Why Your Friendships Never Last
The way in which we form and maintain friendships has significantly changed over the past few decades. In times gone by we would have relied upon school walks, the village grapevine, address books, and a telephone landline as the basic foundation to platonic connections. Nowadays, with the ease of social media and instant messaging, we could assume that we would have enhanced communication which in turn strengthens friendships. Sadly, the impact of our digital era could not be further from the truth.
The speed in which we now communicate and our invisibility in our exchanges has led to greater turnover of friendships than ever before. The adage of “if you cannot say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” seems to have gone awry, along with what used to be more of a deep and meaningful connection to our friends. A lifelong friendship is a rare find and often difficult to preserve despite our best intentions. There are so many different types of friends too; neighborhood friends, childhood friends, same-sex friends, other-sex friends, work friends, and best friends. With all of these different types of friendships, why is it that some last, whilst others magically disappear faster than a magician’s assistant behind a curtain?
Communication is key
Like any relationship, communication needs to be an effective two way process, with an equal balance of speaking and listening. Even with this mutual exchange noted, misunderstandings occur, but always take time and effort towards rectifying matters as soon as possible. When unspoken words accumulate within us, they can slowly fester, causing our friendship to deteriorate rapidly. Our speedy instant messaging can see us shift from haste to hate, through simply misconstruing a toneless text message based on our mood and perception at the time of perusal. Speak of your concerns, listen to the response, and clear the air.
Two’s company, three’s a crowd
Unlike romantic relationships where there is a formal ceremony to legally connect people together for the foreseeable future, friendship is based more on a mutual trust from both parties. But when our dynamics change, such as when a new love interest enters one of your lives? We may proffer that our ultimate wish is for our friend to find a lifelong happiness – but do we really? The additional member to the friendship may come in many forms; the new partner, a first child, lifestyle change, health issue, or any other unforeseen life-changing event. These additional angles in our friendships truly show us which friends were with us for a simplistic connection, and which ones are with us for the long haul. There are no guaranteed tips on how to maintain a lifelong friendship, but it is during our most challenging times, we begin to see those with the greatest potential of being around for many years to come.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
No, it doesn’t. Sure, we have all had that one friend who we have seen for years, but when we do, it is like you have never been apart. But this is as rare as the lifelong friendship itself. Social psychology studies show us that we are naturally drawn to, and more deeply connected to those who we live near to and see regularly. If distance is non-negotiable, we will need to truly maintain regularly talk, text, facetime, write, smoke signals, and any other form of effective communication you can possibly muster up, to help create a sense of them being close by.
A reason, a season, a lifetime
Enough with psychology, sometimes things just simply happen. Or as the old saying goes “people come into your life for a reason, a season, a lifetime.” You could be a guru of communication, the crowd-pleasing third friend, and live in the same village, but the fact of the matter is that friendships are still going to fade and die. It is from our most painful and challenging times that our greatest growth will follow. Like any relationship ending, it can be a painful loss. However, as we move forward into our next life chapter, we will begin to appreciate the reason why a certain someone touched our lives, be it the backstabbing friend who nearly broke us, or the angelic friend who never doubted us. Let. It. Go.
What is friendship anyway?
Psychologists define friendship as a relationship of mutual affection, with a stronger interpersonal bond than mere association.
Did you know…
- Reciprocative and positive friendships help to improve our happiness levels, coping abilities, self-worth, confidence, and longevity.
- Studies suggest babies as young as nine months can understand the basic concepts of friendship.
- It is estimated that we have around four hundred friendships in our lifetime.
- We lose around half of our friendships every seven years, which may go some way to explaining the “seven-year itch.”
Try the following friendship tips:
1) Be yourself
Never put a friendship before your principles. Do not downplay the authentic you for people to like you, live your truth and the right people who will authentically love you.
2) Outline and respect boundaries
There may be a silent mutual understanding of what is and is not acceptable within your friendship, but life is ever-changing, which in turns moves boundaries. During times of challenge or change, review what constitutes a healthy boundary in your evolving friendship.
3) Be Truthful
Beyond “Does my bum look big in this?” truthbomb moments, always be truthful, to your friends. There are many ways to tell a story, but only one way in which to speak the truth.
4) Deeply listen
Be completely present for you friend and their words rather than simply listening for a gap for you to speak. Remember, communication is a two way process.
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