Jimmy Kimmel is calling for everyone on Facebook to “trim the fat” on Wednesday, November 17th, and unfriend anyone who is not really your friend. (“You know how someone is your real friend? Post ‘I’m moving this weekend. Who can help?’ as your status. Anyone who responds is your real friend.”) This got me thinking about the 574 people I am friends with on Facebook, how I know each of them, and whether I should, indeed, trim some people. While I know there are a lot of people I do not talk to regularly, it is still hard for me to “defriend” for the mere possibility of maybe needing to get in touch with that person at some point. (This quality, in and of itself, should also make me a hoarder, which, thankfully, I am not.) This is fueled mostly by the fact that I tend to organize reunions and such, and having contact information is important. But I digress…
[Before I continue, a disclaimer. The following paragraphs are not meant to offend anyone, nor single anyone out. Just some thoughts I have had and wanted to share. Because I would bet my car I am not the only person who feels this way from time to time.]
Furthermore, this whole unfriending thing got me thinking about my core friends. Best friends, if you will. The ones I count on. The ones I invite to everything and want to be witness to the great (and sometimes not so great) things going on in my life. The ones I care about very deeply. The ones that if they were taken from this life, it would absolutely tear me apart. The ones I love unconditionally…or at least I try to. But it also brought me to the realization that, no matter how much I want a friendship to work, sometimes the other person is not in it for the long haul like I am. And I am only willing to put in as much effort into a relationship as I receive. I do not feel this is too much to ask.
The word “relationship” has a more familiar association with couples or family members, but for me, it encompasses friendships as well. I prefer this definition of relationship: an emotional or other connection between people. What this means to me is that if I put forth effort, interest, love, respect and commitment, it is a relationship. And I, maybe stupidly, expect the same in return.
Let me tell you a little about how I approach these relationships. If we are friends, you can trust me. I do not take that trust for granted. My mind is a steel trap. I am loyal, to a fault, at times. If you need anything, I will be there for you (within reason, of course – I am not going to break the law or endanger lives. Sorry, Mike.). I have been known to drive all over the city to get car keys left at home, tickets or kids that needed to be picked up, or grab your favorite coffee just because. If you’re going through a break up or a make up, if you got a little too drunk at the bar and need a ride home, if you got a promotion or just got laid off, I am there for you. I like wishing you Happy Birthday, whether it be on Facebook, by text, a phone call, an e-card, an actual card, or a gift. It is important to me that you know I am glad you were born; glad you are in my life. I will respond to you. I try to be the best possible friend I can be. There are times I fail, miserably so on more than one occasion. But I will try to admit quickly when I am wrong. I will do what I can to make sure that our relationship is still strong.
Here’s where you will start to lose me…do not return my calls, emails or texts. Do not do me any favors, even when it is obvious I really need you. Only call me when you need something. Only call/text me to apologize after the fact. Miss several important milestones in my life. Change the dynamics of the relationship without explanation. Continuously blow me off for your significant other. If we talk frequently, halt communications indefinitely for no apparent reason. Put sole responsibility of getting together on me. Make plans with me and then bail with no notice. Make alternate plans and bail. Make alternate plans to the alternate plans and bail.
I am a wife and mother of two, so I am completely empathetic to life’s crazy roller coaster. You cannot do everything all the time. You cannot always respond right away. I am very willing to give the benefit of the doubt and numerous chances. And unless you do something unforgivable, I am unlikely to ever cut you completely out of my life. But just like with a significant other or a family member, these relationships need work from both sides. And sometimes you need a break and a different perspective. To step out of the box and look at why you became friends, and if you are holding on to the past or if the relationship can evolve as you inevitably will. Can we be what each of us needs of the other? Do you treasure my friendship as I do yours? If not, that is OK. Not all relationships are meant to last. But I will still send a birthday message and a Christmas card each year. Because that is who I am.