Relationships as well as friendships are much like marriages; it’s important to know when to let go. It can happen at either end. We all have a choice as to whether we wish to continue to be part of any relationship and either party can decide the time is up. The degree of anguish, hurt, or relief is a matter of which end of things one is on.
Le’s take an example. Suppose you’ve been in a very long friendship, say one that has endured for 25 or 30 years. You and your friend have exchanged visits, holiday cards, gone on trips together and talked about each other’s families for all those years. And then one day you begin to have trouble reaching this friend. At first, you figure he/she is just busy. After all, you’ve been friends for so many years and you didn’t have any arguments, what else could it be? So you begin to figure out what the other person is doing that would keep them from responding to you. Perhaps one of their children has been ill, or maybe they’ve been dealing with life issues that they don’t want to bother you with. This begins the excuse stage.
Next comes the worry stage. This is where you really start to wonder why your long-time friend isn’t returning your phone calls and/or emails. You begin to go over the last conversation you had examining how it went. Could there have been some clue that you missed? Why doesn’t he/she get back to you? Is something going on that you haven’t figured out yet?
Then there is the irritation stage. What have I done to deserve this behavior? So you try again. With one last attempt to be nice and give the other person the benefit of the doubt, you write an email, “I know how busy you must have been since I think one of your children is due to be married….”. A few weeks later, a response comes with no salutation, just the news that indeed the daughter or son or whomever did get married, but it happened months before (so guess what? You weren’t invited and I’m only telling you now to get you off my back…. Words in parenthesis are unspoken but implied). Wow. Now you know. It’s final. The relationship no longer has meaning. If your words of congratulations had meaning, then the news would have been provided more timely. People send invitations even to those they know can’t come just to “include” them. At a minimum, they send a notice. Not to receive anything is certainly a realization that one is less than an acquaintance. How did this happen?
When one begins the process of re-evaluation of the relationship, the whole thing begins to unravel. Was it ever a friendship or just a matter of convenience? No response is necessary. No other phone calls will ever be made or answered. It’s done. The realization is complete that the relationship is over. All that is left is to accept that a life-long friend may have been a mirage.
Talk about a life lesson. How can one discern friendship? Perhaps it was there for a while. Perhaps it wasn’t. All we can do is live with it and hope that our new friends are more worthy of our time and attention.