Friendships make us live longer. That is how strong and deep a friendship connection can be. Lady Luck is sometimes in charge of these relationships as there are so many life factors that play a huge part in staying connected for a long time. Challenges will occur, like when friends relocate, get married, move in new friends to the bubble that create negative energy, become irresponsible as in a “fair-weather friend” (God knows I have had enough of those) or simply drop into a hermit’s hole. It happens but it’s a lousy feeling to experience the disconnect, especially due to no fault or contribution of your own. That indescribable bond of a genuine friend is extremely rare, particularly during these times when so many people are in motion.
Friends can do things for us that no other relationship can do. True friends lift us up and are supportive. Even brutally honest if need be. A good friend can give a compliment that feels better than any box of delicious chocolate. They show us up. Real friends also let us know when we are in the wrong, but in a mindful and loving way. At the same time, we must give ourselves permission to speak up and know the difference between bullying and cruel manipulation, as opposed to being truthful and constructive in a kind way. I had a friend of 30 years who I had to finally disconnect with, as I realized I was actually being made fun of rather than receiving gentle honesty. One can only take so much, and we must be selective in the friendship department. After all, it is our feelings we are talking about here. People who are open, involved in you, and are present is what we want and need in our lives. Friendships are a two-way street and friends must be reciprocated and available, as often as possible, and certainly during crises.
True friends want to know what is going on with your life. They want to be in your company and make the time and effort. I live in a small town, and it takes about 45 minutes each way to meet a friend for just coffee. That is perfectly fine, and it is totally worth it. Personal connections and two-sided conversations are what awaits you when you make the effort. It is all about the quality of the time. Does the friend take the time to listen to how you are and what is going on in your life? Or is the person just spilling out their own baggage and looking for an audience? Think hard about what goes down when you have that coffee date. Life is not easy: it contains grief, failures, loss, and joy but the conversation must be a two-way street, no one has sole ownership.
Genuine friends should always have your back no matter what. If they don’t, that is entering the danger zone in life. And it becomes totally permissible to disconnect from that friendship. As we age, we become more available. Kids, events, and family slowly dissipate for many reasons. Real friends don’t give up and make the friendship a priority through life’s ups and downs. If one part of the friendship does not make time, then it’s without depth and no longer considered important. I don’t mind practicing forgiveness in a friendship as long as I feel it is solid and trustworthy, but if you are just finding a way to fit me in your life, I would rather get more pleasure by walking my dog.
One of the most disappointing things to me is when you befriend someone and then find out they are as deep as a pizza pan. I don’t need a friend to be a psychologist, but there has to be interest and depth both ways. I find that a true friend never leaves you, no matter how dreadful the situation. They don’t bail on you because life is ugly; no, they stick in like Gorilla Glue. Genuine friends know the details of your life and they want to know you to the core. They cherish the good, bad, and ugly. If they marry, change jobs, or move, that bond can still exist if they continue to make you important in their life.
I feel very strongly about not chasing friends. If they have zero energy output, I don’t track them down. If you have to hunt them down, forget it. It’s a big world and friends can be all ages. I can tell you honestly that if you have much younger friends and they marry, it is almost definite that it will fade away. You want someone who truly wants to be in your life, and you can be countries apart. Reaching out can be done is so many ways with friends who don’t live nearby. A card, handwritten note, small gift, phone calls, whatever it takes to be connected. You cannot force that genuine friendship connection. You have to be willing to make an investment and care about another human being. It is either there or not. And if it is there, you have a real gem of platinum in your life. If it is not, know that real people are out there. Keep looking, keep an open heart, and tend to your friend’s garden. As social creatures, our very survival is rooted in connections. Reach out and call a friend, today!