Not Meant to Be

Posted on April 3, 2012


Many people talk about break-ups with significant others, but rarely do people mention friendship break-ups. I’m feeling especially inspired given that within the course of the year’s first three months, I’ve had a few friendships either break-up, come together, or slowly pull apart at the seam. All very different situations, all very different people. All emotionally stressful situations that make 2012 feel more like a failing year than the peak I hoped for and imagined it to be back in 2011.

I wish I had the exact words of wisdom to comfort myself and encourage anyone else. I called up an old college friend yesterday. Last time I had seen her was back in September of 2011, so it had been a few months since we had really talked. We both talked about how some friendships weren’t meant to last, while others were. This concept never seemed viable to me a couple years ago. I tend to put my all into a friendship, hoping the other person will do the same, and never expect to get burned. It’s a dangerous thing to do, but it’s trusting. Now, it’s a very big reality for me.

I can’t bear to trust people like I used to. Friendships really shape you, but it seems like the hard times really decide for you how you’re going to enter into those new friendships; not the effortless, good times. I appreciate the great friendships I’ve had over the years, the ones I still keep, and the ones that slowly drifted apart. But somehow, in the here and now, I can’t help but feel moved and tired of playing the friendship game.

Since when did things have to become so complicated? I was never a big watcher of Home Improvement, but I always wondered how Richard Karn always put up with Tim Allen. I never thought Allen was the greatest friend to Karn, and it annoyed me every time I watched the show. And then again, I wondered why more friendships couldn’t be as simple as theirs was. They both were experiencing different times in their life, yet somehow they stuck through and remained friends. Oh, and then again, they’re both guys–that has to help. Regardless of their place in life–one with a family and kids, the other single and trying to get dates–they worked as friends and partners because they had common ground.

Most people I’m close to will tell you that at some point or other, I’ve said something along the lines of, “I always have too high of expectations for other people.” And it’s true–oftentimes, I do expect a lot of people, especially the people I’m close to. I figure if I’m putting my all into something, then they should to. And if they’re not? Then call them on it.

But the problem is that I can’t force people to care. Care about me, care about friendship, care about trust. It’s a personal choice that everyone has to make going into any kind of relationship, and it complicates things when the two people in the relationship both don’t equally care.

I feel like I’ve had an ulcer the size of Texas since this most recent friend debacle happened. It’s incredible how much a friendship can affect you physically! But at the end of the day, after all the frustration and confusion and complication, I remember something that I heard way back when:

You can control only what you do in a situation.

This statement (or idea) has lent me insight that I often like to be in control, and not having that control makes me powerless. And that’s really not true–I do have power to control my own actions, and maybe more important, my reactions to situations. I hate to get all preachy, but if I’m just reminding myself here that although other people aren’t going to care as much as I do, or put as much time or effort into it as I do, that at the end of the day, the fault isn’t on me. There isn’t something more I could have said or done or thought about. And while the words don’t feel particularly comforting at times, that doesn’t mean they aren’t true.

It just means that sometimes, some friendships aren’t going to work out the way you hoped they would. And that other person might care a lot, too, but unfortunately, the outcome of a friendship isn’t decided in the beginning. The means will always justify the end of a friendship. So take the time to sort out the “means” of your friendships, and make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can to do things right. And if you mess up? Well, from what I hear these days, those good friends that you’re meant to share long-term friendships with, will forgive you in the end.