On friendships, inspiration and loyalty

Friendship, especially as you enter adulthood, is a strange beast. In my case, my main social group still largely consists of old friends who will always be friends. However, that dynamic is shifting as we have less and less in common. And in some cases, they’re more important to me than I am to them because my circle is smaller. At the same time, newer friendships, at least for me, are not as deep as those I formed in my oh-so-formative teen years.

The ever-fabulous Sarah of Yes and Yes posted on the concept of a friendship detox not long ago. I LOVE the idea. It goes something like: true friends are the ones who would seek you out should you delete your Facebook account, not respond to texts, basically fall off the face of the modern earth. (Again, not speaking for anybody else, but the number of people I can confidently say yes to on that count is uncomfortably low.)

The other point brought up was the need to surround yourself with uplifting people. In other words, friends who support and encourage you, act as role models and basically inspire you with their presence.

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by incredibly intelligent and talented people both professionally and personally. I do have a couple of friends who still haven’t found their groove, and that’s fine too. So it goes, I guess – you have friends at a similar level, some achieving at a higher one, and a few who look up to you. The golden mean at work.

What happens when that rule is upset and the balance thrown off, though? I suppose I’m fortunate in that I like T’s friends. But it’s always seemed to me, in almost all cases, a friendship not of equals. From my point of view, his closest buds take more than they give and always seem to be needing rides somewhere or to borrow a few bucks. I laughed when he recently told one of them that the reason I don’t like hanging out with their particular group is because they’re dropkicks. It’s true – I don’t have the patience to tolerate them for long – they’re entertaining, but quite frankly, dumb as wallpaper.

I hit him up about that – because it occurred to me that not only is he almost entirely surrounded by no-hopers at work (the type who are content with a pretty basic lot in life and are unlikely to go anywhere) but in general. By the way, hinting that someone could do better friend-wise is way more awkward than hinting they could do better romantically.

His response was thought-provoking, to say the least. Those friends are loyal. They reply to texts straightaway. They don’t have much but are generous with what they have when they have it (it’s always feast or famine on payday). They make good sidekicks, I suppose, and maybe it’s nice to feel like you have your life more together than someone else.

And they understand his family. Being cut from the same class cloth, they aren’t fazed by the inevitable drunken ugliness that ends every family occasion that we’re obliged to attend. It’s all familiar ground to them. Unlike classier, more accomplished friends, who wouldn’t bother coming to the next one, having been scared off.

(Although I probably wouldn’t bother with his family either if I didn’t have to – and is that reason enough to write me off? – I know what he means about those friends; they’re more good-time acquaintances now than real friends, whose lives have drifted far from the axis of ours.)

It seems to me too, that sometimes male friendship ebbs and flows. Friends he used to spend a lot of time with he rarely sees now, partly because we don’t live in the same neighbourhood, and partly because they’ve taken to more expensive pastimes like trips away for skiing and fishing. Although on second thought, that’s probably equally applicable to female friendship.

Can you thrive without friends who inspire you, or can you derive it from other sources? To what extent do friends define you?

10 thoughts on “On friendships, inspiration and loyalty

  • Reply Little Miss Moneybags October 12, 2011 at 04:30

    Peanut and I have noticed that we seem to have more friends since we’ve moved. This isn’t exactly true; we had friends in NYC but it’s so expensive to go out there and most people don’t hang out in one another’s homes. Here, we end up spending almost every weekend and a weeknight or two at someone’s apartment or house, playing board games, making s’mores over a fire, going apple-picking or to a fair or some other cheap activity. It’s had a really big effect on our happiness level.

    Then again, these are all friends that I love dearly. No one is a downer or a taker. We care about each other’s success, we help each other move or take care of their kids or pets or whatever. It’s a very cool symbiosis.

  • Reply cantaloupe October 12, 2011 at 05:18

    My friends don’t define who I am, but who I am is easily defined as a person who has a lot of good friends, if that makes sense. My friends are very diverse, from people who’re successful at young ages to people still trying to figure it out late in life, from people who worked for everything they have to people who were handed it all on a golden platter, from people who are really dumb to people who’re insanely intelligent. And I… am a mix of all of them, in some way or another. And sometimes it seems like I am exactly the same as someone, while other times that same one do something that is so radically different from what I would do that you might wonder how we ever get along at all…

    It’s wonderful and complicated and I didn’t explain it well, probably. But I love them all dearly.

  • Reply Kellen October 12, 2011 at 07:14

    My boyfriend and I were just talking about grown-up friendships recently. He is in grad school, and I have been out of college working for a year. I am friendly with the people in my office, but have not make outside-of-work friends. I am pretty introverted, so I don’t *need* the outside-of-work people all the time, but sometimes it would be nice to have a group to invite over for dinner, etc…

    My boyfriend works in a research lab at grad school, and his lab mates are all pretty friendly. But they don’t spend that much time just hanging out.

    My best friends are the ones from high school, who are over 1,000 miles away. I made a couple of lasting friendships in college, but they don’t live in this area. I can’t imagine meeting someone through one of my activities (dog activities mostly) and making the kind of friends with them that I made in high school.

    I think it’s harder as grown ups because you don’t just invite people to come over, the way you did in high school, where you had to really mean it because you needed permission, and rides from parents, etc. You don’t even spend much time “hanging out” with new people, the way we did in college, getting coffee after classes, having movie nights and tailgating.

    Guys have a loyalty about their friendships that seems to be lacking in a lot of relationships I have with other females. He may even see that his friends are a bit lame, and even get annoyed at that. But there’s some sort of guy instinct that makes them want to be a good friend despite these things. It’s good that he has friends that he considers to be loyal like that.

  • Reply krantcents October 12, 2011 at 07:47

    Friends and family is almost all you have in life. I always surrounded myself with people I value as friends. Over the years, our children played together, vacationed together, went to parties and socialized together. Most of our friends have been our friends for 40+ years.

  • Reply Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter October 13, 2011 at 02:47

    I agree with Krant. Friends and family are so important and a vital part of your life. We try really hard to spend quality time with our family and friends on a regular basis. It seems to be more like once every month or two with everyone’s schedules but it is still quality time. I have had the same friends for 10+ years and I plan to keep it that way.

  • Reply I’m Crap At Friendship | rattledrum October 13, 2011 at 05:34

    […] On friendships, inspiration and loyalty (eemusings.wordpress.com) […]

  • Reply My money, my life October 13, 2011 at 09:18

    I prefer fewer but deeper friendships. With my bf, and my male friends, it seems that they just like buddies to hang out, and don’t have that need for emotional intimacy with their friends, so their friends become more replaceable. If you toss out the need to connect deeply with someone as a prerequisite to friendships, then loyalty would come up pretty high on a list of desirable traits for a friend.

  • Reply Seex Dyer October 13, 2011 at 23:16

    You’re so right that friendship is a complicated affair – in trying to understand why some work and some don’t that is. Still, it’s nice to be open to new people as a result. Now when I meet someone for the first time I have to think ‘Who knows? This could be a really sginificant person in my life for the next few years?’

    I have to say, most of the time they aren’t, but as you say, some do ‘stick’ and would seek you out if you dropped off the face of the earth. They are the real golddust (or stardust.)

    I just hope I can be more like that for them!

  • Reply Two Degrees October 14, 2011 at 16:16

    I’ve actually been rediscovering my relationships with people since deleting Facebook back in March 2011. I left for a number of reasons, but mainly because it causes the the ‘cheapening of personal exchanges’. The extended network I had built up distorted my own perception of how close I was with these people. There were those I thought I had a good bond with, but I felt like I was giving and never getting back – I would get a ‘What’s happening in your life?’, then reply with an update that I put a lot of effort into sharing and never hear from them again (people who live in Toronto with me, not elementary classmates I haven’t seen in +15 years). Others just never bother to reply. I sort of felt betrayed and used, since it wasn’t just Facebook pulling your information, but nosy people who just wanted an update but didn’t actually care about you.

    So I deleted it without telling anyone. Those who were important to me would already have my phone number or email, they may or may not have noticed and we’d continue our communication in another form. Most of the people I thought were most important continued to stay important, except for one person, who, since leaving Facebook, only went on to disappoint me. We went through a close period in November – I was one of the first friends to visit her at a hospital after a suicide attempt – and I took a lot of time to care for her and be there. In the spring, she just became more and more distant, not replying my calls and emails. While I got annoyed and angry, went through a flurry of emotions for several weeks, and finally just decided to let go of that friend. I see her once in a while but I just don’t bother to be emotionally involved anymore. I stopped chasing friends who just don’t invest back in me.

    I guess my relationship between certain people was only strong through Facebook, e.g. other teachers. And while it’s advantageous to have that network at my fingertips, I didn’t feel as if the benefits outweighed the disadvantages.

  • Reply Link love (Powered by mini pies and full days) | NZ Muse October 13, 2012 at 12:49

    […] how taking the first step toward anything is always the hardest; about knowing when to quit; about worthy friendships and personalising […]

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