Have you ever felt guilty for not seeing your friends often? Despite grand plans to meet up, texts and messages exchanged, the meet up did not happen. Sometimes it was you who canceled, sometimes it was them. The result is the same however. You have not seen each other in ages. And you feel very bad about it. Are you still friends? What of your friendship? Will they still want to hang out together? What are the rules of friendship?
First of all, take a breathe and relax. Your friends are probably asking themselves the same questions. You, me, them, despite being different persons, we are all the same. You bail, they bail, you get lazy, they get lazy, you have the best intentions, they have the best intentions too. Thus, it is never one-sided (or very rarely).
Second of all, the first rule of friendship is that there is no such thing as a rule of friendship. No one shoe fits all. There is not one type of friendship. You’ve got different groups of friends with different dynamics, there is not right answer. The only sure thing is that friendship is a lot of work.
Maintaining friendship when you are at university is easy. You see your friends everyday, in class. Thus, you don’t need to put in a lot of effort to meet up with them. It is when you leave university that things get more difficult. You probably move town, sometime at the other side of the country. You grow up, might change interests, eventually couple up and have less time for them. Don’t worry, so will your friends. Does that mean friendship after university is impossible? No! It is possible. It is just a hell lot more work than it used to be!
But wait a minute. If you work, you’ve got no exam nor revisions, so evenings and weekends free, so loads of time, right? In theory, yes but let me tell you something. You might not be in any shape or mood to see your friends after work! You think university is tiring? Wait until you start working! Working is exhausting. I love my job but I am also very often drained at the end of the day. Despite wanting to meet with my friends, I also really want to be at home to chill and relax. Furthermore, knowing how my tired self is, I’d be very bad company anyway. So I’d rather spare them that!
So why do I still feel guilty over not seeing them more often?
We already all know that after university, and despite our best efforts, we will have fewer and fewer friends. That’s how it is. So the few friends we have left when starting to work, we are even more scared of losing them. And we feel like it will happen if we don’t see them often. If the friendship was never strong (or important to you and them) to begin with, it might happen. Otherwise, the friendship will go through silent periods, rough patches and collective unavailabilities.
While I truly believe that it is never one-sided, I also think that your behavior towards those who can’t meet up can really affect your relationships. After Christmas, I was very busy (almost overwhelmed) with work, blogging, my relationship, traveling, etc. and did not see my friends for a very long time. Did they hold a grudge? No. Did they stop being my friends? No. Simply because everyone in a group of friends will eventually take on the role of “the one who can never make it”. A small piece of advice, ditch the “they can never make it so let’s not invite them” because that “they” might just be you very soon. And you still want to get invited despite not being able to make it.
We truly enter adult life after university and we can all appreciate that if our life change dramatically, so will our friends’. Thus, I believe we all become much more tolerant towards others’ assumed lack of social life or commitment. Simply because it is not… it is just trying to get on with their own lives. And it becomes harder and harder is we grow up. I think what matters most is the thought, the intent, showing that you are still there and thinking about them. A strong friendship does not need constant meeting to hold but it does need small attentions – texts, messages, tags on social posts. Small things often mean a lot.
Small things can also save a friendship. We do not always have the physical means to see our friends – different city or country. If you are always the one texting, restarting the conversation, trying to arrange calls and always get empty promises or silence, you’ll eventually give up. Nothing wrong with that. No interest feeding a one-sided relationship. But again, this goes both ways. You don’t want to lose that friend? Answer her texts.
Sometimes, it is just the case of seeing your friends once a month and you have an absolute blast. You see your childhood friends once a year, maybe twice if you are lucky but every time you see them it is like you’ve never left. And that’s the beauty of strong friendships. So no need to put a lot of pressure on yourself because you don’t see them every other day. Although it never hurts to see them more often. How to now? A whatsApp group. It helps. A lot.
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What do you think? Do you feel guilty when you have not seen your friends in ages? Or when you want to see them but are not in the right mood? Did you maintain all your friendships after university?
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