Friendship ~ A Life Lesson

During my forty-six years I’ve had a lot of friends. Some friendships have endured growing up, life changes, physical and emotional challenges, etc., for decades, others lasted a few years and ended, others were more casual, lasting for less than a year before dissolving without fanfare.

I’ve learned a lot about friendship as a result of some pleasant as well as painful life experiences. Most of what I’ve learned has to do with me.

When I find someone interesting, recognize commonalities between us, enjoy their company, I set about befriending them. I know that I often offer to do something kind for them, as an offer of friendship. I guess in a way, ‘selling’ the benefit of my friendship to them.

Once the friendship is established, I’d do just about anything, within reason, to help them, support them. I have friends who’ve needed groceries, money for bills, transportation, a place to live, furniture, etc., and I’ve done what I could to help them out. I offer an ear willing to listen, a shoulder to cry on, my own experiences (if they will help the person not feel alone), whatever I can do to support them as they navigate the speed bumps on their journey.

I’ve always been taught that you receive that which you give. Some people think of it as the ‘Golden Rule’ – Do unto others as you would have done unto you and others think of it as Karma.

To me, friendship is about loyalty, trust and honesty. I tend to open up to my friends, letting them into my inner circle. I don’t believe in keeping secrets or withholding things, as it complicates things when something comes out at a later date, so I figure, put it all out on the table, that way my friends know me, know where I’m coming from, know what to expect and they don’t have to be bothered with trying to ‘read between the lines’. I don’t have to worry about what I did or didn’t tell them.

Because of my own approach to being friends, I’ve learned the hard way that some other ideas about ‘friendship’ don’t make a very good fit.

I’ve learned that some folks are looking specifically for someone to listen to them, they need a lot of support and encouragement. They can’t be bothered with reciprocating in the friendship and someone like myself who offers support can get overwhelmed by this arrangement.

There are folks who want to be your friend, but you have to be who they want you to be, not who you are. They know how you should feel, what you should think and how you should behave. They aren’t afraid to tell you what they need from the relationship and if you aren’t able to fulfill their needs they will likely move on.

There are some folks who are very guarded. They never really let their friends inside, there is always something about themselves they keep private. Their friendship can be unpredictable, as you can offend without knowing it, not being aware of their sensitivities.

There are folks who distrust everyone. They don’t know how to be friends. They are uncomfortable with anyone getting close to them and they are always suspicious of the motives of others. They misinterpret and misunderstand the intentions of others, not necessarily because their ‘friends’ are ‘bad people’ or out to hurt them, but because their own suspicions mislead them.

There are people who have little interest in ‘friends’, but rather what others can do for them. These are the folks who get some sort of satisfaction out of rumors, distortions, lies, gossip and trouble making.

I’ve discovered some great friends by sharing stories of childhood abuse, disability, and emotional struggles. Friendships born of mutual understanding and compassion can be uplifting and inspirational.

What I’ve had to learn is that to have a satisfying friendship there have to be realistic expectations and that how open you are, how close you allow others to get is up to you.

My practice of being a trusting open book can be easily taken advantage of. Without some boundaries I find myself feeling taken advantage of, resentful and hurt.

I’ve encountered people who’ve used my compassion and honesty against me, people I thought were friends.

The lesson really seems to be to know and trust yourself. Know your boundaries and enforce them. Don’t over extend yourself and know that you shouldn’t have to sell or defend yourself to a friend.

Not everyone defines friendship the same way, if you keep that in mind, perhaps you will experience less disappointments and hurts.

For those who choose not to be friends, please keep moving forward on your journey, don’t bother to look back, nothing is served by hanging on.

I'm looking for a group of friends that I can talk to, laugh with and enjoy... that shouldn't be that hard, should it?
rollingwithhusky rollingwithhusky
46-50, F
12 Responses Jul 26, 2010

Ill be your bestie

In todays www lifestyle we throw the word "Friend" about like confetti. In the whole of my life I`ve had seven true friends only two of us are alive and now live in different countries. Only three of us reached 30yrs. What I did learn as a soldier was we might not like each other but we would lay down our lives even for the ones we hated. As you say Friendship is a lesson in life, but one thing is sure try to make a small group they will last through life and beyond.

Wow- you have expressed your understandings so eloquently and I believe your insights are spot on . For my money - I'm tired of having to go overboard with interest / listening/ understanding of some others and then when I need back -up the response can be short , lacking in support. I also have issues with what I call 'female compliments'. At the risk of sounding too negative -.i find that females compliment certain other females to show power/ exclusion/ pecking order to others - I don't always find the compliments 'genuine'- I find them 'loaded' or with ulterior messages within a social circle of who is 'in' 'top of the pile'

I am going thru the exact same thing that you are I have 2 online friends that I have had for about 6 years now and have never met but we are close they are from Florida, and Iowa I am in Tennessee. It's hard especially since I have no mother and father they have there other families and left me to fend for myself long ago. A non affectionate bf doesn't help the scenario this time of year makes me sad

I'm sorry to hear that. I don't have my mother and father, nor my sister, so my "friends" are very important to me, they are my "family". Not being able to go out and socialize like other people, it's very hard for me to make new friends that aren't online. It's a sad time of year for me too, because the week before Christmas in 1994 I lost my father. Hang in there... there are some good people out there. :)

Thanks yeah I just deal don't really wanna deal with my bf's family during this time of year but don't really have a choice

This is so true

wordsforliving,<br />
<br />
I'm speechless at your generous and kind words. I've accepted too, that the friendship I'm looking for might have to be online... but even so, a reciprocal friendship, in any form, is something to be thankful for!<br />
<br />
I'm already glad for the friendships that are developing here on EP. :)

You have basically summed up in the most brilliant way the same experiences and beliefs I have with making, keeping and reciprocating friendships. And in reading this, I see you are true treasure. If I were panning for gold, I just stumbled upon an awesome gold nugget. <br />
<br />
My words are inadequate I know after having read this, but I will read this over and over and ponder this further. <br />
<br />
Also, might I say - you've given me hope that maybe one day I will have reciprocal friendships, maybe only online, but at least that's something.

LOL!!! Sounds about right! Bwahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

Ok...when we meet we can circle and eyeball each other with suspicion. Of course then we will both crack up....LOL

Well bd, I expect people to 'want something' from me, to have expectations that I can't meet and to not 'be there' for me when I need them. I've been hurt and burned so many times... I'm almost becoming indifferent to the idea of having friends. <br />
<br />
Deep down inside me there's an aching need for camaraderie, for someone to share things with, but closer to the surface there's a frustration and over all weariness that drags on me when I think about 'friends'. I get so tired of doing the 'friendship dance' only to be 'stood up' in the end. <br />
<br />

I feel this way and I'm only 20 lol, is there hope for people like us?

I sure hope so Azureskye. Good Luck :)

I accidently posted this on a different one of your stories. i edeleted it, but if there is a record, that's what happened. LOL

You are very observant. My biggest falw is that i expect people to find something they don't like about me and dump me as a friend. I expect it because it always happens. I am very eccentric. i have health issues. I have brain damage and no matter how up front I am...they say they can acept it but then find they can't,. I am very cautious about people. Simultaneaously I am very open, because like you said...I want to lay it all out on the table so i don't end up wasting my time.