Forever? Not really.
Forever? Not really.
Relationships come and go, friends last forever–we all have heard or said that sentence before. Certainly, not all of us need a partner in order to be fulfilled and happy. But isn’t this saying somewhat strange? It suggests: Relationships are more fleeting and worth less than friendships.
After all, many friendships–or what some people regards as such–are equally unsteady. Loose bonds, no strings attached, no ball and chain, no exclusivity, no Valentine’s presents, no family reunions. And though we pretend that our friendships are holy, we do not put in the effort they might require. Hey, real friends take us for who we are, unconditionally. Don’t they?
Our friends allow us to let down our guard and our hair. We can be who we truly are and we expect acceptance that is absolute in return. Without shame, without consequence, without pressure, without self-doubt. And without the fear of being left.
Yet, friendships can break apart just as much as relationships. Especially, if we take our friends for granted. Whereas relationships often end dramatically and with heartache, friendships slowly fade away, warm up and cool down again — in line with the respective stages and circumstances of our lives.
Childhood friendships that last a lifetime have become a rare exception just as long-term relationships have. Forever? Not really. We are much too busy chasing butterflies in our stomachs. But that’s another story. Or maybe it isn’t? Because if we stop trying to preserve being in love forever, we might realize that in a relationship, friendship is most important.
Instead, we surrounding ourselves with as many friends as possible. Quantity over quality. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, though? Many psychologists are convinced that we are capable of having deep friendships with three people max. Accordingly, we should pick our friends with the same caution and care than our life partner. Today more than ever and with people increasingly substituting relationships with friendships, friends have become equally elementary.
Especially, since ours is the age of being single: In many nations around the world the number of people living alone is unprecedented … and counting, particularly in rural areas. Friends grant the emotional support they would otherwise receive from their spouses. Yet, that increases the risk of being hurt and impairs our ability to evaluate our friendships objectively.
Out of self-defense or vanity we dismiss what is, but mustn‘t be: About half of our friendships are not consensual, as researchers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Tel Aviv have found out. In other words, every other of our alleged friends probably does not consider himself or herself to our friend.
But who voluntarily admits such a thing to oneself? Therefore, we should impose the same standards in our friendships that we do in our relationships: How we treat each other is more important than how much we like each other.