Starting out on a little sidenote–there are some websites and blogs that I follow regularly—GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s site being one of them. GOOP.com gets an unfair share of harsh criticism in my opinion. Seriously, why all the hate? I enjoy the little entries on lifestyle, health and travel. It’s funny how so many people worship, *cough cough*, er, I mean “follow” celebrities and glorify their silly behavior, their alcohol-and-drug-infused crazy spells, and their extravagant spending. Then a celebrity decides to create a website with some pleasant articles that contain useful information like recipes, workout tips and advice, and this is the celebrity that gets bashed. Something’s wrong with this picture!
But I digress, lovely readers. I decided to bring up GOOP because I recently found what has become my favorite article ever about friendship. On Ms. Paltrow’s site, which also sends its articles in newsletter form to subscribers, there was a recent entry titled “Friendship Divorce.” The following question is at the top of the page:
“What do you do when you realize that although you may have years of history, and found real value in each other in times past, that you kind of don’t like a friend anymore? That, after time spent with this person, you feel drained, empty, belittled or insulted. My father always used to tell me that, ‘you can’t make new old friends.’ How do you distinguish if someone in your life makes you change for the better or if you are better off without them?”
What follows is an engaging series of enlightening responses from scholars, authors and psychologists sharing their thoughts on friendships and the way friendships change over time, how one can tell whether a friendship is worth saving, and how one goes about defining “true friends.”
I love love LOVE this article because it addresses one of the most relevant topics in our lives. This everyday miracle we call friendship—this strangely absurd art of coming into contact with one of the 7 billion people on the planet and sacredly keeping this contact over time and distance—often causes as much heartache and headache as it does joy.
I’ve always put a high value on amiability; I’ve spent a lifetime going out of my way to remain likable, even to people who didn’t like me. I used to put all kinds of effort into friendships long after they stopped being of any benefit, much less enjoyment.
A few years ago, a co-worker shared this quote with me: ‘People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.’ The quote didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I used to feel a tremendous sense of guilt and loss whenever a friendship fizzled out or died. Now I understand that it’s no biggie, that it’s only natural. All living, breathing things have a life cycle. I now think of friendship as its own living and breathing organism—one that needs nourishment at times, one that is capable of having a long and healthful lifespan, and sometimes one that can become quite disease-ridden.
I used to keep dying friendships on lifesupport at all costs for as long as I could. Nobody likes a funeral. But where’s the quality of life in that? What’s the purpose of the friendship at that point? Let it go with its dignity in tact. Its death doesn’t render its life meaningless. That friendship was a part of your life for a reason; he or she brought you joy at one point. Be confident that you took from each other whatever it is you were meant to take from each other, and move on.
So that said, I vow to be the best friend that I can be. I’ll still be nice and amiable because I don’t know how to be any other way with my friends. If I ever sense weird red flags about any of my friendships, I’ll study the relationship inside and out with a critical, but loving eye. And I mean that with all my heart.