Friends

Category: Weekly Columns

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see or hear the word, “Friends?” For my younger son it would undoubtedly be the TV-series that aired for a decade on NBC, because he loves it so. For others, it might be that Bette Midler song. Maybe it would be something from Sesame Street? Friends enrich our lives. And, like that famous saying, “We don’t choose our family, but we do choose our friends,” we actually have some control over who is our friend.

That is where the rub is, in my experience. I’ve had many friends over the course of my life. I still have one friend from Nursery School, which is what Pre-School was called in the fifties. We are in regular contact, though he lives across the country.

Other friends have come and gone. Often for good reasons and often for reasons I don’t even remember. Why do we lose some friends and keep others? Why, as we grow older, is it harder to make new friends? Do you even agree that it’s harder to make new friends, as we get older?

It seemed mighty easy to make friends in school, though the cliques and other pettiness that goes with adolescence and the teen years can create a lot of drama between friends. I’m told this “drama” is magnified among tween girls but I have no experience having been a boy my whole life and raised two of ‘em as well.

I do reflect on the loss of two long-time friends – now and then. Then, I would castigate myself over the reasons our friendships dissolved. Now, I realize that this is the natural order of life: Change. I’ve changed; they’ve changed; we all change!

Was I being immature in allowing these friendships to go away? Maybe. But, I also think I was hanging on to those two friendships out of nostalgia, out of a love for what they were, but were not anymore: for what our friendships were in our Glory Days. I was wishing for the camaraderie I had with my best friend in high school. I was wishing for the every day conversation I had with my closest friend during the height of our respective careers, before marriage and kids intruded. Following are the reasons my 4-decade friendship with my high school best friend drifted away.

My high school best friend and me shared many wonderful experiences. We traveled to Europe, went skiing for a winter while in college, and bought our first house together. We lived there until he got engaged and moved out, all amicably. And, that is when our friendship took a turn. His fiancé and now his wife of over 25 years were a perfect match. But, in her world, there was no place for his “wild and crazy” best friend.

I did my best to be-friend her. It was always met with neutral cordiality. The relationship my friend had with his wife was unlike any relationship I’d had or ever had later on with a woman. My friend’s wife was and is THE BOSS. My parents had that relationship also.

For many years, I fought my negative instinctual reaction to a man allowing a woman to so strongly run his life. I remember distinctly when this particular friend and his wife were expecting their third child. His wife informed my friend that he should go on one last ski trip with me – something we’d shared and loved for so long – because after the birth of their third child, he wouldn’t be skiing any more. We went on that trip. We never skied together again.

When I later got married, divorced, and married again, I lost and gained many friendships and many couple friends. Other couples had that dynamic of the wife being in charge. In every one of those relationships – my parents and former best friend included – the guy was happy and content.

I finally realized that my reaction was about my stuff, my values, and my desire to have a bit more control in my life. These married men were doing just fine and every single one of those marriages survived and, in many ways, apparently thrived.

Finally, I let go. After acknowledging that the vast majority of the time I spent with this friend was at my initiation and persistence, I finally took the hint and backed off. It coincided with a big scare in my family where my son was hospitalized. I reached out to this friend since I always thought he would be there when it mattered, even if our friend time was limited. He e-mailed me five days after my panicked call with the message, “I hope everything is okay.” We haven’t spoken or corresponded since.

Maybe I was being self-righteous, but maybe I finally recognized that our lives had gone in significantly different directions. Maybe having those Glory Days memories were all we had? I don’t know. What do you think?

 

  • http://fingercandymedia.com/ Jessica Northey

    This hit my heart. I am still in shock. I lost three friends this past week. All young mid 30s-early 40’s. One had cancer so we knew if was coming-didn’t think it would be so soon but knew if would come. The other Diabetes but his last tweet last month said “2012 is gonna be a great year”.  The other was depressed death unknown weather it was accidental overdose or ??
     I should have picked up the phone and called. All of them are stored in my phone. It’s a new phone & re-added their numbers from my last phone because I knew I should call them but I didn’t and now I regret it.I been trying to clean up some stuff in my life, especially trying to put God first.
    I am not perfect. Don’t wanna be. Just a squirrel trying to get nut in this world. 
    That’s all for now.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Jessica, don’t beat yourself up! It’s very sad about your friends, especially given the time frame of it all happening in one week. We had 3 high school suicides in one week a couple of months ago. Life is unfair. The biggest problem we all face today is balancing our time and few of us say we have too much of it. I know you are a GOOD FRIEND as I’ve experienced it. 

  • http://janiceperson.com/ Janice Person

    I think its tough sometimes staying friends when our worlds change so much. As other relationships come and go, there are always a few that are prized. Those are the ones I spend the most time cultivating. And although I think its really sad when it happens that a dear friend & I grow apart, after several attempts I’ve decided to simply move on. 

    Occasionally I may try to get back in touch with someone I wish I was still in touch with, but I don’t press it as hard as I may have at one time. For me, its a bit of pragmatism…. I have incredible people in my life who want to be here. That’s where I choose to invest the bulk of my time. I do mourn the loss of good friends once past, but its understandable too. 

    I had an incredibly close friend in college who failed to stay in touch when I was at what had to be the worst time for me til then. I was losing my dad to cancer. I tried to reach out a few times and finally cut it. There were lots of people offering support and while it differed from what I could have gotten from this other friend, the reality was the sincerity and their understanding was critical for me. Although the once-friend & I have had a rare pleasantry now and then over the years, they’ve all been at arms length. It wasn’t until this year that she explained why she was unavailable. We’re friends again but will never regain that closeness. Maybe that was meant to be because in the meantime, I found other support systems as well as a bit more perspective too. 

    Wow… you got me thinking. Thanks Bruce. Love my dadchat friends challenging me to think! 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I love your line, “For me, its a bit of pragmatism…. I have incredible people in my life who want to be here,” JP…amazing how common these feelings are!

  • http://www.amberrisme.com Amberr Meadows

    Bruce, I’m 31 and I’ve lost–for various reasons–every friend I ever had (I have many acquaintances, but few I would call “friends”). It gets harder as we get older, this is true, but I do feel that the friends meant to last are the ones who will remain after the smoke clears and the broken glass swept away. I used to think it was because I was defunct–having grown up in an abusive, one-parent household and living through the deaths of my aunt, mother, grandmother, and not ever having known my real father, amongst other painful losses–I thought something was wrong with me. The only thing wrong, I discovered, is through tragedy and chaos I developed an understanding of the way things really were in ways that some of the sheltered people I knew could not. We saw the world differently and handled things differently, and ultimately those differences resulted in dissolved friendships. *shrugs* La vida es un carnival, and we deal with it. Great post, as always.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Amberr, my heart breaks reading this but I know you are VERY strong. Maybe you need to seek new friends from different sources? Your strength – through adversity – should be very attractive to many people. Another thought is to volunteer somewhere where your life experience can be brought to bear?

  • http://twitter.com/JBTWEETNOTHINGS Johnny Bee

    It’s a piece like this that makes me appreciate living in a small town.  The people I called friends in high school are still friends today because most of us still live here.  It’s a different type of friendship, one that involves more reminiscing about good times past.  The really interesting thing is that now our children are friends, helping to keep the relationships alive.  I’ve certainly had friends move away and have lost touch with them but in my heart, as long as I can remember the times we shared together, the friendship remains.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      You’re lucky, JB…come to #DadChat some Thursday, please – we have a great community! 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. PST

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    Friends come and go. Some grow with us and some don’t. It is not always easy to say goodbye to those who were such a big part of our lives.

    I have some friends who I have known for more than 30 years and nothing ever changes. I am grateful for them. There have been people in my life who I was very tight with for a short time and then something changed.

    Not always sure what, but it did and we aren’t the same.

    My best friends are effortless. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work at keeping in touch and making time to hang out because we do. Rather I mean that it never feels strained, strange or weird. We are comfortable no matter what happens or how much time passes.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks JB…I miss some of my “old” friends but realize that that is the natural order of life!

  • http://brianvickery.com Brian Vickery

    First, I always love the pics you include in your blogs, Bruce.

    You know, I let most of my high school and college friendships fade into the past. I stayed pretty focused on my immediate family of wife and two daughters. Any spare time I had when not moving us across the country, or getting a start-up software company going, was spent with my Vickery Girls. Per our earlier discussions, we didn’t totally focus on just the daughters – my wife and I have always been best friends.

    She also makes friends more easily, so she has them on the tennis team, bible studies, person that was in the grocery line right behind her ;). Now that my girls are growing up, I’m permitting myself to make deeper friendships. Got plenty of years left to enjoy them.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx BV! I especially love these photos. What about your judo buds? 

  • http://twitter.com/profkrg Kenna Griffin

    Something interesting I’m noticing about friends right now is that our friends tend to be the parents of our children’s friends. As they change grades, sports teams, etc., they change friends. This means we change friends too. We don’t “lose” the old ones, we just begin spending more time with different people. It’s sad in one way, but it’s also nice to have a larger group of people you enjoy. Who knows how we’ll make friends when our kids are grown!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      THAT only works if you stay married. The moment there’s a divorce, the friends pretty much disappear. They don’t want to take sides and they tend to abandon the kids, too. THAT was my experience even when my boy’s mom disappeared completely from their lives and from ALL her friends!

  • Pingback: What’s New | | Bruce SallanBruce Sallan()

  • http://twitter.com/jeanniecw Jeannie Walters

    I love your thoughtfulness with this, Bruce. Friendship is difficult to define, and I’m finding it’s difficult to coach for my 7 year-old. He will make friends HIS way, and as a parent, I have to accept that. I think the divorce factor is a tricky one, too, because as you say, sometimes it is about picking a side. I hope I’m always a thoughtful friend, but I’m sure I haven’t been sometimes. This makes me appreciate my friends even more. Thanks for this post, my friend!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx, Jeannie. Divorce sure adds complexity to the mix of everything in our lives AND especially in the lives of our kids!

  • http://chopperpapa.com Kyle Bradford

    Friendships, in my opinion, are for a season and a reason. I’ve experienced it enough to know it’s true in my own life. I wrote about the loss of my last true one in ’11 called “waves of friendship. 

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I like that line Kyle…”are for a season and a reason.”

  • http://twitter.com/BetsyKCross Betsy Cross

    Hey Bruce,
    Once a friend always a friend! I don’t care how often or when or even how (phone, email or a knock at the door, a tweet or status update) once you’re in my heart, that’s it. And that’s all I have to say about that! Except I REALLY think guys need guy friends and sometimes even a separate social life when married with kids. But that’s just me!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I wish Betsy…but it takes two to tango! Hope to CU at #DadChat tonight.

  • Pingback: Radio Show: Friends | | Bruce SallanBruce Sallan()

  • http://www.jungleoflife.com/ Lance

    Bruce,
    This is really interesting to read.  My wife and I were good friends with a couple from our area (that we met because our kids were friends with their kids).  It was great hanging out with them.

    And then…while not divorce – in this case, death came – as the husband in that other couple passed away from cancer.  Since then (about a year ago), it just feels like our friendship has drifted a bit (the dynamic certainly changed).  Maybe it’s just a part of the ebb and flow of friendships…

     Lots of good stuff to think about here – and I love your site and what you’ve created.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Lance. I’m sure that friend could use extra support given the death of her husband. Reach out to her…she may really be lonely!

  • http://jong.my/ netster

    I’m so sorry to hear that your friend is not there when you need it even just for a quick hello or console during bad time – even just over the phone when physically not able to be there.

    I dont have many good friend in my life — perhaps just one or two. by that I mean the really close one – the one you share about first love, first crush, your like and dislike, the argument that you will both fight to dominant but acknowledge who won or lose without feeling ugly or hates. yeah – that kind of friend! 🙂

    So I only have one and currently he is working in other country and we did not speaks that often but if we met we would be so bonded again hahaha 

    last year I went for a vacation to the country where he work — he took the time out with me and my wife at 10pm after his work because he can’t get a leave. He bought us to a restaurant for the best gigantic Chili Crab in the country and boy – we had a great time! Our short meeting end at about 1am int he morning.

    Your post remind me of the best time. We have been friend since we were 12 and now we both are in our mid 30s so I’m glad we still are friend 🙂

    Thanks for the nice post but hey Bruce, things happen for a reason and I am guessing its time to move on and some where out there (even here) there’s are people who cares.

    You have a great day 😀

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Things may happen for a reason, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it! lol…I miss those friends…but that is life! I appreciate your comment!

  • Pingback: What’s New | | Bruce SallanBruce Sallan()

  • Rod

    Hey Bruce, I want to ask you if it’s okay to use the animal pictures to put to a song for you tube.  Regards Rod

  • http://pegfitzpatrick.com/ Peg Fitzpatrick

    Bruce,

    Did you think that you needed to qualify you had been a boy your whole life? 🙂

    I think that friends do grow apart and sometimes that is because of a significant other. It is really sad that people would feel the need to so control someone else’s life. Or to be controlled that much. 

    And it is a very sad realization that a friend that you felt would always be there for you, wasn’t in the end. 

    I feel it is much, much harder to make friends when you are older. Social media has made it easier in a lot of ways but all the relationships are not the same quality. And my husband says that NONE of them are real. (he is of course wrong about that)

    Insightful post as always Bruce.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Peg, just in case anyone was questioning that fact! Lol…I so agree that making deep friendships, like we felt they were when we were younger, is harder and harder once we get older. I’ve heard it said that for two couple to like one another, something like 6 or is it 8 relationships have to work…think about it and it’s true. If one of you doesn’t like one of them, no friendship!