One of the topics to write about that’s been swirling around my head this week is friendship.
Just this past Friday, I called some of you my ‘blog friends’. Which is true. Friends that I do feel a level of guilt I have let my commitment to communicating with lapse. But it’s not just you that I’ve left out in the cold. I feel I’ve become more and more of a passive friend of late.
A passive friend keeps reading your blog posts, Facebook posts and photos. They comment or like. But they give less and less of themselves. Often, I’ve found it perplexing to be in a conversation where someone says ‘I know’ to much of my news, as they are such a great social media stalkers, and I’ve felt unbalanced in the conversation knowing they share precious little of their life. I have to take the time to think of their interests, their family, the latest things they’d told me about their work, or their health or life.
I know my job has taken more and more of me in the past two years – now it’s my new normal to work from about 7am to at least 5pm and think of that as OK. The effects of this are more widespread than friends though. It means I crowd out time where I could exercise. It means the bedtime is firmer than ever, knowing the long work days take enough out of me to not want to start behind the eight ball, yawning.
I rely on others to plan events, to have milestones like birthdays, house warmings and engagement parties, so that I can formally etch out some time in my calendar for them. It seems very reactive. At some stage, the laws of nature mean I should and must reciprocate.
This week, I’ve worked on being a better friend. I volunteered to help a friend from church paint on our shared day off. I took my day off to plan two gifts (one for a party that had passed) that suited the recipients and me. I made advance plans to have coffee with a friend who lives mere streets away (!!) and loved the time we spent catching up. I squeezed in parties that clashed on the one afternoon, by some act of genius time robbery.
I do wish at this point in the post I had a plan on how I was going to be a better friend. But I just don’t! I could list all the should’s: I should plan to see friends one on one, the way that works best for me. I shouldn’t let the state of my home take priority over people! I should make time for things I enjoy and include those I enjoy spending my time with.
Food for thought.
How do you keep your friendships healthy and happy?
7 Replies to “Friendship”
Oh, this is a really good question for anyone working long hours that seem to suck the marrow out of the week. You're right – even bedtime has to take precedence over long phone calls or visits to friends. I imagine though that you are good at being organised and remembering special dates like birthdays, a friend's parent's death etc. I am not so good at those things unless I really work at it!
Over the years, we've worked out special days that we spend with different groups…Cup Day with this group, Grand Final Day with that group etc. We also do group holidays that have so many memories attached that it makes up for the lean friendship times. And at a pinch, that keeps everyone going.
In between, there seems to always be that one person in each group who is the 'organiser'! We're not that couple, but then we 'redeem' ourselves by making a point of hosting an event periodically to give back and keep things going.
Bluetooth is my best friend. I do a heck of a lot of quick 'catch up calls' while driving to and from work. It's amazing how often that quick 'how are you' call leads you find out that a friend needs a hand or has something going on. And Mr D and I both try to be the person who will 'drop everything' when a friend needs something (like the paint help you just did.) Doesn't always happen, but we try.
Ah bluetooth! For a while, I was good at using that drive time to call my grandparents, and now I'll often call my mum on my drive home. I should diversify to friends. I have this insane fear I'll be interrupting them, and their rejection will shatter me. The reality is seldom that dramatic!
We call mum the 'glue' of her family, and it sounds a bit like the 'organiser'. She's always making sure all of her four siblings are involved and know what's going on.
I plan events for family but that's about all. I have friends at work, church and book club that I don't often see when we're not together in those places. I feel like most people in my life are in the same boat – they like shared activities/groups/clubs/meetings but are not too keen to share their off-time. I think relationship status has a lot to do with it. Singles are more likely to make plans with each other, while partnered people tend to check with each other and hesitate before making any plans. I have come close to losing several friends who are not on Facebook or other social media. They want to talk on the phone, but because of time zones, I can't stay up an extra 3-4 hours until they are available to chat at night. I also had several friends I only kept up with via Christmas cards. Now hardly anyone sends them, so I expect I won't hear from them any more.
Planning family events is a good start! I've been thinking about trying to get 'the cousins' together for ages. We're a little spread out, and many overseas at times, but still, a tradition of sorts wouldn't be too shabby if I could get over my lack of confidence in it succeeding.
I do recall your post on Facebook – I could almost say some of my friendships are 'facebook friends' – I know all my FB friends, but there are some people who sustain their statuses very very well, and I feel like I know them well, even though I don't live near them etc. I've always felt a little awkward about 'just because' phone calls. When I started working, I even struggled with making work related phone calls – now it doesn't phase me, but I would rather email and to some people at work, I try to move them to writing things not calling.
I send Christmas Cards, and some of those people, it's an annual 'catch up'. But that's OK – particularly for people in France, where I haven't kept up the language, and I don't see them often at all. Interestingly, the desire to maintain contact is strong with many French acquaintances, so it's nice to feel the 'effort' is reciprocated.
I think you are a Great friend. You are the only person that ever comments on my blog.! My Parents don’t even do that. I don’t even think they read it. Even though I never even have time to read yours anymore. But when I do read it I read chunks of them at a time and want to comment on all of them, until a little voice says–Mama I have to go poop. Mama, I’m hungry and my whole day is wiped out once again. Where did the rest of the day go? I think you’re doing a fine job. Stop beating yourself up. You do such a good job in Everything that you do. Life is balance – – and it is hard!
Thank you for being so kind and replying despite your daughter pooping and eating requests.
Yeah, I’m a “bad” friend. Work hours are long. And I can only sustain so much – my immediate family, my sanity, work and phoning my mother. Increasingly I’ve found friendships that I can sustain through shared activities. Eg I walk every week or so with a friend. Read books with a group who I see once a month. Also phone some friends and family while I do my walk. They put up with me puffing up hills!
If only we could have fewer hours at work and have more people employed!!!
I have had friends who need more of me than I have time to give. These friendships dwindled. I can’t do it. And I don’t understand how they do it.
Gee, I struggle to find time to keep myself healthy!
And I too refer to my online blogging friends as friends. I have one who lives in Sydney (you!), Melbourne, Tassie and Canada. That’s about it and reflects my real life in that I can’t sustain much more than that. Prune ones that are too needy, I say.