I know the title sounds dramatic for a lot of people and I’m not saying that there’s no such thing as a “friend”, but in this post I’d like to discuss my perspective.
The friendship fairy tale is one that we learn very early in life as a coping mechanism for parental detachment. As we pass through the years of grade-school, we learn that friendship is important for survival as well as companionship. The definition of friendship seems to be universal among all of our peers until around late-middle school and throughout high school. This is where most of us have our very first stories of being hurt, abandoned, or betrayed by a friend. We struggle because nobody teaches us that “friendship” doesn’t have a universal definition. When we enter the age of learning who we are, we gain our individual definitions of everything. Suddenly, it’s not a big deal to us to have a friend to play with in the front yard because we don’t even do that anymore, sitting alone during lunch is relaxing because we’re stressed from our workload or home life, and we don’t value the people we used to value the same way- so we treat them differently.
The fact of the matter is; the expectation that we have as children of our friends works for us then because we have no responsibilities or strong desires of our own. However, in the real world, these expectations are unrealistic and the amount of co-dependency is just plain unhealthy. Before we know it, we’re in high school and we’re afraid to ever sit alone, break-up with someone without consulting with our friends first, or join an organization with new students and meet someone new. We go onto social media to seek more friends and more validation from others because we aren’t satisfied with ourselves. We become adults who are so easily hurt by the actions of people we’ve put onto pedestals and we constantly seek approval for everything we want to do. Expecting our friends to make us feel like we’re successful or attractive, and to make us feel happy; when they mature past us, move away, or start a family we just can’t handle their absence. We become resentful and some people even handle the stress by starting drama. From the moment we detach from our parents, we aren’t taught how to stand on our own two feet and it makes us into fragile adults. We fear doing basic adult “things” on our own like moving away for job opportunities or handling conflict in our relationships- we struggle with life all together.
Putting friendship on a pedestal is unrealistic and guaranteed to hold you back. (It can also become a false idol.) When I’m sharing my life lessons with teenagers, I tell them that the real truth is that the amount of true non-blood “friends” they really have can be counted on one hand, without using every finger. That means you are only a “true friend” to the same amount of people, whether you believe it or not. People are people and everyone is not going to look out for your best interest. This isn’t even always carried out with malice or hate, but it’s just human nature. Everyone has their own life goals and ambitions and will put them first, before other people. Most young people, especially, have not yet realized that life is about more than their selfish life ambitions. People are not perfect and they will fail you, so you should never put all of your faith in them.
Friendship is very valuable, so you should treasure the friends you have and thank God for them every day. Even seasonal friends, which most people will be for you, are very important to your progression through life. Friends get you through the down times, they lend their resources to help you when they can, and they encourage you to be the best you. They’re not required to make you happy, pick up the phone every time you call to gossip, tell you the right decision you should make, or pick you up when you’re down. They need these things too and they’re probably simultaneously seeking them from someone else while you’re looking to them. So instead, enjoy the friendships you have, but only lean on God to fulfill your every need and desire. This advice could be extended for family relationships, including that with your parents, and marriage. We’ve got to let go of this idea that other people can make us feel happy or lead us to success. We trust other people more than we trust ourselves to make important choices and we expect from people what only God could deliver.
I used to be someone who valued friendship more than anything else in this universe. I leaned very hard onto friendships to make me feel whole or complete. I desperately sought after friendships to make myself believe that I had a big family that could hold me up. I feared abandonment so much that I expected to hear from my friends every 3 to 4 days, or else I believed the relationship was in danger. And as my friends and I grew apart, I spiraled into a dark corner where I just knew I was doomed to die alone. I had no faith in romantic partnerships fulfilling my desire for companionship because I didn’t know anyone (at the time) who even seemed happy to be in a relationship- even if they were married. It wasn’t until I converted to Christianity and decided to let go of some of my own personal desires, such as companionship, that I started to enjoy time alone. I also kept myself involved with a small church so that I would have a “church family” to lean on and I started to pray for friends. I found myself becoming content with being alone, in fact I preferred it so much that it’s become an issue in my life today. (I’ve become a hermit.) Which is why I just wanted to write this post to highlight the dangers of holding friendship too close, but I am not saying that there’s no point to friendship at all.
I hope this all made sense. What are your thoughts on my perspective? Are you currently experiencing an unhealthy dependency on friendship? Please leave a comment and we can chat.