Hazel Bee does a greetings card which says ‘Be my friend!’ ‘Facebook or real?’ and Nicki will be laughing her head off at this one line, but it is a true dilemma.
We’ve all got them, those half breed friendships. Your sister’s boyfriend (Why did he even add you?). Your colleague’s best friend (You’ve met her twice). Your Mum (why is she even on Facebook, although that friendship is a lot more advisable to maintain). Why do you maintain those paper friendships? Why do you struggle to click ‘delete’ and only ever hover?
The e-rules rules have grown organically it seems. Capital letters are shouting, ellipses mean something unsaid, abbrev. are appropriate in office emails fyi. When did it start becoming sensationalist to cut someone out, after all you’ve been doing it all your life. Your best friend from primary school? Your best friend from Uni? Your ex(es)? Even in my mid twenties I am cutting people out, actively in some cases. You live outside of my postcode or borough, or I have to travel more than 30 mins to get to you: gone. Bad at replying to texts/emails: dropped. Last seen at a communal social event: N/a; bye! In this age where it is ever easier to keep in touch, getting in touch is so much harder and with so much juggling of life admin, if you can’t be bothered, I can’t either.
This sounds harsh but I know I’m not the only one who does this. A some point last year, in the midst of mass friendship turbulence, I would happily have never met another new person ever again. I had embarked upon The Maintenance Stage. You are probably there too. You’ll have noticed it coming on. It probably starts with setting the favourites on your phone (maybe 5 people). Then having to change that setting on Facebook where you were only getting notifications from the people you interacted with most (6-10 out of your 458 friends). Deciding not to follow someone back on Twitter but extending the olive branch of LinkedIn instead.
Eventually you have to choose.
Invest in your current friends or keep expanding your group…and who has the time for that.
Some friendships stand the test of time, and others, despite your best efforts will change shape and suddenly you have become mere acquaintances. My longest standing friendship is never stronger and with a distance of 550 miles between us, but maintaining that friendship is less work than some others. In local friendships, actually creating a window of time to fit your friendship into is hard! When? Where? Working late! Raincheck? Next week? Next month?
That’s not to say there are not exemptions to the rule and I’ll admit, I have broken my own ‘guidelines’ once or twice and in fact I have probably made my life much more complicated as I have cultivated the shoots of blossoming new friendships around the branches of existing friendships. “You’ll love her!”, I hear myself exclaim to Nicki about a new friend I have determined to make. “I can’t wait for you to meet him!” She’ll say of her new forages into fresh friendships. I don’t see any harm in introducing my favourite people to one another. In essence I am ensuring a great night out whenever I go anywhere. Perhaps I am also helping, I am pre-approving ‘new friend’ so that the maintenance is easier for ‘old friend’. How thoughtful.
Stubbornly in need of a holiday I’ve managed to create a friend-meld and in roughly 3 weeks time will be encouraging three personalities who have only previously bruised one another’s existence, to impose upon one another for a week and I’m hoping for the best.
Maintaining I may be, but if you’re engaging enough, you’ll still make the cut. ‘Must play well with others’ my recruitment banner reads.