Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friendships Are Not Complicated

One of the "joys" of being a parent is consoling your children when they feel omitted from a circle of friends at school. Maybe their friend played with someone else at recess. Maybe they weren't invited to a birthday party. Or a friend moves away and they feel left alone. In our house, my kids know to come to me for empathy. Don't get me wrong, Abby is a very sympathetic woman but we have just had different view points when it comes to friendships. I've always wanted to be everyone's friend and was hurt when I was left out. She has been more along the lines of "if they want to be my friend then they will be my friend." Our Facebooks kind of reflects that. She only has close people she knows as her Facebook friends. I, on the other hand, have over 500 friends and many of them I've never met.

I have learned something about friendships though. Part of the lesson came from experience and part came from Abby. As I stated, I always held my friends on up on a high level. I even found myself WORKING on friendships. In the end though, either the friendship is going to go be there or it isn't. I'm not saying you should neglect a friendship but if you find yourself stressing out about maintaining the friendship then maybe it's not worth it. Friendships are not burdens and if it feels that way, maybe it's time to let it go.

You see, if you feel that you are having to work at a friendship then you are really setting your friend up for failure. A friendship should be fun. A friendship should be give and take. But if it's work then it's not going to be fun and you are going to realize at some point that they are not there for you as much as you are there for them. That's not to say that a friendship is always stress free but it shouldn't be stressful.

It's taken me 38 years to realize this and I realized it by just looking at my two closest friends--Jim and Heather. Jim used to be my partner (work partner--not life) and he is the godfather of my oldest daughter Emma. He is one of the nicest people you have ever met and someone I look up to. We may go months without talking but we will quickly catch up. I know that he is always there for me if I need someone. He knows that I'm there for him if he ever needs someone. Fortunately, he realizes that if he needs help moving something heavy that I'm probably busy that day. :-) In the end, Jim is someone that makes me happy.

I speak to Heather more often, which is good since we carpool our kids. Heather is a friend from church. She is the Director of Youth Ministry and I am one of the people she uses as a catechist. She is the godmother of my youngest daughter. She, like Jim, is also one of the nicest people I've ever met and someone I look up to. Like I said, we speak more regularly than Jim and I. We meet every couple of months over lunch and discuss how we are going to make the world a better place. We don't always agree but that's okay. We respect each other's opinions. Again, she knows I'm there for her and I know she's there for me. And she also realizes that if she needs something heavy moved that I'm busy that day. (I'm a very very busy person). Like Jim, Heather is someone that I leave in a better mood after having been with.

I don't know what made me realize it. Maybe it was just an "ah-ha" moment. But at some point I looked at my friendships with Jim and Heather and compared them to friendships in the past and realized--they are stress-free, uncomplicated and fun. I'm not sure I can explain that theory to a 14 year old or a seven year old girl. I definitely can't explain it to The Boy (you can't tell him anything) so I guess, I will just have to hug them, listen to them, and let them learn it on their own.

Does anyone have any ideas about friendships? Have you ever had one that just seems like work? Do you have great friends that are stress-free. I know my sister, Maggie--has a couple.


  1. First of all, I love your picture of Max and his buddy at Cub Scout camp up there as your post picture.

    Yes, I do have a couple stress-free friendships. My best friend and maid of honor and I can go months without seeing each other, but when we do finally see each other its like no time has passed.

    However there are a few friends of mine that I thought we'd be "friends 4 life." But as I've grown closer to my Catholic faith I've realized that some of these friendships aren't very healthy. Then I have to think of where to draw that I stay friends with them to bring the light of Christ to them, or stay away so I don't revert to my dark years...:-)

    Great post big bro.

  2. Such an interesting take on friendship - and yes, I have to say, I agree.

    My closest friends aren't those I see or talk to every day, but rather those who I know will be there for me, always - and they know the same.