Sunday, 18 March 2018

Let's Talk About All Those Friendships...

Whenever someone mentions the word relationship, we all immediately assume that they are going to start talking about something romantic. Well relationships aren't all about romance and we form relationships with lots of different people in our lives, not just the people we become romantically involved with. So today I'm going to be talking about friendships. This post has been something I've wanted to write for a couple of months now and it has been on my to-do list, I just haven't been in the right mood to do it. I was actually inspired to write this when I came across a blog post by Sophia Rosemary, talking about her experiences in her past relationships. I'll link that post here as I found it really insightful. Now that I feel fresh and ready to give you all the tea (although I'm actually drinking coffee in the picture above because I don't like tea) about some of the friendships I've had in my life, I'm hoping that I can share with you what I've learnt from them and how all of the negatives have actually made me into a better person today.

So we've got to start way back when I was in secondary school. Secondary school was pretty much the worst time of my life. Not because I had a horrible experience, as at the time I was loving it. I thought I was quite cool, I socialised with lots of different groups and just generally saw school as an environment to have a great time in. However in retrospect, I was just being the complete opposite of the person I actually am. I was trying to blend in with the people around me and that is not cool. Guys, do not ever change who you are for the sake of the people around you. It really isn't worth it.

Around the time of year nine or maybe ten as I can't quite remember now, I had this friend that I used to talk to every single day. They would call my landline, my mobile, chat to me on MSN and BBM constantly - do we all remember those days?! Even though we would talk a lot outside school, during school we wouldn't really hang out that much. I had my own little friendship group and they had their too. It's not like we would ever ignore each other but it was more that we would each just do our own thing and then go home, chat on the phone and basically just update each other on our respective lives. One of the main things we would talk about was who we liked - typical teenager chat really. I trusted this person with a lot of my secrets and I also spent a lot of time listening to and uplifting them. They were genuinely one of my best friends.

Now throughout secondary school I only really liked one person from year seven onwards. I'm very fussy, I don't like people often but when I do like them I really like them. Unfortunately we were always quite up and down and I don't have one of those cute childhood sweetheart stories to share with you. It didn't work out. But one day when we were chatting after school, he told me that this "friend" had been messaging him behind my back. Suggestively messaging him and obviously trying to pursue something. Now, I was very surprised. Imagine that everyday I would come home, I would talk to this person about how much I liked this guy and complain about the fact that we just never seemed to work (so na├»ve, it's embarrassing I know) and meanwhile, this friend would also be messaging him. So at the same time I was confiding in them, they were busy trying to sneak in behind my back! I was really hurt. I felt so betrayed. I knew that I had basically lost a really good friend because they weren't the person I thought they were. And do you know what, I actually remember feeling quite jealous. I didn't have huge self-esteem back then and I did feel threatened. I felt like I  had lost all my chances with him because they were gorgeous and I was just average, if that.

These feelings  made the whole situation even worse. Jealousy is a pretty nasty emotion. I was young, obviously slightly superficial because I was stressing over the fact that this friend was absolutely stunning and the guy might now like her more than he liked me. It was all a bit of a mess! I would never feel that threatened, to that extent, by another girl now because I'm wise enough to know that I have a lot more to offer someone than just my looks. But back then, it just seemed like everything had come crashing down at once.

In all honesty, I had always had my suspicions about this friend. You know those friends that you just get a feeling you can't trust? But they haven't actually done anything to prove you right yet? Well this was the moment that I had to reluctantly accept that my intuition had been right all along. You should never fall out with a friend over a guy, you really shouldn't. But I'm sure you can guess that we did. I confronted them about it and they lied to me, again. So I fell out with this person, not because we were both after the same guy, as we all know this sometimes happens. But rather, because they completely broke my trust and trust to me is absolutely everything. Once that is gone I cannot move forward and I knew that there was no going anywhere with this friend. There could be no backtracking, no moving forward with them either. From that point onward there was just nothing left. Now don't get me wrong, I never claim guys. Who am I to dictate anyone's life or feelings, right? But if you're a good friend and I have a significant history with someone, which I did, your moral compass should be flashing "off limits".

This friendship is something I have never forgotten. It has taught me that anyone who doesn't respect your feelings, no matter how small an issue everybody else might think it is, does not deserve to be in your life. Maybe you're thinking that this wasn't worth falling out over. Maybe you're thinking I was young and none of it was that serious anyway. But trust me, this was a guy I had been through a lot with. I was only 15/16 at the time and those sorts of "relationships" don't really count when you compare them on paper to any relationships I've had since. But my friend knew how I felt about him, knew how serious I was and yet they went selfishly ahead anyway. Even when I asked multiple times in the past if they liked him, they denied it. If they had been honest, I could have accepted it and we could have moved forward. But they chose to lie and go behind my back instead. This is not the behaviour of a friend. So, if you have a friend in your life that is fake, lies to your face and does sneaky things behind your back, don't let them waste any more of your time. Cut them off.

Next up are some friendship issues I had a couple of years later. As you get older and your schedule gets a little bit busier, it can be really difficult to find the time to see your friends. I struggle with it a lot now. Having to check rotas and pencil people into my diary but also making sure I have enough days off to just relax and have some me time is one of the biggest things I struggle with. It's become more apparent now, as I've met so many new people and I do struggle to make time to see all of them. Nowadays, I genuinely do not have time to see people sometimes. Whereas a few years back it wasn't that difficult. It was just something that you had to really make sure you put in the time and effort for.

Having said that, I've had a couple of friends who I don't really speak to anymore because the friendship just sort of fizzled out through lack of contact. For most of them there hasn't been one defining incident, it's just something that gradually happened. You know when you're the one who is constantly messaging them? And they're reading your messages but not replying until a few days later, sometimes even a week? No. Don't have time for that honey. I had a friend like this and I tried so hard to make things work, but it was like talking to a bag of pasta. I will always make time for people who make time for me. If you don't? Sweet, see you later. And it works both ways! There are people in my life who I don't always make time for and I don't expect them to bend over backwards for me. Nothing should be one-sided, whether it's more heavily balanced on your end or theirs. 

I do remember that there was one very dramatic incident where myself and one of my best friends had gone to this party. We were there to support our friend, but it all turned into a huge drama because we hadn't been sent the right venue location, walked around for an hour trying to find it and then eventually found it about two or three hours later. You can't fault our perseverance - we did not give up even though we thought about going home multiple times! We'd both cleared our schedules as it was quite an important party. We had come back from university and taken time off work for it. We had also called multiple times asking to be directed to the right location but this friend was not answering her phone. Fair enough she was busy being the star of the show, but don't say we didn't try...

Again, this was a really good friend. Not the kind of friend you would expect to just drop you without a discussion or a chance to apologise in person and clear the air. We all mess up and do things wrong but most things can be sorted just by talking calmly about what happened. Sadly, the chance to do that never arose. When we arrived at the party, we received the coldest greeting imaginable and we were ignored the whole night. Even when we were taking photos it was like we were strangers. It was actually awful. After that night, we messaged on the group chat apologising again and trying to sort things out. But we got no response that day, that week or even that year. So that was that really. The end of a friendship that I actually really valued. But it was just one of those situations where we had exhausted every avenue and there was just silence on the other end. Like genuinely, not a single response. After a while we all just had to give up, accept that this person didn't want us in their life anymore and move on. 

These sorts of friendships are just unhealthy. There is also no point in them because it's not really a friendship if it's just you putting in all the work is it? If you notice that you're the friend who is constantly sending messages, constantly asking about the other person's life, but you're not getting anything back then just stop for a while. See if they ever start messaging you. If they do, maybe just nicely let them know how you feel. Often people don't even realise what they're doing until someone flags it up with them. If they don't reach out to you, then let it go. 

I'm going to start wrapping things up now as this post has turned out to be quite long already. Onto my last couple of friendship rifts, these ones were both formed at university. I had a good friend that I would go and study with often, would talk about my assignments with, would help with her assignments and help with her assignments again and then help with her assignments a bit more. Do you see what I'm getting at here? Although she was a lovely, lovely person, I just felt as though I was putting so much into the friendship and getting nothing in return. She would ask to see drafts of my essays all the time, ask me to send her over essays I had already written and submitted, she would just ask ask ask and I felt like I wanted to help her so I never really said no. In all honesty, she didn't need my help at all. I think it became a sort of safety net for her and it was unhealthy for both of us because she wasn't exerting her full capability and I was sacrificing a lot of my own time to help her.

There are some friends in life that literally drain you. There are people I know who are quick to message me as soon as something fab happens in their life, but can never ask about anything going on in mine. It's always about them. Their wins, their gains, their successes. And you just humbly congratulate them, meanwhile knowing that you've had plenty of positive and maybe also not so positive things happen in your life that they haven't even asked you about. All it would take is a simple "How are you?" but they never do it.

These types of exhausting friendships are probably the most unhealthy. They're not just one-sided like the ones I mentioned earlier, they're just self-absorbed. To me, that is one of the worst things a friend can be. You start finding yourself having these internal battles where you don't want to be a bad friend and not support them but you also know that you're just really losing your patience with them. You suddenly feel burdened by their friendship and that's when it's time to say no more.

I'm only 22 now but friendship drama is one of those things that I don't think you ever fully get away from. Have we all watched The Real Housewives of Atlanta? In fact, just every Real Housewives episode ever is saturated with friendship drama and these women are like, in their 40s. You can't escape the fact that some friendships in your life, at any given time, just might not be right for you anymore. I have no real negative feelings from any of the situations I've talked about above. It's just another part of life and they've taught me a lot of lessons that I will keep carrying forward with me.

Not everybody you meet in your life will become a best friend of yours, but it's good to try and maintain positive relationships with as many people as you can. I try not to argue with my friends. In fact, scratch that, I don't argue with my friends at all. If we don't agree on something and it's getting a bit heated, I just say that we stop talking about it and move on. If there is an actual issue that I feel needs to be talked about, which is honestly pretty much never these days, then I'll talk about it. I'll make sure we squash it there and then. Good friends are not worth arguing with. I've actually learnt that quite a lot of things are better left unsaid. You can save yourself a hell of a lot of drama by thinking before you speak! And my final tip is probably just to make sure that your friendships are balanced. Don't give too much of yourself and don't let anybody give too much of themselves to you either, as ultimately both are unfair.

But having said all of that, I just want to be clear about the fact that I am very lucky to have lots of positive and uplifting friendships in my life. I couldn't live without my two best friends. Even though we have our ups and downs sometimes and our lives are getting so much busier now, they're the kind of friends I can go for months without seeing and still have it be exactly the same as it's always been when I go back to them. They're not the kind of friends that won't be right for me in a year or two, they're the kind of friends I'll be sat in a nursing home alongside when I'm like 80 years old. Okay, probably not a nursing home. Maybe a drawing room having afternoon tea in a pretty dress because that's the kind of granny I want to be. And for that, I am so grateful as it's not often you find people who are going to be that constant in your life.

I know this post was really long but it's something I've been wanting to talk about for a while. If you made it to the end you're a star, if you didn't, you won't be reading this so it doesn't matter anyway!

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