Recently at a restaurant, the dinner conversation drifted to the topic of friendship. One of the women at the table said that she noticed a few of her friends had "unfriended" her on Facebook. These were not virtual friends; they were people she had known and socialized with over the years with real "face time" rather than just Facebook.
We discussed how some friends stay constant and others drift in and out of your life. Some are seasonal friends; you connect for ski trips or at the beach. Some are friends by location; you hang out with them at them at certain bars, clubs or playgrounds. Others are long-distance, and you stay in touch and make occasional visits. Still others maybe never were true friends after all, only acquaintances whose lives passed through yours for a brief time. Then there are fair-weather friends who blow soft and cold depending on their buddy barometers.
Friendship is much like a garden. Seeds of friendship are planted during a get-acquainted period that can be a very short or longer growing season depending on the people and the situation. Friendship, like seedlings, needs to be cultivated and nurtured. If you ignore it, the relationship may wither. Some friends are perennials; you know they will always be there for you even you don't see them all the time. Others are annuals; they pass through your life once or twice and then move on, or you see them during the holidays or at a yearly gathering.
Some friendships flourish when there are more people engaged. Much like the berry bush that needs a sibling plant to bloom, some friendships survive better among a cluster of friends. On the other hand, you may need to weed out your friendship garden from time to time when friendships grow toxic.
Toxic friends are not friends, neither are friends who don't have your back or talk behind it incessantly. A good friend will have your back and will tell what they feel about things to your face, whether you like it or not.
We're all too polite when it comes to telling people how we feel, or sharing our opinions. We don't want to hurt people's feelings or make them mad. But it's far more maddening when someone won't tell you to your face what people are saying behind your back.
I believe in the code of friendervention. This means:
1. If your friend is royally screwing up her life, you will gather the courage to get it off your chest and tell it to her straight that she needs to fess up, face up and fix up her mess or seek help to do it.
2. If a friend is dragging you down with negativity and bad karma, you will address it with her or make the decision to weed her out of you life, if not for the long term, then the immediate short term.
3. If you spend more time connecting online with people you barely know and less time with people living under your roof or in your local community, then you need a social media friendervention to re-balance.
4. If you or a friend spends more time complaining or criticizing rather than conversing about things that are genuinely interesting, someone needs a friendervention to reset the tone and topic.
5. A true friend will accept you at worst and cheer you on at your best. She will be with you during your feast and famine times. A true friend is nourishment for the spirit. But the relationship needs to be a balanced diet of give and take.
6. If you haven't heard from a friend in a long time, don't sit around and wait and wonder what happened. Pick up the phone or drop her an email or send a real old-fashioned letter and say, "Haven't heard from you for awhile. I just wanted to say I'm thinking about you." It's amazing how many people drift apart simply because they don't bother to connect. Communication is the glue that keeps friendships together.
A friendervention is much like maintaining a garden. You have to clear out debris and weeds, mulch and water to encourage healthy growth; trim and replant to ensure long term and appreciate the blooms when they are around. You also have to accept that that nature -- both mother and human -- are not perfect.
Follow Melanie Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mightymelanie