What happens to friendship?

I´ve recently noticed that the traffic my newborn blog gets is hardly ever from people in Germany. Therefore I decided to write in English from time to time…let me know if you prefer German.

However, what I meant to share is the following. Just walking along the street this by the way very sunny afternoon I wondered why friends tend to disappear with time. None of the people I know that are older than me have kept all their high school or Uni mates. The friends they have are fewer than in the past and strings are much more lose than they used to be.

One answer I came up with is the system we live in. At first everyones path is paved rather clearly, most people go through kindergarten, primary and secondary school in some way. They usually live with their parents until they`re 16 or 18 or older. They have school holidays, teachers, get marks, write tests and all that jazz.
This creates a common experience that can be shared and acts as a base for friendship. With the help of this base it is easy to connect with people you love and stay away from people you don`t. Even if you don´t go to the same school you can share the same topics. Once the system opens up and people have to actively make choices about their career and private life, they´re deprived of the common ground and have to actively work on existing friendships. And let´s be honest, it´s often easier to form new friendships in your new “common ground” at uni etc. Yet, this gets more complicated once the common ground becomes more heterogeneous agewise and more formal- if you end up with a propper job. So as much as you might have hated school, it was a good base to train, learn about and experience friendship.

The other thought I had was that in contrast to the common opinion I do not think that all true friendships necessarily last forever. Maybe it is because I´ve moved to different places rather often in my life. To me, friendship is a lasting feeling, but the people are often interchangable. Don´t get me wrong, I do care about my friends and I want exactly those friends and no others. But honestly, part of the reason we´re still friends is that our value system and life choices have developped in roughly the same direction. Some of the people I deeply care about have simply slowly disappeared from my radar because their issues and attitudes have developed in such a different direction from my own that it is hard to find “common ground”. This actually makes me sad but when you meet again all the old easiness has vanished. Some old memories cover up the hole that has grown, but that only helps for a few hours. And often the old person that was your friend is replaced by a new person that does not want to be reminded of its former self. For me, there have been many beautiful people that travelled part of life`s road with me and then disappeared. The moments we shared were deep and true at that time. I still deeply appreciate those people, but if I hear from them once a year, that´s a lot.

Finally, of course other things in life become more important than taking care of friends. Busy jobs, lovely partners and children are things that need time and care and make life beautiful. Friendtime has to make room for that…So maybe friendship changes. People do not spend six hours a day everyday but maybe meet once a week. I am just sometimes wondering, where is the line to simple aquaintances? Is a friend a person I am happy to spend a week with in a small room?A person I can continue the conversation with that we had a year ago? A person I share a passion with? Or maybe a person I´d call if I´m lost and drunk and it`s 3am? A person that inspires me and leaves me relaxed and full of new ideas everytime we meet? A person I meet more than once a week? I am fortunate enough to have beautiful people around me that I would definitely call friends. Yet, with some I share only certain things, with others I can only spend a certain amount of time before I need a break.

Maybe that´s the luxury of having passed the part of life where the system thinks for you- you get to choose the right form and amount of friendship that´s good for you. However since this requires actions and reflected decisions, it also bears the danger of taking friends for granted and end up with less than needed- again my dear Jonathan Safran Foer nails it:

You only get to keep what you refuse to let go.

What do you think is a good base for friendship- apart from the well known classics such as trust, sympathy and loyalty? How do your friendships work? How many old friends do you have? I´m curious!





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