Monday, May 09, 2011

When is a friend no longer a friend?

What's your measure for detecting when a friendship has come to an end? How can you tell, has it been staring you in the face for weeks, months or even years but you just haven't noticed?

Call me a cynic...

"All right, you're a Cynic!"

These days, I seem to be able to spot the signs a little earlier. I no longer hold on to a friendship that has passed its sell-by-date, now I look out for the 'Best before' signs. The signs that indicate that I'm the one putting in all the work and doing all the giving. I ditch the emotional vampires, the ones that drain the dregs out of me. I discard those who couldn't care whether I am in their life or not. I say farewell to the fanciful users who use me for their own ends, just when they fancy it!

One old friend [this was someone I'd previously thought of as a friend], who moved from our hometown circa 2000, is one person I realise is no longer a true friend. I'd searched for her on Facebook for a couple of years, just hoping to maintain a little contact. You know the kind of thing, to find out where she's now and what she's up to these days. With a view to the odd Christmas card passing between us and possibly one day meeting up for lunch.

I searched for years and never found her.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I bumped into her locally, assuming she was home to visit her family. I was so pleased to see her, she was friendly and chatty.

We exchanged mobile phone numbers.

Then I asked her why she was in Merthyr, and she said she'd been back living here for about three years.

I couldn't believe it. Not so much for the fact that we had never bumped into one another before but that there'd been no contact from her. She knew where I lived. I'd even been invited to her hen party and wedding day just before she moved away. So it wasn't as though I meant nothing to her, and as it was a small wedding, I felt I was one of the chosen few.

Getting over the surprise, I asked if she wanted to meet up the following week for lunch.

She seemed enthusiastic. Then she changed 'lunch' to 'coffee' as she explained her life was 'so busy'.

Okay, it was better than nothing and a chance to catch up with someone whose friendship I'd really valued.

Yet, as I walked away from that surprise encounter, a little voice in my head said, "She's not that keen to rekindle your friendship."

So, it was no surprise to me the evening before our proposed coffee date that she texted me, making an excuse as to why she couldn't meet me the following day. Her excuse sounded plausible and she even said we would definitely meet the following week.

I just texted back the words, 'No probs'. I didn't even bother trying to pin her down to the following week. I think I'd got the message.

I didn't really mean that much to her any more. Yet, I would have moved heaven and earth to have made that meeting.

Perhaps I was looking back on the past with rose-tinted glasses.

Maybe some friendships have a certain shelf-life.

That's why I choose to dust off my shelves and prioritise the friends who value my friendship and those that don't.

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