F for Friendship

I’ve seen this meme floating around for a while that goes, “Shout out to low maintenance friends who you don’t talk to for months because you’re both out living life but when you meet up there’s nothing but love.” I find this to translate to, “I don’t make our friendship a priority in my life and you should be ok with that.” Every one on earth is busy at one point or another, but does wanting someone to put effort into your relationship mean you’re high maintenance?

This is a tale as old as time, people using other excuses to justify why they don’t make time for you because they don’t want to say, “You’re just not a priority to me.” They’re busy with work, they’re tired, their family is in town, their kids keep them busy, they were abducted by aliens as soon as they were about to return your phone call. While all of those may be true, it’s been proven tried and true that people make time for the things that are important to them. So as a matter of deduction, if they don’t invest time in your relationship, you’re not important to them.

Our relationships fall somewhere on a scale of ‘I don’t know her’ to ‘Until death do us part’. So there are some people near one end of the spectrum that we don’t really care to keep in touch with such as a person who only calls to asks for money, the person who keeps sending you chain messages on Facebook, or maybe the coworker who always wants to stop by your desk to make an inappropriate joke. Then there are the people who you take vacations with, you know each other’s entire family, and you’ve spent several evenings together drinking shots of tequila and sharing your deepest or most embarrassing secrets.

We live in an age where you no longer have to coordinate schedules to find a time to be by your rotary phone in order to talk to your friends. Not only can you send them a text message but every single social media platform we regularly use has a messaging feature. Which means that there’s really no excuse not to communicate with someone.

From speaking with Europeans about their perceptions of Americans there’s a consistent assessment. While Americans are very friendly upfront, they invite you to their home or to join them at events, they want to share stories about their lives with you and always show you a good time but in the end there is no substantial friendship that comes out of it. After a while, you never hear from them again or when you really need them, they’re not there.

The quality of our friendships at times can use more substance. Now a friend just means that you are friends on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, and like most of the post that they share. But outside of that no time is invested in truly getting to know them, being there for them emotionally or physically, or making sure that your friendship withstands any amount of time or distance.

By moving to another country I’ve made it considerably harder on my friends to keep in touch with me. There’s no more meeting up for brunch on Sundays or drinks in the evening and add in a 6 hour time difference which may delay our response times to each other. But I’ve realized that for many people, if I don’t message them, they don’t message me.

Friends that I’ve had for years I haven’t talked to in months. People that I’ve laughed with, cried with, or spent time with each other’s families for celebrations and holidays. When I’m having a bad day or have exciting news, I no longer include them. While I can go weeks without talking to someone and that doesn’t tank our relationship. I’ve realized that some people don’t have a genuine interest in you as a person, your friendship is a matter of habit.

Relationships are like plants. In order for them to grow, you have to water them. You water them by caring for them and making sure they get enough sunlight by brightening their day. It doesn’t take a grand gesture to show someone you care. Instead, the tiniest of gestures can make an even greater impact. The value of a simple, ‘How are you doing today?’ can go along way when you actually care about the person’s response. So if you can’t spare the seconds it takes out of your day to type a message, do you really consider yourself friends?

I believe in showing people how much you care about them while you still have the chance to do it. No matter how tired or busy I am, even if I have things going on in my personal life, I make it a priority to make sure that my friends know that I support them. While I may not always ace it, I do my best to make sure that I don’t get a failing grade in my friendships.

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