I guess it’s bound to happen, but hopefully not too much. We get older. Personalities and growth directions change. You realize a friendship you enjoyed for over 20 years, or even less, is gone.
It’s a loss I still grieve. I have trouble letting go and just letting things fade away to begin with. When it comes to matters of the heart though, it’s complicated.
I take friendships seriously. I know you do. I don’t have many so I try to tend to them gently with TLC.
What makes a good friend?
Honesty. Trustworthiness. Being nonjudgmental. Low maintenance.
What makes a bad friend?
- Feeling drained when you talk with them.
- Friendship is one-sided — conversation concerns only one person.
- Not taking time to listen to you.
- Your time or boundaries are not being respected.
- They don’t respect your feelings.
- You often feel belittled by them.
- You feel overly reliant on each other, a hallmark of codependent friendship.
Bottom line on friendship
A true friendship is defined by knowing someone has your back, no matter what.
I believe an integral part of being a good friend is the capacity to forgive. I don’t know how any relationship can last without this.
This is not her real name.
I first met Susan when I was freelancing — between jobs, as the saying goes. She was in HR at a well-respected, large law firm downtown. An employment agency sent me there.
If you can believe it, way back then, this firm actually paid you to train on how they operated. Procedures, policies, billing, administrative tasks, and word processing.
This way if they called you in for an assignment, you were prepared to hit the floor running the minute you sat in the secretarial chair.
Eventually, I found permanent employment so Susan and I no longer had contact. As it turned out, she left there and ended up where I was working.
This was the true beginning of our friendship. She had the kindest heart, and her generosity was beyond compare.
We didn’t live close so we didn’t do much socializing outside work. We did, however, go to lunch now and then, usually Chinese.
She was a valuable source of support and inspiration. She was also extremely funny.
She had troubles of her own, don’t we all at some point? I tried to be supportive to her as well. In fact, we each had our mental health issues.
Oh, the comfort of being able to openly share those and the fallout that comes with it without being judged. No stigma. No shame.
Susan’s significant other had a job transfer. She moved to New York with her.
We didn’t stay in close contact during those years before she returned to Atlanta.
However, speaking of her generosity, she still sent some neat Christmas presents. I remember one being from Dylan’s Candy Store. She liked sending cookies.
Susan’s return to Atlanta
It was great when she moved back. She left her partner in New York. She tired of the New York lifestyle and came back home. Our friendship was back on track.
We had lunch at OK Cafe every so often. She lived a ways from me, yet she was willing to drive in for lunch on a Saturday or Sunday.
We visited more on the phone. Now e-mail and texting were big on the scene. More fun. I retired and nothing much changed.
Then at some point a love from the past re-entered her life. We were good for awhile.
Susan and her new love would get in terrible fights. She told me in great detail about her renewed relationship. I probably didn’t need to know all the drama.
One day I did it. I said something I thought supportive. She didn’t. She never forgave me for that. Friendship over.
I couldn’t say “I’m sorry” enough. I let some time pass and contacted her again. More rejection.
So I lost a good friend of over 20 years. How does that happen?
Perhaps I should ask Al and Tipper Gore. Their divorce was always a mystery to me. Like this is something I need to occupy my mind with, right?
Guess their marriage was good for as long as it lasted. I suppose that’s how it works. The shelf life expired.
This happens in friendships and marriages. Bleeding heart that I am, it saddens me when things come to an end — especially where love once lived.
One of my favorite Friedrich Nietzsche quotes is: It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
I grieve the loss of my friendship with Susan. I miss her support and encouragement. As I like to say, love never dies.
It disheartens me because she was the first person years ago to tell me I should do a blog. Of course, that was the furthermost thing from my mind. I didn’t even know what a blog was.
I guess you could say she planted the thought. I doubt she knows about The Bruno Papers.
I wish she did. I so want to thank her for seeing something in me that I did not.
I think I have one of these. Kind of feels like it.
I knew Lucy (not her real name) on a professional basis. I don’t know when you are paying someone for a service and become friends how sturdy this type of friendship is.
She, too, lived a bit far away. Her place was awkward to get to but I’d manage to make it. I went to her house now and then. She came to mine once.
I think about friendships a lot. Am I a good friend — guess it depends who you ask, right? Do I have good friends? — most definitely, and I’m so happy to have the ones I do.
What do I expect from a friendship? I don’t know. These days I might have unrealistic expectations, but I hope not. I say this only because a therapist once told me I set too high of a bar for people.
I’m still pondering this years later. I don’t really care for the way that sounds.
Some days I feel like I really need to talk something out. Who can I call? (and it’s not Ghostbusters!) My first choice would be my therapist but she’s not “on call.”
Then I think I’ll call so and so. Not a good idea because she’s a real family person who stays busy. Don’t want to interrupt her.
Oh, I’ll call so and so, and then realize she’s likely doing her volunteer work or with her grandchildren.
And that’s what it comes down to for me. A lot of people are busy doing their own things.
This is where the low maintenance of a good friendship comes in. I understand this. Me? — for the most part all I have is time and that’s fine. I don’t usually have trouble filling it.
I’ll turn to the internet to see what people are saying about the type of thing I’m wanting to talk about. Not so bad. There are some good blogs out there.
Within a few days, the urgent matter I wanted to talk about has passed. Again, my immediacy issues in overdrive.
So, I haven’t communicated with Lucy in quite awhile now. We have texted one or two times — at my initiation. Her replies are lukewarm, cordial. I think it’s over. Hate that.
How to be a good friend
Having said all this, I find the following helpful:
- Prioritize making time for each other.
- Open up and allow each other to be vulnerable.
- Pay attention to the little things.
- Be willing to challenge each other …
- but be open-minded.
- Look out for them.
Three reasons why losing friends as you get older can be a gift:
- Old friends might be holding you back
- By not over-socializing, you can build deeper friendships
- You can work on yourself
It’s a little harder making new friendships as I age. When I happened upon this article, it gave me cause for pause.
I am in the beginnings of two new friendships now. So far, so good. It’s like dating. We’re all big walkers. They add value to my life.
And fortunately . . .
I have really great friends, not many but just enough. Friends are so important. Friends are invaluable to me because basically I have no family. Where would I be without friends? Of course, Paul is my BFF.
I aim to be a good friend. Unfortunately, I lose one now and then. It hurts, but I think that’s part of being vulnerable in a friendship. As in life, no guarantees. As the article above notes, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Society changes. People change. As a friend of mine says, “People vary.”
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
💙💛 Glory to Ukraine 💛💙
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment. They are always welcome.
Yesterday, March 29, 2021, was the date of my “First Post” on The Bruno Papers. Can you believe it’s been a year? Please feel free to reread the “First Post” to see if I have lived up to what I said about what I wanted for The Bruno Papers.
Thank you for hanging in here with me. You are so appreciated. There would be no The Bruno Papers, if it wasn’t for your loyal readership. Thank you so much for giving me this gift. It is a treasure like none other.
With warm and kind regards,