So, I decided to try out the close friendships thing. I did it in a very safe way. I allowed certain people that I trust to have daily, or almost daily contact with me through chat or phone. But these people didn't live close to me, so I didn't have to face them frequently in person. I know, I'm a coward, but that's a start. I didn't analyze (or at least, I did it less than I normally do), or try to figure out what was going on or where it was going. I just enjoyed their company. If I misunderstood something said, I tried to talk through it rather than assuming I was being asked to leave, and I think I was somewhat successful at that. Result: wow...it's been kind of amazing. I fully expected that after a few days the conversations would cease and I would lapse into the once a month communications which would morph into non-existence eventually. When it didn't happen I was mystified, but sort of happy, too.
Four months later, only one of those friendships has had any negative results. But last week I came to the point where I had to do some investigating. My poor friends got the third degree as I questioned them at length about what their ideas were about friendship, what they wanted, long-term expectations, ideals, etc. As I often do when researching, I am posting some things I want to think more about. There is no logical thread to this, these are just bits of information I'm considering as I draw conclusions. Last time I did this I enticed unwanted visitors to my site--I can't imagine this thread of research doing the same, though it would be all right with me if bunches of "friend" people were lured here. They might help me with my research...
F1: I don't see you trying to keep a friend if you thought they were trying to leave.
Sam: Why would I? Friendship isn't something that should be forced on another.
F1: Sometimes people seem as if they want to leave, but really they're just testing you to see how important the friendship is to you. Will you fight for it? Will you tell them you want them to stay?
Sam: That seems dishonest. Why don't they just say, "I'm feeling insecure. Will you tell me that you love me?"
F1: That's not how people work. You're not the only one who ever feels insecure. And have you ever done that?
Sam: I have.
F1: Well, I don't think that's what most people do.
Sam: I think they should.
Sam: I think friendships should end quietly, without drama.
F2: If someone decided to stop being friends with you, you'd probably blog about it in one of your many blogs, then you'd hide.
Sam: I wouldn't hide.
F2: Yeah, you would. And you'd never tell that person that you missed him or that he'd hurt you.
Sam: What would be the point of telling him those things?
F2: Then he'd know you cared, and maybe he'd come back.
Sam: If he's been in contact with me on a regular basis, there should be no doubt that I care--I tell my friends all the time that I love them and think they're the best people around--you've heard me say it to you more than once. To do so when someone says they've had enough, seems manipulative and pathetic.
F2: I don't believe you wouldn't be hurt if someone stopped talking to you, and you didn't know why.
Sam: It might hurt at first. It would stop hurting after awhile.
F2: Do you always just deal with being hurt or having conflict by waiting it out?
Sam: Doesn't everyone?
Sam: I'm trying to figure it all out. Not the perfect friend part, just the friend thing, in general.
F3: Well, I've had A as a friend for four years now. And we're just as close as we ever were. And that's pretty marvelous, isn't it? For me, the key has been getting into a place where I can be myself. Perhaps you've found your place now? Or one of your places?
Sam: Every time I think I'm getting close, I realize I don't have any idea what I'm doing. You and A are veteren friends.
F3: Well, no one knows what they're doing. We're all just trying.
Sam: Yes, but trying for different things.
F3: And there are still times when we have to say to each other, "Don't go?" Or we fight. Or wonder if it doesn't make us more tired to be friends than not.
Sam: It does seem to me that it is more work than it's worth. There's a lot of safety in being an interested observer. However, it makes me happy that you have her--that she has you, and that friendship has lasted a long time (in Samantha years).
F3: Well, she's maddening, but loveable. What is it about friendships you don't understand?
Sam: Well, I suppose the longest lasting friendships I've had are the ones where we only have limited contact. I call once or twice a year. We exchange Christmas cards. Occasionally we visit. But I'm told that's not really a relationship. So I'm trying to understand why a friendship with close contact is better.
F3: For one thing, it's a lot more dangerous, and therefore more self-affirming.