It's Time We Changed How We Look at Friendships
By Thao Nguyen
With so many resources out there for making life easier and more organized, you’d think we’d all have lots more free time and peace of mind. But if you’re anything like me, then looking at your calendar is enough to give you an anxiety attack that forces you to crawl into a blanket fort and cry. Work, family, relationships, working out, religious obligations. It seems like the list of things we have to do just to function is neverending. Maybe that’s why I’ve found myself really struggling to keep some of my friendships going.
When I was growing up, I truly believed that the friends I had would be my friends for life. Maybe it’s because I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, but I was positive that my friends and I would move into the same neighborhood, have our kids be best friends, and eventually grow old and die together. (We would also have a network of underground tunnels leading to each other’s houses, so we could visit with each other easily.) However, it seems with each passing year, the number of people I can call my friends grows smaller. Sometimes its my fault, sometimes its theirs.
Whether it’s distance, lack of communication, or differences in stages of life, sometimes friendships just fizzle out. Unlike romantic relationships though, this breakup is generally a slow burner, dissipating silently in the background of your life without a “I think this needs to end” talk to finalize things. Regardless, the realization that this friend doesn’t hold the same place in your life is just as painful as losing a significant other. After all, friendships - especially those grounded by time - require just as much investment as relationships.
The sadness that accompanies a friendship that has ended is compounded when you can’t even commiserate with said friend. After all, what’s sadder than knowing that you can’t receive comfort from someone anymore? Thinking about all of this made me realize that we need to give more attention and weight to our friendships. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we all understand how important our friends are. But I also feel like we’ve been taught to give more emotional investment and effort to our romantic relationships. How many breakup songs are there about losing a significant other? Conversely, how many breakup songs are there about losing a good friend? Similarly, think of all the rom-coms where our protagonist stops seeing her friends after a love interest enters her life. The friends are typically portrayed as being completely okay with this, which is rarely the case in real life. We need to start realizing that friendships can’t be taken for granted. Waiting until we lose a friend to understand how paramount they are in our lives is waiting too late.
Perhaps once there’s more discourse or attention given to how much a friendship breakup hurts, there will be a shift in how much effort we put into these relationships too. We need to start showing and realizing that being a friend doesn’t always mean boundless and unfailing love. It requires time and commitment and sacrifice just like any other relationship.