What does it mean to be friends with someone? Do you have to like the same things? Do stuff together? Agree on everything?
It’s hard to imagine a time more trying on friendships than 2020. Even close family members fell apart and went separate way. Friends we maybe thought we’d have for life suddenly seem so different and we find ourselves really coming to terms with which friendships are worth the effort of maintaining.
What do you do when things are otherwise amicable but one half of the friendship decides that the other half’s views are too different? The old, it’s not you, it’s me cliche formerly often used in romantic breakup comes to mind. Which, according to how things go these days, even that is a thing of the past; unfortunately “ghosting” is more common these days, and friendships can suffer breakups just like romantic relationships. But we don’t seem to talk about this much as a society, do we?
What does it look like when friends break up? When a romance breaks up one of the big questions is who keeps the friends? When friends breakup nobody does. And how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye? Often, it happens naturally and the friends drift apart. Sometimes you have a falling out, which can be very painful. Occasionally, one half decides to break it off rather abruptly with no explanation. But, how often do we ever sit down and have a conversation about where things our going with our friendships?
What would it look like if we were more intentional about our relationships? Not just the familial ones or the romantic ones, but the ones we call friendships, too? Have you ever had a conversation with a friend when it just became obvious to one or both of you that the friendship probably couldn’t last much longer without major efforts on one or both part? And, if it comes to this point, how do you decide if it’s worth it? If it’s at this point, is it worth it?
In our throw-away society, there’s a lot of potential for missed opportunities to really grow, and even shine, on the other side of difficult conversations. Too often we end the relationship because we convince ourselves that comfort is more valuable than the growth that is experienced on the other side of discomfort.
It may be that the friendship has run its course and we have received all that we were able to from that relationship. Even when this is the case, it’s still something to grieve. Something to appreciate. It is ok to mourn the loss of a friendship, even if it was dying of natural causes, and we need to give ourselves permission to do so. Grief, when taken with a healthy dose of gratitude, serves us in letting go and having appreciation for what was, and is no longer.