Fickle Friend

Friendship Isn’t Easy

We moved a lot during my childhood, and I usually made friends easily, but lost them each time we moved. I would try keeping the friendships up through letters, and that would work for awhile—but never very long. In high school, I went through the typical angst of mean girls hating me one year and offering friendship the next. Girls and their unspoken friendship rules confused me.

ficklefriendjpg

As an adult, I discovered just how fickle friends could act. When I moved to a new job and a new state, I tried to create a new community of friends. I organized pot lucks, invited gals and their families over after church, and got people together for camping trips.

But then a friend (who also happened to work with me) had a problem with something I did. Instead of talking to me (which a true friend would do, right?), she marched in to our boss’s office and demanded that I receive a reprimand (and I got just that—an unjustified slap on the wrist without the benefit of MY side of the story).

Forgettingn to Forgive

For over a year, I smiled politely at her whenever I saw her, but refused all further interaction. Eventually, we resumed our friendship, but on a much more shallow level—I learned that I could never trust her with my full friendship.

I felt burned-out on friendships, but I decided to keep reaching out. I got a group of neighborhood gals together to walk a couple of miles each evening—and we’d chat, share stories and mutually support each other. All of those things that I thought good friends did.

Until one evening, I stopped to see if one friend was ready and another friend walked in right after me—totally ignored me and said to the first friend, “We need to pray.” I joked about already being on my knees and ready to pray, because I happened to be kneeling on the carpet talking with a youngster. Ms. In-Need-Of-Prayer turned me to and said, “Oh, no, I wasn’t talking to you! Mrs. Walking Buddy is my PRAYER PARTNER!” Humiliated, I resumed my conversation with the youngster and eventually we went on our walk—me a quieter version of my old self.

I took up running.

Becoming a Fickle Friend

I went from trying to create community to passively avoiding it—only joining in when invited—rarely inviting on my own. And it seemed like when my ‘friends’ did invite me to join a group getting together at a local coffee shop, I’d be the only one to show up on time and the rest would wander in late or not at all.

I started going on regular coffee dates with my teenage daughters.

We recently moved to a new city in a new state, and I find it even harder to make new friends—and almost as hard to maintain old friendships. With the new people in my life, I realize that the problem might be mine: I don’t put myself out there—I have done little to create community and I discovered that I like doing things on my own (or with my husband, daughters or parents).

With my old friendships, I found that their lives have marched on without me. We stay in contact occasionally, and have a warm regard for each other, but no one puts much effort into creating more than just a good-friend-whenever-we-happen-to-get-together-relationship.

I started blogging about a year ago, and doing the whole twitter party thing, and I have discovered a whole new realm of friendships. One that suits my introverted, burned-before behavior and allows me to ‘try on’ friends the way one tries on clothes in the dressing room at a department store. Since the friendships all exist in cyberspace, I don’t feel too rejected if someone fails to hit the friendship ball back into my court. But I’m oh, so glad when someone does.

In writing about friends today, I’ve discovered that maybe I’m the fickle friend.

 

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Stopping by from FMF, and I found that I’m not the only one who has dealt with the fickleness of female friends. I too have given up on all but one or two, and at 68, I’m no longer worried about it. Like you, I have connected with some great cyber-friends and I’m good with whether people choose to follow me or not. God loves us just the way we are, and He is likely the best friend we’ll ever have — other than the one I wrote about today. Blessings on what you’re doing on this blog.
    Sherrey Meyer recently posted…Friend Forever | Five Minute FridayMy Profile

    • I loved your post on your best friend :). I don’t think I worry so much nowadays as I used to. It surprised me to find tears in my eyes as I wrote some of these–I thought the pain had healed long ago. Maybe God knew I needed the prompt to do some purging and thinking ;).

  • Anita, I too have tried to figure out the unspoken friendship rules and finally gave up. It was then (with much prayer) that He connected me to a couple of real life friends and this awesome online community. I am so glad to count you as a friend.
    Amy P Boyd recently posted…Friend {Five- Minute Friday}My Profile

    • Thank you, Amy! I value our friendship and this community. Hopefully I will be more aware of those who stand on the outside and see myself in them and have the courage to strike up a friendship :).

  • Wow, haven’t we all been burned by the fickleness of friendship…even when I’ve been the fickle friend, I’ve realized my mistake and sometimes it was too late. You do get to the point where you wonder if it is worth trying anymore at all. You gals in this online community have been such a blessing to me and I’m so glad that we count one another as friends. Looking forward to seeing you in person this summer, Anita!
    Holly Barrett recently posted…FriendMy Profile

    • And I look forward to seeing you, too! What a fun summer this will be!

  • Hi Anita. Stopping by from FMF and relating much to your post. My childhood was spent moving and moving and moving. In the days long distance phone calls and letter writing, those friendships faded quickly. Then I was blessed to live in one place 20 years and make strong friendships while we had our babies together. And then….moved again. Because I know we will be moved again (work related) I’ve resisted planting those roots too deeply. My friendships that share history are scattered around the southeast but I’ve become more intentional about keeping a connection. Not all of them do, but I know they like that I do and respect it. Blessings to you in this journey of your life and thanks for sharing it with “us”.

    • Isn’t the Internet a blessing (mostly) for keeping and reviving friendships? Moving a lot really does make it hard to put down roots–but it’s also fun living in new places. I’m so glad you stopped by!

  • Anita… This is soulful and beautiful. I really felt your heart here and ached for the fickleness you found in past friendships. I wish I could say I’ve never been a fickle friend myself or been bit by the same fickleness of others… But I certainly have. It’s a great reminder to cherish our genuine friendships and work to cultivate others were we feel God leading. I have a few of those in my life right now… Thank you so much for sharing today and I look forward to reading more from you in the future. Blessings!

  • Donne

    Wow, it’s as if we had the same childhood. Oh wait, we did! I have had my share of ‘friends’ over the years, but the ones who remain constant are family. Probably because we already know one another’s baggage and can shortcut to the important stuff. But even within an extended family, introverts (especially those with fairly strong extrovert shells) can have difficulty maintaining deep friendships.

    I love you, Sis. Thanks for your thoughts on friendship. 🙂

    • I love you, too! The older I get the more I realize that friendships take hard work–just like marriage does. If I want ’em, I have to work to make ’em and keep ’em ;).

  • You’re my middlest baby, and you’re so much like me it hurts. Sorry, we moved you so often. You could have made so many permanent friends! But then perhaps you wouldn’t be the awesome woman that you are today.
    I think that you may be mistaking “Friends” with “Friendships.” Friendships are much like acquaintances, they are meant to be casual and shallow. Whereas, a friend is one with whom you can share your deepest thoughts, worries, and aspirations and not have them “outed” to others.
    A “Friend” is one, though there may be months or years of separation, the minute you are together you take up where you left off as though it were yesterday. If one has one male and one female friend in this category, you are blessed indeed. Even siblings don’t always meet this qualification.
    Poppy recently posted…With God All Things are PossibleMy Profile

    • The moving all the time did have its advantages–for example, I didn’t end up with a permanent accent from any one place ;). It also made me want to travel and see even more of the world. I married my best friend, and now I have two best friends in our daughters. You’re right about the difference between friendships and friends. They both have their places in our lives, and I’m glad I am blessed with some of both.

  • After reading this, I just want to scoop you up in my arms, invite you to my messy house (you wouldn’t care, I know), and sit on my sofa to chat for hours about everything and nothing.

    Women can be so mean to each other. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes it isn’t. But it still hurts either way, right?

    I’m glad you found an online community to call home. Life feels so much safer there for me too. I often worry about what it will be like to take those friendships into real life, will people still like me when they know the real me? Time will tell, I guess.
    NJ Rongner recently posted…Friendship Strong And TrueMy Profile

    • I ABSOLUTELY sure people will like the real you :). Sometimes, I think its easier to learn to share our hearts in cyberspace–and maybe that prepares us for being able to be more real with each other in real life. Your house sounds like mine ;)–so I definitely wouldn’t care!

  • I am so glad you are one of my best friends! And your post motivates me to keep our friend-bond strong, as well as those I have with other friends. I love you!
    Laura Melchor recently posted…That Was Then, This Is NowMy Profile

    • Me, too! And I’m glad you’re thinking about keeping friend bonds strong earlier in life than I did!

  • Nikki T

    Hi Anita!
    Friend was such a daunting prompt to me I couldn’t even tackle writing on it. 🙂 Thank you for your honesty in this post. In thinking on it, I realized that friends and friendship is something I have prayed on the most in life, and will likely continue on that way. So glad to be connecting with you via #fmfpartysnailmail! Blessings!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Nikki! I almost didn’t write on it either–it took a long time to think and pray before I actually wrote. The amazing thing that happened is that people who I never expected to read the post actually read the post and we’ve had some healing conversations. God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he?