I'm probably not a very good friend.
At least, that's often what I think, when I measure myself and how I approach friendships against how I imagine the average female my age does. Which way is that? Well, I probably don't ask the right questions, or say the right thing. And I've definitely been told I don't stay in contact enough. Basically, I don't think I carry out, r subscribe to, a lot of the usual friendship rituals, especially those expected of a typical female friendship.
The honest truth? This probably isn't going to change despite how much I try or want it. It's a fundamental building block of who I am as a person, and as a friend. Hell, my approaches to many types of relationships probably share a significant degree of similarity.
My approach? The simplest way to describe it — whilst also stating that none of this is conscious thought — is that I don't put all my eggs in one basket and I don't show my hand. What do I mean by that? Well, since high school, I've always had several friendship groups. Some crossover, some don't. But within those groups, only a select few know me for who I really am.
Why? Let me first of all say, I'm not trying to incite the world's saddest violin concerto on the world's smallest set of strings. This is just the truth; cold, hard facts. Being bullied by your 'best friend' at age 13 affects you. If you can't trust your 'best friend', who can you trust? So, I suppose I thought having several friendship groups would work out better in the long run.
And has it? Well, yes and no.
Let's get the negative out of the way first. This is bad because...? I would hope it's obvious; I often struggle to stay in contact with the sheer number of acquaintances I've made, and keeping my cards so close to my chest often results in few of them really understanding who I am, and why I am who I am. And because I don't measure up to their expectations, it hurts their feelings and/or they no longer consider me a friend. Whilst it has happened, they don't tend to contact me and say 'Hey look, you've barely been in touch. I don't think we can be friends any more.'. They just stop sever contact, or stop replying. You don't get a chance to say 'Oh I'm sorry, I just hadn't noticed how much of a crappy friend I was being. I'll change.' Mind you, if they did, I'm not sure I'd be too impressed if it was because they had unrealistic expectations of the commitment two people should make to a friendship.
Conversely, it's good because...? Well, mostly because meeting and making new friends is pretty awesome; it opens a world of possibility. Knowing friends all over the world can be great in itself. But finally, those friends I have made who operate in a similar fashion — i.e. not needing to talk all the time to consider us friends — have remained just that for years; my friend, and I theirs. In most cases, both of us know they could call on the other if they were in a jam. Just this week, I met up with two people (separately) that I have known for ten years, and we just pick up where we left off. There are people I've known for longer; 12 years, 15 years; and shorter periods of time; 7 years, 4 years, etc., but because their approach echoes my own, I'm pretty confident that as the milestones roll past, we will continue to be friends. That is certainly my hope, at least.
So, whilst I started this post with 'I'm probably not a very good friend', I don't believe that. In fact, I'm going to blow my own trumpet and say I'm a pretty frickin' awesome friend; I am fiercely loyal, unreservedly frank whilst non-judgemental, and often very forgiving (up to a point, of course). Maybe it's just that some people have a different level of expectation for friendship.
Image credit: arjun v, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0