Sunday, 10 October 2010

What are Friends?

I have just finished listening to a rather wonderful podcast that I regularly download called This American Life.

The podcast itself is about an hour long and always presents two or three human interest stories based on a theme. This weeks theme was about a new word that has come into the lexicon, the word being 'Frenemies'.

Now I had never heard about frenemies and so I looked it up online. The definition shown on Wikipedia (I appreciate not necessarily the first port of call for factual explanation) is 'A Frenemy is a portmanteau of 'friend' and 'enemy' which can either refer to an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor and rival'.

I am fairly sure I don't have any frenemies. I am also pretty certain that I do not have any straight out enemies either but the whole subject has got me thinking about friends.

I  can remember vividly my early years at school making lots of 'schoolfriends' and I also remember that I always seemed to find making friends more difficult than other children did. Subsequent to that in various workplaces I have always got on well with colleagues but as for developing continuing friendships with those workmates outside of or after leaving the workplace that has always been tough too.

What I am saying is that I realised at a very early age that for the most part friends are about relationships with others at a given point in time.

Whilst I am lucky to say that I have a (very) small number of friends with whom I believe I will be close to on an enduring basis I also realise that the vast majority of friends will be that for a given period of time and eventually due to circumstances you will drift apart.

That isn't to say that you fall out or break up with those individuals and when you do meet on an infrequent basis everything is quite amicable. But it does mean that when you meet up you are conscious of the relationship you once had and the fact that although you share past expereiences that relationship has essentially gone.

It isn't a bad thing that friendships drift apart merely a statement of fact. I have always been able to acknowledge this fact but I also regret that this is what has happened in one or two cases. Perhaps I have always been too ready to acknowledge it and should have worked harder in a small number of cases.

I have just been looking at the number of friends I have on Facebook and see that I have 138 friendships. What sort of mad number is this?

I would urge you to do the same and I am sure that if you are being honest you will see that this massive number of people (though in their own ways each one is wonderful and I am delighted to be associated with all of them) is merely a contact list and that your number of true friends is a tiny fraction of this.

This weekend I have been given the opportunity to resurrect some of those friendships that I had previously let go (and a number of those are some of the ones I regret having released first time around) and I am thoroughly looking forward to the opportunity.

So what, after all this, is the moral of todays blog?

We should all realise that friendship in most cases doesn't last a life time and that you can probably count the number of 'true' friends you have on one hand. But at the same time we must work hard to retain those special friends that we have and jump at the opportunities when they face us to reinvigorate those periodically flagging relationships.

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