in Life

The Friendship-Extent Test

I used to be best friends with someone and now I’m not. I think we can all relate. People grow up, change, hate each other, and move on with their lives. It’s the natural way.

As I’ve grown up I’ve realized that not every friend you make is going to be your best friend. When I was younger, I didn’t like that idea. Now, I’m thankful because there’s just not enough time to have that many best friends. When I was younger and a friend would upset me—regardless to what extent, big or small—I’d probably talk to them about what they’d done and why I was upset about it (most likely because I wouldn’t have done that same thing to them), and it would result in (A) them understanding me and us moving forward or (B) them not understanding me and us moving backward. Today, I rarely confront friends when they’ve upset me unless it’s a really big issue. Or if I do confront them, it’s usually in a passive manner. I’ll ask them a question about the issue and see what they have to say.

I’m testing them.

We all have a constantly fluctuating amount of energy to invest into our friendships. Though that energy is always fluctuating, everyone has an average at any given point in their life. Also, the average over time can go up or down. Typically it goes down. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As we get older we take on more responsibilities: bills, jobs, kids, significant others, etc.

So, I’ll ask my friend, “Hey, I noticed you tweeted about watching Dexter. I thought we were going to watch it together. What happened?”

And the excuses begin. My favorite, a real classic:

I didn’t know we were going to watch it every week just because we’ve been watching it for the past ten weeks.

Pencils down, please.

It’s at this point that the test is complete and I immediately adjust the amount of energy I put into that friendship.

Again, if this were high school I would have launched into monologue about how much this sucks, how we have been watching it for the past ten weeks, how we did make an agreement whether they remember it or not, and tell them that I’m done watching shows with them from this point on. They would have promptly (A) apologized and agreed to not make the same mistake again or (B) called me out for being petty and blowing the situation out of proportion and probably kept watching Dexter without me (more appropriately, if this were high school we’d probably be talking about The X-Files).

At some point I realized that I could just use the amount of energy it would take to have that conversation and re-appropriate it into the friendships that are actually worth more of my time. I’m still friends with that person, I’ve just realigned my expectations as to what extent our level of friendship is at. I’ve learned to  recycled that aggressive energy into fueling another, more rewarding, friendship.

Really, everyone wins.