Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Communication in Friendship

After a year-and-a-half long friendship with Boxy, I finally got to meet her in person this weekend, but that is a post for another time. While I was visiting Boxy and her husband this weekend, though, I got the chance to see their wedding video. They are coming up on 14 years of marriage this year and it was so much fun to watch the two of them on their wedding day. Of course, I couldn't help but share the photos I have on my laptop of my wedding with them as well. Then the three of us realized that we are quickly becoming old. Comments like, "They aren't together any more," "What happen to him," and "Sadly, he died,” started to come up in the conversation. While it is natural that life moves on and things happen, it got me thinking about how many people from my wedding I still talk to. How many people from college and even from high school are still in my life? My thoughts weren't just how many were still in my life, but also why aren't they in my life?

I had a long drive to think on my way home from Boxy’s house about the reasons. One is simply because we have all moved physically. Sure, there are some of my friends from high school that still live close to where I grew up, but even I finally moved away - after living in the same house for 21 years. In this day and age, it does seem like this is a ridiculous excuse to not be in contact with someone whom you once thought of as a friend, though. We have so many forms of technology that enhance our ability to reach one another, so why don’t we? Perhaps we could do some good with our social media accounts. I know Boxy hates social media, so for her, unless she finds another way to talk to people, she's not going to connect on Facebook. For me, however, I don't really know. Has too much time passed?

Another reason could be that we are all at different stages in our lives. Some of us are married and some have children, while others are divorced or single. I am not sure why this should be an issue, though. I was married at 24 and a parent at 25; however, both my husband and I have many friends with children and many without. It does make it hard sometimes to spend time with them unless we get a sitter, but honestly, who wouldn't like to step away from the day to day chaos to spend time with a friend you have known for years? There have even been times my husband has gone to see his friends from high school while I was at home with the kids, since most of them do not have children and they get together to be able to do the things they like. 

The last reason that occurred to me is probably the most honest and the one we least like to admit. Have you ever hurt someone, possibly unknowingly? Maybe it was a sarcastic comment in passing, or something that you expected them to just blow off. Maybe it was forgetting to say Happy Birthday. Sure, it seems trivial, but it happens and then your friend doesn't call you or email for a while and suddenly you are no longer friends. This seems like a problem that is likely to be solved by some simple communication, but when something like this happens, some people just stop talking to each other. This is hard, painful even, because you didn't intentionally mean to hurt that person, and it is possible you don’t even know why they aren't speaking to you any more. Eventually so much time goes by that they probably don’t even remember anymore why you aren't friends or what was said. The point is we all do it. We all say things sometimes that are meant harmlessly, but we lose friends over it. In this situation, both parties are, in fact, guilty. You are guilty, because you didn't take time to think about the other person’s situation and they are guilty, because if they would just communicate, things would be different.

I am guilty of losing touch when I could simply send an email, and I know I have said things that have hurt others and I have held grudges against those who have hurt me. Almost eleven years after my own wedding, I still long to speak to one of the friends I abruptly lost for an unknown reason. I use to call this friend nearly daily in hopes for a return call. This went on for months, and I called again when I found out I was pregnant and then when I delivered. I have not heard from my friend in eleven years, however, despite my efforts. I know that I am not the only one who has been in this situation.

I challenge you, instead of giving up, walking away, or holding a grudge, to actually take the time to reach out to a friend, to communicate. We all need friends in our lives; sometimes they are all we have. We don’t need a bunch. I often say it is quality not quantity that is important, but if we have taken the time to allow someone into our lives, to know us on a personal level, isn't the a little effort to keep them there worth it?

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