I met an old school friend after 20 years. We reconnected straight away, almost as if those 20 years had never elapsed. It also happened that I met another friend a few days later (I hope she does not read this blog!) and although we meet every few months, this time I felt uneasy. Something had changed. Our interests are no longer the same. She is not keen on listening about my spiritual path and I was not as interested in knowing about her daily activities as I used to be. Our conversations were mostly about her, and after a while, I got tired of it. Basically, I was moving in a different direction, I don’t mean a better one, just a different one. Our friendship changed to friendliness over time.
No strings attached
Some people get confused between friendliness and friendship. We don’t want to be friends with everyone we meet but we are usually friendly towards people, especially if we meet them through someone we know or through work, parties and events. Did you ever meet someone for the first time and try to keep your distance but the other person clearly wants to know you better? You don’t want to be rude, so you have a polite conversation while desperately looking for a way out. The person mistakes your friendliness and thinks that you want to know more. No sooner have you said goodbye than there’s a Facebook friend request waiting for you! Luckily there is a delete option … not so lucky if you know that your paths will cross again. Facebook is a great tool to keep in touch with people you like but it can be awkward when all you want to say ‘I don’t want to be your friend.’
It is easier to ignore a friend request from a stranger than distance ourselves from a friend but having said this, there are actually no strings attached in friendship other than those we choose to tie. Friendships last only for as long as we would like them to. We all change. Our values, personalities, and paths evolve over time and these alter our perception of relationships. Accordingly, we can move away from old friends and make new ones. We are not obliged to be with people who are not on the same wavelength anymore just because we have known them for a long time.
Friends used to be part of our daily lives at school and university. When we start working our priorities, locations and interests usually change. Some friends drop on our list of relationships. The same happens when we get married as they drop further down. As we become a parent they can get to the last position or even disappear completely. However, strong friendships last naturally without us having to do a thing even if we are not often in touch. True friends are like family where the bond lasts forever.
Friends are great teachers
If we take a moment to think about them, we might find that friends are useful teachers. They are a reflection of a part of us and play an important role in the way we see ourselves. Some meet to gossip. Others are there to advise and support each other in times of need. Some meet to relax and have fun. Others meet for social activities or sports. Some meet when they have nothing else to do and need to pass the time. Many of us share a few of these areas with the same friend or can have different ones in each. There is no judgement here. We go through different phases in our lives where a bit of gossiping might do us well, in the same way as going for a walk.
There is a downside though. Some friendships can become overwhelming to the point that we lose our own identity. At times we look outside for approval. It is normal to ask friends about their opinion on some clothes that we would like to buy but it gets risky if each time we go out we need them to tell us what to wear. It is worse if we allow them to always decide on what to choose, what to do and where to go. Giving advice is one thing but imposing oneself is totally different. People who lack confidence, self-worth and self-love have to be careful not to let a friend take over their life. It is very difficult for us to find a space of our own in such relationships.
When it is time to move on
As we develop confidence and start to feel independent, the energetic bond with domineering friends change. Some of them are able to adjust to shifts and relationships carry on smoothly from a different perspective. They actually feel happy for us and support us in a beneficial way. Unfortunately, some remain stuck in a place where they want us to need them in the same way that they need us. Our friendship has been making them feel useful and strong. By taking this ‘right’ away from them, they start to feel alone and vulnerable. This can also bring up jealousy and resentment. It might be a signal that it is time to either have a serious conversation or simply to let go and move on. Stop watering dead flowers.
Notice how your circle of friends might have evolved over time. It is a reflection of how you have changed and it might also be an indication of the direction in which you are heading. It is advisable to be around people who bring out the very best in you and help you develop your life positively.