It’s happened to us all. One moment we’re so very close to someone, meeting everyday and sharing our thoughts, hopes and interests, and the next…
Suddenly we start drifting apart, until we wake up and realise that we haven’t actually met for weeks, if not months. It could happen on purpose, or it could happen gradually and subconsciously. However we all have them – those friends who we were so close to at one point, but whose path, for some reason or other, took another direction along the way.
Everything happens for a reason, and whether at the time we’re actually aware of it or not, there probably was some kind of logic behind the fact that we drifted away from someone. It could be that it wasn’t so defined at the time, but I, for one, know my own mind, which is why I’d like to give some advice to those friends who realise they’re slowly growing apart, even though perhaps they may not really want to.
If you want to keep up a comfortable and friendly relationship, instead of ending up meeting once or twice a year and exchanging mere empty pleasantries because you actually don’t know what to say, you must consciously try to keep the fires of the friendship going. Here are some tips on what NOT to do, because unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it might sound.
If you’re a priority for someone, treat them the same way. Don’t place your friends in the background just because, for example, you have a new partner. It’s obvious that when one is no longer single, more time is dedicated to one’s girlfriend or boyfriend than to one’s friends. However even if you cannot meet so often, keeping in touch periodically through messages, chat, or even emails is easy nowadays. I had friends who ‘forgot’ all about me each time they hooked up with someone, only to suddenly ‘remember’ I existed when they suddenly became single again and needed someone to go out with. That’s a total no-no.
If you have an issue with me, talk to me about it. Don’t go moaning behind my back; that’s how gossip starts. And the truth will always out, so in the end, just because you were afraid to face the person and tell them what you really felt, or maybe because you lacked the self-esteem to have a plain out discussion, you end up losing a friend and getting a reputation as a gossip monger instead of feeling better.
If you hear rumours about a friend, perhaps from a jilted lover or a disgruntled admirer, be adult enough to take them with a pinch of salt and make sure to listen to both sides of the story. Talk to your friend and ask what happened instead of jumping to conclusions. And most importantly, be honest and tell them what’s going on, instead of becoming part of the rumour-wagon yourself and adding to the sniggers. If you do that, you’ve never been a real friend at all.
If your friends answer their phone immediately, and always text you back, you should do the same. Don’t leave them hanging for hours or more waiting for a reply, or if you do, provide a reason for the delay and an apology. When someone realises that communicating with them is not so important for you as it is for them, they will stop making efforts to get in touch with you.
Having differing interests or styles doesn’t mean that we should think our friends’ preferences are less important than our own. Never make someone feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in expressing their joy or feelings about a hobby or an achievement, even though you might not share it.
People in general need privacy and don’t always feel comfortable sharing their problems. Just because they share them with you doesn’t mean you have the lee-way to tell them to others. Respect your friends’ private space and be aware that they don’t always tell you everything, nor are they obliged to. Everyone has his own problems and most of us prefer to tackle them in our own way and in our own time. In other words, if you push in when you’re not wanted, your friends will start seeing you as a nosy-parker, and no one wants those around.