I wrote about friendship over two years ago and found myself wanting to do so again. Rather than attempt to revise what I wrote last time I intentionally didn’t read my last effort. Instead I approached the topic with a clean mental slate. I’ll leave it to you to decide what is different, what is the same, and what that says about me.
I don’t make friends easily. There are a number of reasons for this, but a central one is that I have a hard time talking to people I don’t know.
When I am friendly with someone there is a moment—a line—beyond which they become someone I would do anything for; go to any length for. Though I don’t have another word for it, there is a different feeling I have when I say “friend” about these people. It isn’t an all or nothing thing. There are gradations. It starts with little things, starts as someone who is becoming one of these kinds of friends. Due to time or intensity of feeling or experience this way of thinking that I have grows stronger. Ultimately, at the other end of the scale, is how I think and feel and behave when I am in love. It makes sense, after all, friendship is love.
As difficult as it is for me to make these kinds of friends, and as seldom as I do it, it isn’t anywhere near as difficult for me to lose them. Feeling this intensely is a fragile thing. Acting in this selfless way is a fragile thing. It can break so easily sometimes.
One of the most common reasons why I fall out of friendship with someone is because of the feeling that they’ve let me down in some fashion. It isn’t fair to them. We didn’t make any kind of pact and I never explained why I was going to the lengths I was. There wasn’t strong, detailed, and thorough communication. I shouldn’t hold someone to blame when their way of treating me as a friend didn’t live up to my expectations, but we’re talking about emotions here, not reason.
This perception of failure can take several, general forms. Sometimes it is me coming to understand that they do not feel anything like I do. Sometimes it is a proving that I cannot rely on them to be there for me when I need them to be. Sometimes it is simply a growing apart.
As I think about how I want to end this brief essay that way in which to do so which seems most logical is to commit to trying to be more forthright with people about my feelings on friendship, and to try to share with them when I think of them as one of my true friends. My introverted self finds this commitment alarming, but, nevertheless…