Star-crossed friendships

Last Updated 09 November 2012, 14:00 IST

Why do people who genuinely like each other stay apart? Blame it on our fast-paced lives, and the growing sense of everything and everybody being disposable. Now, if you’re itching to rekindle a dying friendship, Bhakti Bapat Mathew has some advice for you

Recently, a few of us met for a cup of coffee. The discussion soon turned to the nature of friendships and the expectations associated with them. Each one of us had recently lost touch with at least one good friend. If we were lucky, it was mostly amicable and simply because of distance and lack of time. But some of these lost friendships had been cast away with an unhealthy dose of post-friendship cattiness and during-friendship snarkiness. Things all of us can do without.

Since then, I have wondered about the reasons for these lost friendships. The thing that made me and my friends sad was that there really had been a great camaraderie which had suddenly and inexplicably been lost. The reason? We could blame the stars, and maybe we would be right. But honestly, I think a lot of it was because none of us made an effort to bridge the growing gap of nonchalance and even resentment that had crept into the friendship.

Now I have begun believing in star-crossed love. You know, the kind of love immortalised in mushy love stories where the guy and the girl are madly in love but a series of crazy circumstances keep them apart? Well, stories of that type used to really get my goat till I wanted to scream, “For the love of God, move off your butt and go after him/her! After all, you’re soul-mates!” But now, when I watch this type of sentimentalism, I just shake my head sadly. After all, if star-crossed friends are possible, why not star-crossed lovers?
Why do people who genuinely like each other stay apart? I think a lot of it has to do with the fast-paced lives of us all nowadays. Oh, and also the growing sense of everything and everybody being disposable. We are used to disposable tissues, disposable spoons, so why not extend that lifestyle all the way through?

After losing a couple of friends who were pretty important to me at one point of time, here are some things I have realised that could help prevent a split, assuming you value the relationships in your life enough to protect them:
If you sense a gradual indifference creeping in, get to immediate damage control if you think the friendship is precious enough to be kept alive. Contact your friend and get talking regularly again. Or better still, make a plan to go out together, preferably doing something that you know your friend will like. You may not like the same thing, but the idea here is to win her/his affection/friendship/interest back, so a few sacrifices are in order.

This may not always be the right time to press for answers about why they are not regularly in touch. This is a sensitive time, and if your friendship can last through this phase, you will have plenty of time to ask for reasons later, discreetly of course. But if you must, proceed with caution.

If you feel that a particular conversation may not have gone down well in the past, there’s no shame in picking up the phone and clarifying what you said. Or, send an email. Good friends are too dear to try to be “cool”. If there has been a misunderstanding, try to sort it out objectively.

By no means is a snark session behind the friend’s back okay. Your friend will eventually come to know. What’s more, it isn’t fair and it’s just plain mean. If you have to vent, make sure you don’t do it in front of common friends.

Try and be more forgiving. That doesn’t mean you should take any and everything in your stride. It only means if your friend fails to do something you thought they would, do not assume the worst and stay away. Instead, continue being in touch, letting time and discretion clear the air.

Reach out more often, even if you are an introvert. Try not to stick steadfastly to your comfort zone.

Prevention is, of course, better than cure. But if you have been ignoring your friends, make it a point to try and be there in the future, when needed.

But make sure you hold on to your dignity at all times. A misunderstanding is no reason to suffer abuse. And if despite your efforts, you seem to draw a blank, it may be time to move on. Accept that some things in life will remain unexplained. Just make sure you don’t burn bridges, as far as possible. Leave the door open for the friend to walk in when she is ready. Friendship is an amorphous thing. And the longer you live, the more number of ups and downs you are bound to encounter in your relationships. Needless to stay, a little bit of patience and tolerance should help us all ride through the tempest.

(Published 09 November 2012, 14:00 IST)

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