As we grow older our social circle tends to become smaller. Friendships easily fade if we do not invest time in them. We can get into the habit of turning down invitations and issuing none. Life becomes hectic and friends almost become luxuries we cannot afford. Many people end up feeling lonely and isolated.
While friendships can sometimes hurt and wound – they still prove to be a critical asset when facing challenge in our lives. Psychological studies into resilience confirm that the single common thread in successful outcomes is the survivors’ tendency to lean on others.
Are we our own worst enemy when it comes to losing this key support structure? I think we can be. Many of us become too judgemental about our friends. We should be happy with any type of friendship – close friends, work colleagues, neighbours, cousins, friends you see a lot and friends you rarely meet – the more friends the better.
I would also include one-sided friendships in this as well. I have come to this conclusion in recent years but I’m conscious that it’s not easy. However, I feel that if we enjoy someone’s company we shouldn’t cut these friends out. We don’t have to put enormous emotional energy into such friendships and can take them at face value.
Sometimes, we expect too much from friends. Some very good people do not have the skillset or emotional intelligence to reciprocate friendship in the way we expect. We can also raise the bar too high. I think it’s better to take an open-ended approach and be more open to all types of friends while extending ourselves socially.
People need people. We are social creatures. As a species we evolved that way. I’ve personally discovered that it is possible to rekindle old friendships. It doesn’t always work but recycled friendships sometimes prove more robust. When preparing for the jumble sale or charity shop we can unintentionally offer treasures that we miss later on. We need to be careful when it comes to dumping things out!
(C) Shane Martin