Saturday, July 11, 2009

Musings on Friendships

Friendships seem to ebb and flow, reshaping the shoreline of your relationships. Some friends fade out of the picture altogether, while others are in contact only briefly in the virtual world of Facebook or through a quick phone call. At this stage of my life I don't see any of my friends on a weekly basis. And I find I am at a much different place than most of my friends, which leaves us with less in common. I recently found out one of my married friends is pregnant and another friend is newly engaged. I am excited for them, but at the same time I realize our friendship will inevitably change as they enter a new stage of life, one from which I am excluded. And I admit I feel a slight pang of jealousy as I make comparisons between our different lives.
Sometimes I find myself brooding about one of my friendships. What is our friendship based on? Are we friends because years ago we had something in common and now we are just in some friendship holding pattern? Should we try to revitalize our relationship or is it time to let the friendship die a natural death?
I have always found the end of a friendship painful, no matter how it ends, whether a gradual fading out or an abrupt stop. I suppose I should just be grateful for the friendship that we had and remember our good times, but I usually focus on the regret that it is over and wonder how I could have preserved the friendship.
Facebook is good for getting in touch with people, but being a Facebook friend is a far cry from a genuine face-to-face friendship. I might know details about someone's life but that is different from sharing our lives.
I definitely could benefit from forming some new friendships and being more active socially. I suppose I could join a club or take up a new activity where I will meet other people. In September I plan to try joining a small group again at my church.


Exomorph said...

Friendships do come and go, and at crucial points in life friends sometimes part ways. But there are friendships which remain and last; these are the people important and close to us, more family than friends perhaps. I don't have many close friends but there are many I would consider acquaintances. And I've found that to some friendship is close and to other it is more casual, more on the level of what I think of as acquaintance. I focus on a few close people; some focus on many casual relationships. I think it's also important to be open and friendly to accepting new people as they are and allowing friendship to occur to the degree to which it can. That's my two cents :).

Suzanne den Boer said...
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Suzanne den Boer said...

Thanks for your comment Andrew. Yeah I guess I am like you in that I would be happy with a few close friendships rather than many casual relationships. But I don't have extremely close friendships and I don't spend enough time with the closer friends I do have. So I'd guess I'd like to be more active socially and like you say be open and friendly and expand my social circle and maybe make some new friends who may become closer.

Exomorph said...

Yes, Jess and I are doing well. She's due Sept. 1 but the baby is measuring large and it's possible she'll be induced early; we're hoping she will be. We're looking forward to when the baby comes.

Here's a related question: do you think the internet and related technologies like facebook, email, and instant messenger make close friendships more difficult? Even the phone seems to make distant friendships easier. I mean, why go visit someone and spend time together if you can just email / IM / facebook / phone them? At least with phone you can hear the person's voice ... but with email / IM / facebook it's just text that the person wrote .. like a really short letter. It removes the ability to share facial expression, tone of voice, body language, touch, etc. which makes friendships more distant. Actually the way our society is structured in the cities now and with technology has been called in one book a "nation of strangers". Do you find this interesting? To me the closest ones are the ones I live with, and perhaps those I work with.

Suzanne den Boer said...

Good to hear you are doing well, and all the best with the last few weeks before the baby comes, and, of course, with the birth and adjusting to parenthood. I hope it all goes well!
I think you are right there is something less personal and less intimate about relating with a friend through email, Facebook, or IM, or even by phone, and sometimes you end up spending more time relating with others virtually and very little time face to face. It definitely can hinder your friendship from becoming deeper and if you are not spending actual face time with this person you won't be as close friends as you might otherwise have been. Also relating this way can be deceptive and fake. You might know the person less well than you think.
A "nation of strangers". Yes that is very true of today's society. How many people really know their neighbours anymore? It is an interesting phenomenon of modern society that we can live so isolated from community.