On Friendship

I've been wanting to write about friendship recently because it affects all of us in one way or another on a daily basis. Isn't that true?

You could be holed up inside for days, no contact with the outside world....

...but you're thinking of your dear friend taking her LSATs today.

...or you're reminded of the nasty comment a so-called friend made weeks ago (but it's still under your skin).

...or you're wondering what a beloved pen pal is doing in her part of the globe today.

Our friends affect us even when they're not around.

Here are a few things I've noted about friendship. Maybe you can add to this list.

Long-Lasting Friendships That Span Decades Are Hard To Come By As children, finding a till-the-end best friend is as simple as "Will you be my best friend?" I know this to be true because this was how I initiated friendships. Friendships were many as children--everyone was a friend.

Transitioning from childhood to adolescence to teenage years to adulthood--how many of those friendships are still in tact today?

If you are really lucky--really, really lucky--then you might still have friends from childhood.

I am still in touch with many of the friends I had in grade school thanks to Facebook and an annual festival but I would say none of them are 'best' friends...know what I mean? They're not people that come up in my mind at the time of a crisis or at a time of major celebration. You know that kind--something major happens and you think "I better call so-and-so!"

Making Friends As Adults is Difficult Why is this so? I think it might have something to do with our natural self-preserving ways. To become friends with someone means you can depend on them and they can depend on you. It means you have a genuine vested interest in them and they have a genuine vested interest in you.

What if you need them and they flake out? Who wants to feel that pain?

As children, we're not in self-preservation mode--we have Mom and Dad for that, don't we?

Plus, there's a social stigma behind trying to become fast friends with someone as adults, I think. If you met someone and you seemed to get along so far, would you feel uncomfortable if they instantly asked for your contact info, friended you on all social networks, started referring to you as their best friend and began calling you daily to check in?

Well that's sort of how things go when we're kids. But it's somehow odd as adults.

Anyway, I am offering no solution here-but I've noticed that it is harder to make friends as adults than as children.

Like Attracts Like I think back to when I was ill a few years ago for an extended period of time. I was really, really bummed. My body was failing me. Sadness.

Anyway, during that time, not a single new (positive!) person came into my life. Just people with lots of baggage and lots of personal turmoil.

Today, I'm healthy and happy. I'm pursuing things I love (yoga!) and work a job I love (I have a great boss ;) ).

The people that have been coming into my life now are the complete opposite. They are happy, active and are flourishing in their own lives. And I love to be around their positivity and I hope they like to be around mine.

I pulled out a journal from those years ago and there was an entry in which I wrote that I was frustrated with all these people in my life who were so---sad. Why couldn't ANYONE find happiness?

Well, that was because like was attracting like.

Friendships Between Children Are Special When I have children one day (maybe soon!) I know I will take special pleasure in watching them develop friendships. I know I will come to love their friends about as much as I love them.

That's how I was treated when I was growing up. One of my first best friends was named Katie. (We're still in touch today.) Her Mom treated me like I was her own and I feel like my Mom did the same for Katie.

I remember Katie and I would butt heads now and again--we were both strong-minded and little leaders that maybe leaned towards dictatorship now and again. ;) When it came time to play Barbies or play with Katie's 'figures' (little plastic characters), we both had distinct ideas about what was going to happen in our game of make-believe. Maybe Barbie was to get injured in a car accident and she couldn't make the fashion show. Or maybe Barbie was to get in a car accident and NO, the fashion show had to be cancelled. You know what I mean.

Well, that kind of arguing just doesn't happen as adults. I love thinking about the silly stuff we bickered about. And I smile when I think of Katie's Mom or my Mom coming into the room, putting a hand on each of us, and softly diffusing the situation.

Fast forward five minutes and Katie and I probably had no memory of what just happened.

I feel like as adults, we have a special duty to our children, to help them cultivate friendships and to treat their friends like our own. The reason I value friends so much today is because I saw how important my friends were to my parents--and I happened to think my parents were about the most important people in the world.

Anyway, that's my thought on that.

Vintage Party Photo

When Friendships End As Adults, It's Just As Painful As When You're A Child Friendships end. Sometimes, you just drift apart naturally. That's OK and normal. I believe that sometimes people pop into your life for a specific reason or purpose and once that particular need or purpose subsides, the person moves on. Or maybe you move on.

The other main reason friendships end (in my opinion) is because of pride.

Think about this: as adults, what are arguments between friends about? Maybe one friend made a really nasty comment. Or refuses to acknowledge your side of an argument. Or forgot your birthday.

Most arguments or rifts can be solved with a sincere apology.

And most friends who make nasty or passive aggressive comments--well, we all know that people who say mean things to others are usually dealing with some sort of major issue in their own lives and their inner turmoil comes out onto the ones that love them most.

I had a friend at one point make a number of really strange and negative accusations to me. It was done over dinner, very randomly in the middle of great conversation, in a public place and in such a harsh way that I cried. That night, after it happened, I realized those strange accusations were not at all about me--they were about her.

Have you ever had someone do that to you before? They tell you that maybe, oh, let's say they tell you that you're lazy---when in reality, they're the lazy one.

Needless to say, I would bet a lot of money on the fact that she knew the things she said to me were actually true for her, not me.

Anyway, I knew that she would have a hard time apologizing so I went over to see her a few days later and she never brought it up. She never apologized to me. And we haven't spoken since.

All in all, to apologize to someone requires that you be vulnurable and not prideful. To really listen to someone requires the same. And that's why I think pride is the reason for a lot of friendships ending.

Internet Friends Are Not Different From Real-Life Friends Maybe in 1999 they were--remember how scary it was to talk to others on the internet and share identifying information? I remember I was not allowed to have an email address with my name in it or someone might find me and kill me. And I know I wasn't the only one.

Anyway, just because you have a friend on the internet, don't put them into a different class of friendship. If you spend time talking to each other and are both equally interested in each other's well-being--how can you argue that they are any less important?

A Pen Pal is a Blend Between Adult Friendships and Childhood Friendships, That's Why We Treasure Them So Much When I receive a nice letter from a new pen pal- they automatically become my friend. They automatically become someone I care about and think about. They become part of my very special, secret, inner circle.

I tell my pen pals everything. Anything. We share deep, dark secrets (like when you're a kid under a blanket with a flashlight.) We talk about important things--things that are important to us. We share stories and lessons learned. Sometimes we cry to each other in letters as we report sad news. We grow up together, too.

I love my pen pals. In many ways, they really are part of that inner circle, that circle of people you are so close with that absolutely nothing could tear you apart.

And we've never met in person.

We only know each other by envelopes, paper and ink.

And maybe the extra special way they sign their notes to us.

Love & Letters,

Cole

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OK, what do you guys think? Do you have anything to add? Anyone have a good friendship example, whether good or bad?

Are pen pals as special to you as they are to me?