Responsibility in Friendships
Last week, I had a question. I had many, but this one struck me enough to add it to my notes app for a potential E&OC entry. What are my responsibilities in friendship? So simple and probably not something we think about often. Perhaps because I’ve been evaluating myself in all types of relationships, this question came up. Honestly, I blame Aries season.
Last week was a rough week, especially with work. I found myself falling into old behaviours of just work-work-work-work-work and not actually resting. I was lying in bed and thinking about it, visualising my responses. Eye roll. By Wednesday, I got so annoyed that I purchased a sleeping aid from the chemist. It’s an oral spray, and it conks me right out. Sometimes pharmaceutical interventions are the way to go.
What are my responsibilities in friendship? I have three different answers; to be there, to be aware, and to be.
Philosophical right? Sign me up to give a speech.
Don’t do that. That’s too much anxiety for me right now.
To be there –
I think this is very self-explanatory. You have to show up in friendships. The thing with friendships is that they are a mutually exclusive transaction of energy. It means showing up in the good times and bad until you both agree that you no longer want to be friends. I don’t like this ghosting business or not resolving issues after arguments, but I also think behaviour post-argument is a proper reflection of someone’s character – including your own. But for the duration of friendship, there is the understanding that you will walk beside each other through life events. This includes meeting new people, dating, marriage, babies, divorce, deaths, and years around the sun.
Friendships are active choices of taking time out to be there for each other. It doesn’t mean going ghost because the sex with someone new is good. Neither does it mean ignoring someone because they spoke to so and so, and you’re not on good terms with them. I think it’s important to comment on the fact that you have to take time out of your busy life to make time for friends. So, being there also means being present.
To be there in friendships is to show up, share and love each other.
To be aware –
On the other side of that, though, is the awareness of when you can’t offload onto your friend. It means setting boundaries with your friends and with yourself of how much to share. What I mean is, when your friend is going through a difficult time, it’s important to be aware of how much your issues will impact them. I totally get that part of friendships is listening and advising each other. But I think it’s necessary to be aware of how much your issues could affect someone else. You have to have an awareness of if your issues are going to compound their issues.
The week before, I took the weekend off from life to sit with my feelings. I didn’t tell my friends anything. That was necessary for me to do because I could handle it, and some of my friends were handling their own issues. However, I also knew that my friends would be there in a heartbeat for me if I couldn’t handle it. I made the right choice. Being aware of how much you share also relates to if someone is speaking badly about your friends. It’s an awareness of choosing to not be a pot-stirrer. Remember, what Suzy says of Sally says more of Suzy than Sally, and sometimes Sally doesn’t need to know what Suzy said. You don’t have to share every piece of gossip you hear, especially if it will cause trouble or anguish for your friend.
To be aware in friendships is to monitor how much sharing you should do.
To be –
Authentic self, of course.
There are a lot of falsehoods in people, a lot of jealousy too. People have no shame in saddling up beside you with false intentions and walking away when they get what they want. I think it’s very difficult to manage the fine line of knowing when someone is true because we are also always growing. But, I believe that being your authentic self is squared to who you are at that time, in the present. So, if you or they are not being their authentic self, I think the friendship will always fall apart. True colours will always come to light.
Also, who we were as youth-only shaped us as adults – we are not the same. Sometimes, we are also not the same person as who we were from even a year ago! Life happens, naturally, so does change – whether for better or worse. It’s important that the people in your life are also growing with you. Unfortunately, those stuck and who don’t want to grow are no longer authentic either. Because they are an image of the past, trapped in life traps, moments and holding themselves and you back. Just as you would hold them back if you avoided growth too.
To be in friendships is to be your authentic self, which is always growing.
To summarise my answer to my own question, we do have responsibilities in friendships. It is a mutual transaction of give and take, sometimes more of either when necessary.
To be there, to be aware, and to be.
There is a saying that people show up in our lives for a reason or a season. I can say that my friends, who are my confidants and part of my family, have taught me many lessons over the seasons. And for those who lasted many seasons but aren’t here currently, they taught me many painful lessons – lessons I avoided for the reason I was scared to grow.
Don’t be afraid if your friendships change. It is a little lonely. But also remember that you don’t have to share everything with everyone. There are many different levels of friendships, too. It’s okay to have going out friends and soul-family friends. Those levels have a mutual transaction of different types of give and take. That’s okay.
Just don’t keep friends for fear of loneliness, and don’t let past friends keep you from making new ones.
Tea of the day – Twinings, Earl Grey
Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!
With love and eternal optimism,