An important (if uncomfortable) lesson in friendship
The worst part of losing a friend is usually not so much the loss of the person, but the void it creates in your life. Who can you send that cat meme to? Who do you want to bitch about that lecturer with? Who will be there for a coffee when it rains? Not so much grief, but a sense of ‘oh’.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the friends you lose will be amazing, funny and kind people who you will regret falling out with. You will always look back and ask yourself why you didn’t make more of an effort to stay in touch, or at least like their tweets occasionally. But be honest with yourself: A lot of your ex friends were kind of dicks. Or at least not really your soulmates.
When you are a kid, or a university student, a lot (although not all) of your friends probably came into the catergory of convenience. The Convenient Friend was nice enough, smiled at you in history class and could amicably survive a frappachocolatechino after school. You’d hang out and do eachother’s make up, gossip or play netball behind their nice but dull house, and be polite to their nice but dull mother. You didn’t actually have anything in common. You might have a passing interest in the same fashion or bands but it was all pretty superficial. Later on, you might share a flat with them or attend lectures together, and because the silence isn’t cripplingly awkward, the illusion of friendship still holds.
Don’t be amazed when this friendship fails. It’s okay. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t fallen out with or drifted from A Convenient Friend. The fact of it is, that the older you become, the less often you can sit doing eachother’s make up or bonding over Jake the hot seminar tutor. As the silences increase, the mask cracks. And like water behind a badly constructed dam, every unanswered DM and weakly pursued plan to meet up in Surrey fills in the mutual unease. They aren’t bad people. You aren’t a bad person. Probably. It just isn’t working out.
And then, probably mid August (traditional seasonal holiday angst) it all falls through. It becomes painfully obvious that you don’t really exist in eachother’s lives. They are just a bit too bitchy and unkind. They said that awful thing about the fat woman on the high street. They think you are prudish and old fashioned. Even the way they fill in their eyebrows annoys you. It sucks, but there it is. The End. Fin. Finito. And Scene. Cut.
I only recently worked out that this wasn’t a tragedy, at the grand old age of twenty one. Realistically, hanging out with them was becoming a chore. No mutual friends, no real mutual interests and nothing beyond Brexit and Pret A Manger to discuss. And they are sometimes not very nice people. And they have views or attitudes that grate on you. Either way, you have outgrown eachother. (Living in different sides of the country doesn’t help, by passing observation.)
You don’t have to be friends with them. Be completely honest. Did you actually still like them? Did you enjoy their company? Were they there for you when you needed them? Do you honestly have the time or energy to mantain a connection with them? Or was it just, if you are brutal, tradition?
No one is amazed when you no longer talk to your Year 9/ 1st Year boyfriend. No one is stunned that you don’t know what Mitchell with the bieber hair cut is doing these days. No one shakes their head and goes ‘shame, what a pity’ when you don’t have Jake the Jock’s mobile number to hand. Because, correctly, it is rightly assumed that between the ages of fourteen and twenty one, that you probably don’t have that much in common anymore. Or even nineteen and twenty one. Things change. People change. No one wears neon leggings anymore. Do we feel sad nostalgia over that? No.
I know it’s sad admitting it’s over. And it can be difficult to recognise that you dislike someone who used to be a major part of your life. And even harder to realise it is your fault for being a bit too flaky and not really caring when they broke up with Boyfriend/Girlfriend You Never Met. But, ultimately, a true friend won’t fall out with you for very long. If they do, it’s almost certainly over.
And that’s okay. Just ask yourself:
Do I want to be friends with you?