Friendship is not real

SpringI 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.

5 Comments

  1. Your post intrigued me. The title itself was enough to make me stop to read the whole thing because I knew there had to be more behind that title. And I was reading your post, nodding in agreement up until I read this line: “… we expect from people what only God could deliver.” And I guess this is where we differ in philosophies. I’m not religious, and I don’t have anything against religious individuals by any means, so I hope no one jumps to conclusions when they read that statement. One of my very best friends for over 18 years is a highly devoted Catholic woman and I love her and her faith for it make her who she is. I highly value all the friendships that I have and I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. Does that make me dependent on them? Not at all. Growing up friendships change from seeing each other everyday in high school to maybe various times through out the years during college (mostly the school breaks when we are all back in our home town) and now to hopefully once a year. All of my very truest friends live in a different state completely than the one I live in. As an adult I’m realizing that I don’t care to spend time with the people that are not going to matter in five years or so. But the friendships that I have had for so long, that I know will always be there, are tangible. I can see them, touch them, listen to them, and talk with them. Whether that’s on a phone, computer, or via the old-school hand written letter.

    I see understand your reasoning to ‘not hold friendships too close’. But my perspective is just a little different. I will hold them even closer. And appreciate them for who they are and how they have changed me. I respect your perspective , but I also disagree to some of your points. I.E like God being the “only” one that can deliver us what we need. I’ve been fine without a God in my life. I have good friends, I have a good heart, and I have good morals. I’m a good person and I want to spend my time with other good people here. But thank you for sharing your perspective on your post. Maybe take a read at this article: https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html ? It certainly opened my eyes up to the relationships in my life and why/how much they mean to me. 🙂

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    1. First, I want to thank you for your detailed comment! I really enjoy connecting with new people and learning other people’s perspectives compared to mine. I think that’s the best way to become well rounded when trying to understand people. 🙂 I made the title so dramatic because I wanted to grab people’s attention, but also because it seems as if a lot of people think that “friendship” is a universal term with universal conditions.

      I can also respectfully agree to disagree regarding the way a belief in a higher power can affect our lives as people. I am a very spiritual woman and my personal philosophy, based on my experiences, is that people are usually seeking a connection much deeper than the kind that we can have with one another, so they cling desperately onto other people and try to force them to give them the connection and warmth that they’re looking for. Although I write content based on my own worldview, I understand that not everyone shares mine.

      I definitely agree with you saying that you will hold your true friendships closer. Most people never clearly define what a “true friend” is. You said you don’t really get caught up in relationships that you know are not going to last long- I’d assume it’s because because those relationships contribute the least to your life in any form. So in some way, you’ve defined what makes a relationship worth investing into and you value and hold onto those that you see as valuable. Unfortunately, many of the people that I’ve known (or known of) don’t make this distinction, and it’s the relationships that were never going anywhere in the first place that cost them their mental well-being.

      People tend to rely, to the point of complete co-dependence, on other people who don’t intend to hold them up the way that they’re expecting to be held. I find this to be especially true for teens (and adults) who are within 10 years of having graduated high school. Placing too much faith and expectations onto regular people causes a lot of pain, which then distracts the hurting individual from actually accomplishing what they are truly capable of. This addiction to needing another person in order to do anything in life makes it very difficult to become a person who is able to think and make decisions on their own. Worst of all, the desire to have companionship (for validation) sometimes becomes so strong, that the people who are actually good friends get ignored or left behind.

      I think that having relationships with people that are meaningful, deep, and fulfilling is a beautiful thing that shouldn’t go unappreciated. Even if it’s short lived. I have some very good friends and acquaintances who I thank God for every day because of how much they contribute to my life. Even if it’s just by making me smile, spending time together, or making another good memory. I was unable to treasure friendships like these until I stopped putting the weight of my identity onto other people’s shoulders and started just enjoying the relationship we have.

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    2. I also just read the link you suggested and I loved it! I never thought about life, especially relationships, that way. I’m learning to appreciate those in my life who I love and cherish even more, just because I should. I never considered the fact that our time together is limited.

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  2. This is a really great post. I used to heavily depend on friendships to define me. I was constantly seeking validation from people, which causes a lot of compromise on personal values. I began doing things because I thought it would make people like me more. As I grew up though and had a deeper understanding of God’s place in my life those patterns began to evaporate and be replaced by a better understanding of myself in Jesus and a healthier perspective on friendship. This post has articulated a lot of the thoughts that have been swimming around in my head recently. I fully relate.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I completely agree and relate. Isn’t it just wonderful how a relationship with Christ can fill any void! I’m glad someone else could understand where I was coming from.

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