Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Finer Points of Friendship

Have you ever heard of Neville Longbottom? Luna Lovegood? Seamus Finnigan?

If you've answered yes, hooray for you, you are at least sort of culturally aware. Yes, all three of those characters are from the famous Harry Potter series. Like everyone else (or most everyone), I've heard of Harry Potter, and yes, I do love it. The aforementioned characters, though, are not the sacred trinity that the series focuses on; they are, largely, minor characters (yes, I know they do gain more page/air time as the series goes on, but so does Voldemort, so there). Yet, I think if we all think on it, Harry (of "Harry Freaking Potter" fame) would consider these three some of his indispensable friends.

For me, "friend" is a title I'm loathe to give out. It takes a long, hard road, most of the time, to be considered "friend" in my mind. And even then, it takes even longer to be promoted (perhaps) to "best friend." As my mother/father/family/friends will tell you, when I speak of people who I spend time with regularly, it sometimes goes something like this:

Me: "So this person I know did something. {enumerate "something"}" (forgive my ambiguity)
Other Participant in Conversation: "A friend of yours did that?"
Me: "Well, not so much a 'friend.' More like this person who was friends with my group of friends but I never actually liked, but I didn't say anything, but I don't she/he liked me either."
"close acquaintance"
"mentor/mentee relationship, but sometimes we switch it up and I'm the mentor even though I'm younger, and kind of friendly, but not at that point yet in the relationship"
"someone I put up with because we saw each other everyday, and I actually hated/deeply disliked/never actually really liked or disliked, and will soon unfriend"

Needless to say, this makes explaining a story with any of the above examples take an extra few minutes, since I have to explain my exact relationship with the person. Why can't I just have "friends" and "non-friends," you ask? Well I have a question in return: Do you?

Should we simply have black and white, friend/non-friend, relationships? Wouldn't that make everything simply easier?

A friend of mine went through a time when she was missing the support of old friends, and posted about how she was defriending people due to it. To which I replied, "I do that all the time, NBD." (I also sent, and still send, love, hugs, and kisses, since it obviously upset her.) The truth is, I look forward to those times when I can go through my friends list and get rid of those people who I didn't like, nor do I want to know what they're doing daily. I'm proud of the fact that my total friend count is 129, and has been hovering there for a good time. In fact, after this, I may go through it again and delete some more people.

I don't believe in carrying on relationships I have no interest in, or that don't seem to have more than me in them, which is why I go through these purges. I burn bridges, and feel no qualms about most of them. It is only the ones that really matter I mourn. Over this year, when I felt that my friends from high school didn't really get how I felt about their silence, despite my attempts to get in contact (just so you know, I am a terrible texter and have no car, which makes meetings difficult, and since I live pretty far from the school which was our common stomping ground, it means that if you tell me "be there at __," I'll be there, and texting me that you couldn't get away, well.) I sent out a text to those people who, to me, really mattered, telling them basically that I felt that they didn't give a crap about our friendship, or me, and I would rather end the friendship, rather than keep going on in this cycle.

Most people say that our relationships are the things that make our life worth living, and I agree that they are incredibly important to our sanity, and self image. When it feels, or it turns out to be, that your friends don't give a crap about you, it hurts. It makes you think you may not be worth it; you're not on anybody's list of "indispensable," even if they may be on yours. It's why we fight so hard for friendships, and relationships in general, to last. But if it's tearing you apart, then it's not worth it. Despite how it seems, you can always find people who will like you and love and want to be with you and will be fun and entertaining and equal partners in whatever relationship you have, and it's better to move on from falling bridges to stronger, safer ones. And lighting said bridge on fire is just another way to make sure you don't go back.

Now, I've admitted that I'm not afraid to delete people from my friends. But don't take it the wrong way, I spend time and consider each and every deletion. I don't take it lightly, despite how it may sound. I know the seriousness of what I'm doing, at least in my mind. In others, it may be I'm simply no longer friends. In mine, it's that I've cut you from my life, and I don't particularly want to hear from you anymore at all. So I have a few parameters.

7 Commandments and Considerations for Being a Friend

  1. Am I the only one starting conversations? I shouldn't be, this is a two way street.
  2. Do you actually enjoy seeing me? I gauge this by reaction, and by how often I'm asked to come to something.
  3. Do you actually keep plans? I am a big stickler for being on time, and for sticking to what you say. Canceling plans last minute too many times is, in my mind, blowing me off, and I'm worth more than that.
  4. Do you care about my life at all? I went through some not very good times recently, did you even notice?
  5. Can you tell when I'm upset? Big one. A true friend, I believe, should be able to tell.
  6. Can you make me laugh? And if you know me, you know that I have several different laughs. If you can tell what each of these means, or what kind of laughter it is, you're golden. A good game of "Apples to Apples" or "Cards Against Humanity" will probably tell you everything.
  7. And lastly: Did I ever actually like you in the first place?
All of these are taken into account before anything is done, and if I can find a reason to keep a friend, I will, but make no mistake. I'm not afraid to burn a bridge if I have to.
"Was there a way to stop being her friend without hurting her? I could pretend I had suddenly become mute so I wouldn't be able to talk to her. But in that circumstance she'd be my friend as much as ever. She'd talk to me, and we'd invent a sign language, which would be great fun. And that wouldn't be ending our friendship . . . .
"In bed, I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to savor the last few hours before I had to hurt her.
"Sleep on, Areida. Be my friend for one more night."  ~Ella Enchanted, Gail Carson Levine, chapter twelve.
(Just so you know, Ella finds a way to keep Areida her friend in the book.)

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