The Magic of “Old” Friendships

What is it about the friends that you have had a friendship with that seems like you have known them forever? They know your history, your quirks and all of you faults. They share old stories over and over that you never get tired of listening too. You have been through marriages, divorces, deaths and births of children. You go on “girls’ trips” and you plan future trips. You celebrated turning 20, then 30, then 40 and now 50-year birthdays.

I said I would never write about my girlfriends, but apparently, I have changed my mind. What I will not write about is all those stories that do not need to be put into print! This would mean most of our stories.

I met my best friend in high school when I was 15 and she was 14 years old. We were “thick as thieves” in high school. Our friendship continued into college and after. I met the next “batch” of girls in college. The group has grown over the years by adding co-workers, other friends and cousins to “the girl’s group.”

Over the last 35 years, I have been to weddings, funerals, baby showers, ect. I have watched all of our children and “fur babies” grow up. I am now waiting on the first grandchild, which hopefully is not too soon. Grandchildren will just confirm that I am now old!

What makes these friendships endure? I have had plenty of other friends that come and go, but this groups always seems to stay together. I had other friends in high school and college, but rarely am I in touch with many of them.

I have learned over the years that there are a number of different types of friendships. There are work friends, neighborhood friends, colleagues in your line of work friends and social friends, to name a few.

When I first started working at my first professional job, I became friends with my co-workers. I worked in a physical rehabilitation hospital and we went through a lot of emotional situations in dealing with our patients. The staff would lean on each other for emotional support through these times. My boss would even have socials at her home for all of us to get together for cook outs and stress relief. I even recall a few weekend beach trips with them. However, when I left the hospital to pursue another career, we lost touch. I have not spoken to any of them in more 20 years. I can not tell you why either.

During my years of studying counseling, I read about how some friendships are “situational.” This is when you are friends with someone because of where you work or maybe from the club at the swimming pool. These friends share a common interest. It seems that when this common interest is no longer present, these friendships have a tendency to fade.

Conversely, I have a friend that I met at my second job and she and I have remained friends for over 30 years. We still chat on the phone, do fun activities together, celebrate all the birthdays and confide in each other. What makes this happen? What makes one relationship thrive and others disappear?

The advent of Facebook and other social media have allowed people to contact their long lost friends. Have you tried locating someone that you have had no contact with for a number of years? How did it turn out?

Have you ever had a friend that you thought was super cool and awesome for years, then realize one day that you were wrong? I have had friends that I was extremely close too, then something would happen to open my eyes to what the person was really like. There were times that I did not like what I saw. Research says that sometimes when you do not like something about someone else is because this is a trait that is innate in you. So, you do not like someone because you are just like them?

I think one reason that friendships endure is patience. I have had to be patient with some friends and I know they have had to be patient with me. Have you ever been in a situation where you or someone else was being completely unreasonable? If you said no, you are wrong. It happens to everyone at some time or another. I know I have experienced both sides of this situation. I find at these difficult times that it is a “test” of the friendship. Most important is how YOU handle the situation.

My mom always told me, “you may not be able to stop what you are thinking, but you have the power to decide how you are going to behave.” You always have a choice, even if none of the choices seem appealing. In my opinion, this is a true test of someone’s character. I work hard on trying not to say things that I will regret later. This is a lifelong lesson, though.

So, what makes one friendship last and others do not? I do not know the answer, I was just asking it out loud to myself.

I have a theory that some people seem to be more “in tune” with your personality. I find I can connect with some people on multiple levels that include spiritual beliefs, social norms and morals and common interests.

There are some topics that I have learned not to discuss at any time as these can be fierce discussions and can end in an argument. Subjects include:

  1. Religion
  2. Abortion vs. Pro-life
  3. Politics of any kind
  4. Parenting/Discipline
  5. Public school vs. Private school
  6. Vegetarian vs. Non-vegetarian
  7. Hunting

These issues are “hot beds” for debate and can quickly fuel into a shouting match. Steer clear of these issues as you can. If someone presses you to discuss, find simple ways to get out of expressing your opinion. Remember, just because you listen to a person’s point of view does not mean that you agree with them! I use phrases that are benign like, “hmm, interesting” or “really”. Allowing people to have their own opinion should not interfere with your life.

By the way, I was a vegetarian for 12 years, then returned to eating red meat. I have been on both sides of this discussion and no one ever wins. When I was a single and still a vegetarian, a friend set me up with a guy. Turns out, this guy was an avid hunter. He spent the entire date trying to convince me that hunting was “necessary to maintain/control the population of animals” and “hunting is part of human nature” and blah, blah, blah. What was my friend thinking when she set me up with this guy? Did I wrong her in a past life or something? As you would guess, this was our only date.

Have you ever had a “friendship crush” on someone? It could be male or female. I am not talking about romantic crushes. A friendship crush is when you just adore and admire someone so much that you may do the “toddler dance” prior to seeing them. I have had many. I also noticed that I would go out of my way and inconvenience others just to please my crush! You do not see their faults, because you think that they do not have any. This can put you in precarious situation.

Many times, when I have had a “friendship crush”, I do not make good choices. By this I mean, I would do whatever activity the crush wanted to do just to please them, even if I did not like the activity. I would blow off plans with others if my crush wanted to hang out with me. I would refuse to see any negative traits in my crush that other friends would point out, then go onto defend my crush’s behavior!

Inevitability, there would be a time when a situation would occur that would force me to open my eyes to the true nature of the person that I had a crush on. I realized this person had faults and I was devastated! How could this happen to such a perfect person that I have a crush on? Answer: Because NO ONE is perfect!

I later realized that I had placed unrealistic expectations on my crush. I had idolized another person and that can be very painful when truth is revealed.

What makes friendships last for so many years? What cuts a friendship “short”? Do you know when you meet someone that they will be a friend for life? Are you a good friend to have? What constitutes a “good friend”?

I do not know any of the answers to these questions, but they are put to you to make you think for yourself!

I think part of the “magic” of long-term friendships are the willingness of you to “evolve” as a person. This means as your life changes that you learn and grow. The dictionary defines the word evolve as “develop gradually, especially from a simple to more complex form.”

Long term friendships require that as life changes, you change with it. I think as we become more complex people, we learn about ourselves.

So, I think that all friendships are valuable. However, there is something special about the friends that have a long history with you.

To my “girls”, I thank you for always being there for me. I thank you for all the fun times we have had and those yet to come. I look forward to more “girls” trips. I look forward to all of our grandchildren, as we will all get together to celebrate. I find myself lucky to be a part of this group.

If you have friends that you have thought of contacting, do it! Think for yourself what a true friend is and then be that. If you have negative friends in your life, distance them and wish them well.

Friendships can bring much joy to your life. “Old friendships” remind you of the magic that there is in living your life!

Too my “girls”, Cheers!

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