Friends, And The Fear Of Letting Go

Imagine keeping every item of clothing you’ve ever worn, from the day you were born up to the present. At some stage the older stuff won’t fit any more. This is much how I view friendships.

At the risk of sounding cold hearted, I’m fully aware that friends are a lot more important then clothes. When was the last time your favourite jumper picked you up when you were too drunk to drive home? To be more specific I feel each friendship “fits” at certain times of your life better then others. It’s unreasonable to assume that every friend you’ve ever made will be just as relevant to you years from when you first met. The relationship between two strangers, to evolve together as friends, requires a unique set of circumstances. Like the creation of a new element, one factor changed and the whole event may never have taken place.

In my experience I’ve found I’ve made most friends by joining new social groups. Starting high school,  a new sports club or group work at university can be a rich breeding ground for companionship. In the course of being thrust together in circumstances beyond our control, overhearing a shared interest or opinion can be the spark required for a friendship to proceed. A friendship coming about in this way can be incredibly comforting. Finding you’re not alone and the knowledge that you’ve been accepted by part of a larger group is a natural and comforting desire. But it’s important to recognise the fragile origins of friendship. Your new best friend could so easily have been yet another face in the corner.

Say you’re at a party, and you introduce your best friend Dave to another friend whom Dave has not yet met. Things may go a little something like…”Hey this is my friend Dave, we met at a Guns and Roses tribute night.” So often our relationships will be watermarked by the conditions they were formed in; “We met when we both worked at…we bumped into each other at…” Is it totally unreasonable to think that someday, the conditions that formed your friendship may no longer exist? Or at least not to the same extent they once did? It’s ok to let go.

Without a desire to make a huge generalisation, it’s a behavior I’ve observed more often in women then men; the attempt to drag along nearly every friend through life from high school onward. I’m certain there are merits to this method. No doubt there’s huge worth in being able to surround oneself in a myriad of personalities from shared moments in your past. I’m certain I’m in a minority but i just don’t see it as a course of action worth taking. My approach is far more relaxed, more organic in its nature. Those who you count as friends will probably be just that, regardless of the effort produced in maintaining those relationships.

Sometimes we’re close to our friends and sometimes we’re not. Life gets in the way but it’s vital to recognise that its no doubt the same situation for the person on the other end of a friendship. Its ok for this to happen and its ok to let them go. Perhaps social media has added a greater level of pressure to maintain every strand of friendship to which you ever became attached. Rather then binding unnecessary malice to the natural degradation of a friendship, if we could see it as a social normality then everyone might be able to progress through life a little more easily.

I can instantly acknowledge that mine is a unique situation. Having uprooted my life 2 years ago to move thousands of miles to a new continent, it was reasonable to foresee that maintaining old friendships may become more of a challenge. But that was a choice of mine to make. Luckily I have never found making friends difficult, enjoying a certain excitement in meeting new people. I suppose there is an intended selflessness in my attitudes toward friendship. I don’t want others to feel a need to struggle to keep me in their lives when there is so much they should be doing, so many experiences worth having. As important as friends are and as absolutely joyous as it is to have them in our lives, placing too great a value and importance on relationships may well do more harm then good.

Cherish the friendships that were lucky enough to have ever existed. Don’t spoil them by struggling to make them last forever.



  1. Very good stuff

  2. […] Friends, And The Fear Of Letting Go ( […]

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