Building friendships is hard. This might be a difficult thing to accept in a time when we think that we are more connected than ever, but it has never been more true. We meet a new person, probably online or in person, and we begin to build a connection. Oddly, we expect that this connection is always going to blossom into something long-lasting. Is this realistic or even true?
Social media and the internet often use the terms access and connection interchangeably. By following someone or giving them our contact, we think we have built a connection with them.
On Facebook, we call strangers our “friends” and subconsciously begin to assume that building friendship might be just as easy as sending a friend request. I do not think it is so easy.
A friendship is a meaningful connection between two people. It goes beyond them just being someone you talk to or someone you know from school. There is some level of mutual realisation that you can depend on each other. This trust and connection is what forms the bond of a friendship, and highlights a very important detail:
You cannot be friends with everyone you know.
Ideally, this would seem like a no brainer, but we often do not realise it. The internet makes it easy to meet so many people and even worse, so many people we like. We see these persons and think to ourselves, “I want to be friends with them”.
For some reason, we desire to build meaningful connections with every single person we come across because of the easy access available to us via the internet. However, the truth is that most of these connections will amount to nothing.
Sometimes they don’t just like you the way you like them – they aren’t interested in building the same kind of bond you want with them. Other times, the closer you get to them, the more you realise that they are not quite the kind of person they seemed to be from their profile or timeline.
If we are self-aware enough, we will begin to see reasons why this friendship might not work. Still, pushing the narrative of access and connectivity sold to us by social networks, we strive to make these friendships happen.
Sometimes, these red flags aren’t even there. We find these people and they are everything we thought they would be – sweet, delightful and all round amazing. It all goes smoothly and then we begin to think to ourselves “wow, I’m going to be friends with this person forever”.
That’s another thing. Not all friendships will last forever.
In fact, most won’t. Life happens. Every single person you meet is having a unique life experience that you are mostly oblivious to. These unique experiences will change them in ways that you cannot even imagine. They will come across opportunities that will take them far and wide. They will also meet other people who will change them in unpredictable ways.
Sometimes, you are the one who changes. We don’t like to talk about it from this perspective but sometimes, you are the reason why the friendship doesn’t last. Time passes and you change. This change causes you to drift from these people you have formed connections with.
My point is – it is okay.
Some friendships will last a last time while some will only last a week. That doesn’t make them any less impactful, they just aren’t meant to last too long.
More important is making the most of the time you have with anyone and not letting resentment build up by stretching it further than it needs to go. Sometimes a friendship has run its course and it dies. Let it.
When we expect every friendship we make to turn into a lifelong commitment, we set ourselves up for continuous disappointment.
Ultimately, only a small number of the people we come across in life will become a part of that trusted group of loyal friends that we all hope to have. Sometimes, you’re lucky to meet them early on in life, or you might meet them much later.
What is most important is that you make the most of every connection you have with another person, without trying to force it into something that it isn’t meant to be. Sometimes the fight for something more is worth it, but more often than not, it isn’t.
Your friendships have a life cycle. Let them live, grow and die when they need to.