I’ve always found it pretty easy to make friends.
Obviously, this is surprising given my fundamental misanthropy and lack of ability to make anything resembling small talk.
Still, the job I do means I meet new people regularly, and it turns out that I quite like some of them, and they seem to like me. Which is nice.
I try to be a good friend. I think I am supportive of my friends and since I tend to choose friends who have a dark heart and a twisted sense of humour, I’m mostly friends with people I can laugh with. Sure, I have flaws – I’m always too busy to really devote enough time to my friends, and when you’re never in one place for more than a week at a time, it’s hard to make plans and stick to them. I rely far too much on social media to keep up with my friends, and not nearly enough on spending real life time with people.
But on my list of personal qualities, I think “making friends and being a good friend” would probably be up there.
What I find considerably harder, though, is breaking friends.
First up, let’s consider what happens when you’re in primary school and you break friends.
“I’m not friends with you any more,” you say.
And that’s it.
I wish grown-up life was as simple. I had a situation recently where someone I’ve been friends with for a while has clearly decided we are no longer friends. Conversations are (frankly) unpleasant, and sometimes quite aggressive. But no matter how many times I try and broach the subject, or offer apologies for whatever the latest slight might be, I’m no closer to understanding the underlying problem. And if I don’t understand it, how do I fix it?
It occurred to me this week that I can’t fix it. The only part of this situation that I can control is whether I allow myself to remain someone else’s emotional punching bag. And I choose not to. I choose to walk away.
We’re not friends any more.
But that’s not it. Because I’m not seven. And it turns out that when you’re a grown up, losing a friend feels like a weakness of character. Good People don’t lose friends. I feel I’ve failed at something important.
Not to mention the fact that when you’re a grown up, you expect to understand stuff. So I find myself devoting WAY too much time and energy wondering which conversation caused the rift, which social event was the one where I blundered, what have I forgotten?
A very good friend said to me today, “That ship has sailed. You’re not friends.” She didn’t break into a chorus of Let It Go, but she might as well.
But is it that easy?
I’m curious as to how you guys deal with the end of friendships. Do you try and fix them at any cost? Do you need to clear the air before you move on? Or is it a matter of accepting that people change, and one of those changes might just be the people they want to be around?