Hi. Me again.
I’ma hit you with three friendship scenarios.
i. We’re close. Yep. Yeah… like really close. In fact, she’s probably one of my best friends.
*six months later*
Ohhh, well, you know… I guess we’re just in different places now… yeah, we’ve kinda drifted I spose.
ii. Mate we should do this more often!! That was a hoot n’a half.
*only catch up every 6 months to hit the wines*
iii. Come for dinner, you bring the chicken, and I’ll hug you while you pick your nose.
Of course these don’t come close to summing up the different forms and facets of friendship, but I whacked them in to get our lil’ heads a’thinkin.
What types of friendships do you have? How have your friendships changed over the years and how has that made you feel along the way?
In recent years – in the post-apocalypse of hitting my late twenties (fairly dramatic, I know) – I’ve begun to realise more fully that there are different types of friendships. In the way your previous romantic partner was different to your current, or future one (you’d bloody hope so), friendships are unique connections with unique humans, and so each one will always be different.
Have you ever had a fast friend for a time, only to feel them slip away? Or on the other hand, maybe you’ve wanted to slip away from them? This is your love-affair-for-one-hot-summer type of friend, and when these friendships end they can be hard to bounce back from.
Once you might’ve been as close as a coupla’ pez in a packet, but for whatever reason the gods of friendship popped you out and you ended up miles away from each other.
This has happened to me, on more than one occasion, and sometimes I’ve been hurt by this ‘happening’… maybe I wasn’t ready for it, or maybe I was offended that someone evidently wasn’t interested in maintaining a friendship with me. I’ve also done it to people too.
Given we’re all generally friends with human beings (“speak for yourself!” they cry), who are living, breathing, fluid creatures, we should probably get used to the idea that those humans – their values, thoughts and intentions – will continue to change. In fact, everything will. You’ll be changing right alongside them. So for friendships that weave in and out of closeness, or are close for a time and then dissipate completely… it might be the time for a cup of concrete and a classic c’est la vie.
Rather than being hurt by it, forming an acceptance and understanding that this is the type of relationship you have with that person, makes it way more digestible. Friendships can’t be forced, and to assume two people will change in the same way and at the same time is an extraordinary expectation. It only happens with a few people in your life, and those are the ones you’re willing to really and absolutely fight for.
Another type of friendship is the wine-o-clock-once-every-few-months-friendship: a personal favourite of mine.
You know those people who you love to see, love to spend a giggly night with, but to who you’d probably never reveal the fact you wee in the shower? (Obviously this is horseplay, I would never pee in the shower, but then how well do we really know each other...)
There’s often an expectation with this friend, that you should increase the frequency of these catch-ups, that you should forge your way to close friendship. Is this always reasonable though?
I’ve decided I don’t think it is. Not always. I dislike this expression, but I agree with its sentiments: there are different horses for different courses. To expect that every friendship you have in your life should be spearheading its way towards Best Friendom is, well… a little weird. Imagine the reality of that for a second. Where would you draw the line? Would everyone you meet who you got along with need to be afforded the same efforts? What about the friendly fishmonger at the end of your street who you have funny chats with when they sell you the occasional Red Emperor? We’d all be absolutely exhausted.
There’s a bit of stinky stigma floating around, that makes us feel awkward if we don’t try to further these types of friendships. We feel pressured to say ‘we should catch up soon’ when we run into each other, despite neither party really being committed to that end, at least not on a regular basis. So what are we doing that for?
We’ve all grown up with the idea that friendships are forever and that BFFs are the end game… and that’s true of some friendships, but it needn’t be true of all, and it puts pressure on the ones that aren’t the former and hinders our ability to enjoy them for what they are.
So let’s bugger all that off. We don’t need it. I say be happy with your occasional friends, your wine-o-clock-once-every-few-months-friendships, because they’re a refreshing bubble of difference that you encounter every so often, and that’s a lovely thing in itself. It doesn’t need to be more.
Then you’ve got your best friends. Your close-as-a-duck’s-nuts friends.
I can’t really say too much about these ones, because we all have entirely unique experiences of them. Uniqueness is true of all relationships of course, whether they’re close or not, but these ones have levels of intimacy that can’t often be penned without diving into a Tolkien-esque explanation.
Friends like these are the ones who know you’ve got a real love for molluscs, know that you have a tendency to over-dramatise situations, and have an ability to pull you up on things you mightn’t be so proud of. These are the ones who shape you into a better human, and who grow alongside you while you do the same for them. These are the ones you fight for.
I was listening to a talk from an awesome neuroscientist the other day, Fiona Kerr’s her name. Fiona was talking about how eye contact creates human connection, and sparks our brain to grow. Eye contact grows new brain. Literally.
Friendships go even further though, and for the friends you have who you’re closer to than almost anyone else, when you’re together your brains are playing in sync and dancing together.
We have friends for a while, friends in context and friends forever. While these don’t show us all types of friendships in existence, they show us that all relationships are different, and that we don’t have to force things or feel awkward for engaging with them in whatever way we feel is natural.
Wouldn’t it be a good day if we could bump into an old friend on the street and not feel the pressure of a forced ‘we should catch up’... next time, I swear I’m going to try it.
This article was originally written for Chronicles of Her.