Friday, May 22, 2009

Thoughts on Friendships

Back in December, I read an interesting post on the issue of "best friends." I intended to write a post on my thoughts at that time, but then I sold a house, bought a house, moved, and with all the chaos, this particular post went unwritten.

Last night, I read another interesting post on the subject of friendship, and my thoughts on the matter were aroused again.

When my sister and I were young, everybody was her best friend. I mean, everybody. "But Mom, I HAVE to go to Mary's party, she's my best friend!" Never mind that the day before, she HAD to call Kelli, because she was her best friend, and the day before that, of course she needed to buy Sonya a birthday present, she WAS her best friend, after all!

Throughout life, I always had ONE best friend. And a twin cousin who was truly my best friend throughout all of childhood, but in addition to her, ONE best friend at school. It changed in time... there was Kim for a few years until she changed schools, and then it was Amber. When she left the school, it became Rachel, and when we parted ways it became Robyn. But at each stage in life, there was just ONE best friend. So I never understood this issue my sister had with calling every friend her best friend.

But now, things have changed. You know all the surveys that come around -- it used to be by email, now they are proliferating on social networking sites such as Myspace and Facebook. I always hesitate when I come to questions such as, "Who is your best friend?"

It's not that I don't have a best friend; it's that I have many, and they all serve different functions in my life. If a problem arises, I know who to call if I just want a listening ear, and who to call if I want practical advice. I know who to call if I make an exciting Laura-find, and who to call if I want to go out and do something fun. I know who to call if I want to share a funny kid story, and who to call if I simply want to chatter endlessly about nothing. There is overlap, of course, but you get different reactions from different people and I can't imagine not having any of them as my "best friend" or the void their absence would leave in my life.

Maria concludes her post with the opinion that after a certain age, you don't NEED a "best friend" and thus the line between best friend and good friends becomes more blurred... but what is that age, and why? (And why has my sister been that way from birth?)

And Jennifer's post on how friendships ebb and flow is particularly interesting because I was thinking just a few days ago on this very issue, mainly because of facebook and the renewed relationships it brings about. On facebook, I have the opportunity to become reacquainted with some of those best friends from years past, where the relationship ebbed simply because of a change in circumstances. Why is it that some of those old friends I picked up with like no time had passed whatsoever, and others I feel such a distance with, and non-interest in?

Is it that with all the years apart, we've all changed (obviously) and some of them have changed in similar ways to me and we're therefore still very much alike, or not so much alike but whatever attracted us to each other in those days still exists, and others have changed very differently, and thus the disconnect and lack of interest in renewing relationships with those people?

Jennifer writes that "it is a mystery," and I must agree. It really is no different from new relationships... why is it that I can join a group of people and instantly feel a connection with one or two of them and not the others? I guess the bigger mystery here though is that the connection was once present and now it isn't.

I suppose in the end, it doesn't really matter. But it's something to wonder about...

1 comment:

Maria said...

I'm flattered you quote me :o)

I also find it interesting to see what the internet has done to friendships. I mean, just take us - we've known each other about 15 years (give or take few... I know I knew you in 1996, but don't remember how long we'd known each other before then), never met, yet I still consider you a good friend. That would have been a lot more difficult just in our parents' generation, when communication necessarily had to be via the slower (albeit somewhat more charming) snail-mail.