August 2011. I met 2 ladies at a hospital group for new moms, and thought we could never be close.
June 2012. I met two ladies at a park and immediately assumed they would not like me. I was sure we would not be close friends.
Later in June 2012. I met 4 ladies at a sushi bar and immediately new I could never get along with one of them; we were just too different.
The above describes how I met my current closest friends. I am a judgmental idiot. (Ha! Even to myself… always judging….)
It still baffles me that I do this every time I meet a new lady. I think it is probably pretty hardwired into my system at this point. And it is laughable. These women are my closest friends now, and I never saw them coming.
I know why we do it. The judging thing. When we see someone we don’t know, we have to instantly decide if they are a threat or not, purely because of our inborn instincts to stay alive. Our subconscious takes them in and judges them in a snap. Then we move on to the next level. Does this person seem nice? Do we have anything in common? Will he/she like me? Will I like him/her? I think this is where our obsession with outer appearance is well placed, as we want people to get the “right” impression of us. After all this instantaneous mental questioning, the judgment is made. They have become friend or foe, or something in between.
Don’t get me wrong. I, of course, think it is wrong to judge a book by its cover, but it happens naturally. After it happens, we need to question our instincts and see if we are being ridiculous. And that happens as you take the time to get to know someone. And I am glad I suspended final judgment, as I would have been missing out on some of the loveliest friendships I have ever had.
It amazes me how much friendships are like relationships, in general.
Crush phase of friendship: “I want to get to know this person. They seem super cool/interesting/likeable/etc.” You try to end up at the same events as this person, try to learn as much as you can about them, etc.
Initial “dating” phase of friendship: “They ARE super cool/interesting/likeable/etc! I can’t wait to see them again. And again. And again.” You drop everything in your schedule hang out with them.
Long term “dating” phase of friendship: “I love hanging out with them when I get the chance.” Things settle into a comfortable friendship, and you fit things into your schedule when they make sense.
And then comes the ending, at least for me. I only have a handful of people I have been friends with for 10 years or more, and most of those people are more like acquaintances now due to them moving away or other circumstances. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Just like romantic relationships, some friendships end because of betrayal, profound differences of opinion, hurt feelings, or lack of trust. But many just slowly flame out. You move on to another place, another stage of life. You grow and change and find yourself connecting with other people a little deeper.
And like all relationships, one person is usually more invested than the other. This will sometimes end the friendship. I think of the person I considered my best friend through elementary and junior high, the person with whom I most felt a mental and emotional kinship. But alas, it was not meant to be. I saw the signs, and they hurt, but I let it drag on, always forcing a get together, calling her my best friend, even as the signs stacked up that the feeling was not mutual. That HURTS, but that is life, right? I am now much quicker to cut something off if someone I would really like to be friends with is “just not that into me.” Still hurts. But it is what it is.
Every relationship I have had, short or long, has impacted my life in wonderful ways. I love getting to know someone new, and I love that Facebook lets me easily see how friends old and new are doing. My heart feels full thinking of all the wonderful people I have had the chance to get to know.
Having moved to a new place yet again, I know that the friends I leave behind will keep me in their hearts as I will keep them too. As I meet new people, I hope to truly be open to the people that are interested in me. I hope to have the confidence in myself to know that I am valued somewhere by someone, even if we are not in contact anymore, and that somewhere someone new will value me too. I just have to wait for those new friendships to develop.