Monday, January 23, 2012

The Friendship Tango

Greetings Friends,

Friendship is a complicated topic I've ruminated on for most of my adult life. I'm of the mindset that to truly be a friend, and to have friends, is much more difficult than it appears. Friendship, like any relationship, requires work; if either party in the friendship drops the ball at any point, mayhem can ensue, transforming the friendship into a rivalry, or worse - turning the friends into enemies. 

I always begin my blog entries with the salutation, "Greetings Friends" because I like the way it sounds. A friend, to me, is someone who will take the time to read what I write, regardless of whether they mention it to me or leave a comment. I'm not looking for validation; nor do I believe that all my readers are truly my friends. It's just something I like to do. We have reached the point where the word "friend" is bandied about irresponsibly; the real definition has been bastardized by things like MySpace and Facebook - places where we have "friends" but they might be people we barely know, or don't know at all. The term "acquaintance" has all but disappeared from use, leaving us to attempt to decipher who these people who call themselves our friends really are. That's a fairly new conundrum, which I won't even pretend to know how to address at this point. I'm one of those rare individuals who is willing to admit that I might prefer life before social media, even though I've met many lovely people through the medium. 

A solid friendship between two people is something to cherish. The friendship can be between two men, two women, and a man and a woman. Personally, I don't discriminate. A friend is a friend regardless of skin colour, sex, gender, what have you. What makes friendships complicated is not "the sex part" as Billy Crystal attempts to explain to Meg Ryan in the clip I've chosen from When Harry Met Sally... Well, sex can complicate matters, but more often than not, friendships are torn asunder for many different reasons, with sex never entering into the equation. Women can be particularly adept when it comes to wrecking friendships; and as a woman, I've had it happen to me a few times. Specific reasons notwithstanding, I find it much more difficult to be friends with a woman than I do with a man. That's just me. 

My best friend in the world is G., and we've known each other since kindergarten. She's been the one constant in my life for almost 40 years, and no matter what life throws at us, we will always be there for each other. But, she's my only female friend. I have other female "acquaintances;" none that I would categorize in the same way I do her. That's just the way it is. Men friends, however, have always been much easier to come by. I have a handful of those and the friendships have been very rewarding; and completely platonic. None of this "friends with benefits" crap or other juvenile terminology that's pervaded the vernacular since the advent of social media. Just friends - no muss, no fuss. 

I might sound like a raving narcissist for making this statement, but here goes: I know how to be friends with a man. That's not something I've ever been able to explain, nor would I attempt to offer my advice in a workshop setting to women who would twist whatever wisdom I would offer into fodder for how to turn a platonic relationship into a romance. That's why we have Cosmopolitan. That's never been my M.O. A friend is a friend, sex and/or gender be damned. What we do have to keep in mind is that friendships sometimes evolve. When that happens, you have to work even harder to figure out where the relationship is going in order to guide it along the path it has chosen to travel on. That's not an easy task, but it can be accomplished. Again, the two parties involved have to collaborate in order to make it work. Maybe that's the reason why so many friendships and romantic relationships fail: the parties involved are not willing to invest the time and effort required to make them work. Our lives have become all about instant gratification, and most times, we have no idea what we're missing. On the other hand, we have to be realistic with ourselves and acknowledge when a particular friendship is perfect just the way it is. 

None of this is easy, but nothing worth having ever is. I leave you with that to think about. 


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