We usually tend to associate break ups with romantic rather than platonic relationships.
However I do believe that when a friendship reaches an impasse, the tumultuous rollercoaster of emotions that follow can resemble those of breaking up with one’s significant other. From my own personal experiences, be they bitter or sweet, there’s really no moving forward without at least one person in the relationship willing to meet the other halfway.
Friends are the family you choose
I think all of us have had or have a friendship where this rings true. However, life brings with it a series of changes, with which we evolve in character. Yet for some, sadly, this personal development doesn’t occur, resulting in the same stagnant mentality that the friendship is what it was a decade or two ago. A true friendship knows no boundaries of distance or time. It should feel like a natural, unforced concept, where it’s normal to pick up from where you last left off.
It takes two to tango
After a falling out with a friend, the first thing you’re almost instinctively ready to do is place the blame on the other. Realistically, however hard this may be to confess, there’s always some fraction of wrong in our actions or words, even if it’s miniscule. The bottom line is that we must be ready to be the bigger person and admit to our shortcomings, because if our friendship means that much to us, it’s worth that moment of embarrassment for the sake of saving the relationship rather than saving face. Being unable to do this is where the proverbial molehill turns into a mountain.
I remember a friendship I had a while back where I was always put to blame for each and every tiff we had. Granted, I had my faults, but I was certainly not the monster she depicted me as. Eventually, I came to the realisation that I wasn’t the problem. Our friendship had turned into a mortal combat where I was always the person losing and the one expected to apologise. These incessant guilt trips I was sent on for not being a ‘good friend’ always made me leave our catch ups with a negative sinking feeling. Suffice to say, this friendship had become a battle I no longer had the energy to fight, and in the end, I did away with the mentally and emotionally tiring relationship that became more lethal than beneficial.
No matter how upset you are, words must be used sparingly. People say a lot of things they might not always mean when upset, and because anger clouds our better judgement, we often tend to insult and accuse each other too hastily. It’s when words become so repetitive that the person uttering them almost manages to convince the other of fault, the time to detour the guilt trip and head on to Reality Land arrives.
It’s funny. Thinking back on this relationship, harsh as it might sound, the only thing I can compare it to is a gangrenous limb. You obviously don’t want to lose your limb, because it’s a part of you and you’ve shared a considerable portion of your life with it. Yet, if you abstain from amputating it, you’ll eventually be infested with the toxins breeding in the infected appendage, which will result in your eventual death.
I know I’m exaggerating a tad, but you get the overall gist. A one-sided friendship is pretty toxic if you think about it. It starts to become something of a brainwashing hymn:
“you’re always doing this…”
“you’re never around…”
“I’m not important to you anymore…”
“I’m a better friend than you!”
That one’s my personal favourite. Was I contending for some competition in the hope to win an award? I was always under the impression that friendships should feel natural, not where people keep tabs of who owes what to whom. Evidently, some people have a different interpretation of what defines a friend and what a true friendship entails.
The friendship of convenience
There’s this type of friendship where the saying ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ is practised ad nauseam. This friend only chooses to consider you as their confidant when it suits them best and when it’s most convenient for them alone.
In my undergraduate days, I had a friend who was fun to spend time with. We shared interests, inside jokes and the like, until as time passed, I was faced with the harsh fact that she was an utter user. I was the one to carry the load off when we had a presentation, or when she pleaded in a mousey demeanour to hand her notes of entire semesters when we were close to finals – she had been too lazy to attend lectures – and so on and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very loyal and generous friend, but one thing I don’t accept is being taken advantage of or manipulated. So as not to be an unhelpful bitch and leave her in the lurch during exam season, I helped her by giving her some of my notes, but asked her to appreciate the fact that I too would have wished to take it as relaxed as she did, but chose not to. She retorted by commending my assertiveness, and said she respected me for it.
Fast forward a couple of years, this pal hilariously proved herself wrong by being spiteful. This time, the tables were turned. I was the one in need, but as expected, she very blatantly couldn’t give a toss! I should have known better. The Mother Teresa image she so vehemently tries to paint is so strikingly opposite to who she really is, and deep down, I knew it all along.
The underlying moral of this type of friendship is if a friend is always the taker and the other the giver, then there is a great imbalance, and such a friendship should be nipped in the bud – the sooner the better.
The one which has reached its organic end
There are then friendships of a different kind, where you feel you’ve gone separate ways over time, and that’s ok, provided you end things on a positive note. Sure you had fun times, shared drunken, blurry memories, spontaneous sleepovers, hours’ long heart to hearts and all that jazz. But again, life brings with it changes, and eventually, you drift off from your once-upon-a-time chumminess. While it may sound superficial in premise, I believe it’s healthy, despite its expiration date. However, unlike the previously harmful friendships, this type leaves things between you on a more neutral note, albeit anti-climactic.
Ultimately, I think a true friendship cannot be measured by the length of time or physical closeness. It’s all about quality and not quantity, and knowing you can trust and feel comfortable around someone. If these components are lacking, then it shouldn’t even be called a friendship in the first place!