On my morning heart-to-heart with my daughter today we got onto the topic of making new friendships. Perhaps, its a topic on a lot of people’s mind’s right now as things open up after such prolongued confinement, even for those of us who are introverts (which both she and I are), making it less straightforward than for some. For us, its always about quality over quantity as we don’t reenergise by being around other people as extroverts do, yet we recognise all the benefits to health and wellbeing of having good friends in our lives. The inevitable overhaul that comes with this gradual shift back to “normal” life, along with other lifestyle transitions happening for us both right now, has brought the question into focus.
We both seem to have hit upon the same, eternal, dilemma of craving intimate same-sex friendship (we both, already, have a wonderful supportive partner) where its not about competition or comparison, including bonding over woes, which is neither of our styles. Women are often expected to trade in the currency of sharing their most intimate shortfalls, including those to do with their significant relationship (dishing the dirt on their partners as an exercise in bonding with same-sex friends) and we have both hit upon this one, many times, but won’t play along. This kind of behaviour all stems, of course, from jealousy and insecurity; if your life is going “too well” according to some-sort of barrometer, others will want to hear that its not all roses around the door to make themselves feel better. Women are also (I’m ashamed to say) sometimes prone to feigning loving support when really they are axe grinding behind your back or even spreading adverse gossip, trading information with others. This all feels like an extremely antiquated way of behaving and neither of us are prepared to play ball which, in my case, has resulted in pulling back for a lot of years while she has tended to befriend males as “less complicated or political” so its newer territory for us both as we re-enter it.
Then, she brought this one up, with friends that are equally mindful there is almost nothing left to say…she has a friend who is so conscious and upbeat, who agrees with so much of her perspective on life, that they quickly run out of conversation and drop into silence. Yet, somehow, though I also have a long-standing friend like that in the sense we both share a positive and mindful spin on life, we manage to keep things interesting and never run out of things to enthuse about or discuss together, including how we face some of the external challenges and continue to milk positives from them. I really hope my daughter finds that with the new like-minded friend she has just made!
Ideally, you find someone who approximately shares your core values and angle on life (as in, for me, that’s a universal and optimistic, expansionist, approach) and then you mindfully chat about whatever comes up, alonside having fun and positively visualising the future, not to mention supporting each other when either of you lose traction.
Its also important to know when a friendship has run its course. I made many friendships, decades ago, that I outgrew with time but where the other party felt it could or should continue ad infinitum. In different ways, it ended messily because, when expectations diverge, feelings get hurt. When a relationship has run its course but one or both parties are in denial, fate has a way of throwing something up that one or other will react to “unexpectedly”, perhaps to the detriment of the relationship.
Suddenly, it all feels over and, on the surface, everyone is bewildered and hurt but its usually a sign that the friendship has run its course, at least in the format it once took. Typically, the superconsciousness of one of the parties knew this and acted on it, throwing the rogue granade that does the deed, making a severance of some kind inevitable…because, sometimes, hurts can’t be unsaid or you just know if you patch it up, the same thing will just keep on recurring.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t go your seperate ways gracefully, with kind words and apologies for “the method” that some fatal damage to the status quo came about, nor does it negate “the good times” you have had together. Hopefully, you can shake hands, when the dust has settled, and walk away with less fluster or sting in the tail. In other words, hopefully (though not always the case, inevitably…) you can both be mature enough to take the overview that “its nobody’s fault” per se, no one person “did this”, it just had to happen, was perhaps overdue. Its a natural process, the same as we see happen in nature when a season moves on (friendships also occur in seasons). So then, you can both step back from all the chafing and simply witness the shifting of phases, mindfully and respectfully, with no one having to play the fall guy and no hard feelings.
In short, it can sometimes “just be” time to let go, to give each other space, the same way any good parent knows when its time to give their child more of a free rein and not expect to be so joined at the elbow. That said, some parents and their offspring (and I seem to be one of them) do seem to find their way to remaining intimate without cramping each other’s style and that goes for some long-running friendships too. The key to this is absolute non-judgement and allowing the other party infinite space to grow and express full and uncompromised alignment with their own expansion, wherever that may take them or however it looks, fully accepting that no one ever stays the same as nothing and no one is ever fixed in stone. The universe isn’t stagnant; no one is meant to stay anchored to a particular time-era nor contracted to be and behave the way they did years ago, their interests and angles just the same. The best friendships will weather that..remaining in contact with each other, unconditionally, at the very core of each being (you could say, at the heart and soul). When we see and accept each other via this core-space, longevity becomes very-much a posibiity, even beyond the physical form, as I know very well from personal experience with two of my key relationships so far, and then we are in the territory of the eternal. Here, we somehow know that if we were to meet again in a different lifetime and skin, we would still recognise each other!
Therefore, friendships that build such infinite space into their shared areas tend to last the distance (with no judgment intended for those that don’t…those just happen to serve another purpose). Looking up into the clear sky just now, to enjoy the sight of a pair of kites loop-the-looping way up high in the expansive blue, side-by-side enjoying the thermals together until one of them decides to shoot off at a tangent for a while only to come back together again when it feels right, I realised that this is somewhat how I see such friendships in my mind’s eye. Others, by design, are more like ships that pass in the night, each party taking something they happened to need in that phase from the enounter with the other, and that’s aright. The sooner we accept that, the less we stir drama around so many friendship “issues” and start to grow up, spiritually.
Some of those friendships flower and fruit and then, quite naturally, drop from the bough to the ground, content in the knowledge they seeded something at the time they were most fruitful…with no pathos or regret that the time has now passed. In different seasons of our lives, we need different things and we sometimes have to own that, allowing for change in order to make space for the new to bud and then flower on the bough once again. As it is with all things.
Once we allow the cycle to just be as it is, we cease hindering the rebirth process that arises as we mature, set new intentions and welcome fresh beginnings. Things, then, start to materialise just as our highest intentions have been setting them, such as those kinds of friendships we most crave to support us in our next phase of life’s journey (and only when we open that space will the opportunities start to appear so its important to cease feeling guilty and wounded, even fatally flawed, by what came before). People and circumstances change, its inevitable (nothing is more so) and there is no failing in outgrowing anything or anyone; only, it serves us best to handle it all with far less drama, more love, if we can.