“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” ~attributed to Donna Roberts
“I once had a best friend who is now a stranger.”
We’ve heard it. We might have said it. Friends forever! But what happens when forever comes quicker than you expected? The bond frays, tatters, and separates? How does the unexpected happen and a friend is no longer a friend?
Before we tackle what might cause the ending of (what seemed like) a life-long commitment, let’s look at what friendship entails.
Friendship involves trust, conversations, questions, listening, understanding, challenges, connections, encouragement, and awareness. And more.
Friendship evolves. There are those in our lives about whom we can say we instantly became drawn to and became friends. Still, the development and cementing of the relationship more than likely (under normal circumstances) took time. Consider the following stages of friendship (there are other models and labels depending on your source of information. The point is friendship develops.):
1. Strangers. Consider this the introduction phase. A friendship may develop based on some common interest. Or it may not bloom for lack of connection or interest.
2. Acquaintances. Think of your casual hello and goodbye situations. Like when Roxie and I pass people on the beach in the morning. We come to recognize them and their canine companions. We smile. Exchange a greeting. The dogs get ear scratches, belly rubs and, maybe, a biscuit. And the interaction ends. We know little about each other. We are cordial in the moment without a deeper connection. Some of your neighbors might be acquaintances. Maybe the same for some members of your spiritual congregation. Likewise for the cashier who gives your coffee.
3. Casual Friends. We interact more; care more about each other. We ask deeper questions and get to know more about each other. A bond begins to form because we have similar interests or concerns. We meet more often, maybe more planned meetings (rather than just bumping into one another). We begin sharing more information about ourselves.
4. Close Friends. As time moves along in the casual phase, we come to a point where we have committed to one another. We share deeper thoughts, desires, concerns, and dreams. We become more aware of our friend’s family members and dynamics. We let our guards down in that we see each other at our best as well as the not-so-good times. We do not view each other as a potential threat. Trust and respect exist as we share more about one another.
5. Intimate Friends. Over time we become intimately connected in that we have shared more than hopes and fears. We have made ourselves vulnerable because of the trust we place in the other. We feel for each other. We cry and laugh together. We empathize. We are connected heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul. We hold nothing back. Secrets are shared. We even might say we are friends forever! It takes work and time to build and keep the friendship.
So what can cause this forever to devolve (or, maybe, evolve) into the end of the friendship?
A piece in Psychology Today offers four reasons we outgrow friendships:
1. They become depleting. When you are with this person, you feel drained. The relationship becomes all about him. Conversations become monologues with the other person dominating. When you used to be together, you came away energized. Now you need a nap and a cold shower.
2. They remain stuck in the past. Yes, you and your friend laugh about the good times back in college, high school, on the team, or in the band. But you have changed over the years. Who you are now has evolved. However, she remains stuck in the past with the same old jokes, images, and stories. Your current self is not respected or acknowledged.
3. One or both of you has stopped trying. Making plans, sending a text, or leaving a voicemail has become one person’s job. The other is not interested. You do what you can to stay in touch, he barely notices. Or he calls to check on your latest project. You have not even inquired about his current endeavor. The relationship withers.
4. You have nothing in common. You used to but no longer. Whether due to family dynamics, job responsibilities, political views, or something else you no longer have as much in common as you once did (or at least, as much in common as you once thought you did). Yes, you have a history but you no longer have a friendship. One or both has stopped investing in the work of building and keeping the relationship.
You have become Strangers. Refer to the beginning of this post.
Video recommendation for the week:
James Taylor singing You’ve Got a Friend.
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My latest book, Roxie Looks for Purpose Beyond the Biscuit, can be found in
eBook ($2.99) and paperback ($9.99) format. Click here.
My dog Roxie gets top billing on the author page for this work. Without her, there would be no story. Please, check out her blog.
And you can still order:
- Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at the above link.
- Stories about Teaching: No Need to be an Island (2017, print and e-book). Available on Amazon. One college’s new faculty onboarding program uses the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos (see the link above) would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts (all 50 episodes) can be found here.
You will find more about me at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2021. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®