What IS Friendship?

What is everyone’s thoughts on this?
Here’s my take:
I’m probably in the minority, but I hate it. I hate it so much and I hate how common practice it is. It feels SO DAMN PASSIVE. like 2 people neither of them willing to take the intuitive to MAKE TIME FOR PEOPLE YOU CARE ABOUT??? Why is this an accepted practice? I have a concrete example:
I was really close friends with someone I met online. We talked quite a bit back in the day. They stopped being active online and decided to pursue their own life and career goals to better their IRL life. Perfect, that’s amazing for them, I’m happy for them. But in the process they stopped talking to me. Every like 6 months I would give the occasional check in “hey how are ya”. No response. 4 years later they finally decide to come back to online for a bit. I’m able to actually talk to them and grab an update from them. Here’s what they said: “oh hey yeah I saw your messages but it had been so long it felt weird to respond at that point.”

Felt weird to respond at that point?? Well shit who’s fault is that??? Suffice to say that friendship ended go figure. Lmao so you can see why I literally do not understand the mindset of those in the tweet picture attached. Y’all say you can be friends after ZERO interaction for YEARS. I call bullshit. I think y’all are just passive, nervous, afraid of confrontation, and don’t wanna be the first person to say something because you’re afraid of something stupid. Well in my eyes that’s not caring about someone. That’s not putting in effort. What about the people you’re interacting with while you’re “busy”? They are also your friends or becoming your friends. And you talking to them on a daily basis because it’s convenient. Yeah friendships are not easy to maintain, but if you ain’t gonna put in effort to check up on someone, don’t be calling it a friendship.

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I believe this is a topic with a large variety of perspectives, but overall these perspectives are influenced by people’s actual 1/expectations towards their friends and 2/ life experiences they already had on that matter.

I’m personally the type of friend that can stop speaking for a long time, even a very long time, yet still thinking about the person, genuinely caring about them, and considering them real friends. The quality of my relationships are definitely not defined by how often we talk together. I don’t care about that, and I am friend with people who don’t care about it either.

For example, my sister is my best friend in the entire world. I haven’t interacted with her for something like 5 months now, yet when we’re going to see each other in November I already know that it’s going to be one of the best days of our life. Distance, time, how much we interact does not change that. We just function that way. We don’t need to seek these constant interactions. And if one day we want to change that, then we’ll do.

I’m the kind of person who can’t interact the same way, at the same intensity, with everyone I care about, all the time. There are times when socializing is too much, I’m overwhelmed, I need calm and focus. I have a chronic depression, generalized anxiety and Complex PTSD, which are enough conditions in themselves to require sudden seasons of personal retreat/isolation. That’s how it is. I’ve felt sorry about it for most of my life, felt like it was making me miss good relationships – and I’ve lost friends to that – but I’ve decided that it was unfair to feel that way. I don’t have to feel guilty for needing a lot of time on my own.

As much as I love and care about people, I can sometimes be interacting almost every day, and sometimes not for weeks or months. Real friends to me are the ones who know me enough to not expect more than this inconsistency from me. They don’t put any pressure on me of interacting more or less. They know that not talking doesn’t equal that I forget them or don’t care about them. And if they do believe that, then I failed in expressing how I function, or they failed understanding me. One of the most beautiful gifts for me from friends is to respect my boundaries, my time, my energy. And I want to offer the same to any other person I care about.

The best friendships I have, the deepest, the most meaningful and actually strong ones, are the ones that are free from these expectations regarding how we interact, and give room to healthy/honest conversations when there is any kind of hurt on that matter. If someone goes away, I will feel heartbroken, but I wont blame myself anymore for not meeting others expectations enough. I am myself, and for me real friendship is about meeting each other just where we’re at, just who we are. I can’t express enough the beauty and comfort felt in hearing or reading :“take all the time you need, I will still be there when you will be back”. This is love to me. Releasing control.

My experiences are real, valid, my friendships are healthy and I’ve actually never been more happy on that matter than since I’ve learned to respect myself, to stop trying to respond to any demands from others, to be the person others want me to be for them. I’m a people pleaser so it’s a hard thing to learn. But I am so grateful for the friends who never try to make me someone else, to make me interact when it would actually burn myself out, just because my level of daily energy is already depleted by lots of other things.

You know, it’s like in a love relationship – you have to accept to navigate between your expectations and the way the other person is. There is a part of accepting who they are and lowering your expectations, there is a part of expressing your personal needs regarding the relationship, and there is a part of talking about all of this together. If people are willing to grow together, whether they want to interact often or not, then it can function either way. No friendship or relationship ever follow any general rule. People create them in the context of their relationship. It’s all about being aware of our personal expectations and how we deal with them both in the relationship, but also on our own/by ourselves at the same time.

I hear the hurt that you feel about this friendship that went distant then kind of confused, going back and forth. The lack of clear communication and clarity regarding each other’s intentions and needs is really tough. How you feel is absolutely valid. I would like to encourage you though, to not let it prevent you from seeing the beauty of relationships as they are: it’s complex, it’s messy, but with the right amount of grace, patience and mutual respect, it can really become very special. :hrtlegolove:

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I respect your experiences as much as you respect mine. I also see you are somewhat comparing friendship to a relationship. I think I would tend to stay away from that comparison otherwise where’s the difference between the 2. And a relationship is not what I’m looking for. I’m merely looking for people that enjoy talking to me as much as I enjoy talking to them. I feel as though talking is the bare minimum that can be done. Especially if it’s an online friendship. Which is why yes, for many friendships I do consider talking to be the determining factor. Otherwise what else is there to use as evidence? If they can’t even talk, surely they won’t put in the effort to do anything else. I also see things like this as a matter of priority. How much priority do you give to your friendships? Because for most people it seems friendships, which is such a large concept, are so low on the totem poll. You can think about someone all you want. In your mind you can care for them all you want. But what good is it if it never gets vocalized. Idk…these are just my thoughts. And nobody seems to agree. Sure maybe it’s because I’ve grown up alone and bullied my whole life, and so I cherish any interactions I have with people. But even if I wasn’t, it would still feel morally wrong for me not to express my care to people that have earned my care.

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I absolutely think you can be friends with someone and not need to devote time.

I have had a friend that I went to high school with (I graduated in 2006) that, for many many years we would talk only when something big happened (like a marriage for example), but whenever we would talk it was like we were still in high school and just hung out yesterday.

I havent spoken to her for some years as she has fallen into a crowd that I dont approve of, but if she called me up tomorrow it would still be as if we had never stopped speaking because she knows Im here if she needs me and vice versa. I dont need constant validation that shes still my friend because I know shes my friend, weve been friends for almost 20 years. We’re both married with kids. Life gets busy. But we both are there for each other even without talking for years. It has nothing to do with being nervous or fearing confrontation and has everything to do with trust.

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Friendship is being able to pick up where you left off no matter how long it’s been since you’ve talked.

Like @Sapphire mentioned. I also have a few friends that I’ve known for over 40yrs that sometimes I don’t talk to for years. When we do reconnect, we just pick up were we left off.

It doesn’t sound like this person was that type of friend. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t your friend tho, because there are different levels of friendship and that’s ok.

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This is a very interesting topic!
From my perspective I see these posts from a view where one person is constantly asking and seeking the attention of another and gets made when work or other friends have space.
My experiences are as follows:

Situation 1- there was a guy I used to work with. My boss thought it was cute he had a crush on me and without my permission gave him my number.
He shortly after left that work place and messaged me to say hi ect. I was annoyed that he was given my number without permission, but decided it was fine. So I messaged him to say hello back.
He’d message me to say goodnight or ask if I was going to bed. He’d message to ask me when I was awake and what I was doing.
One night I told him I was going to bed and the next thing I knew he got mad at me because he saw me online. I told him that yes, I was looking through Facebook while I was in bed, no biggie. Then he started with the “well obviously you don’t want to talk to me, just be honest and say that”. Wow, okay. I didn’t respond to that.
The next day he apologised and I thought fine, I’ll forgive him.
Not long after that a similar situation.
One day I worked a good 12 hr shift, I never used to look at my phone at work and right after work I had plans to go have a drink with a friend. By the time I got to catch up with my friend I had several messages from him accusing me of ignoring him and insulting me as a person ect. Safe to say I told him that he had no right whatsoever to speak to me like that and that I did not plan my day to appease him.

  • this is the kind of situation that comes to mind when I read those posts.

Situation 2- similar to yours I guess. I had a friend from school and we were “best friends”. Slowly they stopped responding as much and it started being me reaching out to them. For some reason after a while they just stopped replying all together. And it wasn’t like I was messaging them every day. Maybe every second or third week just to check in or ask if they had free time ect. So I just stopped trying and since then we have never spoken.

I do have good friends where we can go for long periods of time without speaking, but there does come a two way communication and effort from each other. Sometimes they message, sometimes I do. And we both share and listen to each other. So that part is possible too

So you are right there does have to be a give and take in a relationship. I hope those examples give a bit of perspective! Thanks for sharing

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Im glad you put up this post.

This may sound like rambling…so apologies in advance. Hope Im not hijacking Lees original post too. These are just my thoughts and opinions about friendship and why it’s ‘unnecessarily’ complex.

  • Having been in a crazy dysfunc family, friends were my solace/happy place in my childhood /teens. Maybe I ‘romanticised’ friendships? I grew up at a time when the ‘Friends’ series was so popular…I craved that, a bunch of close friends who stick with you through thick or thin. But I now realise reality is different.

Ive noticed (just my opinion…not facts of course!)…people who were bought up in secure/safe environments with good support from family/relatives dont seem to need friendships as much as those from dysfunc backgrounds. Maybe it has to do with attachment styles or something? I feel a lot of my healthy (mentally) friends neither crave for friendships nor have much expectations like I do.

  • Time, effort, priority:

My first shock must be when my friend got married right after high school. It was like she vanished into thin air! We went from chatting 2-3 hrs everyday to radio silence. I resented her. We reconnected almost 15-20 yrs later and now we are so different…I dont feel the same way about her and vice versa.

During adulthood, our schedules will NEVER EVER sync (college,work) and other relationships sort of take priority…aging parents, spouses/partners, children…there is just not enough time to manage it all. Esp, when kids enter the pic. (IM NOT BLAMING PARENTS/KIDS). I feel like marriage and children is how I ‘lost’ most friendships. They have too much on their plate…and things have changed. They wanted to talk about family or the little big things their kids did that made them happy… i could listen to them…but cannot relate/empathise. They gradually made other friends with whom they could relate…their childrens friends parents, colleagues at work…

I miss the chats we had before my best friends were married and had children…before they had a busy and full life I guess.

Circumstances and thus people change…beliefs, values, priorities change - friendships do too. Even their idea of ‘having a good time’ changes. So when my friend prefers to sit quietly and just chill…I prefer chatting non stop and travelling/restaurant hopping.

  • More take, less give:

Most people have less expectations from friends…just want to vent or have a light conversation or drink with. While for others…like me - need a lot more support, wants to be heard, think out loud, need validation…?

Before I started therapy, I feel I used my friends as ‘batteries’ to recharge. I was depressed, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed and bored a lot…I NEEDED people to be with me. To distract, to share good times and mostly the bad…

One person told me that needing too many friends meant I was immature and too dependent (co-dependent). I dont know :person_shrugging:. Maybe or maybe not. (But hoo boy that was upsetting to hear. :triumph:). Too much of my whining/negativity/pessimism did wear them down (late realisation). Its natural that they preferred more…calmer(?)/sorted friends. People meet up with friends to feel calmer and happier…What I needed was a therapist, not a friend.

  • Comfort. I think once people are comfortable with others, we naturally take them for granted. Like new couples who are so obsessed with each other in the beginning of relationships. Many years down the line…they seem to be comfortable just sitting together and sipping tea or something - in silence. So as Lee’s twitter post says ‘friends dont need to talk everyday to be friends’. Maybe that happens later? Maybe in the beginning or formative years of friendship, we need to do a LOT of talking, to exchange ideas or information abt ourselves, just like we do with romantic partners…then talking everyday wont be a ‘need’. If we haven’t reached that point, maybe it wasnt just a close friendship from both sides in the first place?

I struggle with these thoughts though:

  • Dont relationships…ANY relationship - require some amount of time and care to make it work? Like, if we dont talk, how will we know what the other person is going through?..how does one bond, know when to help? People who need help, usually never ask for it. They helped me not sink further into depression.

  • No thanks to social media…people seem to prefer interacting with strangers more than real people around them…if they have time for strangers…why cant people spend a few minutes with friends?

Are we as a society loosing in touch with friends? Is social media discouraging us from bonding with people? Does this further contribute to mental illnesses?

  • Maybe proximity, shared experiences and relatability is a big factor in friendships. After school, its hard to get this combo.

  • There are more articles and videos online for broken romantic relationships than broken friendships. When my best friend and I broke up…I thought it was more painful than any of my prev romantic relationships combined. The physical chest pain ugh… I cried for days…but the internet was no help at all!

I still crave for friendship (maybe my expectations are unrealistic to begin with) even if Im super wary about opening up and stuff. Online friendship is a whole other ball game. I thought to just push myself and try to ‘befriend’…let it not be said that I didnt put in any efforts. Lmao.

My attempts at friendships the past few years:…in case anybody is in the same boat as me…

  • Snail mailing/penpal. It takes ages for letters to reach people though…thus it takes a long time to bond. But its a pretty big community out there. People tend to open up more when writing, which is nice. This year I realised, letters seem to be the only way I know what my brother is thinking haha. I have few snail mail friends with whom I can discuss my mental health journey. I found one of my best friends online…we soon started emailing and chatting. Its a LOOOOOT of hit and misses though. Plus, there are many creepy people online.

  • Shared interest/hobby groups: This is something I struggled with. Growing up, nobody shared similar hobbies/interests as me. My music, movie, book preferences were ‘weird’… This felt isolating. Having friends who share the same interest means more to talk about/bond. Now, theres a community for everything and everyone online.

  • I reached out to some high school friends via school chat group and surprisingly found an amazing friend in a girl I hardly interacted with in school. We reeeeally disliked each others personalities before. :laughing:

  • Started a small 7 people book club where we discuss stuff online. No physical meetings due to time and location constraints… This is now a 3 people group. But its going good :). I wish we could do it proper…in person though.

But ultimately, friendship seems to be all about adjusting expectations and accepting people as they are.

Cons: None of these are deep friendships…or the talking-everyday-and-feel-absolutely-comfortable-with-each-other’ type. But its really nice to have a decent social/friend circle.

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I can speak with my friend only a couple of times a month, but we’re still friends and when I come to her (we live in different cities) it is as if the distance doesn’t exist.

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