Wednesday, January 24

Concentric Circles Of Friends

Yesterday I shared tapas with a friend I've not seen for around a year. We first met in college, a whopping twelve years ago, so it's not untrue to say that they are one of my oldest friends.

During the course of lunch, this friend said that they wished that we could meet up more often since every time we do we manage to have a good time. They're right, and I agree - this is one of the few people of whom I can honestly say that I've never had a boring time or nothing to talk about with. Not bad for two people who, as is expected, would have changed so much though college, uni and life after that.

My friend seemed a bit disappointed by the silence I had offered in response to this suggestion. I just wasn't as sure about that as they were; I just don't see people growing apart as a bad thing. That might sound a bit harsh and uncaring, but I like to think it's pragmatic. And as usual, there are a few reasons why I think this way.

Firstly, people could run out of things to say. Perhaps we only find each other interesting now because we don't see each other that often? A lot happens in a year so there's always plenty to talk about after that much time apart. And even if there wasn't, there is a strange effect people have of being someone slightly different depending on how often you see them; however much they like once-a-year-Shak, perhaps my friend would totally hate everyday-Shak.

Secondly, meeting someone infrequently doesn't mean you don't like them as much as you think you do - "infrequent" is a relative term anyway, and there are plenty of people I wouldn't want to see at all let alone just once a year. I'm actually the only person my friend knows from those college days so far back and so I find it pretty flattering that they would want to meet with me at all.

Mostly though, I think that friendships are naturally evolving beasts. There's a reason why some only meet once a year or once a month or once a week: namely, themselves. The pace becomes naturally set by the people involved and, lip talk aside, if anyone wanted to improve the quality of the friendship they have with another they would do so automatically - the fact that they actually don't speaks loads.

Keeping a friendship going shouldn't be difficult or a pain in the bum. I'm not saying that it doesn't take effort, because it does. But it should be the kind of effort that you would want to exert; the kind that you enjoy and do for no obvious return or reward.

So no, don't be too hard on yourself if you find yourself drifting apart from someone over time. It's not a failure of you, them or even the relationship itself (unless of course there was a definitive reason why the friendship broke down - you sleeping with their other half is definitely not a natural progression). What you have may just be the optimal way for you guys to be at that point in time. It may get better or it may get worse, but I don't see anything wrong with people naturally falling apart, since that's a much better thing than forcing the issue otherwise.

Reading back, some of this stuff makes me sound pretty harsh. That's not my intention though. I guess the fundamental point here is that we should all enjoy friendships for what they are and while we can instead of wondering or complaining about how they could be something else. I reckon that's just a distraction that you don't really need.