends meant the world to me and I believed they were more important than my own family. At that time in my life no one understood me but my friends. I was looking for acceptance and a sense of belonging and my friends fulfilled that need for me. They were there when I needed them, my family wasn’t. At least that’s what I believed then. My friends were my family, all the family I needed.
Sadly that belief stayed with me until well into my late 20’s. There were far too many times during those years that I continued to chose my friends over my family, even when I had a wife and children of my own. Eventually I came to realize the importance of my true family, but friendship has always remained important to me. Friendships play a vital role in our mental well being, enrich our lives and can even improve our health. Researchers have told us for decades that “when we’re happy we’re healthier” and I believe that to be true.
Of course friendships can have the opposite effect as well. Sometimes friendships can become quite complex and demanding and can cause us grief and stress instead of happiness. Now this can happen in any friendship and may be caused by something that your friend is experiencing , some rough patch on his journey. In most cases this turbulent period passes and the friendship grows and continues. But sometimes the friendship becomes “high maintenance” as one of my friends likes to call it.
When a friendship becomes “high maintenance” it puts a real strain on the relationship and suddenly what you thought was a true friendship based on common interests, shared beliefs and mutual trust, takes on a new sheen and becomes difficult to nurture and maintain. Being friends becomes work. Now don’t get me wrong, maintaining friendships is never an easy task and there is always some work involved. Developing and maintaining strong friendships takes effort. The friendship would be meaningless if there wasn’t. The enjoyment and comfort derived from the friendship makes the investment worthwhile. But it should never be all work. If it is then you have a problem.
Take a moment and think about why you have particular friends. Do they fulfill a need, help prevent loneliness, give you a sense of purpose, increase your happiness, your self-worth, lower your stress? If you answer yes to any or all of these it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty because that’s what friends do and a whole lot more! Believe me, you’re most likely doing the same for your friends. That’s the way this thing called friendship works.
Friendship is a bond like no other. It’s a commitment built on trust and is should be nonjudgmental. Real friends support each other no matter what, they accept each other, for who they are, flaws and all. A friend may not like everything you do or agree with you, and he or she may even share an opinion about what you do, but he will not judge or belittle you for your behavior or decisions. A real friend can inspire you to be a better person, but never tries to change you into the person he thinks you should be. And you as a friend should do the same.
Sometimes friends disappoint us in ways we don’t expect and we may in turn disappoint them. They may treat us badly, let us down or even disrespect us. That’s the nature of all friendships. It can be very frustrating especially if things don’t change. When that occurs it cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. A friendship can’t carry on because of some sense of guilt, good manners or honor. A friendship can’t survive if you are constantly walking on eggshells or feel cornered. Sometimes we simply have to take stock of whats occurring, take time to reflect and ponder the matter, weigh the pros and cons and decide just how important a part the relationship plays in our lives and how it impacts us. Then and only then can we begin to think about how to react. It certainly isn’t easy. But then no one ever said friendships would be easy. Adult relationships are complex. I don’t think I will ever understand the fragile nature of friendship.