“Who says? Who says friendship lasts forever? We’d all like it to, maybe. But maybe [pause] it just wears out like everything else – like tires. There’s just so much mileage in them and then you’re riding around on nothing but air.” ~Gregg Lindroff (film Tequila Sunrise, 1988)
Does friendship come with an expiration date? I’ve thought a lot about the above quote over the years as I have let go of many of my old friendships. It has been a hard journey to come to terms that for various reasons – mostly to do with emotional health – my old friends and I will not stand the test of time.
Even with this realization, I still believe that friendships can last and make it through rough times. I was reminded of this by a recent article in the Huffington Post entitled “5 Secrets of People with Lifelong Friends” written by Catherine Pearson.
I found this article to be poignant at a time when the old friends that I had come to terms with as having no future resurfaced after a long absence. The five secrets served as a reminder and a good evaluation.
The first secret, “They Keep Their Expectations in Check”.
This is true for life and when it comes to friendships I failed miserably at this. I know that I had too high of expectations of my friends as well of as my role as a friend. A friend isn’t all things. And some friends you can share vulnerabilities with and others you can’t. I learned this the hard way and when I began to adjust my exceptions of my friends and myself (equally important), my eyes were opened to the realities of our friendship. It was only through shifting responsibility and well, keeping expectations in check that I could really see if the friendship was a healthy one.
This shift in my behaviors helped me deal with #2, “They’re Adaptable.” As I made changes in my behaviors it became painfully obvious how adept our friendship was at handling them. Even small changes like not ‘chasing’ after them and taking on less responsibility of staying in contact (example, sending e-mails, traveling to see them) began to takes its toll. As I adapted, there was little to no room for embracing the new present.
And #3, again becomes an extension of #1, “They Make Time for Each Other”. It turns out that I was the one making time/plans and my friends didn’t have the time. Unanswered short e-mails of ‘how are you?’ to making the plans and literally getting stood up (not fun when it involves long distance) allowed me to see that I did a good chunk of the work. The time I made for them left me feeling drained – leaving little to no energy for friends who honored their commitments.
And lastly, #4 “They appreciate just how unusual it is to have lifelong friends…#5 But they know not to hold on to friendship just for the sake of it.”
My old friends are from school days. And maybe the reason why I held on so long. It is rare and special to have friends who have been through a lot of stuff for so long. Many of them were my lifeline when I was dealing with the abuse at home. They were who I turned to when I needed an outlet, to have fun and numb the pain.
But holding on for ‘holding on sake’ isn’t healthy, it would be repeating the patterns of my relationship with my parents. This is maybe the hardest part, letting go of friends who, at one time, were my lifeboat. I have fun memories, a not total dreary childhood, because of them. I am grateful for them.
“I think it happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. And so you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.” ~Nicholas Sparks, True Believer