Even though most people think geographical distance is the main factor why friendships grow apart, the worst enemy of friendship is not distance, but change; and because people change and we can’t change people, many friendships are lost to the alterations that our personality undergoes as we grow older. To illustrate this, think of your college or even high school friends, and think of the ones who are still geographically close to you, but have stopped being your friends simply because you’ve stopped calling, seeing one another or caring for each other whether it’s due to your busy schedules or lives, or whether it is because you’ve made new friends at the workplace or around the neighborhood. Geographical distance may be an obstacle to maintaining a healthy friendship, but it isn’t necessarily the reason why a friendship bond ends, and breaking up is harder to do when it is with your best girl friends.
Take my case for example. For 7 years I’ve been friends with a girl that attended the same school I did, and although we were never in the same class, we happened to develop a close bond because our sisters used to go to the same class, and as we coasted along to parties and extra curricular activities, we got to gradually know one another. After we graduated from HS, and contrary to what I was expecting, our bond grew stronger. We didn’t attend the same university, but we did see each other frequently, we called each other everyday, and we kept on developing this bond that seemed to grow through the years even though about a year after we had actually started our friendship I had to move to a different country. We were in the same time zone during one half of the year, which made it easier within all the difficulties that keeping a long distance relationship implies. We had managed to keep calling each other, chatting and exchanging e-mails as we also sent occasional cards and pictures to keep in touch. We were up to date in what our out-and-abouts refers; we even got to see each other after I left since she went visit me for almost a month to where I lived.
Even though we were apart, our friendship kept being strong, which means that even though there was a lot of distance in between, we were still the same old friends. Both of us had made new best friends at the university, and both of us had a different social life, but I always knew I had my own special place in her heart just like she did in mine. Of course we couldn’t always talk or chat, and we couldn’t always write to each other, but when we did, I felt like I was home. We couldn’t know absolutely everything that was going on in one another’s lives, but I think we managed to keep the friendship healthy considering our circumstances. We survived the first few years apart, but after we got to our 5th year physically apart, things seemed to start going downhill. I had to move again, and this time to a different continent, which meant a different time zone and made it almost impossible for us to actually keep in touch. At the same time, the days have kept passing by as we grow to be adults, as we’ve started our professional lives, and as we’ve made plans for our future. I realize then, that life simply seems to have taken us different paths.
We don’t call, e-mail, send pictures or chat anymore. We do it very seldom, and although I’ve tried to keep the friendship alive, it seems like she has lost interest in me. Maybe we both have. I’ve gotten tired of being the only one to try hard to keep things going, so I kind of have let go of her because if friendship is a two-way street, I can’t do her job and mine. Lots of events have taken place since I left, and I know we haven’t kept up with every little thing going on in our lives, but things have come to a point where I am starting to give up. This is hurting a lot, but I guess it is better if I accept that our realities have changed, and the she has simply stopped caring about me. She has actually helped me realize this without even knowing it. I guess since I care so much for her, I’ve been in a state of denial for the past year and a half, thinking that things between us are perfectly fine when in reality we’re back to being complete strangers.
A little over a month ago she decided to start a new, and her first real blog. I was happy when I heard the news, although she wasn’t the one to deliver them, because I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch. I thought that it would be great to read about her and her days, and in that way keep up to date with her life given that our different schedules don’t allow us to chat or talk all that much. When I’m home she’s working, when she’s home I’m sleeping, and when she’s sleeping I’m working. On the weekends I barely get to share with my family and boyfriend, with whom by the way, I also keep a long distance relationship. My routine simply doesn’t allow me to actually keep in touch all that much with anybody else, but I don’t think I use it as an excuse for what’s happening to her and me since as I see it, this goes beyond our busy schedules.
I’ve felt uncomfortable and even offended with some of her entries, and I think she has felt the same with some of the comments I’ve left on them. The truth is I read her notes with such interest and excitement, and I try so hard to provide support or give advice, be there and simply be a friend and instead, in return, I get either no comments or pejorative remarks. Sometimes she writes entries about how much she misses her college friends or the people she got to know for three months at an exchange program in Canada. Sometimes she talks about how well they know her, and I must admit that I feel like my friendship is worth nothing to her any longer. I’m not talking jealousy here; I’m talking the pain of realizing that she simply doesn’t see me as someone important in her life anymore, or like she misses me or needs my friendship. I could care less about the million friends she makes, but what about my relationship with her? Where has it all gone?
Just a few days ago she opened a Facebook account long after I had been asking her and almost begging her for months to get one. So she did it after all even though she had clearly stated that she wasn’t opening an account in that site, so I had given up on insisting. Instead of being happy, I was sad when I became aware that she is now part of the Facebook community. Maybe not so much because I realized she didn’t do it because of me, but simply because I realized I wasn’t important enough in her life anymore as to convince her for opening an account so we could leave each other messages, go over each other pictures and keep a little more in touch.
So I have a few open wounds that I’m not sure will ever heal. She is the kind of person I thought I’d be friends with for life, and it really hits me to realize that she only did so for a while. I understand one-on-one contact is important to survive, but if we had been able to manage for the past few years, I can’t accept that argument for the way our relationship has been doing lately. I don’t expect her to spare lots of hours so she can write or keep in touch, but I also don’t expect her to forget all about me, and especially, not to do it without being honest an open about it, which at the end is what gets to me the most.
If anything this, is the time I need us to be more in touch since our paths have begun separating so much, and yet all I get is nothing, or rather entries in which I don’t even know if she’s referring to me when she mentions how insulted she gets when “some people” refuse to realize she has changed, she’s not the same little girl that was once 17, and that she hates how people talk about her in ways that are offensive since all they do is reflect themselves and not who she is because they have an “outdated” image of her.
I feel like we have this unresolved conflict, yet every time I try to ask her whether she’s mad at me or what she thinks or how she feels about our friendships, she keeps making me believe that everything is in place. I guess this is what hurts me the most because she has done nothing less than confuse me. I would rather have her be honest and open, and I would prefer talking about whatever seems to be wrong in our friendship. However, she’s the kind of person who avoids conflict, and I guess she likes becoming distant better. If she says everything is okay but then she makes me aside and starts writing things that make me feel like crap, well then I don’t get it. If I’ve done something wrong I can’t know it unless she speaks her mind, but if she refuses to do so, I can’t spend the rest of my life fighting for someone who simply doesn’t care anymore as she did before.
We haven’t initiated an official break-up, maybe because she simply keeps neglecting the friendship as though nothing is wrong. I’ve simply started to become distant. This isn’t about just me or her, but about both of us. I feel like we’ve outgrown each other and the magical bond between us is basically gone. I feel like we got to the heart of life in our friendship since we have laughed and cried, exhilarated and grieved together. We get each other in ways that most people don’t even care to, so accepting that life has changed us feels like the end of the world to me. She can’t relate to my life anymore and neither can I to hers, so the abyss between us seems too deep for me to ever travel over it again. I don’t feel like she’s there for me anymore. I’ve tried not to give up easily on her, and I think I’ve done a pretty good job. After all, I never forget the reasons why we became friends on the first place, her virtuousness and character, but my attempts seem to be useless, and I have decided to give her a little time and space because I feel like our friendship has run its course even though I know that she and my friendship with her are irreplaceable.
Even though some people underestimate the importance of friendship, having close and unconditional friends is something we all call for, and especially something all women need. It doesn’t matter if we grow to be married or have children. We’ll always need our best girlfriends. They’re central to our lives and we have a special concern and love for them within a broader set of concerns in our lives. They help us shape who we are because they are more like sisters and the people who will remain there through the years when our hearts are broken, when our children grow up, when our parents die, when our careers come and go, and when our coworkers forget things we’ve done. “Memories dim, children grow, people die… and sometimes friendships, even those we imagined would last forever, just whither away.”
Image by: Sarah Williams @ Stock.Xchng